What is the difference between Virtual Events & Webinars?
Webinars & Virtual Events are the two terms most people have repeatedly heard for the major part of 2020, & continue to hear in 2021 as well.
If all signs pointing to an imminent future of virtual (& Hybrid) Events are to be believed, you’ll likely continue hearing both of these terms a lot.
But, are these the same thing? Do webinars & virtual events refer to the same type of virtual experience, or are there some differences?
While it seems like a benign topic to even bring forth for discussion, it’s also equally true & painful to admit that a lot of people, some of whom are even active members of the event industry, are still unfamiliar with the two terms.
Most people consider webinars & virtual events to be interchangeable, or virtual experiences of the same kind.
This, however, is as far from the truth as possible.
In this blog, we decided to tackle a common misconception still looming large over the event industry, the difference between webinars & virtual events.
Read on to clear the air!
Webinar: What is it?
A webinar is essentially a seminar, that’s taking place via the web. Hence, the name, Webinar, an amalgamation of the terms web & seminar.
Just as in a seminar, it’s a stage-style conference, either with a single speaker, or multiple speakers, depending on the exact configuration & size of the webinar.
A Webinar can also be divided over multiple sessions, with each session being handled as a separate webinar altogether.
Generally, a major number of webinars have a single-speaker format, where an individual speaker speaks or discusses some topic or issue with any number of webinar attendees or participants, many of whom(if larger in number) can’t be seen by others.
Typically, most webinars have interactive presentation features that help the speaker deliver a quality presentation to the attendees, examples of which include fun clip art, 3D models, interactive AV tools, & features incorporating AR & VR in varying degrees.
The exact kind of features that you’ll get depends on the webinar platform that you use. However, most top-notch webinar platforms come with the interactive presentation features mentioned above.
Most webinar platforms are also equipped with attendee engagement & feedback features, like the live chat option, where the attendees can network & chat among themselves, & live emoticon features, where they can give their feedback on the session in real-time.
Typically, most webinars end with a live audience Q&A, much like a physical seminar.
Most webinar platforms offer interactive & engaging Q&A options to the attendees to make their experience of attending the webinar as fun & rewarding as possible.
Webinars happen almost every other day, across every other industry.
Some of these webinars are meant for discussion purposes, while others are meant to inform the attendees about a certain new topic, invention, or action course.
Most governments around the world have also used webinars in recent months as an effective way to get in touch with people about following COVID-19 guidelines & how they can get vaccinated.
While webinars do have their positives & serve their intended purpose, they are not full-fledged virtual events.
True, some webinars may have lobbies, chat rooms, interactive cafe-style breakout rooms, or even virtual games, but webinars are just that, seminars conducted over the web.
They can’t (& ideally, don’t need to) provide truly immersive virtual experiences to their attendees, as they are meant to be used only to disperse knowledge & any relevant information to the appropriate audience.
This is where our next category of events comes in, Virtual Events.
In direct contrast to webinars, virtual events solely rely on providing an immersive, real-world, digital experience to their attendees, made possible through the effective use of the right technological tools available.
Virtual Events, if planned & hosted the right way, have the potential to digitally emulate physical, real-world events, with all the interaction, engagement, & fun elements of the former incorporated into it.
A crucial difference between webinars & Virtual Events is that while the former can go only a certain number of ways, there are practically no limits to how you can plan or execute a Virtual Event.
True blue event planners & organizers, who have mastered the art of Virtual Event planning, have fun with designing & pushing Virtual Events to their limits.
With Virtual Events, you can have interactive live chat options, 3D booth designs, DIY event plans, build-your-own-agenda tools, fun gamification features, AR & VR audience engagement activities, specially themed breakout rooms, dynamic lobbies, AI fuelled matchmaking & networking options, networking tables, business card exchanging options, collaborative activities like wine tasting, gardening sessions, yoga classes, coding exercises, interactive leaderboards, & a lot more.
As you can clearly see, whatever you can imagine, can be incorporated into a virtual event if you have the right technology at your disposal.
A lot can be accomplished with Virtual Events that are planned & strategized to a T, something which even the world’s most flawlessly executed webinars can’t quite accomplish, at least, not in the same way.
Not that webinars are any less effective than virtual events in any way, just that the two offer extremely different virtual experiences to attendees.
Both webinars & virtual events are unique in their own ways, & certainly not interchangeable. At least, not under every condition.
If you’re still confused about the exact difference between Virtual Events & webinars after reading this entire piece, then just keep in mind a simple fact.
A Virtual Event can incorporate webinar(s) in its agenda in certain specific cases, along with giving you a lot more to look forward to.
But the reverse is seldom true.
Put simply, Virtual Events may have webinars as part of their session flow, but webinars can’t be called virtual events as a whole.
So there you have it, the difference between webinar & Virtual Events should now be very clear to you.
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