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When to Use Meetings vs. Webinars

Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinar can support a variety of engaging and interactive online events, but there are a few key differences.
6 min read

Updated on September 26, 2022

Published on September 21, 2020

Meetings vs. Webinars

Did you know that you can seamlessly deliver a world-class event, virtually, using Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars? The two solutions can support a variety of engaging and interactive online events, but there are a few key differences when using Zoom for meetings and Zoom for webinars.

Meetings are for connecting a group of people for two-way discussion and collaboration. Meetings are best for group collaboration, team meetings, sales demos, online learning and trainings, and office hours. Meetings allow all participants to easily interact and share with each other and the host.

Webinars are best for presenting to a large audience where the host wants more control over the experience and audience members join without their audio or video turned on. The focus for webinars is on the presenter or panelists.  The audience joins to listen and learn and then ask questions at the end. Zoom Webinar supports large internal and external events, such as company all-hands, city council meetings, product announcements, customer conferences, concerts, and even religious gatherings.

This side-by-side comparison helps break down when to use paid meetings features versus webinars.

And let’s take a deeper dive into the features of each solution so you can better understand which solution is right for your next online event.

Zoom Meetings

Meetings are designed to be highly collaborative, allowing all participants to share content and turn their video on or off, annotate, whiteboard, and contribute to the conversation. Due to the collaborative nature of virtual meetings, they are best for events where you know all the participants attending.

Here are the key features you can leverage in your meetings: 

  • Waiting Rooms - In addition to requiring a passcode, the host can enable Waiting Rooms to screen participants and ensure only those invited to the event can join.
  • Registration - For licensed Zoom Meetings users, you do have the option to schedule your meetings and require registration for participants. Customize your registration page to capture your desired fields.
  • Screen sharing - The host of a meeting can share valuable content and permit attendees to also share their screen. When sharing your screen you can also share your computer sound which is great for playing music and videos. 
  • Online Whiteboarding - When sharing your screen, you have the option to share a whiteboard. This allows you to share a blank white screen that you can annotate on. Just like a whiteboard in the classroom, you can draw, type, and put stickers on it. The meeting host can allow participants to co-annotate, meaning they can also draw on the shared content.
  • Breakout Rooms - The Breakout Rooms feature allows you to divide your meeting into as many as 100 separate sessions, creating individual spaces for close collaboration and small-group discussion.
  • Reactions - Meeting participants can react during a meeting by an emoji to communicate without interrupting the meeting. The emoji will appear in the corner of the participant’s video. 
  • Chat - In-meeting chat supports 1-to-1 private chat as well as group chat. The meeting host can choose who the participants can chat with or disable chat entirely.
  • Polling -  For licensed Zoom Meetings users, you can set up and launch up to 25 polls in a single meeting. Launch single-choice or multiple-choice polls to engage with your meeting attendees. 
  • Streaming - Licensed Zoom Meetings users have the ability to stream to YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or a custom streaming service to expand their audience reach.
  • View management - The host or co-host can spotlight up to nine video participants as the primary active speaker, and participants will only see these speakers. This feature is often used to spotlight a keynote speaker. The host or co-host can also rearrange the order of the gallery view for attendees.

When hosting large meetings, it is important the host understands the features they have access to and how to enable/disable them. To ensure a secure and uninterrupted online event, check out our blog on securing your Zoom Meetings.

Zoom Webinars 

As an add-on to your paid Zoom Meeting license, Zoom Webinars provide a tool to connect and engage audiences across the globe. Using Zoom for webinars provides Zoom’s same great video quality and reliability and ensures everyone has a seamless experience.

Here are key features that will make your online events engaging and impactful when using Zoom for webinars:

  • Registration - When scheduling your webinar, you can require registration. Like meetings, you can customize your registration page to capture your desired fields. 
  • Branding - Customize your webinar registration page with a color scheme, title, banner, logo, and speaker information.
  • Source tracking URLs - Within Zoom’s webinar product, you can create unique links that allow you to see where your registrants are coming from if you share the webinar registration page in multiple locations. For example, you can share one source tracking link on Facebook and another on Twitter to see which performs the best.
  • Q&A - The Q&A feature allows attendees to send in questions during the webinar. The host, co-hosts, and panelists can answer questions submitted. Additionally, if the host enables it, attendees can answer and upvote other attendees’ questions. After your webinar, you can download the Q&A report and review the questions that were submitted. For example, to provide a more targeted post-webinar follow-up experience, you can review what questions and topics an attendee asked about.
  • PayPal and EventBrite integrations - These integrations are great for charging for your speaking sessions or online classes. The PayPal integration allows you to charge a registration fee for your webinars, and the EventBrite integration enables you to sell tickets and manage registrations to your webinars (and meetings) and automatically sync participant information. Check out the Zoom App Marketplace to see our other integrations for webinars.
  • Post-webinar survey - When scheduling your webinar, you can set up a survey that will appear post-event. You can create the survey yourself or have your attendees be redirected to a third-party survey solution. This feature is great to gain feedback on how your event went, how your content was received, and so on. 
  • Attendee view management - With webinars, you have three-screen support to show panelists, the active speaker, and the presentation at the same time. What’s more, the host can spotlight multiple users' videos, allowing attendees on desktop to see this. A webinar host and panelists can also rearrange the order of the Gallery View. 
  • Streaming - With Zoom for webinars you also have the ability to reach an even wider audience by streaming to YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or to a custom streaming platform.

Zoom Meetings vs. Zoom Webinars

Whether you are hosting your first webinar or looking to get more out of your next virtual event, join a live training to learn the ins and outs of using Zoom for webinars. To get expert tips for hosting virtual events using Zoom solutions, check out our on-demand webinar “Best Practices for Hosting Online Events.”

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