Zoom Meeting vs Webinar: What’s the Difference?

Author: Gina Cunsolo



If any industry found a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was videoconferencing. Although relatively unknown just a few years ago, video conferencing platform Zoom, for example, has been seeing triple-digit growth. The company, first launched in 2013, saw its user base grow from just 10 million daily users in 2019 to more than 300 million daily users in 2021, a whopping 2900% increase. The concept of a Zoom call has become familiar to many, and there’s even a condition called “Zoom fatigue” brought about by spending too much time on the service.

Still, the more people depend on services such as Zoom to conduct business, the more questions arise. One of the main ones involves the different meeting types Zoom offers and the benefits of each. Users can either conduct Zoom meetings or hold Zoom webinars. With that in mind, let’s address the difference between a Zoom meeting and a Zoom webinar and look at the factors that determine which one is best.

What’s a Zoom meeting?

Zoom meetings are just what the name implies. They’re meant for two-way discussion and collaboration. They allow participants to share content and easily interact with each other.

Some of the critical features of Zoom meetings include Waiting Rooms, where the host can screen participants and admit only those invited to the event. The host and participants can share their screens with the group, including audio, making it easy to show video clips or presentation recordings.

Participants can chat with each other or while the entire group and show reactions using emojis. The host can also create as many as 100 separate breakout rooms for small-group collaboration. Zoom also allows users to implement virtual backgrounds, making it easy to pretend you’re checking in from exotic locales ranging from a Pacific island beach to the top of Mount Everest.

Depending on your subscription level, Zoom sessions can include as many as 1,000 participants. Meetings can be live-streamed over social media, automatically recorded and transcribed for later viewing, and automatically recorded and transcribed for later viewing.

What’s a Zoom webinar?

Webinars, on the other hand, are more like virtual events. The host controls most aspects of the session and is typically the only one with audio and video turned on. The audience joins primarily to view and listen to the presentation, although they are often prompted to ask questions at the end.

Zoom webinars can host as many as 50,000 attendees. The host can require registration, customizing the signup page with their branding. They can create different links for sharing the registration page in other locations and can tell from where registrants are accessing the page, enabling them to see, for example, which placement generated the most registrations.

Integration with Paypal allows presenters to charge for sessions, such as when offering classes or seminars. Attendees can submit questions using the webinar’s Q&A feature and can upvote others’ questions. And once the event has concluded, participants can be presented with a survey allowing them to provide feedback on the session.

So which one is best?

The answer to the “Zoom meeting vs. webinar” question is the same as many situations: It all depends.

Meetings are the best option for group collaboration, team conversations, sales demos, and office discussions. Monday morning sessions with the remote team, a presentation to a potential client, or a quick brainstorming session with the creative team are candidates for a Zoom meeting.

Webinars are best for situations such as extensive training sessions, company-wide announcements, and candidate town halls, where the host is speaking to a large audience and wants to maintain control over the session.

Each type of Zoom session is appropriate for a particular style of event, but there are common factors between the two that can help ensure the event is a success. Ensure you have adequate lighting and keep background noise to a minimum. Even the sound of an HVAC system kicking in can detract from a meeting. Look into the camera when talking to create a connection with other attendees.

And most importantly, make sure you have the right technology for the task. A panel discussion during a webinar will require a microphone system designed for large spaces or multiple speakers. At the same time, a meeting conducted from huddle rooms or home offices might see better results with a video soundbar or conference phone.

Whatever your meeting requires, Yamaha Unified Communications has the technology to make it a success. If you have questions, the experts at Yamaha UC have the answers. Contact us today!