In the closing years of the prior decade, my colleague Ken Molay used to understandably bemoan the state of the term “webinar” both legally and semantically. His musings on the subject can be found here, here, here and here. Recent anecdotal evidence leads me to believe the days of webinar obscurity and semantic scorn are gone.
I recently went shopping online for a new set of PC headphones. To my surprise, I found several advertised to be “excellent for webinars”. We would never have seen this benefit itemized just a couple of years ago. But then you say, these sales people are techies selling to techies. Fair enough.
Indeed, you don’t know how many times, to my frustration, I have had to explain my job to people who have never heard of a webinar — that is, until recently. I just opened a bank account in my new home state of Illinois. The banker asked the inevitable question, “what do you do for a living?” I replied “webinar producer” and then got ready to go into my spiel. To my shock, an expression of recognition spread across the banker’s face. “Oh, I used to attend webinars all the time,” she said. The same thing happened a couple of weeks later when my new attorney started asking me for advice on giving a webinar.
OK, this isn’t science. I haven’t run any surveys yielding statistical confirmation of my theory but the anecdotal data is, to my mind, conclusive. Webinars are now mainstream. The next question is, does the mention of webinar evoke a positive or negative reaction? In this area I think there is still progress to be made but at least fewer folks are asking, “what’s a webinar?”