A webinar is an online version of a traditional brick and mortar conference or seminar.
It’s conducted on the Internet using software like ClickMeeting. With a webinar, you can conduct a presentation to another person, or a group of people.
Only the presenter can be seen by participants, but can’t see them himself, so attendees can join in from their homes, in their pyjamas and big pig slippers, if they so desire. Participants can’t see other participants. But the software allows participation in the form of text messaging between people, which the presenter controls.
When a webinar is conducted, it is treated like an offline conference by the organizer. It is usually promoted, has a goal, and educates participants in some way. It is live and conducted at a specified date and time. Webinars are often used for marketing purposes.
Sujan Patel, well-known Internet marketer consultant, recommends creating webinars with “highly-targeted theme[s] like “small business management for creative companies,” and use it to target your desired age group and location.”
Participants are able to connect from anywhere in the world using a computer and an Internet connection. Guests need to register for a webinar, usually by entering their name and email address.
Webinar software allows the presenter to use a number of tools, like PowerPoint, Word and Excel, in addition to being able to share his screen.
The only downside to webinars is the lack of social interaction between attendees, which will only be missed for certain types of webinar goals.
History of the webinar
The word “webinar” originates from the merging of the words, “web” and “seminar”. The term was coined by entrepreneur Erick Colb in 1998.
As more people started using the Internet, webinars started becoming very popular.
Why webinars are so popular
Both large companies and entrepreneurs are increasingly using webinars as a marketing and promotions tool. It’s a very popular way of adding value to a specific group of people, and the content of the webinar can be used in a different format, like a blog post on a website. It’s also very popular because people have to register to attend, and by doing so, are added on to the organizer’s email marketing list.
Webinars allow people from all over the world to connect and transmit information without having to get into their cars and travel. It’s a very affordable way for both the organizers and attendees, to have a conference.
Common webinar features
- Waiting area
- Screen sharing
- Open hyperlinks on attendee’s computers
- Track attendance
- File transfer
- PowerPoint presentations
- Text chat
- Record the session
- Hand signals
What webinars can be used for
- Educational/informational sessions
- Expert interviews
What webinar organizers need to do
- Prepare the presentation
- Arrange date and time
- Advertise (if necessary)
- Invite participants
- Setup registration process (email confirmation to participants, etc.)
- Send reminders to participants
How offline businesses benefit
- You save by not needing to spend money on transport, hotel rooms or forking out for venue expenses, food and beverages.
- No travelling is necessary.
- Conduct presentations to people located anywhere in the world.
- Webinars give companies the opportunity to learn about their customers.
- Promote your products and services internationally.
- It’s easier to arrange a webinar than it is to arrange a conventional conference or seminar.
- Webinars could be used to train an international staff.
How entrepreneurs benefit
- Entrepreneurs are generally unable to afford the cost of hosting a conventional conference, but a webinar gives the ability to host an online conference without the costs.
- If you want to teach something, a webinar is ideal and can be in the form of expert interviews, coaching, mentoring, or a PowerPoint presentation.
- Entrepreneurs can learn more about their target audience.
- It allows entrepreneurs to put together a virtual team located anywhere in the world because it’s much cheaper to do training via webinars.
How online marketers benefit
- Without the use of the Internet, you would need to put together a team of staff that were all local. But with all the online tools now available, including webinar software, you can now put together a virtual team of experts from around the world, and conduct training to them, for a nominal amount.
- Use webinars to promote services or products to many people.
- Teach small or large groups, from the comfort of their homes.
- Repurpose webinar content onto blogs and videos.
- Increase email marketing list signups.
Webinars are becoming exceptionally popular, but everybody’s doing the same thing, some better than others, but still largely the same.
So I’ll leave you with one value-add tidbit to make yours stand out: if you want to put together a conference that rocks, read the advice of Sujan Patel who attended a conference in Brazil he considered spectacular. He interviewed the organizer and this resulted in a blog post about putting together exceptional conferences. It’s about the offline version of webinars, but it may spark some ideas to make your online conference shine.