With most in-person events cancelled — from classes to conferences and more — event planners are looking for ways to present their content and possibly make up some lost revenue. One study found that nearly 70 percent of event planners moved their events online using a variety of platforms.
One of the more popular platforms is Zoom, which now has 300 million active daily participants attending online meetings. Zoom is a video conferencing service that offers a free plan as well as paid plans that let you create webinars and host meetings. If you’re getting ready to host an online event, here’s what you need to know about Zoom Webinar vs Meeting.
Zoom Meeting is a video conference that allows everyone in the room to participate. The free plan, known as Zoom Basic, lets you host up to 100 participants in a meeting. Your meeting time limit is 40 minutes.
The biggest distinguishing feature of Zoom Meeting is that everyone in the virtual room can share their screen and turn on their video and audio. It’s a collaborative environment meant to take the place of an in-person meeting.
There’s a lot that you can do with Zoom Meeting — even on the Basic plan. In addition to getting to see all the participants in your conference in gallery view, which displays up to 49 participants on one screen (if there are more people involved, you can scroll through additional images), you can also share your screen and present to participants. The Basic plan also lets you record and save the meeting to your desktop.
Zoom Meeting is best for small to large group situations, like customer-facing meetings, sales meetings, or even training sessions where the participants need to collaborate. For example, you might set up a Zoom Meeting to train remote employees on a new expense reporting system.
Paid plans — which let you host longer meetings and add more users — provide reporting capabilities and feature controls, like turning off chat. If you want to run a webinar, you’ll need to purchase a paid Zoom plan and then subscribe to the webinar service.
Consider using Zoom Webinar if you need to run a training class or a panel discussion. This add-on to Zoom’s paid plans lets you create virtual lecture halls where only the presenters can share audio, video, or their screens. It’s ideal if you’re running a large educational session with more than 50 participants or if you want to create a lead generation webinar to sell your products.
Participants can view and listen as well as use the “raise hand” feature to ask a question or participate in a Q&A via chat. Presenters can unmute attendees, but attendees can’t unmute themselves. Unlike in a meeting, participants in a Zoom Webinar can’t interact with each other or even see who else has joined.
You can also run polls in your webinars. For instance, you could ask attendees if they’ve used a particular type of product or service within the last 60 days.
Zoom Webinars don’t have breakout rooms, so participants can’t go off into small virtual groups to discuss something. There are no waiting rooms, either, so participants enter the webinar right away instead of waiting to be admitted.
One reason why you might want to use Zoom Webinar instead of Meeting is for security purposes, such as if you’re running a virtual town hall and need to share the link to your event publicly. The recent Zoombombing phenomenon — where uninvited guests burst into Zoom meetings and disrupted them, often by sharing inappropriate images — has led at least one college to use webinars instead of meetings to conduct online classes.
Similarities between Zoom Webinar and Meeting
Keep in mind that there are some common features that both Zoom Webinars and Zoom Meeting share. For example, both let you livestream the meeting or webinar via Facebook, YouTube, Workplace by Facebook, or a custom streaming service. You can also require participants to register for both.
Additionally, Zoom Webinar and Meeting offer closed captioning and recording, and both can require passwords to join. You can also use international dial-in numbers.
The product you choose — Zoom Webinar vs Meeting — really depends on how you’re going to use it and what security controls you need. If you’re only presenting to a small group, Zoom Meeting may suffice. However, if you need to run a large lecture-type event, it may make more sense to use Zoom Webinar.