Webinars were first used in the 1990s as a somewhat effective alternative to carrying out online meetings. Originally designed for small internal web meetings, we can clearly say that the evolution of webinars and webcasts have come a long way.
Infact, the development has been so rapid that nowadays the original concept has been diluted, and in many occasions it is difficult to define exactly what a webinar is and what makes it different from other types of online events.
Let’s first have a look at the definition of a webinar. It’s the combination of two separate words, web and seminar, meaning that it’s simply a seminar given via Internet. So, a webinar is a type of conference, workshop or seminar that is transmitted online, whose main feature is the audiovisual interactivity that occurs between the participants and the speaker. As in any face-to-face event, the speaker communicates live to the audience, and attendees can ask questions and comment in real time.
The only difference with regard to physical seminars is that it is done via live streaming and that its method for sharing information is through a device that must have an Internet connection and be equipped with a specific webinar software.
Webinars are often confused with webcasts, but they’re very different. While the former allow an interaction between its participants, a webcast is an event limited to one-way communication. That’s to say, the speaker speaks and the others only listen, without any possibility of interaction. And interaction is the key force driving engagement nowadays.
Webinars and Virtual Events: Are They the Same?
The reason why webinars became a unique and highly valued tool at the time was because they were the first online events that were able to be broadcasted live, rather than being recorded. Additionally, a webinar platform allows interactivity among all participants and the exchange of data and information in real time, making them highly effective alternatives for web meetings, leaving aside other more traditional and limited methods such as teleconferencing.
Technological advances nowadays have presented webinars with new possibilities, and are now considered essential communication tools to share experiences with a dispersed audience in a very efficient way.
Its evolution has been such that in many occasions a webinar is confused with a virtual event. And the reality is that the first is complementary to the second, but that’s where its similarity ends.
Webinars are excellent marketing and communication channels, but they should not be considered as events in the classical sense of what we know as such… and much less as a virtual event.
Virtual events are much more powerful tools,and go beyond a web meeting. In fact, they are the combination of several online tools, including webinars, but only as a small part of the experience your participants will have.
In fact, a virtual event includes a large number of elements to recreate real situations in an online environment. Its applications are endless, and its assistants can not only attend live seminars, but also chat in real time with the rest of the participants, visit a stand of a virtual fair, hold a job interview or attend virtual classrooms for business .
One of the most innovative applications of virtual technology today is found in the Team Building events. Virtual reality is capable of simulating very real situations adapted to different activities aimed at enhancing workers’ skills such as leadership, problem solving or joint decision-making. Virtual Escape Rooms are the best example of this trend.
Advantages of virtual events
Many companies often think that themselves carry out virtual events, when in reality they are limited to doing a webinar or another type of more advanced online meeting.
A virtual event goes much further, since it is capable of creating immersive and much more diverse experiences. This capacity allows companies to offer unlimited benefits, among which are:
• Reduced expenses: both in the organization of the event and in travel.
• Greater attendance of participants: as it is a virtual event, it can be accessed remotely from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.
• Measurable results: real-time access to all the data referring to the participants provides companies with effective information on ROI.
All these advantages are only possible thanks to the evolution of technology. The latest advances in virtual reality allow us to attend an event as if we were really present. For this reason, it is an increasingly demanded alternative for those companies that want to go one step further and offer unique experiences in fairs, product presentations or training activities, among other types of ventos.
For this, there are companies like Virtway Events, which puts the most advanced 3D technology in the hands of enterprises to open the doors to a “real” virtual world. All its tools are marked by innovation and creativity, and with all this, presents the possibility of using 3D interactive avatars in any type of virtual event.
These online avatars with the ability to simulate each of the participants, even imitating their physical appearance with great realism. They also allow re-creating scenarios in which they can interact and communicate in a very effective way.
In fact, one of the advantages of Virtway Events avatars’ is that participants can hold conversations and speak through voice over IP in a natural way in real time, even regulating the volume depending on the proximity between them.
These and other applications make virtual events a unique communication experience, providing levels of interaction that a webinar can not achieve. It is undeniable that webinars are part of the day-to-day of companies, and that’s the way it should continue to be. But it is also true that companies seek different alternatives for their online meetings, and in this sense, virtual events are the most innovative current tools.