Online Meeting Platforms

By Ataira Franklin, Video and Media Designer

Now more than ever, the need for highly functioning online meeting platforms has skyrocketed. Whether for personal or professional use, one thing is clear: meeting online plays a large role in helping us stay connected. While texts, phone calls, and video chats can usually get the job done when catching up with family, when it comes to employers meeting with their team of employees, corporate meetings, or hosting classes, training, and events, there are options that extend far beyond simple audio and video.

Online Meetings

Put simply, an online meeting is a method of communication that allows for multiple parties to meet and interact in the same space without physically being present. Through devices and electronic mediums like internet service, audio sources, laptops, tablets, etc., we can communicate with each other using a variety of virtual meeting platforms. Online meetings can be centered around a large-scale event or used for smaller, more general communication, such as business meetings and group check-ins.

A wood table with microphones and headphones lying atop it.

Basic Meeting Platforms

Platforms like Skype, Zoom Meetings, and Google Hangouts are basic online meeting platforms that typically allow for simple interactions and sometimes small group breakout sessions. Conference and Webinar platforms are types of meeting platforms that have more advanced features for hosting events, while basic meeting platforms are not necessarily centered around an event. With basic online meeting platforms, everyone sees and interacts with each other in live time. These interactions are typically limited to large and small group discussions and chat/instant messaging.

Webinar Platforms

Unlike basic meeting platforms, specific webinar software is used to manage events (conventions, workshops, presentations, and seminars) in order to reach a large number of people at the same time. A webinar platform allows a speaker to educate, instruct, and even sell to an audience through a presentation. While webinars do support presenter-attendee interactions, these interactions are still limited because the presenter cannot actually see the attendees. Webinars are catered towards reaching large groups, so they are often recorded and rebroadcasted. In this case, there is normally someone facilitating the chat and engaging with the attendees. 

A laptop computer open on a table with a Zoom meeting in progress, the laptop screen is slightly blurry, there is a rustic green coffee mug to the left of the laptop.

Digital/Web Conference Platforms

Hosting a virtual conference includes having a clear purpose for your conference, a schedule of events, “main stage” speakers and sessions, the option of “breakout” or small group interactive sessions, and a registration process for attendees. Digital conference platforms are typically live and offer the ability to build deeper connections amongst attendees and with presenters through interactions and participation. Digital conferences feature multiple audio and video broadcast sessions happening at one time and allow for smaller group discussions within those individual sessions. Everyone sees and interacts with each other, making digital conferences a great way to network and build relationships. Not only do conference platforms provide the opportunity to connect during an event, but different from basic meetings and webinars, there are opportunities to interact with other attendees before and after the event. 

HOSTING TYPEPURPOSEENGAGEMENTFEATURES
BASIC
MEETINGS
Meetings can be used for general communication or to conduct live meetings, briefings, and presentations.Everyone has equal access to engage with one another.Participants can interact in a large group, in small groups, and via chat feature. Screen sharing available.
WEBINARSWebinars are more specific to hosting presentations and enabling multiple speakers to engage large audiences. A webinar is a form of online meeting that focuses on sharing ideas and presenting topics to others.Typically the presenter cannot see the participants and there are limited interactions. Webinars are best for large audiences.Presenters can host sessions, lectures, seminars, and workshops with chats, polls, and Q&A.
CONFERENCESA conference is an interactive virtual event used to conduct live meetings, briefings, presentations, or training sessions.Conferences are more interactive and feature-rich than webinars. Presenters are able to see and engage with attendees.Presenters engage and interact with attendees. There’s a main stage event, but also breakout sessions, chats, Q&A, and advanced interactive features to create deepened connections.

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