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What Is a Webinar (Definition)? +How Does It Work?

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This post is part of a series called How to Make Successful Webinars (Ultimate Guide).
How to Record a Webinar on Your Mac or PC (In 2018)

According to Google, a webinar is a "seminar conducted over the Internet." While that webinar definition is true, a webinar is more than that. 

When done correctly, it's a powerful marketing tactic that can position you as an expert in your field. It'll allow you to connect with your audience, train new employees, and increase your profit margin.

What Is a Webinar
Learn how to use webinars in your business. In this article we study webinar meaning. (Image source: Envato Elements)

In this article, we'll explain what a webinar really is, how to use webinars in your business, and discuss how webinars work. You'll walk away with some practical ideas about running and benefiting from webinars. We'll also answer some questions like "are webinars live" and "how do I make a webinar?"

What Is a Webinar? (Definition & What It Means)

As mentioned in the earlier webinar definition, a webinar is a seminar conducted online. It allows you to host a virtual meeting without the need to find a suitable physical venue. With a webinar, share your presentation with your audience without physically being there. 

Your audience gets the benefit of participating without leaving the comfort of their home. They can simply watch your webinar using their desktop or laptop computer or mobile device.

In most cases, webinars are business-related and are used as an authority-building or relationship-building tactic. Webinars can also be used internally for team meetings, especially if you work with an international, remote team.

A webinar offers the following benefits when it comes to communicating with your audience:

  • Interactivity through live chat between the host and the attendees as well as attendees themselves. This not only allows webinar hosts to engage with their audience and build a relationship, but also to improve the webinar based on the feedback received.
  • The ability to share your screen and your webcam so your audience can not only see your presentation, but also your face.
  • The ability for your audience to ask questions and take part in polls, which is another way to keep the audience engaged throughout the webinar.
  • Webinars can be recorded and then repurposed later on as digital products such as workshops and training sessions.
  • Webinars can accommodate a large number of participants due to the fact they aren't limited by physical space.

If you've been wondering, "are webinars live," here's your answer. There are two different types of webinars:

  • Live webinar. Live webinars happen in real-time and allow for much more interactivity as the audience can ask questions at any time and get an answer.
  • Pre-recorded webinars. Pre-recorded webinars have already taken place and are usually offered as a replay. This means the audience can't take part in a live chat nor can they get their questions answered. With a pre-recorded webinar, you can offer several replay times to allow anyone to register and view it at a time that’s convenient for them.

How to Use Webinars in Your Business in 2020

Now that we've covered what webinars are, let's discuss different ways they can be used in your business. Here's a list of common uses for webinars:

1. Use Webinars as a Marketing & Sales Tool

In most cases, webinars are used as a part of a business or brand's marketing strategy. Webinars aren't reserved for just large companies and corporations. They can be successfully used by small businesses, solopreneurs, and startups as well. In this case, requesting registrations for the webinar allows you to significantly grow your email list. At the end you can pitch your product and service to an interested and engaged audience as well as follow up with them later on.

2. Free Content as List Building Strategy

While webinars usually involve a sales pitch at the end, it’s not uncommon for business owners to run a "no-pitch" webinar purely to build their email list. In this case, all that's required out of participants is to register for the webinar with their email address.

An alternative to this is using a social media platform such as YouTube Live, Instagram Live or Facebook Live to host a free webinar. Encourage attendees to follow you on those platforms so they don't miss it.

The main goal of this type of webinar is to establish your expertise and build a relationship with your audience by providing value instead of focusing on the sale.

Once you've connected with them on social media, you can continue to engage and turn them into email subscribers where you nurture the relationship even further.

3. Live Q&A Sessions

Another way to use webinars is to run a live Q&A session where you answer your audience's questions about your products or services. This type of webinar works well with product-based business owners, whether the product is digital or physical. You can not only answer questions about your product, but also offer product demonstrations or interactive walkthroughs.

Use this type of webinar as an opportunity to move your customers from a trialing stage into a paid tier and keep your retention rate high. You can also use this to upsell the next paid plan or other products and services, which represent the next logical step in their customer journey.

Q&A sessions also work well for authors, independent musicians, or filmmakers. They can be a great way to connect with your audience, but also to get feedback on the direction of your creative work.

Design the perfect Q&A slide by following the steps in this tutorial:

Once your audience feels involved in creating the final piece, they'll be more inclined to not only buy it but to also spread the word about it to their friends and family.

4. Live Training Webinars

Live Training Webinars
What is webinar training? It's a great way to train a remote team. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you've got a remote team, a webinar is a great way to train them on a new piece of software, walk them through the standard operating procedures in your company, update them on the latest changes, and more.

Since webinars can be recorded, you don't have to worry about team members missing it as you can simply send them a recording of a webinar.

5. Interactive Interviews

You can also use webinars to conduct live, interactive interviews where your audience can join in and participate. Provide your customers with more value by bringing on an expert and get exposure to their audience once they register for the webinar.

6. Customer Onboarding & Training

If you've got a software company, you can benefit greatly from using webinars to onboard and train your customers. This can happen live as well as in the form of a pre-recorded webinar. It allows you to cut the confusion and frustration that comes from having to learn new software, which then increases your churn rate.

Webinars make it easier to learn new software and adjust to it. In return, once your customers know how to use it, they're more inclined to stay as well as open new support tickets.

How Does a Webinar Work in 2020?

To host a webinar, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of first. Let's address them more in-depth below:

1. Webinar Structure

Most webinars are usually between 45-60 minutes long and involve the host presenting a specific topic, a Q&A session with the audience, and a sales pitch at the end.

First, you'll need to come up with a topic for your webinar. Your topic should be of interest to your audience. So, it pays off to keep a running list of common questions and interests that you notice with your current customers, clients, and followers. The topic should relate to your business if you plan on using it as a marketing or sales tool.

Once you know what your topic will be, you'll need to outline it and then create a slide deck for it using a program like PowerPoint or Keynote. A webinar template like those available through Envato Elements is a great way to create a professional-looking slide deck quickly.

PowerPoint templates

Envato Elements has a great offer: download as many as design assets you want for one low price. 

If you're interested in a one-time webinar template download, you can also find attractive, professional PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver.

You'll also need to create a marketing plan that'll promote your webinar to your audience.

This article features some webinar templates to help you start creating your webinar today:

After you've taken care of those details, it’s time to consider the technical requirements.

2. Technical Requirements

When it comes to technical requirements, you’ll need to consider the following:

Webinar Platform

One of the first choices, you’ll have to make is your webinar platform. There's no shortage of webinar platforms to choose from, ranging from free to paid, depending on your budget.

Almost all the paid platforms offer interactive features such as live chat, polls, the ability to share your screen and your webcam, and more. They also offer the ability to record the webinar and set up an automatic replay schedule. The price will depend on the number of participants that show up live. Some of the most popular platforms include WebinarJam, Webinar Ninja, Demio, and others.

Demio

If you’re on a budget, you can use YouTube Live to host a webinar for free. For this, you'll need to set up a YouTube channel first. The downside of using YouTube Live is that you can't set up an automatic replay of the recorded webinar. But you can download the recording from your YouTube channel and repurpose it as a digital product.

Camera

You'll also need a camera so that your audience can see you. This allows you to build a better relationship with them and adds a dose of personality to your brand. Use your webcam if you've got nothing else, but keep in mind that you don't have a lot of control over your built-in webcam.

You can also invest in a more professional USB webcam or even take advantage of a pro-video camera if you've got one already. The latter options give you more control over the position of your camera. They can be used with software that adds extra effects or allows you to fine-tune details such as brightness, contrast, and more.

Microphone

The next piece of equipment you'll need is a microphone. As with the camera, there's a wide variety of choice from using USB microphones to lavalier microphones to boom microphones. The choice will, again, depend on your budget as well as personal preference. Keep in mind that you'll get better sound quality than with a built-in microphone.

Internet Connection

Lastly, your internet connection will play a role in the quality of your webinar. Ideally, you want your download and upload speeds to be between a minimum of 4 Mbps and an optimum speed of 15 Mbps.

Test your internet speed with a tool like SpeedTest.net and talk to your ISP about the possibility of upgrading your plan if need be.

The following tutorial explains how to set up and run a webinar:

3. How to Join a Webinar

How your audience joins the webinar depends on your chosen platform. Some of them require the attendees to download a small application first and enter their registration details.

Some platforms require a special link that'll be emailed to them before the webinar starts. On some platforms, your audience will have the ability to call in and attend by dialing a specific phone number.

Remember to read through the documentation of your chosen platform so you can set up all the necessary emails to ensure your audience doesn't miss the webinar.

4. Post-Webinar Follow Up

Finally, once the webinar is over, you’ll want to follow up with audience members who registered but didn't show up. Send them a replay link and give them a limited time frame such as 24 or 48 hours to view the recording.

You can also send a special-offer email if your webinar was focused on a sales pitch and remind them when the offer expires.

5 Quick Webinar Slide Design Trends for 2020

The design of your webinar can make or break your webinar. If you've got a design that makes it hard to read the slides, people will lose interest. Having a nice design will make your presentation look and feel more professional.

Here are five webinar design trends to be aware of:

1. Minimal

Minimal designs are perfect for anyone who doesn't want a distracting design. A minimal design is great if you want a design that won't distract your audience. Minimal design is great if you want people to focus on the chart or your text.

2. Vintage

Vintage

Vintage design has a nice classic feel. A vintage design typically has soft hues and retro style aspects to the design. This can be a great contrast to the modern loud and noisy designs that are popular today.

3. Colorful Themes

Colorful themes are fun and full of creativity that'll inspire your audience. They'll make your presentation stand out. Just remember to make sure that the colors don't clash.

4. Dark Backgrounds

Dark Background

The dark background has become really popular because they work best on electronic displays. A dark background is great if you're giving a long webinar or presentation because it's easy on the eyes.

5. Colorful Charts

Having colorful charts and graphs will draw the attention of the audience to the data you are presenting. If you've got a plain background your colorful charts or data will stand out against everything else on the slide. Colorful charts and graphs make that data a little more interesting for the audience.

The Best Webinar Templates of 2020

Need help designing your webinar presentation? Turn to Envato Elements for professionally designed webinar presentation templates. Here are some of the best:

1. Magnum PowerPoint Template

Magnum

Magnum has eight color schemes to choose from for your presentation. This template comes with over 970 slides that you can add information to. It also comes with infographics, custom animation for slides, lists, and tables.

2. The Beginning - Business Presentation

Beginning

The beginning comes with 50 unique templates. They've got a nice design that can be used for any topic. This template comes with icons and infographics that you can add to your slides. The beginning comes with both light and dark versions.

3. Metropolis - Business PowerPoint Template

Metropolis

Metropolis comes with 50 unique slides. There are both light and dark versions. Along with slide templates, you also get infographics and icons. The design in the Metropolis template is a professional and simple design.

4. Eduvision - Education PowerPoint Template

Eduvison

Eduvison template comes with over 50 unique slide templates. Along with slide templates, it comes with infographics and icons. This template comes in two aspect ratio sizes: 16:9 and 4:3.

5. Pozea : Webinar, Seminar & Conference PowerPoint

Pozea

Pozea template comes with 100 total slides and 50 unique slides. Easily add images of your choice to the template by dragging and dropping them into the image placeholder. This template comes with two color scheme options for you to choose between.

Learn More About Webinars and How to Use Them

Making a webinar from scratch can be time-consuming. Using a template will ensure that you've got a professional template that'll impress your audience. 

Now that you've looked at trends and templates, you can better understand the answer to "how do webinars work." Learn more by studying our webinar guide. Or start with one or more of these tutorials:

Improve Your Business With Webinars

No matter what type of business you run, you can realize great benefits from hosting a webinar. Now that we've answered the question, "what is a webinar and how does it work," you're ready to create your own webinar.

With the tips in this article and the rest of our webinar series, you’ll become a webinar pro in no time. Start using webinars in your business to connect with your audience, establish your expertise, and reach your business and sales goals.

 Editorial Note: The tutorial was originally published in August of 2018. It's been comprehensively revised to include new information—with special assistance from Sarah Joy.

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