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Webinar guide: How to host a webinar on Zoom (without the webinar add-on)

In this article, we break the options down, and give clear instructions on how to host a webinar on Zoom without forking out for the additional webinar add-on.

a person standing next to a smartboard

For those looking to host a webinar on Zoom, there are a fair few options to consider. Which you choose will depend on what (or if) you want to pay, and how robust you need your webinar-supporting features to be. 

In this article, we break the options down, and give clear instructions on how to host a webinar on Zoom without forking out for the additional webinar add-on. 

The pricing options for hosting a webinar on Zoom

Zoom is a great tool for hosting webinars, with features that include the ability to:

  • Share your screen and files
  • Connect to devices
  • Include a built-in chat feature to your webinar
  • Record your webinar
  • Stream meetings to Facebook (only available with some packages)

A lot of this you can do for free (more on that below), or you can select a paid-for plan which will increase things like the number of attendees you can have to your webinar, and how long you can run each webinar for.

Plans go from free (Basic), to $19.99/month. But what’s important to note here is that Zoom also offers an additional feature for webinars – a webinar ‘add-on’. This is to be paid for on top of your usual monthly fee, and pricing goes from $40/month all the way up to an eye-watering $6940/month. Some features of Zoom’s webinar add-on include:

  • View only attendees
  • Host controls
  • Q&A and polling
  • Paid registration
  • Reporting 

The add-on is great, especially for larger operations or people who are looking for highly professional webinar capabilities. But not everyone needs these additional features. That’s why, in this article, we’re focusing on how to host a webinar on Zoom without paying for that add-on.

Now let’s take a look at:

How to host a Zoom webinar for free

To host a Zoom webinar for free, you’ll need to sign up to their Basic plan. This is a great option for smaller, shorter webinars, but obviously there will be limitations with what you can do compared with a paid-for plan. With a Basic Zoom account, you’ll get:

  • To host up to 100 participants 
  • A maximum of 40 minutes to host each meeting\webinar
  • Unlimited 1:1 meetings (that’s not particularly relevant here but worth noting).

a person writing on a notebook

If you’re looking to creating a series of webinars for your marketing efforts, but aren’t too bothered about the live element, you could simply use Zoom to create and record your webinars, using its handy screen-sharing features to bring them to life, then distribute your recordings with as many people as you like.

Below are instructions on how to use Zoom to host a webinar, either for free (using their Basic plan), or for the cost of one of their paid-for plans so you can have more attendees and run longer sessions (without paying extra for the Zoom webinar add-on). 

But first, a quick note on:

Zoom webinar vs a Zoom meeting

The difference between a webinar and meeting is that a webinar involves one key speaker giving an informative or educative talk, a bit like a lecture at a university; while a meeting is a collaborative session where everyone chips in equally.

Attendees can still contribute to webinars but the audience is usually ‘view only’ for the majority of the session (so they can’t chime in), then there’ll be allocated time for Q&A sessions. When you’re not using Zoom’s webinar add-on, you’ll go through the same basic process to set up a webinar and a meeting.

This is because you’re essentially just setting up a Zoom event – but there are things you can do to make your webinar a webinar, and not a meeting. For example, you can make it so the audience is muted, and one key speaker runs the show. 

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

How to set up and run your webinar on Zoom (without the add-on)

  1. Set up a Zoom account
  2. Download the Zoom meeting client or application
  3. Click the ‘Schedule’ button
  4. Fill out key details about your webinar – start and end date and time (make sure the time zone is correct
  5. Under meeting ID leave ‘Generate Automatically’ selected
  6. If you want to lock your webinar with a password, so only those who have it can attend, make sure ‘Require Password’ is checked, then make a copy of the generated password in the right-hand box
  7. Make sure ‘Host’ is selected under ‘Video’, but deselect ‘Participants’
  8. Make sure ‘Telephone and Computer Audio’ is selected under ‘Audio’
  9. Select the calendar service you want to use to share your webinar under ‘Calendar’ – e.g. iCal or Google Calendar
  10. Make sure ‘Enable Waiting Room’ is not checked – otherwise people will be able to get into the webinar before you start it
  11. Check ‘Mute participants on entry’
  12. To record the webinar on your computer, check ‘Automatically record meeting’ then check ‘Locally’

Inviting attendees to your Zoom webinar

Once you’ve gone through these steps you’ll then be given an opportunity to add the webinar to your calendar. You’ll also see your scheduled webinar in your Zoom dashboard. On the webinar box, click the three-dot icon and select ‘Copy Invitation’, then paste it across into your email or messages to your attendees. 

Running your Zoom webinar

Just before your webinar start time, click ‘Start’ on the webinar box in your Zoom dashboard. Finally, click ‘Participants’ (bottom screen) and then ‘More’ (right-hand side of screen), then uncheck, ‘Allow participants to unmute themselves’. Unless, of course, you want them to be able to participate in the webinar – you can check this box again for Q&A sessions, for example.

You can also click the ‘Chat’ icon in the lower screen to open up the chat feature, then click the three-dot icon in the lower right screen to decide how you want your participants to be able to use this. 

a laptop and a cup of coffee

Sharing your screen during your Zoom webinar

To share your screen during your webinar, simply click the ‘Share Screen’ option at the bottom of your screen. 

Live streaming your webinar

To live stream your webinar, click the three-dot (‘More’) icon at the bottom of your screen, and select the platform you want to stream to. It’s worth noting this feature is only available for those who’ve got a paid-for Zoom plan (but you don’t need the webinar add-on to do so).

And that’s all there is to it. When your session is finished, all you need to do is click ‘End Meeting’. Then, sit back and bask in the success of your first-ever Zoom webinar. Nice.

PS. check out our article on taking your virtual events to the next stage to find top tips on how to make them even more pro. 

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