What is a webinar and why should you attend one?

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 by English Online.  CC BY-SA

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Have you ever attended a webinar? Many people join them to learn a variety of things. Some undergo skills trainings via webinars. You’ll even see employees earning course units for professional development by attending online conferences.

What is a webinar?

To put it bluntly, a webinar is a seminar done online (web). To explain it better, a webinar is actually a virtual event. It can be a lecture, workshop or a demonstration held on the internet for an online audience. It can be about a multitude of topics. It can be a talk to share a story, tips, or instruction. It can be a live interview of an expert or several experts. It can also be a series, for example a training module. Webinars can be set to feel like a classroom setting, or a conference-type event. Many marketers now use webinars as a launch pad to introduce new products or services. The possibilities are actually endless. There are so many webinar platforms today (and many of them for free) that offer new tools and greater interactivity.

Typically, a webinar is hosted by a person or an organization. They plan, set and advertise the webinar event. Participants may see the advertisement or they may be invited via email. To join, participants may need to register. Some don’t require this. In the same way, some webinars require payment, but many are for free. Participants can come from anywhere around the globe.

Are you one of those people who say that attending a class or seminar online will never be as good as attending one in person? I understand your skepticism. After all, face to face learning has been the way we have been doing it for a long time… (but) with internet access getting faster and the design of webinar platforms increasingly getting more interactive, the webinar experience continues to improve and get better and better.

How to join a webinar

Together with an internet-enabled computer, you will need a headset and a microphone to maximize the experience. On the day of the webinar, participants would need to log into the internet, go to a specific website or access a page. Clear instructions are usually posted or emailed so that participants can join easily. Usually all you’ll need to do is click a button to join a virtual room.

Webinar pages can vary. But normally, there will be areas on the screen where you will see the speaker, some slides or notes, a corner with list of people that are online attending the webinar, and a chat box (in case you want to write in a question or comment). Webinar platforms can also allow you to speak and interact directly with the speaker and the other participants through your microphone and video.

What’s it like to attend a webinar?

If you have Skyped, Face Timed or Facebook video messaged your family back in your home country, then you already have a feel of what it’s like to be in a webinar or web conference. However, a webinar can be more structured. There is usually a speaker or moderator who dictates the flow of the webinar. There will be slides, videos or other presentation materials. There is a question and answer portion at the end. But it can also be unstructured and free-wheeling depending on the topic and platform. Webinars can be recorded as well. In this case, your interaction with the speaker will be limited (or not possible). However, you can pause the video or repeat it however many times you need. You can also stop it to take notes whenever you like. Attending a webinar is like attending a seminar except you are at home, probably with a cup of coffee on hand and wearing your most comfortable house clothes.

Why do you need to learn about webinars?

Are you one of those people who say that attending a class or seminar online will never be as good as attending one in person? I understand your skepticism. After all, face to face learning has been the way we have been doing it for a long time. Also, there are specific topics and conference goals that are done better face to face (for example a networking seminar) than online.

However, in this day and age where continuous learning is more important than ever, webinars are learning tools that are not only convenient, they are readily available and free. Not everyone has the time or resources to travel and attend seminars. But you can fit webinars into your busy schedule since they usually take only an hour, plus, you don’t have to get dressed and travel to attend. Webinars offer you knowledge or training in the most focused and flexible way. You will be able to listen minus distractions or other participants talking near you. You will also have the option to listen again (if there is a recording) or tune out without being disrespectful if you feel that the topic is not for you. Lastly, with internet access getting faster and the design of webinar platforms increasingly getting more interactive, the webinar experience continues to improve and get better and better.

Want to try attending a webinar? Who knows, you might like it! Start by going to our events page and registering for an event.

 
Source: What is a webinar? Elise Moreau, Lifewire. Accessed August 10, 2018.

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