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What Is a Webinar?

All About Using Web-based Conference Services

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What Is a Webinar?
Photo © Wathiq Khuzaie

With Internet technology, we have the possibility to connect in real-time with people from all over the world, whenever we want.

For more professional events that require more than just a simple video chatting platform like Skype or Google Plus, some people host webinars.

Let’s explore what a webinar actually is and how people are using them today.

Webinar: What Is It?

A webinar is a web-based conference that uses Internet technology to connect the individual hosting the webinar to the audience--the viewers or listeners of the webinar.

It’s similar to using something like Skype, but people sometimes use them show their computer screens for professional purposes, and depending on what type of webinar service you decide to use, there are interactive sections that the audience can use to ask questions.

Why Host a Webinar?

Professionals use webinars to give presentations. It could be a one-way type of broadcast where one person simply hosts a lecture or seminar, or it could be used to promote discussion and questions asked from any viewers.

Webinars are also helpful tools for conducting live interviews with other professionals, which are often attractive aspects used to encourage people to attend webinars.

And because the host can easily use their own computer screen to broadcast anything to audience members tuning in, training sessions, courses, how-to presentations and workshops can be carried out as well by using webinar technology.

Using a Webinar

Depending on which service you or the host uses, you may need to download an application first in order to access the webinar. Audience members have to “call in” sort of like making a phone call to access the webinar.

Audience members are often provided with a custom link or even a password by webinar host in order to get in.

Here are just some of the things you can do with a webinar:

Display slides: You can display a slideshow presentation using MS PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, just like you would in a regular classroom, meeting room or lecture hall.

Stream video: Show a video either stored on your computer or found online, such as on YouTube.

Talk to your audience: Webinars use VoIP to make real-time audio communication possible.

Record everything: Webinars often provide an option for the host to record their entire presentation—including all visuals and audio.

Edit: The host can often use their mouse to create annotations, highlight things or create markings on the screen.

Chat: The host can open up a chat box to text chat with the audience, which is especially helpful for audience members wanting to ask questions.

Conduct surveys and polls: Some webinar providers offer the ability to create polls given to audience members for quizzes or survey purposes.

Hosting Your Own Webinar

If you’d like to host your own webinar, you need to choose a webinar service provider. They’re usually not free to use over the long run, but most of them offer some kind of free trial period for 30 days or so.

Webinar Service Providers

Here are three popular webinar service providers that people use, among many others:

GoToWebinar: A lot of professionals use this one. As one of the most popular webinar platforms today, you can get started with GoToWebinar with its 30-day free trial or for $99 per month with up to 100 attendees.

AnyMeeting: This one has a completely free option for up to 200 members, which is great for those who are a bit strapped for cash. It’s got great screen sharing options, social media integration and a variety of management tools as well.

Skype: Surprise, surprise! One of the web’s favorite free instant messaging platforms has some pretty useful and advanced options for both consumers and business owners. You can do group video calls and screen sharing with Skype’s premium plan for $59.88 per year.

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