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What is a webinar? Your guide to this game-changing communication concept

There are few areas of modern life which haven't been revolutionised by the internet. Shopping, dating, job hunting, enjoying our leisure time - the internet has made all of this much easier and more efficient. Of course, business communication is no exception, and this is where the online webinar comes into play.

Consider the tools available to us when it comes to communicating online. FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangouts have made staying in touch with friends and family much easier, but they are geared more to casual chats rather than professional events.

If we are looking instead for interactivity or for reaching a large audience, we need something which is designed to support this. We need an online webinar. Anyone can host a webinar, and anyone can tune in to attend, watch, or participate in these online sessions, but what exactly are they, and how are they being deployed effectively in business.

Defining a Webinar

Fun Fact: In the phrase 'online webinar' , the 'online' component is redundant, as 'online' and 'web' mean the same thing. Like 'ATM Machine' and 'PIN Number', the phrase is a tautology.

All of us have attended seminars, probably during our university education and certainly during our life in business. A webinar is quite simply a seminar, except rather than being held in a physical location, they are held online. While webinar meetings can be held using the casual chat tools mentioned above, they are much more effective if they are supported by the appropriate software and technology.

Typically, a webinar will include the following elements;

  • An audio component which enables participants to listen to one another via speakers and speak with one another via mouthpieces or microphones, or achieve both aims at the same time via standard phone handsets.
  • A visual component, which helps the different participants to see each other, connecting users with the advantages which come with this.
  • Live broadcasts. Most webinars will be broadcast in real time.
  • Webinar software, to support universal access from various points and locations across the world. The best webinar services will provide a seamless and reliable experience for all participants.
  • Interactive elements. A seminar is designed to be an inclusive experience. Rather than simply being lectured to, attendees will be able to actively participate in the event.

A webinar may include all of these elements, or only a few, however, these are generally considered to be defining characteristics.

The advantages of a webinar for professional events

Harnessing the power of a webinar connects your business with a range of advantages, including the following;

Inclusivity for all, regardless of schedule or location

As soon as you schedule a physical seminar in a specific location, you are automatically excluding people who are either based too far away or simply do not have the time or money required to attend. Hosting a webinar bypasses this, ensuring complete inclusivity for everyone who would like to participate.

Universal equipment support

Almost all modern computing devices, smartphones, and tablets are fitted with webcams, video and audio processing facilities, and microphones. This provides a handy base level of technology, via which almost anyone can join the seminar.

Modern webinar tools are provided via lightweight, slimline applications which can be downloaded to user devices with minimal hassle, further boosting inclusivity and making it easy to optimise attendance figures.

Easier and more reliable sign up processes

With no physical sign up processes to worry about - i.e. no forms getting lost in the post, no paperwork returned damaged or incomplete - set up becomes far more reliable. This means that anyone can organise and launch a webinar, with no fear of crossed wires or other mishaps limiting attendance numbers.

This approach also makes it much easier to secure the personal data of those signing up for the webinar, as well as removing the hassle of safely destroying all the paperwork after the event.

No limitations on numbers

When you host a physical seminar, it can be difficult to decide on the type of venue you need. Overestimating attendee numbers can lead to you hiring a venue which is far too large, immediately casting a dark cloud over the seminar. On the other hand, miscalculating the other way can result in hopeful attendees missing out.

With a webinar, there is no danger of this happening, as the digital connection enables unlimited attendance. Webinar tools like those provided by Express Virtual Meetings enable hosts to provide a seamless experience, even at higher user volumes.

Recordable for instant, high-value content

As well as hosting an effective seminar, the webinar tool will enable you to record the online interactions, providing you with ultra high-value content. Publishing this content on your site will provide a huge benefit in terms of inbound marketing value and SEO credibility. 

Riding the Wave of Change

The concept of the webinar, while not particularly new, has become increasingly prominent thanks to advances in technology. This is leading to shifts in best practices and in accepted yardsticks for success.

Below you will find some of the latest innovations and conceptual changes in the field;

Webinars on demand

Television on demand has taken over entertainment. It follows, then, that webinars would get in on the act. Industry innovators are already building library platforms for compiling their webinar content and for making it searchable for keen viewers eager to share in that knowledge.

Applying analytics to webinars

How much do you know about your audience? The best webinar services and webinar tools can give you analytic insight into your audience, helping to guide your next steps.

The webinar as lead generator

How do you measure the success of your webinar? Increasingly, businesses are building webinars directly into their lead nurturing funnels, garnering leads and clients as well as that all-important industry authority.

Learn more about hosting your own webinar, and how we can help you make it happen.

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