Web conferences and webinars are probably the words you heard the most since the pandemic hit us, especially if you are someone responsible for organizing these online meetings. These two concepts are somewhat overlapping making it easier to cause confusion about the true purpose of conducting webinars and web conferences. I have seen people use these terms interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. Wait, were you under this illusion too? Well, I suppose many are, so let’s understand the difference between webinars and web conferences. It will help you in choosing the right software for the right purpose.
The difference in the purpose
The basic difference between a webinar and a web conference is that a webinar is held for the sole purpose of giving information. It is a one-way mode of communication. Although you do take up questions towards the end or in between sessions, QnA is not what we call “interaction”. A QnA in the end is basically to clear any doubts about the information that was given. When we say interaction, we mean continuous communication and sharing of ideas and opinions. This is what web conferences are for.
The difference between the audience
The audience is different in a webinar and a web conference. For a webinar, the audience is passive and can only view the seminar and raise a few questions. Whereas in a web conference the audience is very active. They are constantly participating with the host and other members of the audience.
In short, webinars have viewers and web conferences have participants.
So if you want your audience to keep engaging with you and other members, you’ll need a web conferencing tool. Similarly, if you do not intend any conversations and just a one-way flow of information webinar tools are the right choice for you.
The difference in the scale of meeting
Webinars are usually for a large audience. You can expect hundreds or even thousands of people attending one webinar at a time. Web conferences are usually conducted among a small group of people. Imagine having 100 participants continuously trying to interact with each other. Total chaos.
It isn’t like, if you have 10 viewers you cannot conduct a webinar. You can certainly do that. For example, if you want to brief your sales team of about 15-20 people you can conduct a webinar for that purpose.
The difference in the tools used
Webinar tools will help you with things that allow you to share information properly like sharing the screen, using a virtual whiteboard, sharing audio and video, etc. Moreover, you also get a chance to decide if the audience can put a message in the chat, turn on their mic and camera, or not.
Web conferencing tools are tailored for the purpose of smooth interaction between the participants. They have features like polls, quizzes, breakout rooms, etc.
You can buy a tool that is solely for the purpose of conducting webinars. For example, you are an eLearning course creator. You can conduct webinars and then share the webinar with people who signed up for on-demand webinars.
Similarly, you can buy a specially tailored web conferencing tool meant only for conducting web conferences.
If you think you will need both these tools, there are tools like Adobe Connect App that offer features required for both online meetings and webinars.
Knowing the difference between webinars and web conferences is important to make use of the right software at the right time. Determine the purpose of the meeting and the scale to choose the correct software. I hope this has given you some clarity in terms of when to conduct a webinar and when to conduct a web conference.