Never Been on a Webinar Before? Here’s the Step-by-Step How-to Guide to Get You Trying Something New

It was 2011, I believe, when I hosted my very first webinar. Before that I was doing teleseminars, but I really like the video aspect that webinars brought. Hardly anyone was doing webinars in 2011, and the accounting professionals who loved trying new things – the early adopters — were always on the webinars, learning the latest about our emerging online accounting world.

A lot has changed since 2011. For one thing, there are a lot more webinars, probably thousands available now in any one year. But there are still some people who have never been on one, and that’s who this article is for.

It’s time. Not only is it more time-effective to get CPE this way, it’s also more cost-effective too. Almost every topic is available via webinars, and most of my introverted accounting friends with virtual solo practices love being able to learn at home in the comfort of their sweatpants.

If you’ve never joined a webinar before or had issues in the past, this is the guide for you. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you’d like step-by-step guidance, then you’ll find it in this post.

So you’ve found a webinar you want to watch? Here’s what happens next.

What to Do BEFORE a Webinar

Once you’ve found a webinar you want to attend, there will be some type of sign-up process online. If there is a cost to the webinar, you will probably need to pay via a shopping cart. For our paid webinars, our shopping cart sends webinar purchasers a receipt and a welcome email with instructions.

In the above step, you’ve paid for the webinar, but you may not have registered for it.  Some vendors have automation like we do, and people who paid for a webinar will next get another email from that looks like this:

Keep this email in a safe place until 15 minutes before the webinar starts. PLEASE NOTE: The webinar link in this email is unique to you. If you want the CPE certificate to be in a different name from the one you used to purchase your webinar, you probably need to contact customer support and give them a heads up.

In our case, the welcome email contains an alternate way to register. You can also register using the registration link provided:

Here’s an example of what that will look like.

Registration URL:
Webinar ID: 410-390-563

Click on the above link, and you’ll go to a screen that looks like this:

Enter your name as you want it on the CPE certificate, your email address, check the consent box, and click the Register button.

You’ll get another email like the one we showed you at the beginning.  Use this link to join the webinar.

So, in summary, there are two ways to register – some vendors will register for you and all you have to do is look for the email, and some give you the link, and then you have to enter your info and again, look for that email.

You’re ready, but is your computer?  You can run a system check to make sure your hardware is ready for the webinar:

You can see the full system requirements here:

But be careful! Don’t join by phone if you want CPE credit; you won’t be recorded on the attendance log and the polling questions won’t work on a phone.

It’s Time for the Webinar; Now What Do I Do?

Fifteen minutes before a webinar starts, locate your registration email (show again below):

Click the big blue Join Webinar button.  Your default browser will open a new tab and you’ll see a pop-up asking Open GoToOpener?

Click the blue Open GoTo Opener button. Keep the GoToWebinar tab open during the entire webinar. You’ll then see one of two screens:
1) If the Organizer hasn’t arrived, you’ll see this screen:

2) If the Organizer has arrived but the webinar hasn’t started, you’ll see two windows:

On the left is the presentation window. When the webinar starts, the slides will be shown in this window. You can re-size this window any way you want.

On the right is the GoToWebinar Control Panel. It auto-hides, so all you might see is an orange arrow with a few other icons.

Before we move on, there are two other ways you can join a webinar in case you lose your registration email.

1) If you know the webinar number, you can visit

Webinar ID: 410-390-563

Click Join a Webinar.

Enter the Webinar ID and your email address and click the Join Button. You’re then on your way to joining the webinar.

  • A second way is to re-register if you have the registration link:

Registration URL:
Webinar ID: 410-390-563

Click on the above link, and you’ll go to a screen that looks like this:

Enter your name as you want it on the CPE certificate, your email address, check the consent box, and click the Register button. You’ll then join the webinar in progress.


Once you’re on, the most common question about a webinar is about the audio.  You have two ways you can listen to the webinar: by phone and by computer audio.  In the Control panel of GoToWebinar, you can toggle between phone and computer audio. It’s your choice.

If you want to listen by phone, you will be given dial-in numbers in the registration email as well as right after you log in.  Just dial in following the directions, and you’re set.

If you want to listen by computer audio, your computer will need speakers and you’ll need to be slightly familiar with your volume command of your computer.  If your computer is muted or turned down too low, you won’t be able to hear the webinar.  You do not need a microphone.

Check out this guide if you have more questions.


If you have issues, the best thing to do is contact GoToWebinar support. Here is their support page for attendees Or you can call in United States and Canada Toll-free: (877) 582-7011 or Long Distance: +1 805 617 7370.

You Did It!

You now know exactly how to register for and join a webinar.  In the next article, we’ll explain the commands you might want to know about while you’re on the webinar.