Why I hate webinars

What is it about webinars that seemingly makes them the new “must use” thing?  They’re rubbish, and here’s why:

Start time

For TV programmes/films, those in power are increasingly realising people don’t want to have to schedule their lives around their favourite programmes.  We want to be able to watch them when we can, fit the programme around our life rather than the other way around.  Hence the success of things like Netflix and iPlayer.

The internet has had this ability for ages.  Youtube is over a decade old.  You can watch a video whenever you want, regardless of what other people are doing.

Webinars are a massive step backwards from this perspective.  You need to book it into your calendar, plan your work/fun activities around it…and hope nothing unexpected/important crops up last minute, as otherwise tough, you’ll miss the webinar.


Yes, the technology is there for webinars to work…but you can guarantee at least a quarter of people meant to be on a given webinar will have tech difficulties.  These will inevitably only be discovered last minute, so whilst you’re ready and waiting bang on the start time, nothing happens for the first 10 minutes as someone has to install a bunch of software updates.

It’s like conference calls.  Phones, whilst getting ever more sophisticated at many things, are seemingly becoming continually worse at actually making/receiving calls.  It can be hard with just two people, but add in a few more and there will be a problem, wasting everyone’s time.

Other people(!)

So, there’s a webinar, where you did remember when it was on, nothing unexpected cropped up last minute, you do log in, and (eventually) all the other users manage to get it working.  Great.

Next thing is after the absolute simplest statement from one of the people hosting it, someone asks a question that’s of no interest to you.  The main focus of the webinar gets sidetracked as it drifts off on a tangent that perhaps just one person wants it to take, frustrating everybody else.

This will likely repeat multiple times over the course of the webinar, often meaning the key thing that you actually wanted to learn about never comes up, as sod’s law it’ll have been 3/4 into the planned timeslot, but stuff over-ran early on meaning it gets left off.


All of the above issues are either directly or indirectly about timing…but there’s one other timing feature not covered by the above.  In a video, you can fast forward the dull bits/bits you don’t need help with.  You can also slow down/replay the bits that interested you/you struggle with.  You can do all this without impacting others…as of course it won’t always be the case that everyone finds the same bit interesting/hard.


So…why do big businesses and public sector organisations insist on using them all the time?  Please, just release a video instead.  The world will be a better place.

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