Recently, I’ve found myself having this conversation more often than ever before with clients, or prospective clients, that want to jump into the deep waters of web conferencing and webcasting. They’ve heard of both options….they’ve attended countless webinars….and some are even familiar with top platforms, like Adobe Connect. But the question of the year has been, “What’s best for us….webcasting or web conferencing?”.
It may sound like quite the quandary, however, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to unravel this mystery. There are a few key factors that differentiate webcasting and web conferencing and that’s what we’re going to take a look at today. So the next time you need to host a kick-butt event for the company bigwigs you’ll know exactly what platform is needed to pull it off. Here are the important factors you need to know.
How many peeps?
There are inherent differences to the maximum number of web conferencing participants who can join your event versus webcasting. Now, this capacity threshold differs based on which platform is being used, but typically web conferencing tops out anywhere between 100-200 participants. Some are able to scale closer to 1,000 attendees, however, that number decreases when the meeting involves video sharing.
Webcasting, on the other hand, uses a different underlying video delivery mechanism, which makes it easy to scale to tens of thousands of people or more. This makes webcasting ideal for broadcasting events to massive audiences around the world. Don’t get me wrong….that’s not to say you should only use webcasting for extremely large events. As a matter of fact we have many clients that prefer webcasting for their smaller meetings, presentations or announcements simply because they prefer that format.
How do you plan to interact?
There are also differences in the level of interactivity between web conferencing and webcasting, and this is directly related to the scalability that we touched on above.. While web conferencing solutions have lower scalability limits than webcasting systems, they actually do a nice job of near real-time voice communication. What I mean by this is the conversation between participants will have very little latency, or delay. This delay is usually less than one second, and ideally 200 milliseconds or less, between what’s said by one attendee and heard by others. Plus, web conferencing is traditionally more interactive with the ability to share presentation rights and control of applications among all group members. For collaboration, presentations, sales pitches or training….it’s a great option.
Historically webcasting has been more of a “one to many” format often with a pre-recorded presentation being broadcast “live” to participants. Of course, many webcasts are presented live as well, but they are typically much less of a collaborative environment than web conferencing. It’s usually a host delivering a presentation to attendees who are either listening on their computer speakers or via telephone dial in. For either of those connections the participants are in a “listen only” set up. At the end of the presentation there is often a Q&A session that is facilitated via chat or voice, but that it usually the limit for webcasting interactivity.
Make it easy to connect!
This is the beauty of using Lighthouse Conferencing for both web conferencing and webcasting for your important meetings and events. It’s insanely quick and easy for your attendees to connect to the platform. Other providers offer solutions with different requirements and levels of complexity when connecting to a web conference or a webcast. Other “popular” web conferencing solutions require client software to be downloaded for someone to participate, which can take upwards of five minutes or more before joining the meeting. By the time you get in you’re “that guy” who had to do “the download” and showed up almost ten minutes late. The web conferencing solutions we have here at Lighthouse, including Adobe Connect, require only a web browser and internet connect to join your meeting. Couldn’t be simpler!
The same can be said for connecting to webcasts as well. Lighthouse webcasting platforms are flash based meaning there are no downloads to perform. Any web browser with an internet connection is going to connect your attendee to the event quickly and easily….which is super important because we all know when people join meetings or events….at the last second before they begin!
So the next time your boss informs you that it’s time to set up the big quarterly meeting event for the company’s investors, you can be confident when you reply, “I’m right on top of that, Rose!” (Can you name the movie??). Classic movie quotes from the 90’s aside….I hope this post helped make sense of the differences between web conferencing and webcasting for your future events. If you have any additional points that you think would be helpful for people to know…send ‘em over!
Learn more about our options for your next BIG EVENT now!
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