What Is a Webinar? (Plus How It Works and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Webinars are instrumental in helping businesses understand and grow their consumer base. These live online events provide insightful feedback to companies, while also engaging the audience in real-time. Learning about a webinar can help you host one successfully to engage the company's target audience. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is a webinar?', explain how it works, discuss its advantages and provide some tips to conduct an effective webinar.

What is a webinar?

A webinar is a live, virtual event that an online audience from anywhere in the world attends. It can also be a workshop, training session or classroom lecture. Similar to an in-person seminar, a webinar typically consists of a single host or a panel of participants presenting live for 30 to 60 minutes. The company hosting it can share videos, presentations, web pages or other media with the audience in an interactive broadcast. A webinar is different from a webcast, as the latter also includes the presence of a physical audience.

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How does a webinar work?

The host can launch the webinar through the company's website or a streaming service. Here are some other key characteristics of a webinar:

Live attendance

Webinars require live, online attendance. There's usually no limit as to how many people can attend it. It only depends on the capabilities of the platform the hosts decide to use for the webinar. Companies often advertise their webinars in advance to encourage maximum attendance.

Audience interaction

One of its key characteristics is that there's two-way communication, where presenters and participants ask questions or share information with each other in real time. Many webinars set aside time for question-and-answer segments, and speakers may also answer any questions that participants have throughout the presentation. Here are some ways that the speaker or host may interact with the audience:

  • answering phone calls from participants and answering their questions in real-time

  • responding to questions via text on a portion of the screen

  • providing a live text chat and audibly answering in response

  • conducting polls or surveys and sharing results during the webinar

  • allowing participants to use their microphones to speak during the question-and-answer segment

Webinar live chats may either be public or private. Private chats enable participants to ask questions concerning the presentation without others seeing what they've asked. As for public chats, all participants can see the messages posted by others. It's common for moderators to be present during webinars to ensure that attendees have a positive experience.

Audio and visual elements

Webinars typically employ different visual elements in their streams, such as video presentations or slides. Companies may opt for presentation slides to present key information to clients or employees clearly and concisely. Videos may contain interviews, promotional clips or footage of recent company events, such as roadshows, and may be highly interesting and memorable for attendees.

Special features

Companies usually use specific software for webinars. This software enables the speaker to record the presentation for future reference, create polls or surveys, manage a chatroom and play videos through live streaming. Here are some other features that may be available on webinar software:

  • calendar reminders for those who have registered

  • integrated streaming software

  • Q&A tools

  • screen sharing

  • live chat support

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Tips for a successful webinar

Follow these tips to host an engaging webinar:

Make scheduling easy

It's vital to consider the audience's schedule and plan the webinars on convenient dates for them. For example, if your target audience mostly works from nine to five on weekdays, scheduling a webinar on a weekday morning may lead to a poor turnout. To achieve a higher turnout, choose a more convenient date and time, such as a weekday night or weekend afternoon. If the audience spans multiple time zones, try to select a time that's feasible for most of them.

Another way to increase attendance is to make the scheduling process easier through reminders. For example, instead of depending on the customer to input the details of the webinar in their schedules by themselves, some webinars automatically have landing pages that allow customers to add the webinar date and time to their calendar.

Promote the event

Companies can advertise the webinar through social media or blogs. By posting links to the webinar on various social media platforms, more people can find out about it and register for it. Social media functions as an outreach between a company and customers, so announcing a webinar through social media may increase attendance.

Another way to advertise a webinar is through email marketing, which entails sending invitation emails to customers. If the email also has an integrated calendar function, customers may be more likely to register to attend the webinar.

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Prepare interesting content

As a webinar is live, it's crucial to keep the audience engaged to maintain attendance. Think about the content that may appeal to that particular target audience and plan the visual elements or activities to include. For example, if you're launching a new skincare product, it may be beneficial to show a promotional video with reviews from influencers or celebrities who have tried it instead of using a slideshow. It may be more impactful and effective due to the entertainment value and use of music.

It's also important to consider what you plan to achieve through the webinar, such as growing the email list, onboarding new customers, marketing the product or generating revenue through paid registrations. Plan the structure of the session, content and promotional strategy based on the goals you want to achieve.

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Set aside time for questions

Webinars present the opportunity to gather valuable feedback from customers that the company can use to improve its products and promotional material. You can use polls and surveys and to ensure that they're effective, create close-ended questions instead of open-ended ones. This may encourage customers to participate in the polls or surveys, as choosing from a list of choices is more convenient than typing out their own answers. It also makes it easier to analyse the data later on. Examples of closed-ended questions include multiple choice, ranking and yes or no questions.

Surprise the audience

You can make the webinar exciting by inviting a special surprise guest, providing a free, exclusive download, such as a video tutorial or eBook or giving a special discount code for participants. You can use this to create more interest and increase the number of registrations. It may also encourage the attendees to purchase the product or service.

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Benefits of using a webinar

Here's a list of benefits of using a webinar:

Is convenient

Both the speaker and the participants can host and attend the webinar respectively from the comfort of their offices or homes. This element of convenience can encourage the target audience to participate in the webinar.

Saves time and money

Webinars eliminate the need to travel, thereby saving time and costs for the participants. This makes it easier and more cost-effective for the target audience to attend the webinar and get engaged with the company and message. It also saves the company a lot of costs as there's no need to organise a physical event. The company can save on the costs of hiring a venue, providing refreshments and printing leaflets or brochures.

Enables companies to reach their target audience

Webinars enable companies to reach and engage a very specific target group. Due to the interaction during a webinar through Q&A sessions or polls, companies can get valuable insight into the target group. Unlike physical meetings, where attendees may listen more passively, the opportunity for increased interaction can help companies get the feedback they need to implement changes to their products and services.

Even if some participants miss the live webinar, they can watch it on demand. This increases the reach and impact of the company's message. It's essential to ensure the webinar is search-engine optimised so that customers can find it easily when searching for it.

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