Are webinars a waste of resources?


Do Webinars have your full attention? When you "attend" a live or asynchronous engagement, do you take the opportunity to "multi-task"?

What are some of the techniques that have best kept your attention on the webinar or online learning at hand?

Instructional Design
Adult Education
Beth McNamara, MSW
28 months ago

10 answers


Webinars are not waste of resources. They have the following advantages:

Direct contact with the target group

Reach and engage a very specific target group. Allow them to ask questions, or pose questions of your own to the participants. Thanks to the interaction during a webinar you gain insight into your target group. You can really get to know your audience, unlike during lower-quality webinars or physical meetings and events where attendees often merely listen passively.

Reach the target group both live and afterwards

A webinar gives you the opportunity to continue to reach your target group when the broadcast is over, since each webinar can also be watched afterwards. This enables you to increase both the reach and the impact of your message. Needless to say, it is important that your webinar can be found easily via Google, which is why a well-designed webinar is search-engine optimised (SEO).

Interaction with the target group

Reach your audience and reinforce your message. Webinars enable you to utilise polls, chats and calls to action, or to show your viewers PowerPoint slides or videos. The more interactive your webinar is, the greater the impact of your message will be.

Webinars save time and money

Long journeys involve travelling time and expense, but a webinar eliminates the need to travel. Make it easier and cheaper for your target group to be engaged by your message. There are advantages for you as the ‘sender’ too; the costs are much lower than organising a physical event and hiring a venue, for example.

Susarla Sastry, PhD
28 months ago
Far too many are by profiteers. - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Long Ago--When webinars first came out they were novel. People enjoyed not traveling (to another city or down the hall). They loved being productive too.
Now--Webinars are used for so many purposes now. The quality of webinars (content, production value, ease of use, interactions) are extremely varied. Many webinars are over-promoted yet under-deliver. It's hard to tell what you're going to get. People tend to wait until their priorities fall into place before showing up. Webinars take too long to cover what they need to cover.
Pretty Soon--Production values will go up--way up. Live switching (changing the source between cameras, presentations, videos, live camera feeds, etc.) will help. So will better graphics and more thoughtful diagrams to support complex topics. Webinars are just one part of a person's or company's communications efforts. Finding/attending/commenting on them will become more automated (more convenient and less personal).
TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS "Do Webinars have your full attention? When you "attend" a live or asynchronous engagement, do you take the opportunity to "multi-task"? and "What are some of the techniques that have best kept your attention on the webinar or online learning at hand?" Here are some guidelines (from a customer experience designer):

  • Make sure the content is valuable to attendees (not just valuable to the company)
  • Promote the webinar content accurately
  • Keep any promises you make
  • Seek to use easy-to-access, multi-channel (works from phone, tablet, phone, desktop), and easy-to-swith-devices technology
  • Keep the audience's attention with well-delivered stories, progress timelines, and interactive exercises that offer attendees the option to participate in real-time with the leaders
  • Share concept diagrams and illustration, animations, or 3D visuals to make complex topics simpler
  • Keep your audience engaged with questions, polls, feedback
  • Offer personalized attention to the more interactive attendees. Often bystanders like to learn by watching others engage

PS: This is my very first comment on the Convetit platform. Please let me know what you expect so that I can be a good contributor ;-)

Mike Wittenstein
28 months ago
Outstanding contribution - many thanks - Dr. David E. 22 months ago
Great analysis. - Roy 22 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

There's little question that webinars do not provide the same level of immersion and interaction that live attendance does but they have a lower time and cost threshold to attend. Therefore, people are more likely to click in than they are to travel and attend something in person. And, you can expect them to multi-task while on line. It's just the nature of the beast unless you actually manage to present relevant information at a density that precludes it.

I have no compunction about dropping out of a webinar at the first sign that it's not going to meet my needs--opportunity costs on both sides but otherwise no harm, no foul. For this reason, webinars must be designed carefully and refactored over time to best meet the needs and expectations of prospective attendees. They should be constructed similarly to the way newspaper articles were--most important information first. Attendees can then drop out when they've gotten what they need.

All in all, designing and running webinars is a real art and a test of marketing and sales expertise and a number of other skills.

Howard W
28 months ago
Better than nothing, I suppose - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Webinars bring some important benefits. For me one of the most important benefits is the ability to explore new emergent topics that typically are not addressed in local conferences, symposiums or workshops. On the other side, I realize that there are a great number of webinars and it is difficult to assess which are the most relevant for us. 

Fernando Almeida
28 months ago
Agreed - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Current webinars only weak on personal interaction, as listen only on way reducing effect of webinar .

Andrey Zolotavin
28 months ago
Agreed - engagement is supreme - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Webinars and on-line experiences have their purpose. The problem is that they are being utilized for too many things. The main motivation is the reduction of costs. However people need contact and time for networking. They also need to practice and learn skills appropriately. Proper use of webinars is really the issue.

Brad Federman
28 months ago

Webinars can be awesome or they can be a waste of time. I like attending webinars as a quick way to learn new things, even to learn about new suppliers who are clearly offering them as a business development tool. I have also offered webinars within a big company and found them to be very successful.

When I ran a corporate function where we were an information resource to the company, we had many tools we used to distribute information - intranet site, monthly emails, quarterly meetings, annual presentation. When we added monthly webinars, engagement went way up globally. Webinars were rated the highest and had the highest attendance. Feedback was that the convenience of joining the webinar made it more accessible. One reason for this is that we offered the webinar at three times to meet the global needs across continents. In the past Asia or Europe could not listen in to meetings/presentations and were limited to emails/newletters and website. Even in the US, it was hard to get to the conference room or to listen remotely to presentations.

Dawn Houghton
28 months ago

I am in health care and use webinar as my continuing education professionally and for teaching. I get quite a bit benefit from this platform especially when it is interactive. Most allied healthcare professionals that I have talk to, feel the same.

Eldon Davey
28 months ago


Like most other things on the internet, some are good, some are .bad, and many are mediocre. A user must be wise enough to tell the difference inside of a minute or two and act accordingly.

Dr. Arthur H Tafero

Arthur H Tafero
23 months ago
Agreed - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Webinars are as good, as person will and eager to learn new - if he is just riding over net, value and perception of webinar have weak influence. However if person is willing to learn subject, webinar is easiest and cheapest form to begin exploration.

Andrey Zolotavin
23 months ago
Content is King - Dr. David E. 22 months ago

Have some input?