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A Webcast Vs a Webinar

February 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 148

Because webinar technology is fairly new, some people use different names to describe it. All of these terms are used to describe some sort of event delivered over the Internet, but they have some differences. Sometimes the names do reflect the differences, but sometimes they are two different ways of describing the same thing. Let's look at what is generally meant by the terms webcast, webinar and web conference.

Here's a quick overview

As an analogy, think of these three things in this way:

A webcast is like going to a movie.A web conference is like going to a meeting.A webinar is like going to a seminar or training course.

These are three very different ways for audience members to participate, and that's what makes them different.

Webcast: A broadcast to a passive audience

A "webcast" is short for "broadcast over the Web". As the name implies, it's about sending out a message, generally to a passive audience. It's like other broadcasts, such as radio or TV, or other passive environments, like going to a cinema or the theater.

When you attend a webcast, don't expect to interact much with the presenter. Some webcasts do involve some audience interaction (generally with questions at the very end of the presentation), but that's a bonus. The main purpose of the presentation is to deliver the message, not to engage the audience actively. In fact, some webcasts aren't even live events; they are simply a playback of a pre-recorded event.

Web conference: An on-line meeting

At the other end of the scale is a "web conference", which is an on-line meeting - similar to a meeting in an office meeting room, except it's done over the Internet. Unlike a webcast, where most people don't actively participate, everybody is expected to participate in a web conference. There might not be any presentations, and everybody has an equal right - and obligation - to participate.

A web conference often includes seeing everybody on video, because that creates a more personal connection. This hasn't always been the case, because live Internet video has been slow, clumsy and expensive. But now, inexpensive tools like Skype and Google Hangouts make video conferencing feasible and affordable.

Some web conferences might include presentations at various times, just as somebody might be expected to make a brief presentation in a meeting room. Many web conferencing tools include features for these presentations - such as sharing your screen, showing slides and working together on documents.

Webinar: An on-line presentation

A "webinar" is short for "seminar over the Web". It falls somewhere between the (passive) webcast and the (highly active) web conference. It's similar to a seminar, training session or other presentation, where the material is delivered by one presenter, but the audience expects to participate as well.

Webinar technology includes features for enhancing this participation, such as chat rooms, a question area, a "virtual whiteboard", and so on. Many webinars do not show the presenter on video (unless it's important to see the presenter in order to get their message), but do show the presenter's slides.

Presenting a webinar well can be a challenge, even for experienced presenters. You have to engage your audience more than in a webcast, but also maintain more control than in a web conference. However, it does give you the opportunity to reach a broader market, and at a much lower cost than gathering people at a seminar venue.

So which is the best option?

That depends on your needs. None of them is inherently better than the others; they just have different purposes and uses:

Use webcasts to deliver your core messages in a live or recorded event.Use web conferencing when meeting and collaborating with teams and groups.Use webinars to deliver educational material or promote in a more engaging way.

Gihan Perera is the author of "Webinar Smarts", the smart way for professional speakers, trainers, thought leaders and business owners to deliver engaging and profitable webinars. If you want to know how to reach the world with mic, screen and mouse, visit for your copy.

Source: EzineArticles
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