When people gather together to learn, great things happen. There’s the opportunity to deep dive into education, discuss a topic in depth, network with like minded people, discover industry advancements and gain insight into what competitors and peers are doing to improve their business.
In the past, to unlock all these benefits you’d likely have to attend an in-person event, but things are changing. Enter—the virtual seminar.
But isn’t a virtual seminar just a webinar? Not quite. Here’s what you need to know about the difference and how you can use both formats to reach different goals in your organisation.
What’s a Seminar?
A seminar is a gathering of people who wish to learn about a particular topic. This could be an intensive training course, group discussion or learning from an individual or group of experts. Usually seminars are hosted by academic institutes or professional or commercial groups.
However, seminars can also be hosted by individual organisations for the purpose of training their staff, colleagues and peers, and in some cases using data collected from the seminar to make important decisions about the future of the organisation.
What’s a Webinar?
A webinar is also an opportunity to gather people together around a topic or interest for the purpose of discussion and learning. However, a webinar is mostly used by organisations as a marketing tool to find and engage an external audience for the purpose of lead generation, which they nurture through the webinar’s content.
The easiest way to think about it, is that a seminar is an internal event for your organisation and a webinar is an external marketing tool.
What to Consider if you’re Hosting a Virtual Seminar Rather than in-Person
At first glance it may seem that the only difference between an in person or virtual event is whether or not they’re held online. But there’s actually some fundamental differences between the two that make both the experience and outcomes quite distinct.
If your organisation is considering whether to hold a physical or virtual seminar, you need to consider:
For an in person seminar, your staff have to be available at the exact time and date of your event and take time out of productive work hours to travel to and from your venue. It’s a much better use of company time to have people log in from home or the office
Seminars require the expense of hiring a venue and supplying food and drinks for your staff
If you host a physical seminar you’ll have to factor in the expense of flying in and accommodating any speakers and while you may still have to pay a fee for them to speak, it’s often significantly reduced and you’re not required to pay for their travel expenses
Some attendees thrive off face to face learning which could be a benefit if you choose to host an in-person seminar (for this reason some organisations choose to host hybrid events to get the best out of both worlds)
In-person seminars can make it difficult to capture rich audience data, whereas a good webinar platform will record audience information and prepare a post-event report for you
Physical seminars can be good for team building exercises whereas you may have to rely on downloadable materials or e-gifts for virtual seminar attendees. To overcome this, good virtual seminar platforms now offer managed Q&A sessions an live polling to help encourage interaction
What You can Gain from Hosting a Virtual Webinar
There are many wonderful benefits for organisations who choose a well-prepared and marketed webinar.
Firstly webinars are inclusive and have much greater reach than in person events. Theoretically you could find potential leads from all over the world and have them join in the click of a button, with minimal expense.
Like virtual seminars, you’ll also have access to speakers you wouldn’t have if you were hosting a live event. Busy experts may not have the time to travel to your event but will likely be able to jump online and give their presentation. They’re also likely to charge you less for their time and you’ll save on the cost of their travel and accommodation.
If you’re concerned about losing the face-to-face benefits of an in person event, that’s a legitimate concern. Luckily, video conferencing technology has come leaps and bounds in recent years, and with a combination of HD-quality video and audio and a raft of features including managed Q&A sessions and live polling, many of those networking and collaboration benefits can still be enjoyed. It can be helpful to start a social media group and invite all attendees to join so they can network pre and post events and discuss their learnings.
Webinars are also a great way to capture rich data about your audience so that you can remarket to them based on their interactions and create great lead capture lists for your sales teams.
How to Get Started with your own Virtual Seminar or Webinar
Whether it’s a virtual seminar designed to educate and train your organisation, or a webinar designed to capture great leads and market your products—moving your next event online comes with many great benefits.
If you’re ready to experience them for yourself, Express Virtual Meetings have been a leading Australian teleconferencing platform since 2001. Our unique end-to-end service starts with a discussion on what your needs and goals are so that we can work with you to create an unforgettable webinar or seminar experience that will help you reach your goals, no matter what they are. From there, we work with you every step of the way to make sure that your event is seamless, engaging and that you feel 100% supported.
To get started, book a demo of our managed webinar and virtual seminar service today.