Webinars and Seminars Compared
Contemporary businesses are thriving in the Digital Age, with new media platforms – such as the webinar – creating unlimited scope for internationalising their client and contact lists. The way businesses communicate and engage with clients, colleagues and corporate members has changed unequivocally in recent years; but is it necessarily for the best? In regards to webinars and seminars, has quality been compromised for quantity?
To help you understand the functionality of these two events, Wikipedia has defined them individually:
- A seminar is ‘a meeting held for the exchange of useful information by members of a common business community.’
- A webinar is ‘an interactive seminar conducted via the World Wide Web. Usually a live presentation, lecture or workshop that happens in real time, as users participate through chatting, video-chatting, file-sharing, or asking questions with a microphone.’
Networking is a business building essential in the corporate world, and seminars have offered the ideal setting for such an opportunity for decades. However recently, particularly in the last decade, a growing number of event hosts are opting to host webinars for their cost efficiency and potential for a larger – and even global – audience. While in layman’s terms webinars seem to offer hosts an incredible ease and timeliness not usually associated with event planning, the quality of the ‘event’ rarely compares to the event-goers’ ‘in person’ seminar experience. This, here, is where a lapse between a webinar’s simplicity and a seminar’s complexity occurs.
The ease and convenience of a webinar is certainly indisputable, however, it does not offer the networking opportunities for attendees that a seminar does. B2B companies and associations, especially, prefer seminars, as their very specific networking and marketing requirements are catered for. Seminars are not only an industry information event for attendees, but also an important platform for building potential client profiles and expanding their contact list.
Similar opportunities for networking in a webinar environment are often minimal at best. The webinar’s online platform does not, and cannot facilitate the one-to-one engagement and network forming pivotal in the seminar setting. Seminars are therefore more interactive and engaging, as they encourage and facilitate mass participation. Oftentimes this makes them more memorable for attendees, making the overall satisfaction of a seminar higher than that of a webinar. Audience engagement is furthermore compromised by the webinar’s format due in large part to the ease of accessibility to distractions, something rarely of concern at seminars – save for the occasional mobile phone not switched to silent.
However, webinars are not necessarily always inferior in quality of experience for participants. Hosts need to duly consider the purpose of their workshop when determining whether a webinar or seminar would be more appropriate. Webinars are an excellent option for training purposes, or other information sessions as part of a ‘series’. Seminars tend to only have a useful impact as a one-off event, whereas webinars are structured to appear less repetitive and accommodate for weekly, fortnightly or monthly sessions.
Also, webinars, unlike seminars, are of particular use for their data collection and processing capabilities. Hosts can check with the click of a button the attendance record, how long individual attendees viewed the presentation, and exactly when they checked out – all of which are extremely useful for event management and business development. However, you can achieve similar information gathering with event management technologies such as EventBank. Determining and evaluating the success and shortcomings of your seminar event can now be just as easy with EventBank’s all-in-one engagement platform. EventBank’s technology also enables hosts to compile a complete attendee engagement history, which enables you to better cater for, and shape future events to their liking.
So, when planning your next event keep in mind your own objective as well as your attendees’ objectives to determine the suitability of a webinar or seminar, and the use of an event management software such as EventBank. Webinars are certainly useful and more convenient when a wider attendee reach is required; however, when the location and numbers permit, a seminar is never a bad decision – and is now even easier thanks to EventBank.
Happy New Year, and happy hosting!
Curious about event management software? Read our article on determining what is the best software for you.