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Virtual events allow people to interact online in a virtual environment. Even though they have gained a surge in popularity recently (especially after the pandemic), they have been around for quite some time.
Virtual events can serve as alternatives to plenty of real-life, physical events with in-person attendance, such as exhibitions, trade shows, job fairs, college open days and orientation sessions, and social gatherings.
A virtual event should emulate the real event as best as possible over the internet. It needs to provide that same experience and outcomes (if not better) of a real event in a virtual setting. And to do so, a virtual environment needs to imitate the setting and aura of a physical event.
So, to answer the question: it’s not much different.
In both cases, a group gathers and interacts with each other. So, people may mistake a usual online office meeting for a virtual event.
Yet, these virtual meetings are not considered virtual events. That’s because virtual events allow collaboration in a different manner. They’re larger in scale. They include virtual 3D venues, exhibit booths, networking features, and more.
Another distinguishing factor is that virtual events have online meetings within them. Various meetings can happen in the same virtual event, at the same time.
Example: Imagine a real-life trade exhibit or trade show. Many companies are exhibiting their products in their own booths. And different people are interacting with different companies in those booths.
Now shift that exhibit online and you have a virtual event. Where many meetings (interactions) are happening. And people can move between those booths online, like they do in physical events.
While a webinar can be an important aspect of a virtual event, a true virtual event, as is typically understood, is much larger in scale and is multi-purpose. But before getting into the details, let’s first establish what a webinar really is.
A webinar is simply a seminar conducted online. An audience is gathered before one or more speakers, and there is a single topic of discussion. Most commonly, seminars and webinars have the goal of teaching, tutoring, or instructing the audience. And the speakers are typically experts, or at least far more experienced than the majority of the audience, on the particular topic under discussion.
Seminars are held almost everywhere. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have largely been replaced by webinars, although they had still existed before, too, just not at this scale.
With webinars, the audience and the speakers will connect over the internet, and similar to a real seminar, there is interaction between the speakers and the audience, and Q&A sessions at the end as well.
Now that we understand what a webinar is, let’s look at the key differences between virtual events and webinars.
As said before, a webinar is a virtual event. Yet, a virtual event can have more than one webinar. In fact, it can allow hosts to hold multiple webinars at the same time. But, that usually doesn’t happen unless the webinars are short and there is a smaller audience.
Webinars are topic-focused. There can be a large audience at a webinar. And their interaction with each other or with the speakers isn’t mandatory. Attendees don’t have to turn on their cameras, and they don’t have to interact at all. But, after the webinar, it is better to have a Q&A session. So that the audience can ask their questions and interact with the speakers.
Cases where webinars can be held inside virtual events include open days, orientation sessions, and industry workshops. So, if there is a workshop being held virtually, and there are a few topics under discussion, then multiple webinars focused on each topic can be held inside this virtual event, with different speakers presenting them.
Another difference can be that in the case of virtual events, the participants are expected to maintain a level of presence that is similar to what it would be like in person. They can move about the virtual environment in the virtual event platform. And they should be able to interact with anyone available. Virtual events are usually held over the course of a few days.
In fact, virtual events can support your sales and lead generation cycles much more efficiently than a simple webinar could. This is all thanks to features like:
While webinars can be held over simpler tools, a virtual event will require a much more complex tool that makes all of the aforementioned requirements and design of a virtual environment possible.
For a virtual event to run smoothly, event space, lobbies, auditoriums, customizable booths, real-time collaboration, and live support is essential. The more the features, the better the experience for everyone involved.
We have looked into detail both virtual events and webinars.
In conclusion, a virtual event is best for scenarios where a lot of collaboration and interaction occurs. Where several companies or speakers are present at the same time. And there are many topics under discussion. Virtual events can take many days, and networking is an important aspect.
On the other hand, a webinar is better in cases when there is a specific topic to discuss. And the attendees all have a specific goal, which is usually to learn something new, and it’s also short in duration.
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