Webinar vs. Online Meeting
Ask five marketers what a webinar is, and you may well get five different answers.
That’s because there are simply a lot of tools out there for web presentations and online meetings. One might say they are all the same...
A webinar presentation generally brings one or a few speakers to an online audience of many. These can be run live, pre-recorded live, or made available for on-demand viewing. In modern online presentations, slides are just the start. You can add audio or video clips, web pages, images, forms, links, documents, transcripts, and social media feeds into a single interactive presentation viewer.
Web Presentations (aka Webinars) vs. Web Meetings
GoToMeeting, WebEx or Google+ Hangouts, and Zoom
Web presentations (or Webinars, Webcasts) are often confused with online meetings. Web meetings and online meetings that are typically accomplished with screen-sharing software are dominated by GoToMeeting, WebEx, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. These tools were designed for small to medium groups, to allow all participants to speak with each other, or use their webcam - kind of a conference call without the phone.
A great example of an online meeting is a weekly sales call, or a regular team meeting, where everyone is expected to provide (verbally) an update on what they're working on.
Online meeting platforms are designed for these small group applications, and often require an IT deployment of installed software, or ask the viewer do download their application. They usually represent the brand of the meeting platform (let’s do a Hangout, I'll send you a Webex) and not your brand. Unless they’re recorded, they can’t be viewed again. Even if you record, you generally have to fetch a file and find a place to host it on your site. In real world terms think of an online meeting like a real meeting in a conference room, or a team conference call.
Think of web presentations, on the other hand, like a speaker at a podium presenting to a medium to huge group of people - it’s organized at a specific time, and some pre-event preparation went into building a slide deck and organizing the presentation goals.
Webinar platforms often include attendee interaction via moderated Q&A, interactive features like polls, group chat, detailed reporting, and the best are highly branded for the company putting the webinar on. They are a critical part of any comprehensive marketing program.
So which one is right for you?
Your company may need a meetings tool for those regular internal and external meetings.
But there is no reason for marketers, training managers, and others who need to reach larger audiences to suffer through using those platforms!
The difference between the two types is in the ease of attendee access, richness of the user experience, the level of interactivity offered to the viewer, and the trackability and value of the data that’s generated every time a viewer interacts with the material.