What is a webinar?

Webinars let you connect with large online audiences and share video, audio, and content from any location and device for better engagement. Most organizations offer recordings of the webinars they host; a link to the recording is made available so that the live webinar can be replayed at a later time. This provides an opportunity for people to either re-watch the session or to watch the original webinar for the first time if they were unable to attend the live event.



The difference between a webinar and a video conference meeting is that a webinar typically features one or several key speakers or presenters addressing a large audience, whereas a video conference is usually a smaller meeting that supports informal discussions between all participants.

Woman smiling at computer
  • Microphone

    The audio is usually broadcast via a microphone connected to the speakers’ laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

  • eye in mirror

    The video is shared through a web camera connected to the speakers’ laptops, tablets, or smartphones, using conferencing software and/or an internet browser.

  • presenter

    Webinar host and panelists are able to share presentations, videos, web pages, and other multimedia content.

  • nested folders

    In a webinar, the host organization is able to interact with its audience. Often questions or comments are communicated in real-time via a live chat and Q&A feature.

  • globe location

    Webinar audiences can join the event from anywhere they have access to a decent internet connection.

Webinar features

Today’s best-in-breed webinar software offers hosts and participants a variety of features that support and enhance their online event experience.

  • Webinar control management

    Webinar control management gives the host the ability to manage participants. It enables the host(s) to check the audience list, mute and unmute individuals and groups of people, and even block a person from participating if they don’t adhere to appropriate behavior.

  • Screen sharing

    Screen sharing allows presenters the ability to share presentation slides, images, and even videos. With Zoom Webinars, panelists can present their presentations directly. The webinar host does not need to upload the presentation to accommodate final edits.

  • Webinar Q&A (question & answer)

    Q&A (question & answer) enables attendees to ask questions during the webinar, and for the panelists, co-hosts, and host to answer their questions. Optionally, attendees can answer and upvote each other’s questions.

  • In-webinar chat

    In-webinar chat offers the host and panelists a simple and easy way to communicate with attendees. Presenters can share links, resources, and helpful advice throughout the event to give webinar participants information that is helpful to complete their experience.

Person looking at monitor
Laptop screen
  • Webinar polls

    Webinar polls give hosts the ability to check in with their audience in real-time. Questions can be customized to hone in on the particular interests of the webinar attendees. The level of audience attentiveness can be gauged by tracking their responsiveness. If appropriate, live poll results can be displayed to the audience to facilitate further discussion and interaction between panelists and the audience.

  • Post-webinar surveys

    Post-webinar surveys can be scheduled to share with webinar attendees at the end of the event. A survey’s responses can be downloaded as a report to simplify feedback collection. In a Zoom Webinar, the host can redirect attendees to a third-party survey service (like Google Forms or Survey Monkey).

  • Webinar recordings

    Recording the webinar provides the host with the ability to use the video of the event for various other purposes such as marketing, education, new hire onboarding, etc.

  • Dashboard and webinar analytics

    The Zoom Dashboard allows administrators on the Zoom Webinars account to view information ranging from overall usage to live in-meeting data. This data can be used to analyze issues that may have occurred as well as better understand how users are holding meetings within their companies. With Zoom, the Dashboard data updates at 12:00 GMT daily. Data is stored in the Dashboard for 12 months.

How do you create a webinar?

Scheduling a webinar

Zoom Webinars allows you to broadcast an event to up to 50,000 view-only attendees, depending on the size of your webinar license. They can require pre-registration—with the option for the host to add custom registration questions—or registration can be turned off for attendees to join by simply clicking a link at the time of the webinar. Webinars can be held once, can reoccur in a series, or can be the same session held multiple times.

Webinars can require pre-registration before the event. Using webinar software, the host can typically approve the registrants, add custom registration questions and pull reports on the registration. Registration is not always required, although attendees usually need to enter their name and email address when joining the event.

Scheduling a webinar with registration requires your registrants to complete a brief form before receiving the link to join the webinar. In this way, host companies can collect the names, email addresses, and other information from the registrants.
Using most webinar software, after you’ve scheduled a webinar with registration, you can:

  • Import registrants via CSV
  • Collect additional information by customizing your registration questions
  • Edit the webinar emails and choose which emails to send
  • Customize the registration page
  • Use multiple URLs to track where your registrants are coming from
  • Manage registrants and resend confirmation emails

If you do not need to collect registrant information, you can schedule a registration-less webinar.

Video recording production set
Webinar presenters and panelists

Webinar presenters and panelists

With different webinar software, there are different definitions of those who are key webinar presenters. In a Zoom Webinar, there is the host, and there are presenters called panelists. Panelists are full participants in the meeting. They have access to most host controls including sharing video and viewing the attendee list. With Zoom Webinars, panelists receive permissions to do these things from the webinar host.

The maximum number of panelists is dependent primarily on meeting capacity, but also the webinar capacity the host sets.

Most webinar software allows you to manage the panelists and attendees in your webinar. With Zoom Webinars, you can promote a panelist to co-host or attendee to panelist, demote panelists to attendees, unmute, stop the video, and more.

You are also able to view reports after your webinar concludes, to see registration, attendee, polling, and other information.

Webinar attendees

Attendees are view-only participants who can be unmuted if the host chooses. Their view of the webinar is controlled by the host. They can interact with the host and the panelists through the Q&A, chat, and even live polls.

If the webinar does not require registration, you can copy the join link and share with your attendees.

If the webinar requires registration, the host will need to share the registration link and have the attendees complete the registration form. Once registered, they will receive an email notification with a unique join link.

With Zoom Webinars, there are three different ways to invite attendees to register: 

  • Copy the registration URL and share via email, your website, etc.
  • Select “Copy the invitation” to view and copy the invitation created by Zoom to send out to your attendees.
  • Select “Email me the invitation” to receive a copy of the Zoom invitation that you can then forward to potential attendees.
Man looking at laptop

Webinar benefits

Webinars are a relatively easy, cost-effective way to reach a broad audience and even generate new leads for your business. For business, education, healthcare, and other industries, a webinar provides an organization the opportunity to inform, educate, and interact with its key stakeholders and constituents.

  • Drive Awareness

    Webinars help you present important information to a large audience to drive awareness. For example, webinars are commonly used by large companies to host all hands or town halls to convey important company information with distributed employees. Government and educational institutions may use webinars to communicate important information to the public community.

  • Demonstrate new products and services

    Nothing gives your newly launched product or service more credibility than a webinar that clearly shows features and benefits. This kind of webinar can help you to qualify leads, attract new customers, and accelerate your sales process.

  • Virtual events

    Webinars support single-session virtual events with a group of presenters or panelists to an online audience who joins to learn and engage through chat and Q&A. A multi-session virtual event may consist of several webinar sessions.

  • Produce more leads and generate sales

    A webinar is a very effective way to generate more leads and get new customers. For example, people who want to attend your webinar will need to register by leaving their email addresses. This gives an organization the opportunity to build up a large email list, which can be useful for future sales and marketing campaigns.

  • Education and knowledge sharing

    Share valuable information with your audience and receive immediate feedback. Webinars are a valuable tool for training and education. Q&A sessions allow the audience the opportunity to ask about the subject matter and any concerns or issues they may have. Since you can record the webinar, it can be used for educational and instructional purposes.

Webinar FAQs

Webinar software is the underlying software that supports web-based seminars Webinar software is designed to facilitate hosts to organize presentations that engage a large number of attendees through live or prerecorded video and digital content.

Zoom Meetings connect a group of people for interactive discussion and collaboration. Every participant joins a meeting with the ability to share audio, video and their screen to fully participate in the session. Meetings are best for group collaboration, team meetings, sales demos, online learning and training, 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 Webinars supports large internal and external events, such as company all-hands, city council town halls, product announcements, customer conferences, concerts, and even religious gatherings.

Yes. Most organizations offer recordings of the webinars they host, even if the actual webinar is live. Typically a link to the recording is made available so that the live webinar can be replayed at a later time. This provides an opportunity for people to either re-watch the session or to watch the original webinar for the first time if they were unable to attend the live event.

Webinar attendees typically receive an email or text notification about the webinar. They may also find a notice about the upcoming webinar online. To register as an attendee, click on the link or registration and complete any information that is required. After submitting the information, you should receive a confirmation email or text with a link that you will click to join the webinar at the scheduled date and time. As an attendee, you will be able to virtually raise your hand, submit questions in Q&A, and send messages to others. You will need the Zoom Desktop Client or Mobile App to join the webinar.

View flexible and affordable options to get started with Zoom Webinars