What Is a Webinar?

Submitted by: Ashley Speagle

You’ve heard about them, your competition uses them and you probably even have an invitation to one in your inbox. They flood the internet every day, but what is a webinar?

It’s simply a web-based seminar. Essentially, a webinar is any type of live, online presentation from experts on a particular subject matter, using a webcam and web conferencing software.

What a Webinar Is Not

It’s common to hear webinar and webcast used in similar contexts, but these two terms differ. A webcast only features one-way communication (for example, a prerecorded web event). In contrast, a webinar is interactive, so participants have the ability to give feedback, ask questions and make comments.

A webinar also differs from a podcast, which is a downloadable audio or video file, not a live or streaming web event.

Components of a Webinar

A webinar is comprised of both video and audio, broadcast with a webinar service provider either online or through a phone line. The shared visual may consist of a slide show, streaming video or screen-shared web page with live audio, or the visual may include interactive, live video with audio.

Typically, a webinar is a piece of gated content for attendees, which means that the audience must exchange their personal contact information for a link, password and/or call-in number in order to attend. Premium webinars may also be offered for a fee, or you may even encounter webinars offered through a free invitation (for example, to internal employees).

Interactive features like polls and real-time chat and audio communication allow for audience engagement, which is especially helpful for the common question-and-answer session at the end. Webinar platforms also typically offer a recording feature so they can be reused for other applications.

The Benefits of Webinars

Webinars can be used in a variety of ways for different purposes, including:

  • Lead generation
  • Content marketing
  • Collaborative conferences
  • Research and crowdsourcing
  • Education, information and training
  • Influence and persuasion to a targeted audience

For all of these purposes, webinars generally offer the benefits of convenience, cost-efficiency, better engagement and higher visibility as opposed to other marketing and communication mediums. In addition, webinars can save time and resources on getting to live events.

When Not to Use Webinars

With all of the options for broadcasting information and reaching your audience online, how do you choose when to use webinars as your medium?

  • In order to preserve the two-way communication, you’ll want your webinar to be live, which means it may not be your best option if you want a perfectly-packaged, prerecorded event.
  • Because of the planning and setup required, webinars typically aren’t ideal for short content and announcements. Instead, utilize webinars for longer, more complex information and original data and analysis.
  • However, if you’re flooding your audience with very complex, high-volume information, this may inhibit interactions, so a webinar may not fit your needs.

Before you enter the webinar wars, you’ll need the right strategy to reach your target audience and get the most out of your online event. Contact a web event specialist at PGi today for more information on adopting webinars for your company’s needs.

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