Will webinars kill live events, and what they are? All you need to know
Updated: Jun 4
First things first; What is a webinar?
Webinar is short for 'web based seminar'.
It is an umbrella term that refers to a presentation, workshop, or training seminar shared on the Internet, using one of several video hosting tools available.
Webinars can either be prerecorded or transmitted in real time.
Common features of webinars include:
Live chat for attendees
Screen sharing for demos, walkthroughs, etc.
Prerecord voice/ video sharing
Other attendee incentives such as live Q&A, polls and feedback forms
Integration of the webinar with other business apps, such as CRM platforms and email marketing tools
Why tune in to a webinar, you may ask?
Webinars are used as educational/ informative tools, in various different contexts.
Up to 65% of our population is considered to be visual learners.
By combining audio, video and a touch of live interactions, webinars are very effective tools for the job they're intended to perform.
Webinar best practices
Optimal duration: Various consumer studies have shown that the optimal webinar duration is between 30- 45 minutes. Anything above an hour, is better when divided into 2 episodes
Engagement & Interaction is key: Making a constant effort to engage the audience with Q&A's and interactive activities is key to a good one.
Interaction is essentially what separates a webinar from a standard hosted video. Make good use of it.
The Pros: 5 Reasons Why
#1 Flexibility & convenience
Webinars certainly offer more flexibility, ease of access and convenience; as opposed to other mediums for training.
Trainees can avail courses at any time and location of their convenience, using a smart device and an internet connection.
Webinars can be divided into episodes that can be easily accessed by a viewer through a table of contents.
It takes the structure of a physical book and makes it a whole lot more interactive.
#2 Geographic limitations can be overcome
Most webinars can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Very beneficial for MNC's that have employees in various different countries.
Flying out either the trainees or the trainer out to a desired location is not only cost-prohibitive but time consuming as well.
Webinars offer a more effective solution here.
#3 Significant cost benefits
Traditionally, trainers would be required to travel to the training location; often times across international borders.
Thanks to progress in server technology, hosting and distributing a webinar online provides a much more convenient and cost effective alternative.
#4 Trainers don't need to hired full time
Traditionally most mid-market and large enterprises would invest in full time training resources to keep their staff well-trained.
Definitely not the most business-productive use of funds, I'd say.
A webinar can instead be provided to every new employee who comes on board.
Besides being more cost-effective for the company itself, webinars allow the employees to learn as per their own convenience.
#5 Easy benchmarking
Word of mouth and intuitive benchmarking when training can be a complete disaster.
Instead of leaving it to the trainers intuition to decide how much training is enough, a pre-set database of facts and video resources provides a lot better alternative for benchmarking training sessions.
The Cons: 5 Reasons why not
#1 Dehumanized feel & lack of interaction
A major downside to webinars is that they lack human interaction. While audio-visual interaction is great, physical interaction is something that has long been associated with learning- 'a pat on the back', 'high fives', etc.
While visual learning is great, let's not disregard how impactful live events are.
#2 Little to no teamwork involved
Be it group studying it group studying or interactive classes, teamwork has long been associated with training.
Webinars almost completely eradicate this aspect.
Teamwork is essential for trainees because it not only helps in bonding but also helps understand concepts through mutual discussions and brainstorming.
#3 Technical glitches- compatibility and more
Technical glitches at live events can often be made up for, using verbal explanations & gestures.
The lack of any other mean of communication during a webinar makes it nearly impossible for anyone to explain the hosting party what they're experiencing.
Every participant handles a different computer, with a distinctive operating system configuration, connection speed and software problems.
Compatibility can be a concern at time.
#4 Lack of control of the atmosphere:
In a live setting, the presenter has full control of everything and ensures that there will be no interruption or distractions of sorts.
This enables the people to focus more on the speaker.
However, in webinars the presenter has no control. Quite literally.
The attendees can be at home, office or in a coffee shop. Could be quite convenient for them to mute and minimize the webinar while scrolling through social media and emails.
#5 Lack of physical movement
Clapping, standing ovations, handshakes, etc. are associated with enthusiasm in a live event setting.
Often times, trainers have their trainees perform various physical tasks to make them feel more active and respond to the seminar.
A webinar, however, is the exact contrary. Attendees could be laying on their couch with a Martini in one hand on a Saturday evening, and clock that in as 'training' time by leaving the webinar running in front of him.
Webinars as a lead generation tool
Every business is propelled by good lead generation and effective customer acquisition strategies.
Webinars are the new mania when it comes to lead generation.
Walking inquisitive visitors through a series of informative webinars, and following ti up with a quick product pitch a proven lead generation funnel. A very effective one too.
Webinars for brand awareness
Webinars when done right, can keep audiences engaged for a prolonged period of time.
The audience can also ask questions and get real-feedback on the topic. This brings tremendous value to the business and is definitely brand awareness at its best.
Webinars vs one-on-one conversations
Communicating with hundreds of people from anywhere- virtually of course- is one reason why webinars are very effective.
Now you may ask isn’t a one-on-one conversation more effective?
Although you might think it is, under certain circumstances, imagine traveling cross borders just for that one-on-one interaction; is it really plausible..
And finally... Will webinars kill live events?
Don’t you agree a livelier audience makes a better training session? A traditional event with a good presentation not only results in a more interactive session, but also inspires the audience to a greater extent.
It is my opinion that audience interaction should be given more importance.
Not saying to stop using it, but know its pros and cons. As always, define the objectives of your event, before actually going out and hosting one- be it online or offline.
Contact Strideplus for more information on organizing and promoting your webinar, online events or live events.