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While webinars are really convenient, it is way better to be there in person to get to meet everyone, so I prefer a conference. I learn much better in person, I feel like I am more apart of the training and more immersed if it is in person.



Webinars are an extremely useful, practical, and an inexpensive tool for communicating/broadcasting almost any type of message. I, among many others at GSA, employ webinars very frequently for training and guiding industry partners on government program and contracting issues. It's easy to structure Q&A sessions in a single webinar session among interested parties located in different/distant offices, buildings, cities, or countries. Webinars are an efficient means to relay information using Slide Presentations, Spreadsheets, Photos, Videos, and other audiovisual material quickly without increasing industry and government travel and material costs; more important, the costs of lost productive time traveling from one point to another is completely avoided. Webinars, however, are not the panacea for all types of meetings, as they do have their significant limitations. So, first decide on the purpose of the conference. For example, is the meeting to discuss operational issues over an hour or two; or to train others on a topic that can be understood between presenter and listener with limited interaction over an hour or two; or is the meeting to broadcast information that can be absorbed and accepted by the recipient quickly without much concern to all? If so, then a webinar might be the ideal medium to use. On the other hand, if the intent of the meeting is to establish strong, professional relationships now; or to train, counsel, or advise on a complex or sensitive matter; or any type of meeting where a lot of group and one-on-one interaction is required, then there is no substitute for looking into another person’s eyes. In those instances, it's probably best to arrange for a face-to-face conference - that is, of course, if you have the budget and time for traveling.


I agree with many folks here. I personally find the conferences more productive and effective vs a webinar.  I too am preparing my first schedule and response to a proposal and am feeling like I'm wading in shark infested waters. 

The webinars are laid out to be empirical and to communicate information, but so much can be lost in translation so to speak. I typically find many of the webinars to be put on by someone who was probably made to do it and they are monotone and flat and don't always effectively communicate the information well. (No offense) In a conference, I can hear someone talk, and then approach them and ask questions. Many times, I pick up more there than 2 hours in a webinar.There is also the Face to Face networking you get also. 

Good post!




WebGirl you are a Jem!!!  Please check out other post (blogs, discussion boards) and give you much needed input!  As you can see we really do read them and everyone's opinion counts!!!


Thank you to everyone who responded.  I will share this information and continue to work towards a middle ground so that we can meet your diverse needs.


As a Financial Management Analyst, I am acutely aware of the budget constraints involving travel involving training and conferences.  The venue of a webinar is most certainly cost effective; however, quality is lost.  Even when I am at a conference away from my office, I am in contact with my responding to different situations.  If I were in my office for a webinar, I would not be able to 'attend' as I would need to in order to absorb the full scope of the training/lecture.  At conferences, one meets new contacts and information is exchanged outside of the classroom setting.  People break bread together and share experiences with one another about a common topic.  I think that more information and important interaction with others would be lost with a webinar.

Pinny Kahana

In my experience, I have found that conferences are much more helpful than webinars. Conferences allow you to meet people other than the speaker, and forge connections that can be helpful in a way totally unrelated to a conference, while webinars, although cheaper and easier to attend, take away that personal touch.




I completely agree about the personal touch of networking. The opportunity that is given to meet and greet with other contractors is an undervauled asset of having a conference. These events can lead to teaming and subcontracting, as either a small business for a large business, or a large buiness seeking a small business to meet sub contracting plans. 

A webinar is a useful for small business who can't necessarily afford the travel costs to get to conferences, whether it is out of state or not. Webinars are also good for small businesses looking for more information on getting a GSA contract.

I suppose, from what I have seen, it boils down to economic status of your business and/or time restraints that prohibit you from physically being at a conference.


My answer to this question of conferences vs webinars is driven by the reality of federal budget cuts. There is an enormous historical budget cost associated with conferences including lodging, and travel. 

The problem is that it is very diffcult for government to measure efficacy of conference partcipation. Webinars and online webcasting produce impericial data that can be viewed, analyzed and result in changing, modifying and adjusting the curriculum, accessing feedback, to determine where to continue to spend, and what is really working for the larger community.  We have a saying. "Government has a tendency to measure success on how many small businesses are in the seats vs how many of the businesses become successful as a result of their participation". Government contractors (small businesses) should be leading the economic revival and job creation, but we still have a severe jobless economy.

The second problem with conference is that government only makes more work for themsleves.  Webinars are like emails. It is hard to avoid replying unless one willfully chooses to not reply. In a webinar, you either watch the seminar or training session or you coose not to.

Lastly, after 10 years, I can not tell you how many times I have felt energized by a contact made by a government agency decision maker or a politico, only to come back to DC and they simply don't have the time to mange the follow up.  Now on the (positive side of conferences), there can be no better way to estasblish, sustain, and expand a relationship than to have a conferences.  So in short, this is a great question. And the thing to do with great questions, is to don't let go of gathering the answers with a commitment to generate an action plan as a result of asking the question and getting that question out to the broader market. 

Hey, there you go...Consider this, you can get more answers from an online chat than you can asking the question on a blog and waiting for replies to come in...Look forward to continuing this very healthy discussion.


Due to the ongoing budget cuts conferences will not be attended.  Webinars are more cost effective.  Although I feel a conference with the procurement staff would be helpful on an annual basis,the agency does not have the funding for it. 


Hello, my name is Raef Israel and I have been workign with contractors to get them on GSA shedule since 2007. In that time I have attended both conferences and webinars, and have found that although webinar is more convenient, conferences allow the interaction necessary to truly get your questions answred. I feel that you have to be there in front of contracting officers and other contractors with the same or similar issues to get them resolved. Plus, most of the times you will learn about issues that you did not yet know you had and you can prepare a resolution for these problems before they occur. The last thing you want is to be in your contract audit and find out you have been in violation for something that you had no idea about.


Great reponse, couldn't have said it better myself!


Agree with the comments, with one additional point.  The conferences are not only more expensive, but have a much larger environmental footprint.


I disagree with mike, the cost of webnars is much higher than a traditional conference, since little gets accomplished with the webnar format.  The hidden cost of missed opportunity or mis palced resources is hard to quanify but I strongly believe thatn conferences are not only better but cost effective when one considers all factors. Worrying about carbon footprinting can get out f hand.

When it comes to communicating, cost should be a secondary factor. The added expense of real life networking is worth it.


I totaly agree with stonecat...real life networking is definetly worth it!

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