avad3 Event Production

Virtual: Stream Pre-Recorded or Live?

We’ve been recording and streaming our in-person events for years. When March 2020 hit, the events industry was shaken. No one escaped the fallout of things screeching to a halt. Thankfully, our North Star was that we weren’t afraid of streaming! This may have been new for a lot of our clients, but it wasn’t new to us.

What’s really been interesting to me personally over the recent months is how possible it is to do a completely pre-recorded virtual event. This usually gets a pretty steep head tilt in client (Zoom) meetings. “You mean, we don’t have to go live?” Correct.

Now that we’re in 2021, a lot of clients get it. Most of us have seen a virtual event with pre-recorded segments. It’s not that far of a stretch to start imagining the entire thing pre-recorded.

So, how do you decide, pre-recorded, or live?

The Benefits of Pre-Recording Your Virtual Event

Lower Risk

This has been by-far the reason clients are interested in this option in the first place. Perhaps their leadership has reservations about going on a live broadcast. They pre-record their segments. Then their VIP’s pre-record to make availability easier. Then their entertainment/band talent pre-records to increase production value by getting to mix their instruments in a studio. The snowball effect begins to happen, and before you know it, the entire show is pre-recorded. It makes sense. Each party is mitigating risk.

Precise Runtime

For some events, the runtime or duration is critical. When clients need an event to end in exactly 45 minutes or one hour, pre-recording allows shows to be timed down to the second.

Less Chance of Delay

We’re living in a volatile world. Events are a culmination of 99 variables. If there’s a chance of those stars not aligning perfectly on the right day at the right time, it can make sense to pre-record. Perhaps even the week-of there could be delays. Health concerns, policy, so many things that were once stable are currently volatile.

The Benefits of Going Live

The Human Element. “The Force”

This is at the top of my list. And it’s very difficult to capture and convey. There is an energy with live events. A rush. It’s hard to describe as I type this, but if you’ve felt “the force” of being in a live room, with live people, hearing a live presenter, perhaps you can go with me on this one. Now compare that to watching a pre-recorded presentation. I felt this years ago. I was in a room, watching an amazingly captivating presentation. I was sucked in. I couldn’t look away. I was taking so many notes and couldn’t keep up, I thought, “whew, we’re recording this, I’ll rewatch tomorrow.” Well tomorrow came, I pulled up the recording, and… was this the same presentation from yesterday? Same presentation, not the same feeling. There is something about this human element, being in a room, the presenter is right there, being surrounded by others. When we go virtual, you’d think that goes away, but there’s still a shimmer of it’s presence, when we’re live. The television broadcasts of the annual Thanksgiving Parade, the big football game, dancing shows… they all have “the force”. If you pull up those clips later, once you know the game is over, even if you don’t know who is going to win, it’s just… not the same. That energy, that “this is live” energy, cannot be conveyed in a pre-recorded format. The audience can sense it almost immediately, and for some reason, whatever that human element missing does, it causes audiences to disengage. Perhaps, “if this wasn’t important enough for this presenter to be giving me their attention right now, I’m not going to give them my attention.”


The number one buzz word of the first few months of virtual events was… engagement. “How do we keep our audiences engaged?” I heard a dozen times every week. There are countless ways to increase engagement. No one magic pill, but together, they make up a recipe like a casserole of engagement. Chat. Q&A. Polls. Countless others. These are benefits of being truly live. The host pitching to a poll, people polling in, and the host reading the results. It proves you’re live. It feels the human element of “the force” above.


I love events, partly because I love projects. Projects have a clear start and end date. With events, whether a virtual event or an in-person event, there is urgency. In your planning team, your leadership, the talent, the crew… and that all translates to your audience. That urgency of being under a timeline that you work under puts a timeline on them. Is your event a fundraiser? Urgency conveys: give now! Is your event a conference or growth seminar? It calls your audience to action to take their next step. A business meeting? The most up-to-date financials, data, customer insights, it all culminates at an event date. That is simply not the same when pre-recording is spread out over a 3-4 week period.

Production Value

I’ll bring it home with this final point. Often clients ask, with their given budget, which route will bring the most production value? Honestly, with examples of proof, I can show you, either route is permissible. Pre-recording can bring production value through post-production editing. Being truly live can bring production value with what we can do with technology to make the experience more engaging.

The Decision is Yours. We’ll walk with you.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. But if this is your first virtual event or you want expertise, you’ve come to the right place. We do over 100 events every year. There are so many factors that go into this decision of pre-recorded versus live. We want to apply our expertise from over nine years of event production and apply it to your project. We’re here for you.

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