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March 25, 2024

Webinar or Podcast: Which One to Choose?

It seems like everyone is talking about starting a podcast. And you might be wondering if you should jump on the podcast bandwagon. Yet, there are still plenty of folks providing webinars. You may feel pulled and not sure whether you should focus your energy on a webinar or podcast.

Before diving into benefits and disadvantages, let’s look at some numbers.

According to eMarketer, the number of global podcast listeners was expected to be at least 504.9 million by the start of 2024 and possibly over a billion by the end of 2024.

However, according to Content Marketing Institute, 56% of marketers use webinars to distribute content as opposed to 30% who use podcasts.

What is Webinar?

In this context, I am using webinar as a generic term to refer to any live virtual event that can be attended with an Internet connection, laptop or mobile device, and a web conferencing app. I go into detail about the differences between actual webinars, masterclasses, and workshops in another article.

During the event you listen to one or more experts, watch visuals like a slide deck, engage with others attending and the presenter via chat, polls, etc. You might even have a downloadable worksheet or handout to use during the session.

The focus of a webinar is usually very specific and targeted to address a certain problem or solution. They are often just a one-time event. The overarching intent or goal of a webinar is to convey knowledge, teach, train, and/or promote services or programming.

What is a Podcast?

Podcasts are more like streaming radio or television. You can subscribe and listen via a podcast streaming platform like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Podcasts are typically just audio, but some are also video.

They are mostly prerecorded as opposed to being live. The format of podcasts is typically the host discussing an issue, telling a story, or interviewing another person. A podcast will have an overarching theme but each episode convers different topics.

There isn’t any audience engagement with podcasts. The overarching goal or purpose of a podcast is to provide informational or entertaining content and sometimes promote services and programming via ads or guest interviews.

Similarities Between Podcasts and Webinars

Since both webinars and podcasts are considered digital media, there are several similarities between the two.

  • Can access content from any location in the world with an internet connection.
  • Often device independent providing flexibility in how the content is consumed.
  • Cover a wide range of topics making it easy to find something that interests you or delivers needed knowledge.
  • Provides access to experts, thought leaders, or other interesting guests or presenters.

Knowing the similarities of the two, you will want to focus on the differences to help you determine whether a webinar or podcast is better suited for your coaching business.

Differences Between Podcasts and Webinars

When considering whether or not you should focus on either a webinar or podcast for your business, consider these main differences to help you decide.

  1. Focus: A webinar will have a specific and defined topic focus. Podcasts will have an overall theme, but each episode will be a different topic.
  2. Structure: Webinars are often considered structured, formal, or professional in nature. Podcasts are often viewed as being a more casual environment allowing for a conversational tone.
  3. Schedule: Webinars are often a single live event that occurs on a designated date and time. Podcasts are typically prerecorded that can be downloaded and streamed at any time.
  4. Length: While the length of both are on average about 60 minutes, webinars in their various formats can be much longer and even up to an entire day.
  5. Audience Engagement: As a live event, webinars provide the opportunity to engage with audience in the moment. Depending on the streaming platform, podcast engagement is measured as follows, subscriptions, and downloads with some interaction noted as feedback, comments, and questions.
  6. Production/Planning: The production planning of webinars and podcasts is the greatest difference between the two options. Webinars require more upfront planning like developing content and picking a web conferencing platform and determining the tech setup. But once the platform and tech setup is done, this no longer becomes part of the production planning. Whereas a podcast requires more ongoing production. Even after the streaming services and recording/editing tech is selected, each episode requires planning, scheduling, producing, and editing.

Being familiar with these differences allows you to weigh the advantages of each. It is often the differences that can determine which is better for your business.

Compare to Decide - Webinar or Podcast

Feature

Webinar

Podcast

Definition

Any live virtual event that can be attended with an Internet connection, laptop or mobile device, and a web conferencing app.

A pre-recorded audio (and sometimes video) program that is either download or streamed online.

Purpose / Goal

Convey knowledge, teach, train, and/or promote services or programming.

Provide informational or entertaining content and sometimes promote services or programming via ads or guest interviews.

Focus / Audience

Specific, targeted audience seeking to solve a common problem or achieve a specific outcome.

Broad audience who shares a mutual interest in the overarching theme.

Schedule

Live event occurs on a specific day and at a specific time.

Recordings are released on a regular schedule (e.g., weekly) and are listened to/downloaded on demand.

Format

Live presentation that includes visuals like video and slide decks.

An audio recording but may include a video recording.

Length

On average 45-60 minutes; can be shorter or much longer such as a full day.

Ranges from 15 minutes to 1 hour

Audience Interaction

Provides real-time interaction between presenters and participants, via chat, Q&A, polls, etc. May even have a downloadable handout.

No real-time interaction, measured as follows, subscriptions, and downloads with some interaction noted as feedback, comments, and questions.

Access

Typically requires registration and access to the designated web conferencing software or platform. May include a fee.

Generally free and available on different podcast/streaming platforms. Membership podcasts require a monthly or annual fee.

Production

Less production planning overall. Requires initial upfront planning to pick a web conferencing platform and identify tech set-up. Ongoing production planning is developing content. The level of external support depends on the extent of the live event.

Requires more ongoing production planning. Each individual episode needs to be planned, scheduled, produced, and edited. And requires quality recording equipment and editing software.

Which to choose – Webinar or Podcast?

Whether you choose a webinar or podcast, it ultimately depends on some critical factors like audience, content, and purpose. Webinars are a great option if you want to connect live with the audience, teach or train on an idea, concept, or product, and share your expertise. Podcasts a good option if you want to engage with your audience in a hands-off format that has a casual and conversational vibe but at the same time allows you to showcase your viewpoints and insights.

Which option do you think you will choose? Or if you’ve done a webinar or podcast (or both), which one do you prefer?

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Jennifer


Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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