Conferencing vs. Webinar Platforms – What’s the Difference? – Part 1

Conferencing - meeting invitation in email

Are you interested in conferencing (or online meeting) and webinar platforms? They are very similar. But where is the difference? I describe typical features of conferencing platforms in this blog. The following blogs describe the tasks and features of webinar platforms.

Conferencing Platforms

On the one hand, conferencing platforms allow the live exchange of information between the participants via networks, but also the recording of the exchanged media streams (these are audio, video and web data).


A meeting can be launched from an Office application, by clicking on a link in an e-mail, from a chat post or by phone.

Conferencing platforms allow recording of the streaming media (that is, audio, video, or web data).

In most cases, communication between the participants takes place via Voice over IP or a telephone, with active connection establishment to the external user (dial-out) or with dial-in numbers for remote access (dial-in).

Tip: Ask your provider if the dial-in access is free of charge or paid and for which countries these regulations apply.

Communications Features

The platform operator usually offers a personal meeting room (always with the same link) or a meeting-specific room (with one individual link per meeting).

Devices such as desktop computers, notebooks, tablets or smartphones can attend meetings. Depending on the provider, you may integrate devices running operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple iOS or Google Android into a conference.

Depending on the solution, conference platforms allow displaying the entire screen, window, application, or individual documents to all participants in the conference. The solutions also differ in whether participants in a conference are able to collaboratively and simultaneously edit documents (e.g., a text, a presentation).

Conference Control

Hosts are the moderators of a meeting and invite participants, start and end the meeting and have extended rights. They are able to temporarily assign extended privileges to participants, chat with all participants or provide data. An important feature of a conferencing solution may be to mute or excludes individual users of the conference. One moderator per conference is required at least.

Also, the transfer of control of keyboard and mouse is conceivable. Some platforms also allow complete remote access to the computer (important for remote maintenance, for example).

Distributing drawings on the screen or on real or virtual whiteboards is included on some platforms.

System Integration

Ask your solution vendor how you can integrate your existing conferencing systems (e.g., Cisco, Lifesize, Polycom, …). Find more on my blog…

Integration with cloud services (public or private) can also be crucial to your purchase. Interfaces to internal unified communications and conferencing systems may allow the reuse of existing infrastructure.

Vendors today increasingly support developers to adapt interfaces or apps or to develop new ones.


Questions to the Reader

Which requirements for meeting platforms are important to you? Where do you see the biggest challenges?

Please add your comments on this blog. Many Thanks.


In the next blog post, I will discuss the webinar technology.


Additional Information about „Unified Communications“:


Unified Communications Buyer’s Guide

Selecting Video Conferencing Solutions



Voice over IP Technology – Part I

Voice over IP Technology – Part II

SIP Protocol – Details


About the Author

Ronald Schlager is an independent trainer, consultant, book author and blogger specialized in communications technologies and their applications.


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Image source:, artist: geralt, hands