Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Zoom Webinar vs. Meeting [How to Master Both!]

Discover the key differences between a Zoom webinar vs. meeting. Plus best practices for how to successfully host and run both on Zoom!

11 min read

Young woman on computer wearing a headset, waving and smiling.

Studies show that U.S. businesses lose around $37 billion a year to unnecessary meetings! The right (or wrong) meeting can have a big impact on the success of your company.

That’s why knowing the best practices of a Zoom webinar vs. meeting can make or break your weekly goals. If you’re wondering what the difference between a Zoom webinar and a meeting is, then you’ve come to the right place!

Let’s take a look at each one and learn how to use them to reach your goals.

Zoom Webinar vs. Meeting: What’s the Difference?

If you’re getting ready to set up a virtual event, then you may be wondering if you should make it a webinar or a meeting. Once you determine the key differences, it’s much easier to figure out what’s best for you.

Zoom Webinar

Use a webinar on Zoom when you want to host a virtual event. This is when you present information or invite a set of panelists and speakers to share their knowledge. You might have a one-on-one interview with a special guest or use a PowerPoint presentation.

Zoom webinars typically restrict attendees to “view-only” mode, much like a class or lecture. They might interact via Q&A, chat, or answer polling questions, but they cannot speak during the presentation.

Some webinars allow viewers to ask questions at the end of the webinar. But for the most part, viewers of a webinar on Zoom do not have permission to do things like renaming themselves or interrupting the speaker.

Zoom Meeting

The purpose of a Zoom meeting is to replicate an in-person meeting but instead host it virtually. For this reason, they are much smaller than Zoom webinars so that everyone is able to take part.

When you think of a regular meeting, there might be a lead speaker while other attendees are able to share their thoughts, opinions, and insights throughout. Zoom meetings welcome collaboration and one-on-one communication.

The permissions for attendees are also usually available so that everyone can turn their microphones and video on and off as they see fit. Everyone also has the option to share their screen and see who else is attending.

How to Choose Between a Zoom Webinar vs. Meeting

Some of the key differences between a Zoom meeting vs. a webinar are the features of each. Determining what features you need for your online event can help you decide on the right virtual format for you.

1. Participant Roles

According to Zoom, there are different participant roles for each type of virtual event. For example, you have a host and co-host as well as the participant(s) for Zoom meetings. Whereas a Zoom webinar has a host, co-host, as well as panelists and attendees.

In a Zoom meeting, the host may have participants muted upon entry to allow participants to control when they are ready to speak. During a webinar, it is less likely that attendees have any of these permissions since they are mainly not expected to take part in the presentation.

Pro Tip: For Zoom meetings, be sure to have your screen-share option disabled for all participants before the meeting starts. This is to avoid “Zoombombing” which is when uninvited trolls hack into your meeting.

2. Size of Meeting vs. Webinar

When hosting a meeting vs. a webinar on Zoom, a key difference is the size of the virtual events. Zoom meetings with a free license can include up to 100 participants. You can invite up to 1,000 depending on your Zoom plan and the meeting add-ons that they offer.

Keep in mind that the larger the group, the more challenging it could be to have an effective meeting. The size of your meeting depends on what your goal is and how you plan to stay on track.

For Zoom webinars, you can expect a much larger audience. Your webinar can have between 500-50,000 participants. The number of people allowed can depend on the license you’ve purchased with Zoom. So make sure you have the availability if you expect your webinar to take off.

3. Chat Permissions

How you interact during the online Zoom event can differ depending on if you are hosting a webinar or a meeting. This can further help you determine which type of event is right for you.

Zoom Chat in Meetings

Another consideration is the differences in chat communication throughout the online event. For meetings, you can allow participants to use in-meeting chat. This allows everyone to directly message someone and hold conversations throughout the meeting.

Private chat messages are not saved or visible to the host. But, the host can save and download the group chat for future reference.

Zoom Chat in Webinars

One main difference between the two online events on Zoom is that webinars do not allow attendees to chat privately. Instead, they can use Zoom’s webinar chat.

This chat can be limited so that only the host can see what people are posting. Or you can allow all attendees to view the comments. 

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to have someone monitoring your webinar chat if you are the host. If your webinar is open-ended and anyone can join, then you might need to police your chat and remove people who are causing trouble.

It’s also great to have someone answer basic questions and help attendees with common concerns. You can also use the chat feature to encourage attendees to take action, share links, and address technical issues.

4. Determine Your Goals

The first question to ask yourself is, "What is your goal for setting up this virtual event?" Are you going to be sharing information, teaching, or hosting panelists? Do you expect the attendees to have a discussion and contribute?

It’s best to think of a Zoom meeting the same way you approach an in-person meeting. Use meetings for a one-on-one with a client or a group of co-workers collaborating on a project. For a meeting, you expect everyone to speak and share insights.

Think of a webinar as an online seminar. Much like a classroom lecture, the attendees are sitting in the audience eager to learn from the speakers or host. They may get the opportunity to raise their hand and ask a question at the end. But for most of the seminar, they sit quietly and listen.

Best Practices For Your Zoom Webinar or Meeting

Now that you understand the differences and their many benefits. Let’s dive into some more best practices that can help you run a successful webinar or meeting on Zoom.

Test for Technical Issues

Once you’ve set up your Zoom online meeting or webinar, make sure your equipment is working. You want to test your Internet connection and also make sure you have the right Zoom license or else your event might get turned off halfway through!

Double-check your background by turning your camera on before you get started. This helps you adjust lighting and also confirms if everything in-frame is appropriate and professional. Don’t forget to test your microphone and sound quality.

Follow Proper Etiquette

Before you start your meeting or webinar, make sure all the participants or attendees are present. You might have to wait a few minutes until people are able to log in. Be prepared to chit-chat with the people who are present while you wait.

Anticipate technical difficulties and offer assistance if you can. Have someone behind the scenes who can help in case technical issues arise.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

It’s great to be prepared but if something unexpected happens, it’s okay. Your attendees and participants understand that the meeting or webinar is live. Just let everyone know what’s going on and do your best to fix it. 

Have a checklist of things to say and do (like hit record!) before you get started. This ensures that you don’t forget an important step to making sure everything runs smoothly.

7 Best Practices for an Online Webinar

Webinars are becoming more and more popular. Today you can learn anything from experts around the world. Whether it’s about leadership skills, Amazon drop-shipping, mental health, or Yoga—there’s something for everyone! 

Zoom is the most popular video calling platform with 300 million daily meeting participants worldwide! It’s a great place to start when creating your online webinar.

Pro Tip: If you’re wondering how to record a webinar, Zoom also offers an easy way. Just click the circle record button directly beneath your video window.

At the end of your meeting, your video, audio, and transcript automatically download so you can instantly save them.

Online webinars have expanded our abilities to learn inside secrets from professionals who are excelling in their industry. If you’re interested in showcasing your own skills to create a webinar, then you should start by researching your field.

If you want to sell your webinar or use it to drive traffic to your website or business, then make sure you choose the right topic. Do this by researching your industry.

1. Research Thoroughly

What is your ideal customer searching for? What are their main pain points? If you can determine exactly what they are looking for, you can create a webinar to be a resource for them.

Don’t guess what you think your target audience is interested in. You can combine SEO keyword research, social media discussion boards/forums, and consult your sales team for insights into your target audiences’ main struggles. If you’re able to get your ideal audience on the phone to ask them questions directly—even better!

Make sure you interview a large number of people to get the most accurate idea of commonalities among them.

2. Decide if It’s an Evergreen Webinar

One of the benefits of a webinar is that you can make it evergreen! This means that you can record it and use it on your website or a landing page as a permanent resource of information. From there you can share it in email marketing, advertising, or social media campaigns.

Zoom meetings can also be recorded but are less likely to be used as valuable content for prospective customers. An evergreen webinar is a great way to drive traffic or educate your target audience on your area of expertise.

Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving. You don’t have to spend an hour or more each time you want to present the information. You now have a permanent piece of premium content to share with minimum effort.

3. Don’t Date Yourself

When you consider what content would make a good evergreen webinar, remember that you don’t want to talk about something that has a deadline or that is going to be obsolete in a few months or years. Broader topics that contain lasting concepts and strategies are your best bet.

4. Tell Your Story

To grab your audience’s attention right from the start, introduce yourself using a story. You don’t want to read a long bio. Instead, explain why you’re the best person to be sharing this information. 

This usually starts with your pain point (the same one as your audience), how you overcame it, and how you were able to perfect it and become the successful person you are today. 

Make sure you smile throughout your story. It not only makes you seem welcoming but also elevates your voice so you sound enthusiastic. This will inspire your listeners and build trust.

5. Keep Them Engaged

Now that you’ve told your amazing story, you need to keep your audience engaged throughout your webinar. 

Some easy ways to do this are by keeping your slides short and visually appealing. Remember that online meetings are even more difficult to keep audiences engaged because computers offer a lot of distractions such as social media, text, and email notifications.  

Try to provide a mix of slides, interactive questions, quizzes, and mini-challenges or tasks, along with exciting videos, music, gifs, and images.

6. Practice How You Speak

Your tone and how you speak are an essential part of a successful webinar. Pretend that you are speaking to a friend or colleague and keep things conversational. It’s best to address your listeners as “you” so that they feel like you are talking directly to them.

Practice your entire webinar multiple times before you go live. If you’re not comfortable with the material, your audience will know, and it can make them lose trust in you. Using light humor throughout your presentation is okay as long as it isn’t offensive.

7. Invite Special Guests

One way to ensure you don’t put your audience to sleep is by inviting an expert or thought leader to present. This helps to mix up the presentation and also gives you a break.

You can have more than one speaker and encourage a discussion between them using pre-planned questions. This makes for an even more interesting webinar and holds your attendees’ attention.

Having experts can also boost your webinar attendance because they bring their loyal audience with them. Make sure you and your special guests combine efforts to promote the webinar beforehand on your social media platforms.

7 Best Practices for a Successful Zoom Meeting

If you’ve decided that a Zoom meeting is the right fit for your next online event, then there are a few best practices to keep in mind.

1. Proper Camera Etiquette

In the past, it’s believed that keeping your camera on and requiring everyone else to do so, ensures greater productivity and engagement. Yet, new studies debunk this outdated thought process.

In fact, having the option to turn off your camera leads to more productive meetings. This is because researchers found that people tend to spend time during meetings concentrating on their own faces and become self-conscious.

Turning off their cameras allows them to focus more on the content of the meeting. The best practice is to allow participants to choose if they want to be on camera or not. If you’re the host or presenter, it is best for you to be on camera when speaking.

There are understandable exceptions to being on camera for any meeting, including bathroom breaks, family emergencies, or other interruptions. In this case, the participant would turn off their video and audio to address the situation.

Screen fatigue is real!  Allow participants to turn off their cameras and take a break. This can result in an even more productive meeting in the end.

2. Mute Yourself Unless Speaking

If you aren’t talking, you should mute yourself. One of the biggest disruptions during meetings is people with loud background noises. This can be distracting and completely derail your meeting. 

Set guidelines at the beginning of your meeting so everyone knows the protocol. You can also let participants know that they can hold the space bar down during Zoom meetings to speak. This acts as a walkie-talkie and is an easy way to switch audio on and off quickly.

3. Follow An Agenda

You can’t stay on track during your meeting without a clear agenda. Make sure you agree upon the objectives and goals of your meeting before diving in. Do this by sending your meeting agenda to all the participants ahead of time so they can prepare.

It’s important not to stray too far from your pre-planned agenda. If other issues arise, you can always plan another meeting to address them later. Or you can follow up on these topics after the meeting via email.

4. Have a Chat Strategy

One way to keep the meeting on task and avoid interruptions is to ask participants to pose questions or responses in the group chat. This way the speaker can complete their thoughts and address individual concerns when they get a chance.

You can also request that private chats be sent to the appropriate person when questions fall outside of the meeting agenda. These can be saved and downloaded later so even if you don’t get to it during the meeting, you still have the conversation to refer back to.

5. Stick To Your Timeline

It’s important to stick to your timeline and not go over the allotted meeting time. Your participants only have so much availability and have their own projects to get back to. If you let meetings go over time, it takes away from productivity which costs money!

Plus, virtual meetings cause fatigue just like in-person ones. Pushing people past their limits causes exhaustion and isn’t the best use of anyone’s time. In fact, although it seems like a simple task to sit in an online meeting, your brain is actually overworking.

This is partly because of the eyestrain that computer screens cause over time. But also because video chatting limits our ability to interpret facial expressions and other subtle cues. This is tiring for the brain which has to work harder and causes more stress. This is known as “Zoom Burnout.”

6. Share Your Screen

Prepare some kind of visual presentation during your Zoom meeting to avoid “Zoom Burnout.” This breaks up the meeting and gives everyone something to concentrate on other than non-verbal cues. It’s a simple way to get everyone focused and stay on task.

Use colorful slides and imagery to keep things interesting. Add videos and gifs throughout, that draw people’s attention and are relevant to the agenda.

7. Keep Everyone Engaged

As with any meeting—but especially virtual ones—it’s easy for participants to get distracted. You can use a few techniques to keep everyone engaged. 

First, make sure you vary the tone of your voice. You shouldn’t shout at your team but try not to speak in a monotone voice. This causes people to zone out and stop listening.

You should also check in with everyone in the meeting. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your meeting to see how everyone is doing. If your team is mostly remote, you might want to dedicate more time to catch up. 

Overall, try to keep your virtual meetings shorter than regular meetings. Online meetings tend to be more boring than in-person meetings, so it’s harder to keep people engaged.

Create Your Best Zoom Meeting or Webinar

We hope you found these tips helpful when choosing between a Zoom webinar vs. a meeting. Now that you have a better understanding of both, you’re ready to create your best Zoom meeting or webinar for your online event!

We know it can be difficult keeping up with the ever-changing virtual landscape. If you need some guidance and support for your next online marketing project, feel free to reach out to our experts.


Get actionable marketing and product insights from The LATEST

Frequently Asked Questions About a Zoom Webinar vs. Meeting

Q: What’s the Difference Between a Zoom Webinar vs. Meeting?

A: The difference between a Zoom meeting vs. a webinar comes down to the goal and features of the event. Meetings are for highly interactive online events where everyone is able to participate and discuss projects, updates, reports, etc.

Zoom webinars are also hosted online, but they are used for live videos where experts are able to share insider information on their industry. Attendees watch the webinar to gain value from the lesson, much like an in-person seminar.

Q: What is a Zoom Webinar?

A: A Zoom webinar is a virtual event that is similar to a seminar or classroom setting, except online. There are hosts, co-hosts, special guest speakers, and attendees. 

Webinars can range in size from 500 to 50,000 attendees. They tend to be larger because the majority of the attendees are tuning in silently to watch and learn from the host and speakers.

Q: What is a Zoom Meeting?

A: A Zoom meeting is a virtual video conference where you can chat with a group of people who have been invited to the event. Much like in-person meetings, these include a host, agenda, set time, and discussion among participants. 

A Zoom meeting can range from two to 1,000 people. Zoom’s free license only allows up to 100 participants in Zoom meetings.

Q: How to Record a Webinar?

A: Recording a webinar is easy when hosting a Zoom webinar. Once you’ve started your meeting, you can hit the circle record button. You then hear an automated voice saying "Recording started." If you click the button again, your recording pauses and you hear, "Recording stopped."

You can also use a screen recorder such as Movavi Screen Capture for Windows, Screen Capture, or Loom. These are great options if you want to record a webinar you are watching but not hosting.

Q: What Is an Evergreen Webinar?

A: An evergreen webinar is a pre-recorded online webinar that is used as on-demand content. You can use the recording of your live webinar or upload media files to a webinar platform. 

This lets you share your webinar and use it as promotional material. You can also sell your pre-recorded webinar as an automated sales funnel.