The Value of Webinars

Lately there has been talk at WebinarListings about the value of Webinars. One of our discussions concentrated on this topic and it was generally agreed upon that the real value Webinars offer is that of a tool. While this may be obvious to some, what exactly is this value, and where it comes from, may not be. I decided to attempt to pin it down. Is there a single best (or worst) aspect of the Webinar?

SeminarDoes the value of Webinars come from its convenience? Such as being able to invite people, and form an audience, from all over the world to attend a single event without their (or the host) ever having to leave the office or home?

Perhaps the Webinar’s value is associated with its intrinsic ability to become easily shared electronic information, i.e. because you can pass them around quickly online? An organization can reach a larger, potentially more varied audience in one shot.  Not that long ago organizations had a limited reach for conference attendees, usually people who were directly involved or slightly removed from their organization. Today it is much easier for both attendees and producers: producers can now reach out and share their work, and anyone who is interested can search, find and attend Webinars in any field that catches their interest.

These two aspects of Webinars can easily be seen as benefits, for both producers webinarand attendees, and it is possible that neither is better than the other. To talk about the value of the Webinar is beginning to sound like talking about the value of the internet. It makes information easy to share and easy to find, it‘s convenient, and it is here to stay.

According to Heidi Wong of Constant Contact, the value of a Webinar is only as much as the value of its content: “Great presenters, content with real impact and giving the audience the information they want not just what you want (sales pitch).” Heidi’s measure of success of a Webinar is by knowing that the attendee walks away with “something they can apply to their business right now, that makes impact.”

But what, if any, are the aspects of Webinars that make it a more difficult tool to use, i.e. something that could be seen as making the tool less valuable? If people can simply tune out or turn off a remote webinar, rather than the more tedious, old method of "opting out“ (walk out of a conference center and head back to their hotel room), presenters have to work harder to grab and hold their audience. Presenters now have to take much, much more into account than simply delivering their material – they must also be performers!

(Photo credit: seminar, webinar)

What do YOU see as the value of webinars? What makes it a less valuable tool than an in-person presentation?

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