As the name implies, webinars are web-based seminars that are viewed by participants over the internet. They are often referred to as online workshops or online seminars.

Webinars have many uses. For instance; building a brand, generating sales, attracting prospects, training groups of people, holding press conferences, corporate announcements and focus groups.

Webinars are very similar to conference based seminars; the only difference is that the participants listen to audio and view the presentation in their web browser. The main benefit of a webinar is the interactive element which is the ability to discuss, give and receive information. It’s differs from a “webcast” which doesn’t allow interaction between the audience and presenter.

More and more businesses have discovered the advantages that webinars have to offer and have started offering them in addition to or instead of more traditional face-to-face seminars.

What makes webinar’s so attractive to business owners is their flexibility, affordability, efficiency and effectiveness. Another plus is that participants don’t have to travel in order to attend a webinar; they can learn from their office or in the comfort of their homes at times that are convenient for them.

Being able to digitally record their presentations for future playback is also giving business owners the ability to reach a much larger audience over a longer period of time.

They also help businesses cut down on traveling and other expenses that they would normally incur with more traditional seminars and conferences. To host or attend a webinar all you need is a computer, internet access and a phone line. You can also include downloadable materials like handouts, printable checklists and other reference files.

Webinars not only help business owners reach larger audiences, they help them reach them faster than ever before. They make it possible for colleagues across the globe to meet, work and collaborate as a team. Attendees and presenters can easily participate, learn and interact through Q&A, document sharing, polls and more no matter where they are.

There are many different formats that can be used to plan a webinar.   Here are a few examples:

A training session

This webinar format is ideally suited for transferring skills and knowledge. Average running time is about one hour. You can offer downloadable handouts and exercises for your attendees complete during the training. Be sure to allow time for them to ask you questions.

A training course

This is the same as above except that you will present it as a multi- stage training course with a series of short webinars rather than a one long one. Average running time is about 20 to 30 minutes. You can also provide homework for your attendees to complete between each session.

A keynote presentation

With this format you will be doing most of the talking, and have brief Q&A session towards the end of the presentation giving your attendees a chance to interact with you. Average running time is about 45-60 minutes.

Interview an expert

This webinar format allows you to bring in other experts for your audience. Treat the webinar just like any other training webinar where you interview the guest expert while your attendees listen in on your conversation.

Coaching and mentoring

The above formats focus on webinars as being for group presentations.  But there’s no reason you can’t use them for one-on-one presentations.  For instance; coaching, mentoring or consulting. With this type of webinar you’ll be asking questions and giving the client time to answer them.

Some may say the webinars are less effective than meeting in person, but in some instances the interactive discussion of a webinar group can be a much more effective method of communication. The discussion boards provided in most webinar platforms allow and open exchange of knowledge and information wherein the host and attendees can freely participate. The discussions can be maintained online and anyone can review it anytime; this allows the information to propagate in many ways that a physical meeting cannot.

Webinars are fast becoming the first choice in web conferencing. Because of their ease and affordability businesses can hold an interactive presentation faster and more effectively than ever before.  They can take full advantage of internet communication to build brand awareness, attract customers, sell products and more.

WHAT ARE THE BEST WEBINAR TOOLS?

In our next blog post we’ll discuss some of the options for setting up online registration and even selling tickets for your webinar.  We’ll also discuss some of the most effective ways to do encore presentations of your webinars that act as ongoing lead generation systems.