More and more organisations are now offering online events such as webinars and virtual conferences. You have probably seen these terms (and more) but might not know the difference between the two.
At first glance the two share some similarities; both are delivered online, with presenter video and slide presentations, both allow attendees to ask questions, both can be recorded for future use, and can be either free or paid events. However, that’s where the similarities end and the confusion begins.
Fundamentally each online format is recreating a different type of face-to-face event in a digital environment.
A workshop or lecture can be turned into a webinar, with a single presenter delivering to a group. Usually held in a single short session up to 2 hours, webinars often have a focus on training and cover a single topic. Attendee interaction is often limited to polls and live Q&A with the presenter.
Whereas a virtual conference takes the essential elements of your annual conference and moves them into an interactive digital space facilitating many presenters and sessions over one or multiple days.
Sessions can happen in plenary or concurrently – where attendees choose from one of several online ‘rooms’. Additionally, virtual conference software can accommodate a wider variety of session types including world café small discussion groups and panel sessions.
Delegate to delegate interaction is higher in a virtual conference with features such as delegate profiles, discussion forums and direct messaging. Opportunities to engage delegates can be expanded using social media, and conference hosts can leverage the longer run time of the event to develop online conversations and build community.
Sponsorship opportunities are another point of difference, with virtual conference software allowing specialised features and increased visual branding opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors. Sponsors can create dedicated profile pages and include videos, documents and resources, contact information, discussion forums and communicate with attendees via direct messaging.
These elements work together to recreate the immersive and engaging environment attendees, speakers and sponsors enjoy at your regular face to face conference and create a true industry networking experience.
Webinars and virtual conferences are distinct online event formats that each have pros and cons depending on the kind of content and experience you are looking to deliver to attendees. Now that you know the difference you can choose the format that best suits you audience and objectives.
Looking to run a virtual conference or other online event? Think Business Events can help take you from planning through to execution and evaluation. Contact us for more information.