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Sometimes, when we talk about webinars, we get a lot of semantic confusion. For instance, some people think that webinars and Skype meetings are the same thing.

And if you start talking about webcasts then it gets even messier.

Webinars and webcasts are not the same thing. Most the terms online are pretty much synonyms of one of those two.

So let’s go back to the basics. Let’s establish once for all a definition for webinar and webcast.

Webinar definition

A webinar is a live presentation that takes place online. So participants can join the webinar to hear and ask questions to one or two presenters.

Unlike a meeting call, you only have one stream and several people attending the webinar. It is mostly a top-down, one way conversation.

A webinar has educational purposes in every sense. You can offer educational content. Yet, most webinar examples are sales webinar. They are meant to educate customers on a certain product.

The reason why webinars is so used in sales is because you can reach out to a relatively large audience at once. Plus, when people attend a webinar, they are half way down the conversion funnel.

Here are some great example of webinars.

Webcast definition

There are slight differences between webinars and webcasts. Hence the confusion.

A webcast is a video content distributed online. It’s not necessarily produced 100% online. It can be an offline event filmed and broadcasted at the same time over the Web.

Another difference, is that usually webcasts have a larger audience than a webinar.

Both need interaction capabilities such as a chat system or polls. Yet, most of the time webcasts are not in real-time. Just like on Youtube Live, you often get a strong delay between what is happening IRL and what you see on screen.

Semantic battle

What’s interesting is that many people started using other terms to define a webinar.

There are two main reasons for that. First the term « webinar » imply a corporate, « salesy » and boring dispositive. Second, as we mentioned, there’s still lot of confusion with webcast or meetings.

So, when you see things like « live events », « live workshops » or even « live sessions » you can think « webinar ».

So should you call them webinars or live workshops? There’s no easy answer unfortunately. It’s up to you!

Apparently, some companies are getting significant results by calling them with another name. Just like everything else, you should A/B test and see what works and what does not. You can even invent a term that fits your branding!

In the end, what matters is the format. Don’t do 45 minutes webinars if you drop-offs after 15 minutes. Don’t talk about topic A if people prefer topic B. Invite a guest if your audience is more engaged when you are having a conversation. Experiment.

That’s it, hope it helped, and let us what term you picked in the comments.

Keep streaming.

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