computerWhen the economy crashed, the meeting planning industry took a hit. At the time, many organizations were forced to rethink the traditional meeting format. Enter in virtual meetings and webinars.

Now that the economy is slowly getting better, so is the ability to bring back face-to-face meetings.

Ironically, it coincides with webinar platforms performing at their highest level to date. This leaves webinar operators pondering a very important question: During this day and age, where do webinars belong?

To start, one place they do not belong is replacing face-to-face meetings. This point has been made clear in many industry publications. Associations Now recently highlighted in an article that having a meeting in person generates more ideas of higher quality and with more creativity amongst participants. Once we move beyond the idea that face-to-face meetings will not be replaced, we can address the value of the webinar.

Webinars serve as a great addition to your organization’s current services. Take a look at all of your events, meetings, and membership projects to see where you might be able to add value to each project. Below are a few examples.

Committee/Board Conference Calls– Conference calls serve as an avenue for quick meetings throughout the year, especially with members who live far apart. Would it be more worthwhile to be able to display the items being discussed visually? Sharing the budget on screen can be more effective than reading numbers. Adding the visual of a webinar can help keep conversations on track and add more color to each talking point. Also, most computers purchased in the last few years now have web cameras automatically on the computer. Most webinar platforms allow for participants to share their video feed with other participants. Being able to see who is talking is much more personal than simply hearing a voice.

Hot Topic Webinars– Are there emerging issues that your members would benefit from learning but you are eight months away from your next meeting? Was a new law passed that would affect your members? The webinar platform is a great way to share emerging issues with your current and potential members.

Event Prep– The sky is your limit in this arena. Do you have sponsors that try to bend the rules for certain events? Aside from making the guidelines in their contracts specific, have a webinar that brings them all together and visually shows what is and is not allowed. This would be particularly handy for show floor guidelines.

As mentioned above, webinars can be great tools for your volunteers to use when preparing for an event, especially if your volunteers live far apart.

Bottom line is webinars are not disappearing. In a few creative ways, they can be used to add value to already existing services.

By: Amanda J. Griffin, IOM, CMP, Manager, Curriculum and Logistics, Institute for Organization Management, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation;