18th May 2020

Author : Harvey Clayton-Wright

Should I Livestream or Pre-Record My Virtual Event?


One of the big obstacles for any virtual event is that you’re always going to be at the mercy of an internet connection...

The main way around this issue is to simply pre-record talks and seminars and simply broadcast them from an area which has a very stable internet connection, rather than leaving a live broadcast in the hands of your speaker who might live in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.

But is pre-recording talks always the best way to go. After all, there’s a lot that live streaming has to offer when it comes to an authentic and true to life “live” viewing experience.

Livestreaming Vs Pre-Recording – Risks vs Rewards

In classic decision making fashion, we’re going to solve this issue with a good old pros and cons list. When it comes to running a great virtual event, the 3 main points of contention are going to be:

  • Internet connections and stability
  • Interactivity
  • Production values

Let’s quickly run through all of these categories and in each one, we’ll take a look at which method wins out. However, as always, this isn’t a black and white issue. There are risks and rewards to either broadcasting method, so we’ll always try to highlight where there are any potential benefits along the way.

Stability & Internet Connections


This is a fairly simple one to answer and can be done on a case by case basis.

In short, if one of your speakers is broadcasting from somewhere with a bad internet connection, then absolutely have their talk pre-recorded beforehand.

If there is even a chance that your paying attendee’s experience will be affected by a bad internet connection, then it’s not even worth the risk.

The good news is that high speed internet is more widespread than ever, so most of your speakers are going to have something stable enough to work with, but if you aren’t willing to take the risk, then having a blanket policy to pre-record all content and not livestream is completely understandable.




Interactivity is a huge concern for event holders who are switching over to a virtual format. It’s actually less of a concern than you might think as there are dozens of ways to get your attendees networking, especially with ReAttendance’s built in zoom functionality.


However, one of the best parts of a talk, and something which many speakers thrive on, is the Q&A.

A lot of speakers even prefer answering questions as they deliver their talk, so that they can actually deliver content catered to the audience watching and not simply what they think the audience wants.

In this area livestreaming is the clear winner simply because it’s the only option that truly delivers on interactivity. That doesn’t mean that a balance can’t be made. It is very possible to pre-record a talk and then follow it up with a live Q&A. The benefit there is that you have a talk that you know will be high quality and available to watch for your entire audience, while minimising the risks if just the Q&A is affected due to a bad connection.

When it comes down to it though, livestreaming is the king here and while you can use a blend to offer an interactive element at the end, it will never quite compete with that “live” experience.


Livestreaming (but a hybrid of both is very workable)

Production Values & Editing

If you’re planning on offering your content as a replay for all your attendees to catch up with even after the conference is over, then your production values and any post editing you want to do will factor greatly into this decision.

A livestreamed talk can feel very visceral in the moment, but let’s imagine that you’re an audience member who missed the live showing and is catching up a few nights later. Without the context of it being live, a livestreamed event can suddely lower your production values greatly in hindsight.


The slight glitches and cutouts here and there, that 4 minutes at the start of the talk where the speaker couldn’t work out why their microphone is working – these things can really affect how your virtual event is judged once it’s viewed on repeat viewings.

In a worst case scenario, you might even have a speaker on who had some great content, but was exceptionally nervous and messed up the talk much more than if they’d have had the seperation of doing it as a pre-recorded talk.

In conclusion, this is the toughest risk/reward category. Live is often best, but once the thrill of the live broadcast is over, your content’s quality and production values may suffer when you host your content as replays. People who aren’t watching live aren’t going to appreciate all the extra little errors that will always occur during a live performance. If you pre-record, then you can make sure that everything is the highest quality before it runs, to deliver the best experience for your audience, whenever they might tune in.



Why You Should Choose Livestreaming…

In short, livestreaming allows you to bring the best of an in-person conference into a virtual space.

Whether it’s the instant interactions, feedback or just the atmosphere that seeing someone present live offers – it’s hard to argue that the “live” experience doesn’t have a special quality to it.

And when it comes to the value that you can offer your audience, by giving them live access to an expert in the field who can answer their own personal questions – well that is simply invaluable.

…And Why You Should Pre-Record

And yet, as soon as we take even the swiftest look at the practicalities of running a successful virtual event, pre-recording content really does take the cake.

Better stability, higher production values, the option to add in live Q&As while retaining the safety net of pre-recorded content…really the arguments for it are endless.

It really does come down to a risk and reward decision. As an event host, you’re going to have to strike the right balance for how to give your audience the maximum value from your event, while also making sure it runs smoothly.

As always, we’re here to help you answer these questions to make your virtual event a huge success, so get in touch with us if you have any further questions. Just imagine this blog as the pre-recorded content and now we’re ready to take your questions in the live format. See how well that works?


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