Practice facilitating webinars – for free

In a week, I’ll be facilitating an ASTD-Orange County Total Trainer session on distance learning. It will be my second time doing so; the last time I actually conducted the session virtually. This time I’ll be standing up in the front of the classroom.

The focus of the session is on how to design for distance learning. My premise is that one should design a web course no differently than one would design a course to be facilitated in a physical classroom. Yes, there’s the problem that the tool you’re using may be limited to a computer screen. But that shouldn’t limit how you engage your participants.

When it comes to Total Trainer, or any course that teaches others to facilitate over the web, there’s a problem of application. The two webinar powerhouses, Adobe Connect and WebEx, aren’t free.*

Enter AnyMeeting.

The name aptly indicates that the tools available in the program are geared towards meetings rather than training. For practice, and for the “real world,” AnyMeeting still creates an opportunity for experiential application of hosting webinars.


AnyMeeting tools


Chat is the staple of web meeting participation, and anyone who is familiar with Instant Messaging (or even texting) should find chat to be a comfortable method of engagement in a virtual meeting. AnyMeeting allows you to hide and resume chat throughout your webinar. It also allows for private chatting, which can be a handy tool for 1:1 discussions between participants.


Polling allows you to ask a question and get responses from everyone. It’s a great tool for quickly measuring what the learner knows, and engages everyone (not just the eager “hand-raiser”). In AnyMeeting, polling is done one question at a time. Questions are automatically stored in a bank, so you’re able to create your polling questions in advance.

Note: always create your polling questions in advance. It’s handy to be able to create questions on an as-needed basis, but nobody wants to wait for you to type your question and answers. Fire your ad-hoc questions verbally, plan your polling engagements.

Mood AnyMeetingMood

The name’s deceptive. “Mood” is a facile way to quickly understand where your participants are. Want people to ask questions? “Mood” has a “Raise Hand” prompt.  Get the sense that they don’t quite grasp a point you’ve just made? Ask a yes/no question, and tell them to respond using a mood option. Participants clear their mood by selecting “I’m Fine.”


Share PowerPoint  AnyMeetingShare

Yup. You can share your PowerPoint files.
AnyMeeting also allows you to share PDF files, and your desktop.

Share YouTube

It can be effective to include short videos in your webinars, so being able to share YouTube videos is helpful.



A frequent concern about web-facilitated meetings is that there’s no connection with the instructor. This is especially true if the camera’s turned off. Go back to that adage about how people understand what we say. How much from tone? How much from the words we choose? How much from body language? The camera allows the web facilitator to use that crucial method of communication (body language) in delivering content to the participants.

In AnyMeeting, an active web camera will dominate the screen until something else is shared, which I think is a nice touch.

Note: I may not leave my camera on ALL the time. For videos and demonstrations/simulations, I turn the thing off. Too many moving pictures. For introductions, conclusions, and active discussion with participants, my webcam is on.

There you have it: if you’re a budding trainer who wants to get some experience facilitating webinars, AnyMeeting is a great tool for you.


* True, WebEx does offer a free trial. as does Adobe. So if you’re going to try designing on those platforms, be quick!


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