Live webinar or pre-recorded

There are two ways to do a webinar – either doing it live or pre-recording it. So what are the differences?

Live WebinarPre-Recorded Webinar
CostThe cost is higher compare to pre-recorded webinars due to dedicated internet lines requiredThe cost is lower as we do not require such high speed during recording
Q&ALive Q&A with the audience Unless the webinar is run as simulated live, pre-recorded webinars can also take live Q&A provided the speakers available during the time the session is ON AIR
PollLive Polling with AnswersAutomated webinar available on some platform can run polls at stipulated time but live result will not be shown
Internet SpeedStable and fast as audio and video will be transmitted liveSufficient for remote presenters to dial in
Presenters’ TimeAll presenters must be available at the same timePresenters can be recorded at different time based on schedule or availability
N-GIt’s live broadcast so no retake but rehearsals usually helpsSince it’s recording, so retake is possible
EngagingLive broadcast is definitely more engaging Limitations to how the session can be more engaging as compare to live sessions

Hopefully the above comparison can help you choose which option to take for your next virtual event. Remember, there’s always an option to do both or hybrid.

At PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco

Webcasting vs Video Conferencing

These two terms are very widely and loosely used lately but many are still confused between the two. What is the difference between the two? It’s a common question that our team is asked when we are working with clients from different industries.

A webcast is broadcast over the internet, and can be either live, simulate live (simul-live) or on-demand, for example, webinars. Video conference, on the other hand, is more commonly used in daily work between colleagues in different cities or branches, and it is less complicated to set it up. So, what are the main differences?

Video Conferencing

The big WHY

Our big question to our clients is usually why do you want to organise this event? What is the objective or the intent? Only by knowing the WHY that we can recommend the right solution for our clients.

Is the session for brainstorming or collaboration purpose? Video conferencing will be the answer if you are expecting more discussion where participants can transit from being a listener to a presenter as well.

Webcasting allow a more defined role of presenter and audience but that doesn’t refrain the audience from interacting as Q&A can still be conducted during a webcast.


Video conferencing normally involves a smaller crowd and in most cases, all participants will require the same software installed or the same hardware to dial-in. For webcasting, the host takes ownership of managing the hardware and creating the set in which the audience will watch, it’s like watching a news broadcasting. Webcasting is definitely more scalable compare to video conferencing and can be viewed by a bigger audience from different parts of the world.

Picture from LiveStreamPro

Event management

Webcasting require more preparation from event management perspective, from finalising the presenters and moderators to sending out invitations and other event promotions. Video conferencing requires less preparation and setup is a lot simpler too.


Video conferencing usually involves both ways audio and video, in addition to sharing screens and documents during the sessions. Webcasting typically has a larger audience and we normally stream audio and video to the audience from the host at higher streaming quality, and all interactions from polling, Q&A, chat to word cloud will be done from the webcasting interface.

Webcasting also allow multi-ways of audio and video with audience coming together in different pre-set locations. What this means? Assuming the main host is in London with audience watching from a preassigned auditoriums in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The host in London can always see the audience response or even take questions through audio from the different satellite events.


As webcasting is pre-planned like an event and we can always get a higher quality recording, the recordings allow more robust editing which includes adding proper intro including the presenter’s name and session name. The recordings can be more organised before uploaded onto the web for replay or download.

Due to the nature of the video conferencing, the audio and video recorded can be difficult to be edited.


Webcasting offers more comprehensive analytics and reporting, including audience behaviour and interactions to help future planning better or even to determine which leads are more qualified. Video conferencing only offers very basic audience analytics such as the number of audience, duration and poll results.


Find the most suitable option

There are a lot of options in the market. If you understand the intent of the event or session, you will be able to pick the right option. While video conferencing platforms may cost less to use or setup, it may not fit the intent or purpose of the session. Webcasting takes video conferencing to a whole new level and yes, it may cost more but it all goes back to your initial intent.

Shifting to virtual event

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the world, the business event industry has come to a complete halt. I also believe that the outbreak has forced us all to look at our current operations and business models from a different angle. In order to survive, business event owners or management needs to adapt and adapt quickly.

Many global and local events, big and small, have been cancelled or postponed to later date. Airlines, hotels, event companies, PCOs and DMCs are badly affected during this time.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change that survives.”

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

Virtual Events

It seems Virtual Event is the only solution instead of doing nothing until large group gatherings are declared safe to resume. Virtual event may not be the same as a live event with live audience and it cannot bring back the same ROI or impact for sponsors but conversations and interactions have to carry on.

The easiest way to illustrate a virtual event is a news broadcast on TV without live audience. Virtual event allow the speakers to be in the comfort of their own office or home, without having to travel overseas and present virtually to audience from all over the globe.

Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Can audience still interact with the speakers?

Audience or the participants can still interact with the speakers through the mobile event app. Paid or registered participants will need to download the event app, ask questions to the speakers via the Q&A feature, choose the language for simultaneous interpretation and even vote during the presentation – all these in real time.

Alternatively, remote venues with controlled number of audience can be equipped with video cameras and sound system where the main venue can view the audience and even see the participant asking the question.

On the plus side, these video recordings can later be hosted on the website for replay or “Video On Demand”, made available only to paying participants.

I believe virtual event setup will be the changing game for the business event industry. This will not just help during the virus outbreak but even after the outbreak.

  • Cheaper for participant who needs to take long haul flights
  • Reduce printing of conference materials and badges
  • Increase of participants
  • Lower cost to setup an event with minimal F&B cost
  • More options of venues with manageable group size
  • Longer and wider brand exposure for sponsors
  • Longevity of the conference with the replay option

Let me know what you think! Drop me your thoughts at