The term webinar is composed of the two words web and "seminar" and is nowadays generally used for seminars or training courses that are held over the internet, either for a fee or free of charge. Participation is therefore not restricted to a fixed location, but requires Internet access. Since 2003, the term Webinar® has been a registered word mark of Webinar Ltd. co. KG.
In a webinar, a presentation, a lecture, training or a similar content will be transmitted over the Internet using video technology. A web conference software is used for this purpose, which does not serve to transmit the event to the web, but can also be used for managing and communicating with the participants. A webinar can theoretically only consist of audio data, but it is usually a transmission of webcam images, computer desktop content or both.
The date and time that a webinar will take place is published by the provider in advance. The participants register via a website and automatically receive a link. This enables them to log in on their own computer at the time the webinar starts and participate. Not all webinars are suitable for participation with mobile devices or tablets. Today, notebooks or stationary PCs are still the predominant means of attending a webinar.
A webinar typically has a fixed start and end time, like every seminar. This is not a recording that can be replayed at any time, but a live transmission. During the webinar, attendees often see a split screen, with the main picture consisting of software or a PowerPoint presentation, while the speaker is displayed in a small window in a corner.
If the speaker allows it, the participants can also talk via VoIP during the webinar and thus ask questions or participate in discussions. Depending on the software used, additional files or scripts can also be offered for download, or surveys can be carried out on the participants.
A Screencast can be used as an alternative to the interactive webinar. However, interaction is not possible during a screencast.
One of the biggest advantages of webinars is that they are accessible to anyone with simple technical equipment. All you need is a computer with working Internet access. A fast DSL connection is recommended for good image transmission and short loading times.
If the participants want to get in contact with the other participants or the speaker, they need a headset or microphone and possibly a webcam for video transmission. A loudspeaker for sound reproduction will suffice for passive participation. The provider of the webinar also needs software for organization and data transmission.
Theoretically, the number of participants in webinars is not restricted from a technical point of view. In practice, however, the number of participants in interactive webinars is limited. This is the only way to ensure that everyone can benefit equally from the online event. As a rule, the number of participants is higher if webinars are only held as a kind of online lecture or presentation, since comments or queries do not have to be moderated and the administration is therefore easier.
Webinars can be used whenever several people are to be informed about a topic at the same time. Possible fields of application are, for example:
Webinars offer quite a number of advantages for their host:
The participants can get new know-how without having to leave their workplace or their home. They can often participate anonymously. A webinar can be easily recorded. This can be useful particularly for content training, if you want to review it again later.
The biggest drawback is the technology. If the host has problems with their Internet connection, the event has to be canceled completely. If the Internet connection or the computer of a participant is defective, participation is not possible. It should also be taken into account that the participants’ mood cannot be captured as easily as in a seminar. When planning a webinar, you should also consider a possible time zone differences that may make it difficult for people on the other half of the globe to participate.
The search engine optimization is a fast-moving industry, in which changes have to be quickly communicated to the concerned parties. This is why webinars are often used here to share the basic ideas, innovations, and tips of the industry with interested parties. For providers of web analytics tools, webinars offer a good opportunity to present the advantages, details and application scenarios in a clear and live way to the largest possible audience. In Online Marketing webinars are also an excellent source of addresses and contacts, as the participants have to register in advance and agree to receive newsletters, for example. In return, these events are free of charge.