‘Webinar’ is a horrible portmanteau word shortening ‘web based seminar’, but we seem to be stuck with it. In general I think the term is more associated with live online presentations, as opposed to those which can solely be watched in a pre-recorded format. Many companies will probably refer to both as a ‘webinar’, but what are the real reasons to run one live? I think there are two.
The first is because you want to make an announcement that everyone should hear at the same time. Pulling this off without seeming overly self-important is tricky, but there is an appeal for the audience of knowing they’re the first to get the news. Apple of course are the masters of this, but you don’t need to be in that league to make the audience feel good that nobody else knew about something before them. However, it does need to be news which is interesting to them, not just to you.
The second reason to broadcast live is that the event becomes more like a physical seminar, because (software platform permitting), viewers can ask questions and interract with the presenter. Sure, you don’t have the chance to talk to them over coffee afterwards, but through live links and follow-ups you can actually get offers and technical detail on their desks even more efficiently. Don’t forget the combined physical seminar and webinar either; a live presentation being made in front of a small audience can be quite attractive to watch online.
Of course, a live webinar needs to be right first time – you can’t edit out the mistakes or start again. But I don’t think an audience expects perfection, and you’ll save the hours that editing a conventional video presentation can often take. If you’re making the webinar available for people to watch afterwards (and why wouldn’t you?), then it’s probably acceptable to resist the temptation of playing around with it too much.
If you’re thinking of venturing into webinars for the first time, there are plenty of reviews of the many services available. You don’t have to use an expensive product: you might even find that Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Live or YouTube are suitable.