A few months ago, the experience of virtual meetings was not widespread in the workforce; only a few used them regularly. Today, we can’t live without them. Entire industries depend on their services to keep their businesses running, and the employees connected. Meanwhile, friends and family use these apps to maintain their social ties, shrinking the distance that divides.
However, in this rush to use these virtual services, a few key aspects have been lost along the way. Most notably is the lingo. For inexperienced users, the jargon can be confusing: virtual meetings, screen sharing, webcasts, and more.
But one key point of confusion has been the difference between webinars and online meetings. These terms are often used interchangeably, being easily confused. Yet, despite many similarities, they are not the same thing.
In this article, we’re going to explain the critical differences between webinars and online meetings. Then, we’ll give you some tips on when to employ each one. So, read on to discover more.
What’s the difference?
At first glance, both online meetings and webinars seem identical. After all, aren’t they both people using virtual conferencing platforms to communicate? The difference comes when we understand the aim of the meeting and the type of communication taking place.
In an online meeting, the aim is collaboration and discussion. Individuals meet up to share their ideas. These meetings tend to focus on smaller groups with many of the tools being geared towards aiding the conversation. These mirrors a standard meeting you may have in an office.
Whereas a webinar is designed around presentation and display. Here, the aim isn’t to have an intimate conversation but to showcase an idea, product, or slideshow to a broad audience. These online events are more reminiscent of a conference or seminar – which is from where the name is derived.
When to use an online meeting?
When deciding when to use an online meeting, start by working out the aim of your meeting. Suppose you are trying to bring together a group of people to have a conversation, plan a course of action, and share ideas. In that case, an online meeting is an ideal format. However, be conscious of the number of people on the call. Imagine if it were a real-life meeting room: if you have fifty people in the room, the meeting would be a disaster. As such, try to limit the number of participants to twenty-five. Remember, just because you can have more, doesn’t mean you should.
The software behind online meetings has been tailored to their demands. Virtual whiteboards allow participants to sketch out their ideas in real-time, making notes as the meeting progresses, or brainstorming out their thoughts. Meanwhile, screen sharing is a straightforward way to jump between participants. Each can share their work or take charge of part of the meeting. It offers complete flexibility.
Nor are they the only tools at hand. Additionally, there are online virtual backgrounds available. These virtual backdrops use green screen technology to disguise your home as a stylish office or swanky home. Hide the clutter and stop people snooping with this handy product.
When to use a webinar?
For a webinar, consider where you would host the meeting if it were in real-life. Would you need a large conference hall? Or an auditorium? If so, then consider a webinar. Most software can host up to 500 people, with some offering even larger audiences.
With a webinar, one person or a small group will lead the presentation to the audience. Naturally, the topic of your meeting is up to you. However, here are some suggestions for webinar uses companywide quarterly meetings, product presentations, lectures, seminars.
Whatever the event you choose to host, you may have one query: audience participation. In the real-world, audiences can raise their hands, shout out their questions. However, with webinars, such communication is not possible. Or is it? Hosts can conduct surveys and polls of the audience to gather the mood of the room. They can get near-instant feedback in a more coordinated way than holding up hands. Additionally, if the audience has any questions to ask, then a moderated Q&A session can take place. Here hosts have the chance to answer questions in real-time, clarifying any confusion.
Finally, webinars can be attended by people around the world. So, think big. You might be used to advertising in your local area. But with a webinar, you can showcase your product or share your lecture with whoever is interested.