The Internet connects people around the world. Social networks serve as meeting points not only for public and private exchanges with friends and family but also with potential business partners. The webinar is a popular format that also takes advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet. But is a webinar as useful as a traditional seminar?  

What exactly is a webinar?

Multi-ethnic business team using laptop for an online meeting in video call.

The term “webinar” is a combination of the word “Web” and “seminar”. It refers to the online transmission of seminars, presentations, or similar content using video technology.

Unlike a webcast, where information is presented on-demand and transmitted in one direction. A webinar is interactive and allows the organizer and participants to communicate with each other.

Webinars are also known as web conferences, live webcasts, or web interviews. They can also include various forms of interaction, like chats, surveys, and file-sharing or uploading.

Webinars generally take place in real time, but recordings are also possible. In all cases, the start time and the end time are set and communicated in advance.

The presenter/organizer has the possibility of presenting material (media content, presentation slides, personal screen, etc.) and addressing participants through VoIP (Voice over IP). Similarly, if the presenter wishes to involve the participants, they can speak directly during the discussion.  

How to plan a webinar?

The first step is that the speaker/presenter must first set up an appointment and inform the people he wishes to attend. As the number of participants can be, in some cases, limited, most people participating in the webinar must register.

The organizer then sends all the selected users a confirmation email containing all the additional instructions, the necessary connection data, or access link. It is also common to send a reminder message just before the start of the web conference.

When the webinar starts, participants connect to the web conference, in most cases using a standard Internet browser. Sometimes it may be necessary to install a specific client application and use it for the webinar session, but this is relatively rare.

Joining the webinar is generally limited to a particular period, which means access closes after a few minutes from starting the webinar. As in real life, it’s important to be on time for webinars!

Once connected to the webinar, participants can watch the presentation live. Typically, they can navigate between multiple windows that have different content or perform various functions.

In general, the display includes the main image, which shows, for example, presentation slides or the speaker screen. Other windows may consist of a participant list, a chat function, or allow access to shared files. If it is a recording, the webinar does not include live material.

What is the optimal duration of a webinar?

The average length of online seminars is around 45 to 60 minutes. After the conference, participants often have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions. They can either use the microphone or the chat function, depending on the format of the webinar.

What are the technical prerequisites for a webinar?

In principle, it is possible to participate in an online seminar with any device that has Internet access. However, due to the importance of videos and images in the content, it is necessary to have sufficient bandwidth for transmission.

Smartphones and tablets may not be compatible, which requires the use of a laptop or a desktop computer. As already mentioned, establish the connection via a standard web browser or specific client software which, if necessary, must be identified and provided by the organizer.

To be able to listen to the webinar, participants usually only need a speaker, headphones, or earphones for sound. For direct communication with the presenter and other attendees, you will also need a microphone or webcam. In some cases, it is possible to participate and listen to the presentation by telephone.

Summing up the characteristics of webinars

  • Oral communication in real-time using VoIP
  • Live communication through a chat
  • Easy presentation for slides or screen sharing
  • Video streaming
  • The download of any additional material  
  • Ability to record entire lectures and broadcast or view them afterward
  • Creation and dissemination of surveys and questionnaires.

Is a webinar as useful and effective as a traditional conference?

Although the content discussed during the conference can be exactly the same, online seminars differ from face-to-face ones. They have certain advantages but also some disadvantages.

Face to face conferences and webinars are both suitable frameworks for providing educational content to a large number of attendees in a very short time. For this reason, online seminars play a significant role in e-learning. Universities, colleges and language schools offer webinars on a wide variety of subjects, relieving both teachers and students. Online seminars and conferences are an ideal basis for successful studies, especially in distance learning. However, education is not the only field of application in which online seminars are useful.  Many studies have shown that webinars are one of the best types of content that drive revenues for your B2B.