Are you planning to hold a large conferencing event? If you are, you have a couple of options the choose from. The first option is to set up a meeting as normal. Then, if you think it will go over 300 attendees, you can request a ‘large meeting’ where they allow you to use a larger ‘space’. They have told me that this can be done right before the event is to start (if during normal work hours).  The number of underlying licenses is limited, so make sure you will actually need it before requesting. The second option is to request a webinar license. There are even fewer of these licenses available and must be requested well in advance of the event. A webinar is also meant to accommodate a larger group (300-1000).

Which do you need?

Whether you should request one over the other depends on how you want to manage the group and what features you need. To compare the features of a large meeting versus a webinar visit here: (There really is no difference between a normal meeting and a large meeting besides the need to request a larger space license if the group will go bigger than 300.) Do you need Break-out groups? if yes, then stick with a meeting because a webinar doesn’t allow this. Do you want active participation from your attendees (e.g., verbal Q&A throughout the meeting), then stick with a meeting. During a webinar, only the host, co-hosts, and panelists can mute/unmute themselves. This means that for an active discussion with attendees, someone (host or co-host) would need to manage the audio permissions.

So, why would you want a webinar?

The biggest advantage that a webinar has is that if you have a large number of participants and don’t want to worry about them interfering with the audio, this is nice a solution. But the main reason for going this route is in the participant roles. In a webinar, you have the host and co-host, panelists, and the attendees. Panelists have full permission to share their video, screen, and audio; whereas the attendees are muted, can’t share their screen, and their video is off. Only the host/co-host can change this for an individual. Interaction with the audience (attendees) is via the Chat and Q&A functions. You can have a co-host designated to be a Q&A moderator who would monitor the questions and comments coming in and either type in responses to questions or verbally direct a question to a panelist to supply the response. In a recent webinar that I held, we asked the audience to only use the Q&A for questions or comments related to the webinar content and to reserve the Chat for reporting technical issues. This made monitoring the Chat and Q&A much easier.

Final remarks

When making the final decision about which option to choose, ask yourself how many speakers will you have presenting and how much interaction do you want throughout the event? For me, I had an event with multiple speakers and Q&A was limited to short segments, so I went with a webinar. My next event still had a group of speakers but not a formal presentation and we wanted to encourage a lot of open discussion with the audience, so I went with a meeting. There may be other features that drive your choice, such as Break-out rooms. I recommend that you review the comparison chart before deciding. If you do decide to go with a webinar, don’t forget to submit your request well in advance. The request link can be found near the bottom of the page here:  You can also use that link to request a large meeting.

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