The word “webinar” is formed by joining two words, “web” and “seminar.” Thus, a webinar is a live online platform where all the works of a seminar take place.
Webinars are video conferences, events, training sessions, workshops, video presentations, seminars, or classroom lectures hosted and presented online with the help of any webinar software. The feature which makes a webinar so useful for office and school purposes is its both way communication.
With a webinar meeting, both the presenters and attendees can interact and exchange information in real-time. But do not confuse a webinar with a webcast.
Webinar vs. Webcast
A webinar is live with audience participation and interaction without any predetermined end time. But a webcast is a pre-recorded video broadcasted online (on TV, on YouTube or any other platform). It is not live and can have no interaction with the audience. It is just a one-way source of communication.
Three types of webinar
There are three types of webinars, viz. – Live webinars, Evergreen webinars and Hybrid Webinars. Each of these three types has their advantages and disadvantages and are used for different purposes. Therefore, we shall have a clear understanding of all three types.
In simple words, live webinars are nothing but live online lectures, seminars, and classes performed online and in real-time in front of a live audience.
Live webinars are engaging and highly interactive online sessions in which one or more presenters/speakers present any information, be it presentations, video lectures or anything to a vast and live audience.
The audience gets the information and can also interact with the presenters through questions, polls or surveys. The presenter can also understand how good the live webinar is doing towards achieving the intended objective with the help of the attendee feedback in polls, surveys and much more.
For educational purposes, webinars let students remotely attend the classes and lectures from their hostels or homes.
It has proved to be quite effective in the past year and a half. Webinars have also helped both working people and students save time and energy by not commuting to their offices and classrooms or lecture halls. Plus, live webinars tend to have a greater audience strength due to their interactive nature and thus are probably the most popular type of webinar. However, the main con of a live webinar is the amount of time the presenters have to spend planning and preparing the live session.
There is no room for error as a live session, and people have to practice presentations and deliverables. Also, live webinars can prove to be costly.
Major hosting platforms have a limit on session time and number of attendees, and thus to have access to more time and attendee strength, you have to subscribe to their plans.
Evergreen webinars (also known as automated webinars) are pre-recorded webinars that have been converted into on-demand webinars for some necessity or urgency by the webinar’s presenters, hosts or organizers.
Pre-recorded webinars mean that these are media files hosted onto the webinar platform or are recordings of live webinars uploaded by a host into a webinar platform.
Evergreen webinars are great for consistency and valuable for people who fear speaking in front of a vast audience. To access an evergreen webinar, participants have to first register at the registration page.
After completing registration, participants are either sent the webinar link or are redirected to the webinar. As evergreen webinars are on-demand, they are always available and can be watched any time.
Audiences here mostly interact using the pool and question options, as chat is often disabled in this setting because evergreen webinars do not have moderators to maintain the webinar actively.
However, the most crucial disadvantage of an evergreen webinar is that it has some conversion costs included. It is closely related to the lack of a moderator. Also, a few viewers get out of the webinar while it is ongoing if they realize that it is not live. Thus, one needs to plan very well to pull off a successful webinar.
A hybrid webinar is a physical event or contains multiple in-person events that are joined smoothly and with an online audience.
The audience can engage with activities, listen to speakers, and connect with offline and online attendees. It is a combination of evergreen and lives webinars. Usually, in a hybrid webinar, presenters come before the camera to introduce themselves and the webinar; after that, pre-recorded content is played. But just because you are not in front of a camera does not mean you’re not present at all.
When your content is playing, you can also interact with the audience through questions and answers, polls and much more.
In addition, you act as a moderator and can control timers, push conversions and such. And during the webinar, if you need to say something in person, you can switch the camera back on and deliver whatever you need to. With these few live touches to the pre-recorded content, the webinar feels more lively, and audience interaction is excellent.
The only con of a hybrid webinar is that they are a bit more complicated than regular webinars or evergreen webinars due to constant switching between pre-recorded and live mode. Therefore, you need ample practice and a hybrid event platform to pull it off nicely.
How does a Webinar work?
Webinars work on platforms like EasyWebinar, WebEx, Zoom or On24. You have to signup to any platform as a host and use the tools present on the software to conduct the webinar. It is very simple as the platforms have all the cameras, presentations, chats, polls, surveys, and more options.
Common Webinar Features
As stated earlier, webinar platforms come with various features. Almost all of the platforms have the same or equivalent features. In the most popular live webinars, there are tools to present presentations and make on-spot changes and add ons. Features may vary from host to host, but the most common features include –
- Question and Answer functions
- Chatbox with text chat and live chat
- Promoting any webinar member to co-host
- Whiteboards for easy interaction.
- Polls and surveys
Common uses of webinars
Webinars allow presenters to share information to a large-scale audience through live interaction and are not limited to videos and notes. Thus, it has vast potential. Following are the few significant uses of webinars –
- Teach your audience about your business and what you do.
- Get new customers acquainted with your product.
- Train both new and existing employees to get optimal output.
- Build authority in your industry or niche.
- Generate new leads for your business through forms and video marketing.
- Demonstrate your product to customers and explain it in detail.
Why are webinars so effective?
Webinars are both low-cost and convenient. You can reach the audience at the convenience of their home and comfort place.
You do not need to rent a hall or get it decorated and wait for people to come and participate physically. Also, since it is so easy to join and interact with, you can engage with an audience from the other side of the globe, people living in different time zones.
Also, you can deliver files and information to the audience in pdf or online document format. Thus the cost of printing flyers and guides is completely reduced. Also, the webinars are becoming richer and richer in features and seem very real. It gives the audience almost the exact experience that they would get in an offline webinar.
Advantages and Disadvantages of webinars
Advantages of Webinar Marketing
- Hosting online events that can be attended anytime from anywhere.
- Cheaper compared to offline events where you need to rent out a venue. Also quite safer as too many people are not present in a closed venue at a particular time.
- Since it is online, thus highly convenient for both hosts and attendees as one can host/attend at the comfort of their home.
- Various types of webinars give great flexibility, and a presenter can mix live and pre-recorded content.
- You can use it for digital marketing, education, staff training and more.
- Various interaction tools let you engage your audience without any chaos.
Disadvantages of Webinar Marketing
- It needs quite a bit of technical understanding to host and execute a webinar properly.
- It would be best if you were in charge of your advertisement.
- Engaging your audience is both easy and difficult. You have to talk to a device and make it believable that you are talking to the audience and, in the meantime, also interact with them and make them feel interested.
- You will not get any feedback until the end where attendees provide their opinion in chat.
Now you know the basics of what a webinar is and how it works. Here are a few more tips that you can follow to ensure the success of your webinar session
- Select the proper software with valuable features and only then invest money.
- Make sure to correctly convey what you need to and keep that in mind throughout the session.
- Join as attendees in the competitor webinars to get an idea of what you need to beat and lastly,
- Promote your webinar correctly to get more audience and thereby increase the reach.
With all this information, now you can host your webinar with the help of webinar conferencing software.