The word webinar was coined several years ago, referring to a seminar presented over the internet (or Web). The word webinar is often used interchangeably with terms such as web conferencing or web seminar. A webinar though has specific characteristics
A true webinar refers only to a presentation given to a large group of audience members, each of whom has the ability to interact in some way with the presenter. Hence a key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements — the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Webinars are also commonly used for remote training, where an instructor can lead students through lessons and exercises.
A webinar is made up of a host person who sets up the online seminar and is the designated person to deliver the subject matter of the webinar and on the other end the webinar audience. The webinar audience members usually have to subscribe to attend an upcoming webinar, typically distributed by the host. Such subscriptions are often managed via online webinar vendor websites e.g Google Hangouts. When audience members subscribe to the webinar, they are usually sent remember emails and the url link to access and join the webinar on the day and time that it runs.
A webinar, just like any normal real world seminar, is scheduled for an appointed time. Hence on the day the webinar is scheduled to run, you should diarize the starting time and ideally login into the webinar software 10 minutes before the starting time, just to ensure that you do not get caught up by last minute technical glitches. Another good webinar etiquette is to ensure that as a webinar audience member you switch off the microphone on your laptop webinar software if you are in a noisy environment. This will assist everybody else to focus on the host of the webinar.
There are many webinar software tools available online, some free some paid for. These software packages often vary in the features they contain, which include :
- The ability to use integrated telephone conferencing or audio over computer speakers
- Let the audience see the presenter’s computer screen for live product demos
- Show streaming video or flash animation in a presentation
- Record a webinar for later playback
- Segment the audience into subgroups, with group interaction facilities
- Present audience polls and questionnaires
- Manage live question and answer dialogs during a presentation
Webinars can be an effective means to bring people together without travel expenses and inconvenience, however meticulous planning and practice is required to get best results. Try to setup your first webinar today!