As event organizers plan their virtual and hybrid events, it’s common—and important—to ask which content should be pre-recorded, and what should be live-streamed.
From an event planning perspective, it’s essential to have a combination of pre-recorded and live-streamed content to have more control over creating an ideal attendee experience. The tricky part is understanding how to effectively blend these content types—especially when it comes to breakout sessions—without your virtual event feeling like a glorified webinar.
Read on for an overview of the best ways to use pre-recorded content at a virtual event to help your team strike just the right balance between the live event you want and the consistently exceptional experience your attendees deserve.
Advantages of Pre-Recorded and Live-Streamed Virtual Events Video Content
Whenever possible, we recommend that you survey your anticipated event attendees to understand their feelings toward live-streamed or pre-recorded content and what type of sessions they prefer for each delivery. For example, a customer panel or general event session may be ideal as a pre-recorded session, but an executive AMA or a how-to educational class will benefit from real-time audience interaction.
Where Pre-Recorded Event Video Excels
As you assess how to balance your virtual event agenda, consider these primary advantages of pre-recorded content over live-streamed sessions:
- Accessibility. Event teams can add captions to pre-recorded videos, and overlay visuals or text elements that enhance the content’s clarity.
- Greater speaker diversity. Your event has the potential to attract more speakers if sessions are pre recorded, because it reduces the potential for scheduling or time zone conflicts. Similarly, the lack of a required travel budget opens up your speaker pool to include industry experts from the nonprofit, academic, and pre-funding startup realms.
- Show flow control. It’s stressful to manage an entirely live event. What if a session runs late? Or a fire alarm goes off in the middle of your opening keynote? Not to mention finding a last-minute replacement for a mainstage speaker that cancels the day before your show. Pre-recorded content gives event planners total control over their event’s timing, ensuring a perfectly executed show flow.
- Higher production value. Pre-recorded sessions allow speakers to practice and record their sessions as many times as they need, which means that pre-recorded sessions are often higher quality than a livestreamed equivalent. Additionally, the show producers can review all recorded content and ensure there is a consistent production quality for each, which leads to a more cohesive event experience. Plus, technical issues such as presenters with slow internet connections can be avoided with pre-recorded event sessions.
When It’s Best to Go Live
While there are many advantages of pre-recorded virtual event content and breakout sessions, you cannot deny these benefits of live-streamed sessions:
- Innate excitement. There is a natural excitement that comes from a live-streamed session, both for the speaker and the audience. In some cases, speakers will prefer live sessions because of this excitement.
- Real-time engagement. Audience participation and engagement is an ongoing challenge for virtual event planners. Live-streamed sessions generally are more likely to garner attendee engagement, giving these session types a slight edge over pre-recorded sessions (but we’ll explain how to overcome this challenge next).
- Recording potential. Live-streamed sessions can be recorded, too, which can provide your attendees with lasting value from your event as they watch session replays. Just keep in mind that most live-streamed session recordings will need some degree of post production editing before being ready to share.
- Spontaneity. People miss the “in-the-now” feel of an in-person event, and live-streamed sessions have the best potential to capture this feeling given the live audience. Live speakers can reference other sessions from the day, comment on shared conference experiences, and adapt their presentation to add excitement, spontaneity, and an undeniable sense of authenticity they simply can’t do in advance of your event.
How To Make The Most Of Pre-Recorded Virtual Event Sessions
Event planners can consciously craft experiences that turn pre-recorded conference content into exciting, real-time engagement opportunities. Here are just a few ways that you can drive the most value from your pre-recorded virtual event sessions:
Coordinate Virtual Event Watch Parties with Session Speakers
Pre-recorded virtual event sessions are ideal for enabling your event speaker(s) to engage with their audience in real time through your virtual event platform. While a session plays, the speaker watches the session with the audience, and sends messages through the event platform to highlight key points, answer questions, and solidify the real-time event experience.
Create Video Teasers For Social Media Promotion and Email Marketing
As your team receives videos from your session speakers, create clips and stills from these videos that you can use on social media and in your email marketing. Create sizzle reels that highlight your event speakers, and tag them on your event social media pages to connect attendees with the speakers.
Edit Videos for Accessibility
Ideally, your team should receive pre-recorded virtual event videos from session presenters a few weeks to a month before the event (if not sooner). This way, your team can address the accessibility best practices we shared above, including adding captions to videos, addressing any issues with lighting or contrast, and more.
Share Videos For Immediate On-Demand Replay
A major advantage of pre-recorded video content is that it can readily be available for on-demand replay. This gives your attendees full control over when they enjoy a session, especially if they had to miss it due to a work or family commitment.
Choose A Virtual Event Tech Platform That Enhances The Attendee Experience
By strategically blending pre-recorded and live sessions at your virtual event, your team can more confidently control the event timing, meet the range of your attendee needs, and support a thriving event community.
After building your event agenda, your team can lock in a virtual event platform that will enable the dynamic session styles that your attendees deserve. Book a demo with Social hour today to learn about our superior presentation spaces and modern features that will ensure that every event session is incredible.