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  • Mary Windham

Webinars, Conferences, and Live Streaming - Which is Right for You?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

From the Desk of Mary

Event Manager - Entrepreneur - Adventurer

From live-streamed concerts to work meetings on Zoom, our professional and personal worlds have moved online. With so many platforms, formats, and event styles to choose from, how do you know where to start for your next event?

This article covers the three basic virtual event types as well as platform and session examples, so you’ll be ready to tackle your next online soiree!

Webinars and Virtual Meetings

Format: Simple online video session with a host. The audience members have the option to participate, chat, or ask questions, and see each other in a simple tiled or grid format.

Content: The host can present their own content, including slides or videos, with the option of including audience members in discussions, chats, or breakout rooms. More informal virtual meetings can include general discussion or group activities.

Providers: Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger

We all know that Brady Bunch tiled format by now! Social gatherings, schools, webinars, and office meetings all use this easy, low-cost option extensively. This virtual event format is private and perfect for two-way communication, short events, and low production requirements.

Virtual Conferences

Format: Ranging from simple to extravagant, virtual conference platforms offer a one-way presentation with the option for Q&As, breakouts, chat rooms, activities, or other audience participation.

Content: These conferences often take place over one or more days with keynote speakers, seminars, breakout rooms, virtual happy hours, and more. The content is usually predetermined with less flexibility than a standard virtual meeting. In addition, participants may have access to an app or other digital conference materials.

Providers: Accelevent, vFairs, Bigmarker, CVENT

Discussion forums, chat rooms, virtual happy hours, and other diverse features mean virtual conferences are the perfect format for a longer event with substantial content, multiple speakers, and a need for networking behind the scenes. These larger events also allow for sponsorships and long-term marketing.

Live Streaming

Format: Real-time video broadcast directly to social media channels or other platforms with very limited audience interaction. The streamer chooses to stream publicly to a wide audience or to a select few.

Content: Like the previous formats, the host can present slides or videos and respond to questions. However, he or she can also customize the look and feel of guest appearances, content sharing, and branding to make it a highly polished event.

Providers: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo Livestream

This format is perfect for a highly produced look and feel designed to entertain and inform - rather than engage - your audience. It has the flair of a virtual conference in a shorter time period, but may require graphic designers and other specialists to effectively execute.

So which format is right for you? Think about your target audience, event goals, and your brand to decide which format will best meet your needs. Then, you’ll have to set the agenda and content. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Keynote Speeches

  • Fireside Chats

  • Breakout Sessions

  • AMAs / Town Halls

  • Panel / Roundtable Discussions

  • Themed Happy Hours

  • Live Music or Entertainment

Once you have your format and content, you’re set for success!

What do you think?

Do you have positive or negative experiences with live streaming, virtual conferences, or virtual meetings?

Let us know in the comments below! You can also follow Occasions, Inc. on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.


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