What Is A Webinar?

The word webinar was coined several years ago, referring to a seminar presented over the internet (or Web). You may also hear terms such as web seminar, web conference, or internet meeting used in this context. As is often the case with jargon, there is a lack of rigidity in exact usage. Some people say a true webinar refers only to a presentation given to a large group of audience members, each of whom has the ability to interact in some way with the presenter. This differentiates a webinar from a webcast, which traditionally indicated a broadcast-only (or one-way) presentation where the audience can only watch and listen. However in current usage, webinar and webcast are often thought of as interchangeable terms. The most common uses for webinars are in lead generation, training, internal communications, public outreach, and sales.

Webinar technology vendors often expand the term to include other types of internet based meetings. You will see webinars promoted for workgroup conferences, where all members can collaborate and modify work documents concurrently. And webinars can be used to facilitate one-to-one meetings in applications such as technical support, allowing users to share views (or even control) of their computer desktops.

Hosting a webinar requires the use of specialized software that configures presenter and audience PCs for communicating. Many vendors offer webinar software applications. These software packages vary tremendously in features and price. Examples of differentiating features include the ability to:
  • Use integrated telephone conferencing or audio over computer speakers
  • Let the audience see the presenter's computer screen for live product demos
  • Show streaming video or flash animation in a presentation
  • Record a webinar for later playback
  • Segment the audience into subgroups, with group interaction facilities
  • Present audience polls and questionnaires
  • Manage live question and answer dialogs during a presentation
Webinars can be an effective means to bring people together without travel expenses and inconvenience. But making a webinar pay off for your company requires planning, training, and practice. That's where Webinar Success comes in. Visit our Services page to see how we can help you get the most from your webinars.