Web conferencing vs. video conferencing: is there a difference?

Posted by: Schepisi - Monday, October 19, 2015

At first glance, it looks like there’s not much separating these two. In fact, one could just be a synonym of the other. And while it’s true that if you’re not too familiar with these concepts, you’ve probably referred to the same thing using both terminologies.

These two terms seem to be used interchangeably when we’re describing many different types of virtual meetings.

Let's dissect them!

Web conferencing (also referred to as webinars)

Is that a webinar or a video conference?

Web conferencing offers many appealing features that can help businesses communicate. Its primary purpose is to facilitate one-way presentations to several other participants.

Web conferencing specs include:

Usually conducted over a desktop

And if you’re lacking anywhere-anytime functionality, it’s a pretty good bet that web conferences are pre-planned events. They often tend to lack that ability to spontaneously conduct a meeting.

Good for smaller groups…

…but with all the astounding developments in technology, even just in the past few years, users have come to expect a lot more from their virtual communication methods.

One-to-many presentation

This is where the difference between the two starts to get a little clearer. If you’re presenting to a small team, you can showcase graphs, slideshows, and, with certain web conferencing tools, you can present video.

As some experts put it, web conferencing is a fancy name for audio communication tied with images (for example, a slideshow). These types of presentations are more commonly referred to as webinars. Think of it like the picture above: one person presenting information (regardless of whether than information is verbally or with visual cues, or both) to a small number of people, much like a classroom.

Lacks interaction

Most of the time with a visual web conference, a participant is only able to see the host, and cannot see other participants. We have spoken a lot about non-verbal cues, and how video conferencing can often replace a face-to-face meeting, as you still have that element of connectivity by being able to place a face to a name (or in this case, voice).

Web conferencing might suffice for smaller groups, but for any group size that rises above double digits, you might find you lack control and regulation.

Software, software, software

Most web conferencing systems require all participants to have the same software installed on their desktop computers in order to participate in a meeting.

Other web conferences can usually be access when someone received a specific link, log in details, or PIN, etc. upon registration. From here they can access a private webinar.

Video conferencing

Dynamic meetings

Two-way conversation facilitated by flawless video and audio turn presentations into dynamic conversations. Video conferences are great for brainstorming and can be conducted with prior arrangement or at the last minute.

Stay focused!

We’ve all fallen prey to the dreaded phone conference.

Without any visual to keep you stimulated (whether that’s presentations, faces, or both), your mind wanders, you aimlessly check your phone, and you take these meeting times as an opportunity to catch up on your emails. You might have even been close to nodding off!

The meeting ends, and you think, “What was that about?”

What a waste of time!

Video conferencing keeps participants engaged, offering authentic human connection, where you can read body language and expression – leaving you less prone to misinterpretation!

Modern and hi-tech

Some web conferencing services will offer passable audio and visual quality, but as video conferencing technology becomes the most advanced its ever been, it offers sublime quality for users at all ends, regardless of the device they choose.

Instant, wherever-whenever meetings

Choose from a variety of devices (like your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) and instantly set up conferences wherever you have an internet connection.

Don’t stress if you didn’t send out an invite two weeks ago; with video conferencing, meetings start within minutes, and participants can join in seconds.

Organise an impromptu video conference from any location in just minutes

In a word: the difference between web conferencing and video conferencing


If you're not sharing data, spreadsheets, and videos – as well as audio and visual – it's not a video conference. It's a presentation.

Bring back human connectivity and get rid of boredom for your next dynamic video conference.

I’m on board! Let’s try Lifesize Cloud video conferencing

Now, you can sign up for a free two-week trial of Lifesize Cloud and immediately begin experiencing flawless HD video and audio from your device – no hardware required.

Alternatively, get in touch with us today for more information (or to request a free consultation!)

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