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Key differences between video meetings and webinars

Businesses and individuals can both benefit from the functionality offered by webinar and video meeting software.

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The coronavirus pandemic of the past year has changed a lot about how people go about their daily lives. From work to school, and even in our social lives, there has been a shift in how people connect and communicate. This has led to a growing trend in the use of video conferencing software and webinar services for business, education, and even in healthcare. While these are both great tools to have at our disposal, and they do fall under the same category of visual communications, there are some marked differences between the two.

In this article we will take a look at the differences between conferencing and webinars and examine the useful applications of both.

Video Meetings vs. Webinars

A webinar is a live event that viewers can access in real-time via the internet. A webinar is essentially a web-based seminar. Webinars are a powerful tool for conducting lectures, workshops, or product and service demonstrations. Webinars, while sometimes interactive, are generally one-way, enabling presentations by one or more speakers to large audiences.

Video conference meetings are visual communication sessions between two or more parties that allow for face-to-face communication through video-enabled devices. Video meetings are useful for holding conference calls, arranging business deals, and allowing for private video chats, content sharing, interviews, and even communication between healthcare providers and patients. It allows two-way, real-time video and audio communication and collaboration between clients, customers, and colleagues.

One major difference between these two platforms is accessibility. For webinar software, viewers will often need only a link to join. Video meetings usually require a secure login and password, and users are required to download a client in order to connect to the session. Webinar participants are usually sent links that allow them to join the webcast. Both options also have audio-only and dial-in options for users on the go.

Video conferences tend to be private meetings between teams and collaborators, while webinars are used to inform the public about all different sorts of topics. The focus of conferencing is usually on collaboration and team efforts, whereas webinars are public events, generally used to share information with a broader audience.

A workshop or lecture can be turned into a webinar, with a single presenter delivering to a group. Webinars often have a focus on training and cover a single topic. Attendee interaction is often limited to polls and live Q&A with the presenter.

Video conferencing facilitates better interactions, communication, and collaboration between team members and collaborators.

During a virtual meeting, a web conferencing platform tends to offer far more features than during webinars. Conference calling providers offer chat functionality, screen and file sharing, and even digital whiteboards. These are great tools for collaborating on ideas with a remote team.

Webinars generally offer only one-way communication, and limited audience interaction. Conference calls on the other hand, allow for interaction between all parties. 

Advantages of Webinars

Webinars offer many benefits to presenters and attendees alike, including interactive question and answer sessions and improved engagement. Webinars also make anonymous participation possible, and allow attendees to easily record and save presented content while creating an environment that is beneficial for teaching, and expanding reach to a wider audience. The below is a breakdown of some of these main advantages.

Cost-Effective

Compared to hosting in-person training sessions and other live events, webinars can be a cost-effective alternative. Hosting virtual events can help eliminate transportation costs and other expenses such as printing out materials that would be shared during in-person events.

Flexible and Convenient

Webinars can either be pre-recorded or hosted as a live session, which offers event hosts the flexibility to choose when and how to serve their content. Because most webinars also offer recording functionalities, attendees who cannot make it to a live session still have the convenience of watching the webinar after the event is over.

Disadvantages of Webinars

On the other hand, webinars limit interaction between speakers and participants. Business firewalls, slow Internet speeds, browser compatibility issues can arise which may hinder the effective sharing of information. 

Another common concern about hosting webinars is that participant engagement may not be as high as in-person events. Most webinar platforms, however, offer the ability to screen share visual and audio content which can help boost audience engagement. Additionally, many webinar platforms also support chat functionality so that participants can interact with the speaker to a certain extent.

Advantages of Video Meetings

Video meetings changed the landscape of the modern workforce. More than ever, professionals are working and collaborating remotely from home. Video meetings allow employers a better way to manage and organize teams while facilitating better communication and collaboration over great distances. Some other advantages of video meetings include:

Collaborative Work

The ability to host online meetings anytime and anywhere makes cross-collaboration convenient with video conferencing. This is especially beneficial for global companies that have branches located internationally. Most video conferencing software also supports features such as remote control, screen sharing, annotation, and whiteboards, which help facilitate collaboration.

Instantaneous Feedback and Timely Decisions

Video conferencing also enables a simple way for real-time feedback and timely decision making, which is especially important for time-sensitive projects. Since many projects involve coordinating between different departments, video conferencing is a convenient means of rounding up team members without the hassle of scheduling an in-person meeting.

Disadvantages of Video Meetings

Video meetings are not without drawbacks however. Though video conferencing technology is advanced, limitations in person-to-person interaction can make it a challenge to interpret the body language of those involved. Especially in remote working environments, fostering team culture may be more difficult to achieve because of this limitation, though not impossible. Virtual team-building activities such as virtual happy hours or online party games can help replicate in-person interactions.

Conclusion

The internet and technology are paving the way for innovation and collaboration in a post-pandemic world. Businesses and individuals can both benefit from the functionality offered by webinar and video meeting software. Many vendors who offer one of these solutions also offer the other in a similar form. Some providers combine the two in one platform. Before choosing a solution, it’s important to take into account the differences in functionality between the two and research different options to find the right one to fit all of your needs. 

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