Q&A: Do you differ a “webinar” from an “online presentation?”

In a recent webinar (web seminar!) I spoke at, Nicole S. asked,

“Do you differ a webinar from an online presentation?”

Fair question, Nicole.

The bad news is that often words get muddy in terms of how they’re used day to day by people.  Here’s how I’d make the distinction:

A webinar – web seminar – is one of those really muddy words that people have used to mean anything audio/video on the web, live or on-demand.

To me, the key here is “seminar,” which is historically an academic setting.  It’s educational.  Not to be too anal, but the word “educate” comes from the Latin meaning “to draw out.”  Any educator or trainer will tell you that you’ll be more effective in a live setting when you seek to interact and guide the learning process.  In other words, you don’t just talk AT people, you talk WITH them.

An online presentation arguably is just that.  Slideshare and related sites have become popular repositories for on demand versions, and every day people make presentations (online and off) for reasons other than educational (i.e., sales presentations, product demonstrations, etc.).

By my definition, an audio/video recording then might be an online presentation, but a webinar/web seminar would be a live activity.

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