Zoom webinar vs meeting: When to use each option
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Zoom webinar vs meeting: When to use each option

Jan 21, 2022

At least once over the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard your partner or roommate announce, “I’m heading into a Zoom meeting” as they put on their headphones so you know not to open the office door or blast your music.

However, many professionals use Zoom webinars to host calls, too. If you're wondering if you need to jump on the webinar train, it's time to break down Zoom webinar vs meeting differences.

Spoiler: There's no right or wrong platform to use — it all depends on your video conferencing needs.

What's a Zoom meeting?

Zoom webinar vs meeting: Remote team having a party

A Zoom meeting is a type of video call that's designed for small group interaction. It gives your participants the ability to screen share and turn on their audio and video as they please — for example, when they want to answer a question, suggest an idea, or demonstrate a process.

Zoom meetings are the classic Zoom call. Remote team meetings often use these to jump on casual one-on-ones or get on sales calls with potential clients. If your team has ever had a virtual pizza party, you likely have Zoom meetings to thank.

Choosing this video call format also notably allows all your attendees to see who else is on the call. When everyone's visible, everyone can comfortably interact.

What's a Zoom webinar?

Zoom meeting vs webinar: Boss angrily muting participants

A Zoom webinar is a type of video call that's designed for large audiences. It's used for online events where attendees don't need to interact and only one or a few people are presenting to the crowd. These can include virtual lecture halls, multi-day conferences, and corporate all-hands meetings.

This video call format is designed so only presenters can share their video, audio, and screens. When webinar hosts want to interact with the audience, they can unmute participants. Otherwise, all attendees remain in listen-only mode the whole call.

Zoom webinar attendees can’t change their names, so you won't have a Clark Kent disguised as "Superman." Hosts and panelists will know exactly who's in attendance — though participants won't have access to a full attendees list.

Zoom webinar vs meeting

Woman trying to make a decision

Now that you get the gist of what Zoom meetings and webinars are all about, we'll dive a little deeper into the key differences you need to consider when choosing between a Zoom webinar vs meeting.

Participant roles

Zoom meetings offer three simple roles: host, co-host, and participant.

A host is the creator of the meeting who has full access to host controls like closed captioning and starting and ending the meeting. Co-hosts, who the host assigns during a meeting, can help manage the chat box and create Zoom recordings, but they can't access host controls. Participants are general attendees.

Zoom webinars offer four roles: host, co-host, panelist, and attendee.

Hosts and co-hosts serve the same roles in meetings and webinars. However, when you host a video webinar, you can also assign panelists, who have the same permissions as Zoom meeting participants — sharing audio, video, and screens whenever they wish. If you're hosting a town hall meeting, your co-host could be another member of your leadership team while a panelist could be a new stakeholder you're introducing.

Webinar attendees, unlike meeting participants, can't use their video or audio unless the host lets them.

Key features

While Zoom webinars and meetings share a number of useful features — including polling, surveys, whiteboard, annotations, and a chat box — Zoom meetings cater better to interactive sessions. If you want to collaborate to the max, stick with meetings.

On a Zoom meeting, you can create up to 50 breakout rooms, so participants can split into smaller groups before joining back together again. This functionality is great for workshops or team-building activities, where you want team members to closely work together. Zoom meetings also allow hosts to enable non-verbal meeting reactions like "slow down" or "speed up."

Zoom webinar functionality is more focused on keeping large events organized. You can use Zoom's Q&A feature to engage with audience members without letting everyone unmute. To minimize distraction, the only non-verbal reaction webinar attendees can use is the "raise hand" feature, though webinar hosts can turn off this feature (meeting hosts cannot).

Plus, you and your panelists can jump into practice sessions anytime before your livestream starts. Lastly,  you can use PayPal with Zoom webinar to make money from your event

Worried about privacy or security? No need. You can require passwords in both video conferencing options, so you can keep any virtual event secure.


Don't want to pay a dime? Zoom meetings are the way to go. Even with a free Zoom account, you can host unlimited meetings for up to 100 participants. If you want to invite more people to your call, Zoom meetings are still more affordable than webinars. You can increase your meeting capacity by:

  • Upgrading to any paid subscription (pricing plans start at $149.90 per year per license), then purchasing the Large Meetings add-on ($600 per year) to invite up to 1,000 people to a call
  • Upgrading to an Enterprise subscription for $240 per year per license to invite up to 500 people to a call

Zoom webinars are more costly. You'll need a paid subscription, then pay at least:

  • $690 per year per webinar license for 500 attendees
  • $3,400 per year per webinar license for 1,000 attendees
  • $9,900 per year per webinar license for 3,000 attendees
  • $24,900 per year per webinar license for 5,000 attendees
  • $64,900 per year per webinar license for 10,000 attendees

Webinars can support up to 50,000 participants (a whole stadium's worth of people!), though you'll need to contact Zoom for pricing.

When should I use a Zoom webinar vs meeting?

When you're hosting a large event, Zoom webinars are undoubtedly the way to go. Webinars help you stay organized, so you don't feel like you're herding cats — especially only a few people present to an attendee list of a thousand plus.

However, if you want everyone on your call to take part, Zoom meetings are a simpler and more effective option. From casual calls and workshops to training sessions and strategy meetings, this format can help you get everyone involved.

Make every Zoom meeting and webinar actionable

Zoom webinar vs meeting: Woman calling "action"

When comparing the features of a Zoom webinar vs meeting, it becomes clear that both are incredibly useful tools for helping your team members work together and coordinate with clients. Webinars are great for managing large groups (though they can be cost-prohibitive) while Zoom meetings are better for collaboration and day-to-day use.

No matter which video conferencing option you choose, you can make the most of your events by taking notes that spark your team into action. No need to pull out your pen and paper — we'll do the work for you. Anchor AI can automate your notetaking, while helping you differentiate between speakers and identifying key action items. Sign up to be among the first to benefit from Anchor AI.

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