Live or pre-recorded?

One of the most exciting benefits of running an event online is the lack of constraints. Organizers don’t need the budget to hire a venue. Speakers don’t need to take time out of their schedule to fly to a conference location. Attendees can participate from the ease and comfort of their own home. And there’s a lot you can do with video that you can’t easily do on stage.

If you have the option to pre-record an event talk, it can allow for a more polished end result, because you can shoot retakes and clean things up in post-production. It also allows you to get creative with different formats, so you can draw inspiration from YouTubers, TV and even movies. Who says you can’t have a flashback sequence in the middle of your conference talk?! One of the best ways to hold the audience’s attention at an online event is to mix things up. Pre-recorded talks can still be incorporated into a livestream, as we cover in our ultimate guide to livestreaming, and it frees you up to interact with attendees in the discussion feed and answer questions during your talk if the event format and platform will allow.

For a wonderfully creative example of a pre-recorded presentation, check out this session delivered by Jessie Char at our first ever online event on Vito in March 2020.

As a conference organizer, it can be a good idea to request the majority of your speakers to submit their talks as pre-recorded videos, as this can minimize a lot of unknowns on the day. You’ll be able to cue up each talk as a scene in your livestreaming software, and you’ll know exactly how long each session will run in advance, allowing you to stay on schedule. You’ll also have less chasing on the day to do to ensure that speakers are present at the call link at the right time. Finally, it allows you to attract new and diverse talent, because it gives less experienced or more nervous speakers the time and space to produce a talk without the pressure of having to deliver it live.

For emcee segments, panels and Q&A sessions, live tends to work better because you can address audience comments and questions directly. There are lots of ways to incorporate a video call into a livestream depending on what streaming software you’re using — and you can even stream a Zoom call directly to a Vito hub.