Gone are the days when you had to worry about the physical setup of a venue before your event. As more companies and institutions are offering flexible work arrangements for their teams, webinars and webcasts are becoming the default platforms for delivering corporate communications as well as learning and development.
However, not all web-hosted activities are considered webinars, nor should you think of webcasts as something similar to webinars. In this article you'll learn the difference and determine how to decide which of the two will be more applicable to the event your team is organizing.
What Is a Webinar?
A webinar is a web-based broadcast that heavily relies on audience interaction. In simpler terms, it's an online seminar or activity that's often educational or training-based. With webinars, you don't necessarily need a big audience, and the content is often reliant on group participation and engagement.
Related Reading: How to Host a Great Webinar
What Is a Webcast?
A webcast, though still a web-based broadcast, usually features one speaker or a small group of pre-determined presenters, and doesn't rely on audience engagement. As a result, webcasts are ideal for larger audiences, especially if you aim to extend the reach of your live events.
Webinar vs. Webcast Main Differences
Type of Broadcast
While webinars and webcasts revolve around single-stream broadcasts that aim to reach an audience, there's still a difference between how the two types of broadcasts work. Even if it's generally classified as a one-to-many broadcast, a webinar can still accommodate multiple streams from several sources. On some occasions, webinars give you the option to allow your audience to broadcast from their end as well.
Webcasts, though very similar in how they work, often don't have multi-stream capabilities. Depending on your chosen platform's features, you can still modify your webcast settings and allow several people to present to a large audience. However, your audience doesn't have the option to broadcast from their end.
As previously stated, webcasts are ideal for a very large audience, while webinars are more suited for smaller online seminars and training. With a webinar, you can accommodate anything from a handful of participants to a couple of hundred or even a few thousand. Anything more than that, and you should consider using a webcast for your virtual event instead.
Of course, you also have to note the type of activity you're planning to host since the number of online guests you invite should still be appropriate to your topic and format. For example, if you're planning a high-end seminar with a few distinguished panelists and a target audience of international participants, inviting hundreds of guests could be appropriate. On the other hand, if you want to present a 15-minute product demonstration to test market feasibility, then 20 to 30 guests would be a good range.
Remember, you can always record your webinar and upload it to a video host for later viewing. With Viostream, you can use branded galleries to share your webinar with a larger audience long after the camera stops rolling. Start your free trial and try Viostream for yourself.
Engagement and Collaboration
In terms of audience interaction, the difference between the two is huge. With webcasts, the audience is not expected to have any form of interaction at all. Instead, they can simply absorb the information the host provides.
In contrast, webinars are collaborative and require interaction between the host and the audience. Most of the time, audience interaction is highly encouraged. Sharing of information and responding via virtual cues are a common part of webinars. For example, you can create polls and assess the audience's reactions in real-time, or you can ask them to share their screens after a scheduled brainstorming activity.
Purpose and Function
Both webcasts and webinars have one primary purpose, which is to share information with a target audience. However, a webinar's function is usually restricted by the audience and the topic you have in mind. Therefore, the more interactive your audience is — either before, during, or after the presentation — the more engaging your webinar will be.
Even though webcasts can still be used for presentations, they will interactivity. Most likely you won't be able to gauge your participants' insights and ask them to share their ideas with their co-attendees. But if your aim is to reach a bigger audience, and you don't need your audience's input to move forward, then a webcast will work best for you.
Related Reading: Why Corporate Webinars are On the Rise
How to Choose Between Webinar and Webcast
Both webcasts and webinars can be very powerful tools to help your team reach your target audience. For example, if your business's main aim is to create diverse events for a very large audience, regardless of interactivity and engagement, then webcasts will work best for you. However, if your priorities lie in specialized events for a smaller target market, and you prefer high interaction and collaboration between the hosts and the guests, then webinars will be more suitable for you.
Still not sure which type of broadcast to use for your next virtual event? Or maybe you just want to learn how to access the presentation and media management features you need before you start organizing your next project. This is where Viostream can help.
If you're looking for a team who can help you create online events with highly engaging content, our video hosting features are just the right fit for you. The best thing about working with Viostream is that you'll also be able to evaluate your video analytics and learn how video can help you drive more sales on a secure platform.