Webinars and Online Meetings: The Difference

online meetings

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many of us to take our work out of the office and into our own homes for safety, businesses have had to adapt in order to keep operating with the sudden communication issues. Luckily, in this day and age there are plenty of tools to stay connected without having to be in the same room. However, since this is all relatively new technology, there is often confusion about which service to use. In this article, we aim to explain the difference between webinars and online meetings to ensure that you use the correct service to suit your needs.

What is the difference?                                                                      

The difference is actually quite simple, and you may even already have an idea based on their names alone. A webinar is simply an online seminar and an online meeting is exactly that. Just like in local meetings, a group of people gathers to discuss various topics, and every member of that meeting can speak and provide information. In a webinar, just like an ordinary seminar, a designated speaker or speakers give presentations on certain topics without interjections from the audience unless approved by the speaker.

In many ways, online meetings and webinars are easier to control than their in-person counterparts and they can easily remain professional or light-hearted with the use of changeable backgrounds when using apps like Zoom.

 In both situations, the host can control who is able to talk and how many people are able to talk at the same time. This is a great feature for webinars as you can avoid unnecessary interruptions unless specifically asking the audience to engage. Alternatively, this is less useful in meetings as you would typically want all members of the meeting to have a voice and be able to interject at will.

When to use a webinar?

The best time to use a webinar is when you want to present something to a large number of people. Since the audience will not have access to share their screens or use their microphones, they are perfect for providing interruption-free presentations. For example, you can send each audience member a link to an online form and then run a poll or survey through the webinar, or you can simply host an online seminar where one or more speakers present information for their audience, like a TED Talk for example. One particular benefit of hosting a webinar is that it makes Q&A far easier to moderate and manage, the host can allow a single person to ask questions at any time, meaning that the speaker can easily answer without fear of being interrupted or heckled. This not only makes for a more pleasant viewing experience but ensures that questions can be answered fully and not rushed or cut short.

When to use an online meeting?

An online meeting should be used when smaller groups of people wish to gather to either share information, discuss a topic, or make plans together. Because everyone will be able to share audio and video, a smaller group is recommended to avoid confusion caused by attendants talking over one another. Online meetings are, in some ways, better than in-person meetings because most apps will allow the meeting members to share their own screens, allowing them quickly and efficiently reference information and share it with the group. Another great feature of online meetings is that you can record the meeting itself, whether it be a feature included in the application you are using or a separate recording program, online meetings can easily be logged and referenced in the future. This is incredibly useful as it allows you to go back and double-check what was done and said, meaning you do not have to rely on notes taken during the meeting in question. Overall, this allows for easier and more accurate project collaboration and event planning, making the lives of everyone involved easier while maintaining a high level of communication.

In conclusion, while webinars and online meetings are inherently similar, the ability to control who can speak and share information at any one time is one of the main things that differentiate the two. Hopefully, this article has provided you with a clearer understanding of what these services are and when to use them to get the most out of them for your business.