Webinar, Video Conference, Virtual Event: What Are The Differences?

16 July 2020 | Temps de lecture : 7 min.
Un homme prend des notes tout en regardant l'écran de son ordinateur sur lequel deux hommes le saluent de la main

The event industry has been under a lot of pressure lately. And with good reason: the quarantaine and the ban on all types of events curtailed the industry. But, a new challenge is an opportunity for growth! 

With the development of remote work on a large scale, we have seen the rise of new terms, with which we were more or less at ease. Webinar? Video conference? Virtual event? You're probably lost because the terms are all similar. To avoid confusion, Eventdrive has created this article to explain the differences.

How to understand the difference between webinars, video conferences and virtual events?

To fully understand the difference between the 3 terms, it is important to analyze each of them and learn what they really stand for.

What's A Webinar?

It’s a new trendy word in recent years, a webinar can also be called web conferencing. It is simply an online course that can be taken from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. 

The webinar follows the same concept as a seminar or a classic course. It takes place on a specific day and time that have been communicated in advance. Please note, however, that most webinars are recorded and it is possible to watch the replay at another time.

Like virtual events and video conferences, webinars are live. Therefore, viewers can interact directly, in a limited way, with the person leading the conference via chat. If the software used to host the webinar is efficient, it is possible for the facilitator to share documents directly with the audience. It is also possible to broadcast polls or other call-to-actions to interact with a part of the presentation for example.

What’s Video conferencing?

With the development of remote work, video conferencing has been used more and more. But what is it exactly?

Video conferencing makes it possible to connect several people to each other, no matter where they are located. The only requirement is to have an internet connection and use the same video conferencing software.

Although video conferencing obviously refers to video, it is not necessarily mandatory to activate your camera during a session. Most tools allow that only the microphone can be used. They are also equipped with a chat feature that allows participants to write a message if they don’t want to interrupt the speaker, or in case they encounter internet connection slowdowns.

While webinars allow limited interactions with the audience, video conferencing allows for a complete discussion between participants through a two-way real-time communication.

Please note, however, that the number of participants in a video conference may be limited by the software you are using. Also, depending on the package you subscribe to, the call duration may be blocked when you reach a predetermined number of minutes. Finally, depending on who you are talking to, you may encounter compatibility problems. In fact, it is often necessary to download some software before starting a call and unfortunately, you often realize this at the time of the meeting... 

Don't forget to look at the restrictions of each tool before choosing one. The tools most used by companies are Zoom, Google Hangout, Slack or Teams.

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The Virtual Event: A New Trend

A virtual event takes place 100% online, with no physical point of contact. This is obviously the best solution during a pandemic!

The advantages of organizing a virtual event are numerous. Of course, this includes cost savings, as there is no need to rent a room or caterer for example. With an online event you can also register participants from all over the world and thus allow more people to attend.

However, this type of event involves a new kind of logistics. You have to be comfortable with video conferencing software that we mentioned earlier and make sure that it allows a large number of participants. It's also necessary to be sure to have a stable internet connection to limit the number of people who drop out. 

Fortunately, platforms like Eventdrive have been developed to make your life easier. All the necessary features are in the same software which makes organizing a virtual event very easy. Setting it up is simple and almost immediate. There’s no more need to download multiple softwares!

By choosing the virtual event option offered by Eventdrive, you can benefit from many advantages. 

First of all, you can easily live-broadcast your event. You can choose to transmit it directly on your event website, all while respecting your brand image. 

You can also make your event interactive by using different types of animations such as polls or word clouds.

Our solution is particularly adapted to the Event Organizer's job and is highly recommended for virtual and hybrid events, as it centralizes all your data in one spot. Moreover, all the data collected can be used to streamline and improve your next events. Finally, you can record your event and make it available to your audience as soon as the event is over.

In the end, the only difficulty with organizing a virtual event is the need to reinvent yourself. With virtual events, it is essential to offer a different experience that will not bore your audience.

But no worries, Eventdrive is here to advise you and help you organize a virtual event that your participants will remember!

What Are The Differences Between The Three?

A webinar will mainly be used to conduct a workshop or present a seminar through a webcast. Video conferencing, on the other hand, is a discussion between two or more participants who are in different locations. Webinars are mainly one-way, whereas video conferencing offers maximum communication.

While video conferencing can be used several times a day without any real preparation, and a webinar is used on a one-time basis, a virtual event can take place over several days. It brings all the participants together, just as it does during a physical event, and follows the same format: a series of several sessions with short breaks in between, or a focus on a major theme with small sessions on minority topics. 

Eventually, the virtual event is more than just a meeting, that's why it requires a bit of preparation beforehand and the involvement of different parties, but for fare more impressive results!

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When Should I Choose One Of The Formats?

The goal of the 3 tools is completely different and for this reason they shouldn’t be used on the same occasion.
Would you like to set up a training course or lead a workshop on ‘the future of the event industry’ in the time of COVID-19 for example? You don't know your audience personally and don't have a direct link with them? Choosing the webinar option is the most relevant choice.

You have last month's results to present to your team or you would like to arrange an interview with a potential future recruit? You know all the email addresses of the contacts you want to invite? Video conferencing should be used!

Every year you organize the annual Stamp Fair and you want to change your way of working this year? You have several activities to set up for a very large audience over a longer period of time? The virtual event is perfect for you!

As you can see, despite the common thread of providing an online experience, the use of webinars, video conferencing and virtual events is not the same and does not serve the same purpose. 

Before choosing which format to use for your project, take the time to understand your needs and which results you’d like to achieve. Based on this, you will easily be able to choose the option that best suits you, that's for sure!

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