Webinars vs Virtual Events – Is there a difference?

posted on July 22, 2020 By Twist Media

Even as we enter Phase 2 post-Circuit Breaker, it’s no surprise that many events are currently still on-hold to ensure the safety of everyone.

As we move forward by incorporating technology as the new norm in our lives, Twist Media often receive inquiries on the possibility of organising webinars or virtual events. As more and more events go virtual and the terms Virtual Events and Webinars being used interchangeable, you may find yourself asking: what exactly is the difference?

To put it simply, a webinar is a web-based seminar. A virtual event is essentially a physical event replicated online. Webinars are a great source to connect with an audience. They can be counted as a type of virtual event but they differ from other virtual events in a few key ways such as scope and presentation.

Single-focus vs. Varied Choices

Webinars often provide attendees a single session which offers educational or instructive content, made up of a video with one or more speakers addressing the audience directly. Sometimes it features interviews or demonstrates a product and it can be a mix of both.

Virtual events, on the other hand, can span over hours or days, gathering different messages from various panellists and a host of experts. This offers flexibility and attendees are presented with multiple options regarding how and when they want to participate; an opportunity to craft their own experience by choosing sessions they’d like to attend.

Interaction Formats

Webinar is mainly designed for smaller groups such as internal meetings, training sessions or workshops. They usually include some but minimal form of viewer engagement, such as live chat or polls, surveys, and Q&As therefore interaction is limited to these outlets only.

You may find that some virtual events include webinars as part of their schedule, but they are so much more than a single stand-alone session. These virtual events allow attendees to connect with one another during and in-between sessions, which make it possible for attendees to communicate with speakers and sponsors, as well, as part of the greater event experience. This is in addition to other presentation tools like polls and surveys that are similarly found on webinars.

Similar Experience vs. Personalised Experience

Because a virtual attendee can join live seminars, real time networking rooms and engage in live chat, all with the flexibility and convenience of 24 hour event access, this creates an opportunity to curate their own experience and interact beyond a single session. Making use of this data and technology, event organizers can also better learn about the preferences of their attendees by analyzing their journey across a virtual event. These in turn help organizers send personalised follow-up messages to attendees and also better tailor the virtual experience to their audiences.

virtual event

You may have concerns that virtual events remove the ability to communicate in real-time with your event attendees. This is far from the truth. With interactive agendas that allow attendees to create their own personal schedule, integrated social media channels, pop-up welcome messages, etc., communicating with your audience during the event is nothing to worry about.

Although webinar is still very much a popular option, and an important part of virtual events, organisations can only achieve engagement, usable event data, flexible event spaces and the ability to grow a global network with a virtual event.

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