The Internet and the World Wide Web serve to connect people from all over the world. Social networks are used as a meeting point to communicate privately or publicly with friends and family, but also with strangers. Anyone can have free access to a large proportion of information on different thematic areas spread over a number of different projects. Online stores and sales platforms such as Amazon or eBay allow you to buy without having to move from the couch and there is a lot of multimedia content available: you can listen to music on the way home with your mobile, share favorite songs and images with other users and witness the experiences of our relatives thanks to thelive broadcasts .

One of the formats that also takes advantage of the advantages offered by the Internet and the Web is the webinar, also known as webminar, which many companies use to carry out presentations, seminars, courses or online workshops.

What is a webinar?
The term webminar is the result of the combination of the words “web”, from the World Wide Web, and “seminar”, English word for seminar, and describes the online transmission of seminars, presentations and content of this type by video . Unlike a webcast, in which the information is presented on request and transmitted in a single address, the webinar is designed from an interactive point of view and, as a result, allows two-way communication between the speaker and the rest of the participants .

Webinar definition
A webinar or webinar, terms resulting from the union of the Anglo-Saxon terms “web” (from the World Wide Web) and “seminar”, is an online conference, an online seminar, an online workshop, a live webcast or an online interview It is broadcast live thanks to video technology. To make possible the interaction between the speaker and the participants, a webcam and a microphone (VoiP) are used.

In most cases, the webminars take place live, although sporadically they can also be recordings. However, in both cases a schedule with the exact start and end time is previously set. The speaker can use different types of materials (multimedia content, slides, projections, etc.) to make the presentation and uses VoIP (Voice over IP) to communicate with the participants. As the connection is established through the Internet it is not necessary that the participants and the speakers are physically in the same place, but it is enough to be connected to the network and have the necessary access data. If the organizer grants a participant the right to intervene, he may do so directly during the presentation. Other options for interaction in webinars are chats, surveys and methods for sharing and downloading files .

How does a webinar work?
Before an online seminar takes place, the speaker must set a date and communicate it to the possible participants. As a general rule, participation is limited, so those interested must register first. The provider then sends a confirmation to the selected users via e-mail, which is accompanied by a series of additional instructions, as well as the data and access link . Sometimes a reminder message is also used shortly before the webinar begins. Although normally a traditional browser is enough to establish the connection with “the conference room”, there are cases in which a specific client application is required .

Once the connection has been established, it is time to pay attention to the live transmission. Normally, several windows that have different contents with different functions can be interleaved . As a rule, the main image shows slides or other support material used by the speaker, which appears live in a smaller window. Other windows are used to present a list with the participants present, include a chat or provide access to information made available to users.

The average duration of a webminar ranges between 45 and 60 minutes . Once the presentation is finished, it is usual for participants to ask questions to the speakers either with a microphone or through a chat, depending on the format of the webinar. Some online seminars also allow direct communication between speakers and users. To disconnect, simply close the client or the corresponding browser window .

Technical requirements for participation in a webinar
In principle it is possible to participate in a webinar using any device with an Internet connection and, in addition, it is advisable to have a high bandwidth so that the transmission of a large amount of audiovisual content can be carried out effectively. In some cases, certain mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets can not process the transmission of information correctly, so it is necessary to resort to desktop computers. The connection is established, as already said, with a web browser or with a client software provided by the organizer, which with the help of the necessary applications is also responsible for managing the data transmission and the webinar.

In order to attend the webinar, participants need a speaker or a headset . Who also intends to establish direct communication with the speakers and the rest of the participants, must have a microphone and a webcam . In some cases it is also possible to connect by telephone and listen to the conference in this way.

Main characteristics of online seminars

These are the features that make online conferences a very interesting element for speakers and participants: 

  • Real-time audio communication thanks to VoIP,
  • use of chats to communicate with text messages ,
  • clear presentations through slides or projections,
  • streaming video,
  • download of additional material,
  • practical option: you can record the intervention and offer it or consult it and
  • creation and implementation of surveys and questionnaires.

Webinar: advantages and disadvantages

Although the content presented can be exactly the same, there are differences between the face-to-face seminars and those that are reproduced on the Internet, which, although they have advantages, also have some points against them. Undoubtedly, the most remarkable thing about webminars is that they allow access from anywhere, which in turn means saving time and costs for both speakers and participants. In addition, depending on the framework in which the seminar takes place, in many cases you can also participate anonymously, as only the entry of an email address is required.

However, for the reproduction of a webinar is subject without alternative to the proper functioning of the technology. If this fails or it is not possible to connect to the Internet, the interested parties will not be able to participate. If there are technical problems on the organizer’s side, the most probable thing is that you have to cancel and postpone the online seminar for another time.

The advantages and disadvantages of webinars are presented below:

Advantage Disadvantages
Savings in travel, accommodation, meals, etc. costs for participants and speakers. Technical problems can lead to cancellation of the conference. It can also happen that those interested can not participate.
Registration and simple and automated registration of participants. Speakers have difficulty perceiving the motivation of the participants and the impact of the conference.
Easy exchange of information before, during and after the conference. Greater potential for distraction for the audience, either by the environment or by the fact that they are not being observed.
You can participate anonymously. The interaction between speakers and participants is reduced to a minimum.
Theoretically without limitation in the number of participants, although in practice it will depend on the conditions of the technical environment. On many occasions it is not possible to log in later than the indicated time.
Possibility of publishing or downloading additional digital material during the webinar.
Easy handling and ease to save the content presented.

In which areas are online seminars useful?

Both the face-to-face seminars and the webinars have a common feature, and that is that both provide a good framework to transmit to a large number of people educational content in a short period of time. There is no doubt then that this type of seminars plays an unparalleled role in online teaching. Universities, higher education centers and language schools offer webinars on different topics, facilitating the work of both students and teachers, although they are undoubtedly very useful in distance learning. In addition there are other fields in which the application of this communication format is also very useful, such as:

  • the presentation of products,
  • Press conferences,
  • meetings,
  • online interviews / job interviews,
  • online training and
  • generation of leads