Let’s face it, no one wants to go out of their way and end up out of pocket unless they really have to. These are the main complaints about seminars – they’re time consuming, expensive and create a disruption from normal business activities – and their major downfall in the battle against the much more accommodating Webinar.
Webinars are essentially a more accessible and flexible version of the seminar experience, providing learning experiences for yourself and your colleagues in the comfort of your office environment – or even at home, if you would prefer. However, despite the educational and personal advantages they provide, they are still suffering from a lack of use, and businesses are suffering themselves as a result.
Lectures, workshops and presentations all fall under the Webinar umbrella, which provide a two-way transmission over the Internet using video conferencing software to any location in the world. Users are able to give, receive and discuss information and data across the system, something which is not provided by their relatively basic cousin, the Webcast – a simple one-way broadcast with limited the educational potential. All offline seminar tools can still be used during a Webinar as well, such as PowerPoint presentations and handouts, meaning nothing is lost when transferring from a seminar to Webinar. Webinars can be much more interactive and inclusive than seminars as materials and information, including contact details for those involved, can be shared and copied amongst the group, allowing for greater collaboration and providing the audience with tools they much more likely to use, rather than paper handouts that can easily just end up in the bin. Just the ability to fully interact and become involved in the learning process can increase the amount of information an individual takes in and retains.
Webinars offer enormous learning potential to businesses and business managers across the world, but they also suffer from a lack of advertising. It therefore falls on the individual to source opportunities themselves – this can be an arduous task, but there are tools out there to help, including Web Retailer’s ecommerce events directory*, which lists Webinars and other online learning resources from around the world, making it easier for anyone to find what they are looking for.
Webinars are a perfect learning opportunity for teams as well as just individuals, and are relatively easy to set up – all that’s needed is a suitable IT system and a large enough room. The experience of learning as a group can be more beneficial than learning as individuals, as conversations about the content can be just as useful as the Webinar itself. Sessions which offer plenty of question and answer time are also particularly useful as this can help clarify and shape individuals learning.
The ability to record Webinars is another great advantage, as it allows audience members to watch back at any time, or for someone to catch up if they have missed the live session. This effectively means Webinars have a much longer shelf-life than offline seminars.
The business world is continually changing and evolving, and it is highly important that business managers keep up with developments in their industry in order to stay competitive. Taking advantage of the many free learning opportunities available to them means business managers are able to uncover a whole heap of knowledge vital to helping both themselves and their organisation advance and grow. It is important that more and more managers begin to discover and use Webinars as a major part of their business plan, as the education they provide could be the difference between their business succeeding and their business failing.
About the author
Andy Geldman is Founder of free global community site Web Retailer and an expert in E-commerce, with a passion for SMEs and mid-size E-commerce businesses.