The Difference Between Webinars and Online Meetings

With the coronavirus turning our worlds upside down and forcing us into lockdown, most of us have had to move to a remote work scenario. Businesses have been made to adapt to the new way of life and one of the biggest challenges they have faced is maintaining a good level of communication between their employees. Fortunately, there are plenty of applications and tools available to help people communicate over the internet instead of having to meet up in person. However, this brings forward new questions. With both webinars and online meetings both gaining popularity, what is the difference and when should you use one of the other?

The difference

The difference is actually pretty clear and you can almost guess just by looking at their names. A webinar is literally a seminar that you can attend over the internet, whereas an online meeting is a meeting that you can attend, you guessed it, online. Basically, a webinar is where you will find yourself watching a presentation given by another person, there will be minimum audience interaction and for the most part, you can even put it on in the background and listen if you so choose. You will not be expected to appear on camera or talk, and can instead focus on taking in the information being presented to you.

Online meetings are just meetings that you attend online, you will likely be expected to participate and will probably need to be on camera along with everyone else attending.

Webinars and online meetings are actually far easier to host and control than their in-person counterparts because of the flexibility they allow. Webinars are not limited to seating space so you can have as many people attending as you like, and for both webinars and online meetings, being online makes it much easier to maintain a professional appearance by simply using a green screen for Zoom. While in the past you may have needed to buy a physical greenscreen to hide your private space behind you, now you can simply pick one of the vast number of options and have it automatically detect your body and hide anything behind you. There is a background for any occasion so be sure to take a look before your next online appearance.

When to use a webinar

Just like with physical seminars, webinars should be used when you want to present something to a large group of people. These webinars have actually already been used by companies for years to expand their horizons in order to reach a wider audience. One of the benefits of webinars is that you also have tools like immediate polls and surveys available that would otherwise not work if the audience was sitting in a theatre watching you face to face. Possibly the best examples of webinars are TED talks that, while they usually have an audience in attendance as well, are streamed online for viewers around the world.

The webinar format also makes it much easier to share the information presented as they will likely be automatically recorded and can then simply be uploaded for others to watch after the live event has finished. Finally, another advantage that webinars have over regular seminars, is that there is no longer a fear of being interrupted or heckled. This allows speakers to focus more on their presentation and will make the whole event go much more smoothly.

When to use an online meeting

Online meetings should be used when you want to gather a small group of people together to either discuss something or make plans together. Since everyone attending is able to share their video and audio, it ends up being almost identical to a regular face to face meeting with the exception of a distinct lack of body language cues. There are also great tools available for online meetings such as virtual whiteboards that allow you to more efficiently discuss topics and brainstorm ideas, and screen sharing that lets you share either your entire screen or specific applications to designated members of the meeting.

Online meetings, just like webinars, can easily be recorded at the push of a button. While you may not want to share our details that were discussed to the general public, having a recording of your meeting is extremely helpful for anyone who may have been unable to attend it. They can simply watch the recording and catch up on current events instead of having to rely on word of mouth or other people’s notes.