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October 08, 2008

Benefits of the Webinar Format

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

 

Given the economic hardships now being experienced in the U.S., and high fuel prices, many companies are struggling to figure out the best way to carry on business without putting too heavy a strain on already tight budgets. Cutting travel costs is one way to accomplish this, but it raises another challenge: how can relationships with colleagues and clients be maintained, long-term, if there is little or no face-to-face contact?
 
One technological solution to this dilemma that’s entered the scene relatively recently is the Webinar. A Webinar is basically an online seminar, in which a moderator presents information to an audience, but all the participants “gather” virtually, each at his or her own computer, for an online meeting of sorts. While a Webinar doesn’t involve face-to-face contact per se (although some solutions do include video chat capabilities), it can nonetheless be a very valuable way to keep in touch with clients and colleagues without hefty travel costs.
 
For Webinar attendees, the benefit of this format is that it allows them to learn about topics relevant to their work, without having to spend time and money traveling. Someone could attend a Webinar from an office desk, from a conference room, or even from a home office. Usually all that’s needed is a computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser. (In some cases, a desktop application and a phone are also necessary.)
 
Webinars are typically offered free or at very low cost to attendees, so this is an affordable for way to workers to stay on top of trends in their fields. Even better, the Webinar format allows attendees to ask questions and give feedback. And, although Webinars are typically held as live events, they’re also usually archived so anyone who isn’t available during the event can review it at a later time.
 
Companies interested in hosting Webinars will need to buy software or a hosted Webinar service, or find a provider that manages the creation and deployment of each online Web seminar. Whatever solution is chosen, the company should look for some certain key features that make the process of creating, hosting and archiving a Webinar easy.
 
Some features to look for:
  • Attendees can log in and test out the format prior to the live Webinar
  • Outlook address book contacts can be used seamlessly by hosts to invite attendees.
  • Attendees can participate in the Webinar regardless of their Internet connection speed.
  • Ad-hoc Webinars can be set up on-the-fly rather than being scheduled in advance.
To learn more about the benefits of Web-based seminars, please visit the Webinar channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Packetel (News - Alert).
 
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Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae's articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Mae Kowalke

 

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