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Webinar vs. Video Conference: Differences & Similarities

Don’t know the difference between webinar vs video conference formats? Check out their differences and discover which is best for what.
Abel Grunfeld
Head of Marketing
Last Updated:
March 11, 2024
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

We won’t blame you if you get mixed up between webinars and video conferences. But, while the two are similar they have different purposes.

If you’re looking to compare understand which is best, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we will be taking a look at the differences of webinar vs video conference formats. Use it to decide which one is right for your next online event.

What is a webinar conferencing?

A webinar conference — short for ‘web-based seminar’ — is a virtual event hosted over the internet. This type of event usually takes the form of a presentation, slideshow, workshop, or lecture.

When hosting a webinar, your aim is to share vital information and knowledge with the audience members. Many companies and content creators also use webinars as promotional tools. For instance, you may use them to sell products, packages, or software.

As part of webinars, participants join remotely using webinar software. Each audience member engages with the content through a variety of features like live chat, Q&A sessions, and polls.

What is a video conference?

Video conferencing is a stand-in when face-to-face meetings are not an option. For instance, if there are participants in various locations or those who work remotely. This type of video event allows real-time communication — both audio and video — to ensure proper collaboration.

Unlike webinars, which typically involve one-to-many presentations, video conferences are more conducive to group discussions, brainstorming sessions, and team meetings. Businesses tend to run these as closed events, meaning only members of the company or clients attend them.

Webinar conferencing vs. video conference: differences and similarities

Now that we have taken a quick look at what webinars and video conferences are, let’s delve into how they overlap.

As you might imagine, there are some similarities between these two types of events. However, they should not be confused with one another. In the following section, we will break down the main differences and similarities.  

Differences between webinars conferencing and video conferences


The main difference between webinars and video conferences is their purpose.

Webinars are usually informational or promotional. These events either educate or market to a large audience.

On the other hand, video conferences focus on collaboration and interaction among smaller groups, usually within a business.


Next up, the format of these two types of events are different. Webinars usually have a structured format. That means a main presenter delivers pre-planned content to an audience.

Video conferences are different in that they allow for multi-directional communication, encouraging participation and discussion among all participants.


Webinars and video conferences both entail a high level of engagement. However, the way that it manifests tends to differ.

Webinars have interactive features like polls, surveys, and Q&A sessions to engage the audience.

Video conferences may have a plan but also promote spontaneous discussions and collaboration among participants.

Similarities between webinars and video conferencing

Remote collaboration:

Of course, the main overlap between these two types of events is that they both happen remotely. Participants can join from anywhere with an internet connection. As we will discover in this guide, there are a few programs they can use.

Audiovisual communication:

Webinars and video conferences support live audio and video communication, creating a sense of presence among participants. That means that people can be in different locations and have a seamless experience.

Screen sharing and presentations:

Hosts and presenters can share their screens during both webinars and video conferences, facilitating presentations, document sharing, and collaboration. While this feature serves different purposes in both of these arrangements, it tends to be fundamental.

Webinar conferencing or video conferencing: Which should you choose?

If you are thinking about running a virtual event, you need to make sure that you pick the right format for your needs. Here’s what you need to look at to know which you should choose.

When should you use a webinar?

Webinars tend to be better for educational events or promotional showcases. If you have been toying with the idea of hosting a webinar, here are the pros and cons to this format:

Webinar pros:

  • Scalability: Looking to reach a large audience? Webinars are the ideal solution. You can use these when curating educational seminars, product demonstrations, or promotional events. Start small and scale up to meet the demands of your audience.
  • Analytics: When you are running a webinar, tracking the success of the event is an absolute must. Some webinar platforms provide detailed analytics and tracking metrics, allowing hosts to measure audience engagement and gather valuable insights.You can use analytics to find out valuable information about your target audience. However, since video conferences mainly deal with internal teams, you don’t get the same insights here.
  • Nurture leads. One of the biggest advantages to hosting a webinar is to nurture existing leads. When you run this type of event, you are giving your audience real value. People have the chance to learn from your team as you position yourself as experts in the field. If they were cold leads before the start of the call, they will be warm by the end of it.


  • Limited interactivity: While webinars offer interactive features, they may lack the spontaneity and engagement of face-to-face interactions. Since there are some obstacles when running an online event, you need to add structure to it. That means that you will not have the opportunity to allow people to speak up randomly.
  • Technical requirements: Hosting a successful webinar requires reliable internet connectivity, quality audiovisual equipment, and proficient use of webinar software. However, often enough, it doesn’t take too long to get to grips with the technical side of things. Make sure you choose the best webinar software for your needs. While audience members may be more forgiving during a video conference, they expect only the top quality as part of a webinar.
  • Attention span: The average person’s attention span is a matter of mere seconds. You need to work hard to keep people’s attention. That can be challenging during a webinar, especially with longer presentations or monotonous content.

Best for: Educational seminars, lead generation, product launches, promotional events

When should you use video conferencing?

Does a webinar not quite meet your needs? Don’t worry — there is another option. If your goal is to communicate directly with your own team or clients, using video conferencing could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Let’s break down the times when it makes the most sense to run an event using a video conferencing format.


  • Real-time collaboration: Working on a project together? If you’re in different locations, video conferences  are the answer. These setups enable spontaneous discussions, brainstorming sessions, and decision-making among team members, fostering collaboration and innovation. You can work one-on-one no matter where you are.
  • Personal connection: Face-to-face interaction via video conferencing helps build relationships, strengthen team cohesion, and maintain a sense of camaraderie. If you work as part of a remote team, you can boost the connection you have between cohorts by using this approach. It works much better than simply messaging one another.
  • Flexibility: The working world is forever-changing. Video conferencing offers flexibility in scheduling meetings, allowing participants to join from various locations and time zones without the need for travel. You can have meetings without them imposing on your life.


  • Group size limitations: Size matters when it comes to video conferences. Since everyone tends to have an input here, large meetings can become chaotic and challenging to manage effectively. You may need to keep the group size small.
  • Structure issues: Unlike webinars, video conferences don’t follow an exact script. That means that you may run into issues when it comes to what happens during a video conference. For that reason, you should always have a vague order of events while also allowing for some free-flowing conversation and collaboration, too.
  • Security concerns: When you are speaking about important things pertaining to the business, you need to keep that private. Ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive information shared during video conferences is essential to prevent data breaches or unauthorized access. This does not tend to be an issue when it comes to webinars.

Best for: Team meetings, client consultations, collaborative workshops, training, ideas sessions

Bonus: Best webinar conferencing software


Price: Free (Free Version), $15.00 (Standard Version), $24.00 (Pro Version)

Best for: Webinar presentations, promotional virtual events, effortless audience collaboration

Riverside is one of the best webinar conferencing platforms with an array of handy features offering you a seamless experience. Whether you’re hosting a webinar or conference, you’ve got all you need.

Simply create your own virtual studio and invite up tp 7 guests and 1000 audience members to join you online. You can share a presentation and encourage audience engagement through live-call ins. Plus, you can keep focused on what counts. Use our teleprompter to stay on track and use Producer Mode to give another member the behind-the-scenes controls.

If you want to repurpose your webinar record your event in up to 4K video and 48kHz audio resolution. We offer local recording so that you can create high-quality recordings without relying on an internet connection. You’ll also get AI transcriptions and summaries including key takeaways, chapters, titles and descriptions, all to help you take your webinar or conference further.

Riverside webinar conferencing platform

Key Features:

  • High-quality recordings: Record in high quality at up to 4K video and 48kHz audio resolution
  • Live streaming capabilities: Stream to YouTube, LinkedIn or any custom RTMP
  • Live call-ins: Giving audience members the chance to engage with you in real-time
  • Multitrack recording: Download separate audio, video and screenshare  tracks for each guest
  • Presentation recorder: Upload presentation slides and record them in top-quality
  • Highly accurate transcriptions: AI-generated transcription in 100+ languages
  • Built-in teleprompter: Upload a script and have it appear in front of you live with our teleprompter
  • Text-based editor: Trim recordings by simply deleting text in your recording transcripts
  • Magic Clips tool: Let AI turn your recording’s key moment into shareable videos
  • Producer Mode: Give someone control to all the behind-the-scenes settings without getting in the recording
  • Audio enhancement: Background noise removal and level normalization for crystal clear audio
  • AI generated show notes: Help you write compelling show notes that hook your audience
Start recording with Riverside
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Zoom Webinar

Price: Starting at $40 per month per host

Best for: Large-scale webinars and virtual events

Zoom Webinar is a comprehensive platform that enables organizations to host interactive webinars with up to 10,000 attendees. It offers robust features for audience engagement, including Q&A sessions, polls, and live chat.

Zoom webinar conferencing platform

Key Features:

  • Customizable registration pages and branding options
  • HD video and audio streaming capabilities
  • Advanced webinar analytics and reporting tools
  • Integration with popular marketing and CRM platforms


Price: Starting at $49/month

Best for: Marketing and lead generation webinars

GoToWebinar is a user-friendly webinar platform trusted by millions of users worldwide. It provides a seamless experience for hosting professional webinars, with features such as automated email reminders, registration management, and customizable branding options.

GoToWebinar video conferencing

Key Features:

  • Interactive polls, surveys, and audience engagement tools
  • Screen sharing and live annotation capabilities
  • Built-in recording and playback functionality
  • Integration with popular email marketing and CRM software

FAQs on Webinar & Video Conferencing

What is the difference between a Zoom meeting and a webinar?

Zoom meetings are often just general conferences. That means that a group of individuals — usually from the same business — will use the platform to communicate in realtime. This may take the form of a meeting, a conference call, or a quick chat.

On the other hand, a webinar is a tool that allows you to share information or knowledge with an audience. You can use this as a promotional tool or a way to educate your audience.

What is the difference between a webinar and a virtual conference?

A webinar is an educational event in which you showcase expertise or information to your audience. Often enough, you will encourage your audience to engage with you online.

A virtual conference is often a more formal affair. In the latter, you may be presenting directly to a large audience. Members can watch you via a link but are often not able to engage in real-time. However, at times, the two names are used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

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