live webinar

Should You Host A Live Or Pre-Recorded Webinar?

Explore the nuances of live and pre-recorded webinars to make an informed decision for your business. Learn the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each format, and discover when to use live sessions or automated webinars.
March 6, 2024

Currently, we're all adapting to increased remote meetings, opting for broadcasts over live events, and spending more time on camera. Entrepreneurs are now contemplating the idea that video might be a viable tool for their business. They're thinking, "This video thing isn't as bad as I thought. Perhaps I can incorporate it more into my business strategy."

If you aim to connect with your audience, generate more leads, and expand your business, webinars can be a valuable asset. Webinars offer an attractive advantage by enabling you to reach a broad audience and expand your demographic without the need to travel to various locations.

Whether conducted live or pre-recorded, webinars can effectively help you achieve these goals. Livestreaming a webinar lets you engage an immediate audience and interact with potential leads in real time. However, achieving similar results is possible with a pre-recorded webinar. Instead of actively hosting live sessions to capture the attention and retention of your audience, you can provide registrants with access to the webinar recording. From a marketing perspective, repurposing your content in this manner is highly beneficial and lucrative.

Though both live and pre-recorded webinars (also termed automated webinars) aim to achieve similar objectives, they exhibit distinct differences. This article will aid you in distinguishing between live and pre-recorded webinars. Let's explore these aspects together.

What is a live webinar?

Live webinars are precisely as they imply – live. They involve conducting and delivering online conferences or presentations in real time to a specific audience. Live webinars enable seamless interaction between presenters and participants, allowing attendees to pose questions and receive instant answers.

What is a pre-recorded webinar?

Pre-recorded webinars are recorded sessions and then are available for distribution. They offer a higher level of interactivity compared to conventional videos. 

Pre-recorded webinars are recorded in advance, before the scheduled live session, and are either played at the appointed time as if they are live or made available on-demand. Depending on the configuration, they may also be termed on-demand webinars, simulated webinars, or automated webinars.

pre-recorded webinar

Live vs. pre-recorded webinars: what’s the difference?

The primary distinction between live and pre-recorded webinars lies in their hosting process, timing, and outcomes.

Live webinars occur in real time, resulting in a unique, one-time experience, while pre-recorded webinars involve creating a video before the scheduled event. Pre-recorded webinars are designed for recurring schedules or on-demand availability, often referred to as on-demand webinars.

Live webinars center around the host, focusing on their presentation to the target audience, employing a combination of video, voice, and screen share. In contrast, pre-recorded webinars prioritize the attendees, emphasizing how they consume and engage with video content. The attendee and consumer experience takes precedence in pre-recorded webinars, whereas live webinars prioritize the host's content delivery.

The success of a live webinar hinges on the host's ability to stay on track, interact with the live audience, and ensure seamless technology functionality. While live webinars offer freedom to the host, they are susceptible to potential points of failure, including technical and connectivity issues.

In contrast, pre-recorded or automated webinars allow you to create and market with the audience in mind. The presentation unfolds as intended, enabling you to concentrate on engaging the audience and ensuring an enjoyable, interactive experience. The pressure is significantly reduced during the pre-recorded webinar, as the content remains constant, offering a more controlled environment.

Both webinar formats excel at informing your customer base, acquiring new leads, and boosting conversion rates. The determination of whether live or pre-recorded sessions are more suitable for your brand hinges on your marketing goals. It is not only easy but also recommended to integrate both approaches into your overall webinar marketing strategy.

Webinar event comparison: Pre-recorded vs live webinar

Event Live Webinar Pre-recorded Webinar
Presentation Delivery The host guides the presentation in real time and is responsible for maintaining flow and addressing any hiccups. Pre-recorded webinars offer the advantage of post-production editing, enabling precise control over the presentation's content and smooth delivery. The presentation can also be pre-produced.
Nervousness and Confidence Live webinars may reveal nervousness impacting the host’s delivery and potentially conveying a lack of confidence. Pre-recorded webinars allow the elimination of any nervous moments through editing, ensuring a polished and confident presentation upon publication.
Handling Audience Questions Live webinars involve real-time interaction, with hosts addressing audience questions as they arise, potentially interrupting the flow. Pre-recorded webinars use moderators to handle questions through chat, while the presentation continues, or responses can be sent via email after the webinar concludes.
Technical Difficulties Live webinars are susceptible to technical glitches, interruptions, and video lag, especially if the host faces connectivity issues. Pre-recorded webinars eliminate technical disruptions, as the pre-recorded video ensures a seamless experience for attendees, with only their internet connection affecting video streaming.
Unexpected Interruptions Live webinars may experience unexpected interruptions, such as appearances by visitors or audience members accidentally interrupting with open mics and cameras. Pre-recorded webinars avoid such interruptions, providing a controlled and uninterrupted viewing experience.
Audience Interaction Live webinars allow hosts to engage directly with the audience through live video and voice interactions, fostering real-time connection. Pre-recorded webinars enable interaction through pre-programmed chat responses, emails, polls, and other engagement tools, offering a structured and planned approach to audience interaction.

Live vs pre-recorded webinars: What is the best option?

The best option between live and pre-recorded webinars depends on the nature of the webinar you are hosting. Opting for live webinars is always ideal for delivering fresh content and actively engaging with your audience.

On the other hand, pre-recorded webinars offer an excellent solution for streamlining your organization and saving time.

Pros and cons of pre-recorded webinars

Understanding the pros and cons of pre-recorded webinars is essential for determining the most effective times to record your sessions. In many instances, opting for pre-recorded content provides greater control over the presentation, ensuring a valuable webinar experience for your audience.


Editing flexibility

If errors occur or you wish to incorporate additional content later, pre-recorded webinars can be easily edited to fine-tune and align with your preferences.

Time and cost savings

Unlike live webinars that demand real-time hosting, pre-recorded ones allow you to tape a presentation and automate the process. This approach saves both time and money in production.

Versatile distribution

Pre-recorded webinars can be made available as automated sessions with a set time and date or as on-demand events, providing flexibility for your audience.

Expanded audience reach

Unlike live webinars constrained by specific dates and times, pre-recorded webinars offer greater flexibility in scheduling, accommodating different time zones, and enabling replay. This results in a broader reach to more registrants.


Limited interaction

Despite the possibility of moderating live chats or addressing questions in follow-up emails, pre-recorded webinars need more spontaneity and personal interaction found in live sessions, which may not align with the goals of audience connection and engagement.

Less precise audience targeting

Pre-recorded webinars, being more easily accessible, may result in less precise audience targeting. While inclusivity broadens brand reach, it may compromise the ability to narrow down the demographic. New or emerging brands are advised to prioritize live webinars until they are more established.

Pros and cons of live webinars

Live webinars stand out as the preferred choice for businesses aiming to connect with their target audience, understand demographics, and authentically engagingly present their brand. Despite the cost and time efficiencies of automated webinars, many businesses favor the live approach for its unique advantages.


Direct audience interaction

In live webinars, direct interaction with the audience allows real-time observation of their responses to topics, showcasing authenticity and enthusiasm. This engagement is particularly impactful for new brands looking to enhance their sales funnel and online presence.

webinar audience interaction
Live Q&A

Engaging in a live Q&A provides the chance to tailor your content on the spot to meet the specific needs of your audience, enhancing the compelling nature of your presentation.


Limited control

Live webinars offer limited control over the audience experience. In case of a lackluster host performance or content that doesn't resonate, there are no opportunities for a do-over.

Technical issues and distractions

Live webinars are susceptible to technical glitches and distractions from audience members. However, well-rehearsed webinars and features like muting or controlling the audience's video can help mitigate potential technical problems during live sessions.

When to use pre-recorded webinars?

To determine the optimal use of pre-recorded webinars, consider the following scenarios before developing automated sessions to enhance content promotion and lead generation.

Broaden audience reach:

  • Opt for pre-recorded webinars if the goal is to expand your audience reach.
  • Particularly useful when running webinars at times when registrants are typically unavailable.
  • Capitalize on scheduling convenience by playing several pre-recorded sessions weekly or monthly.

Onboard new leads:

  • For brand-new prospects interested in your brand, pre-recorded webinars offer greater autonomy in learning about your products and services.
  • Allows new registrants to catch up on the latest content without a live walkthrough, and you can establish a personal connection via email.

Run product demos:

  • Utilize pre-recorded webinars for product demos or service tutorials, ensuring that the content remains updated as your brand evolves.
  • Provides easy access for new leads without requiring a live introduction, creating urgency and potentially leading to increased sales.

Train staff:

  • Keep staff and team members informed with automated webinars covering how-to videos, safety training, and other relevant information.
  • Ensures consistency in information across the entire team as they all view the same pre-recorded webinars.

Reuse old content:

  • Transform old content into new and current pre-recorded webinars, offering a recycling option.
  • Produces evergreen content for audience convenience and helps avoid burnout by eliminating the need for hosting additional live webinars or generating new ideas.
webinar content

Make recruiting more efficient:

  • Demonstrate why candidates should work with you through reusable presentations, utilizing features like polls to understand them better.

Make orientation easier for new team members:

  • Create a guide for new team members to engage with at their own pace, providing a platform for easily asking personalized questions.

Remember that the registration process for pre-recorded content is similar to live content, except for on-demand webinars, which are available as soon as registrants sign up on your webinar landing page. Regardless of the format chosen, maintaining engagement with your intended demographic through email marketing before, during, and after the webinar remains a viable strategy.

When to use live webinars?

Determining when to use live webinars is crucial, and when in doubt, hosting a live session initially provides flexibility to later turn it into a pre-recorded video. Consider the following situations where live webinars may be the best choice:

Connect with your audience:

  • If authenticity is paramount in connecting with your targeted demographic, live webinars offer an unparalleled audience connection.
  • Ideal for sharing new information, running panels, or conducting Q&A sessions where real-time interaction enhances engagement.
  • Content can be edited later for on-demand or automated sessions, catering to latecomers.

Hosting one-time events:

  • Certain promotions, special events, or conferences are best presented live and then made available for reference later.
  • Examples include conferences discussing time-sensitive topics and product launches, where urgency is essential.
  • Hosting as a live event encourages registrants to participate, creating a sense of immediacy.

Don’t mind spending the time:

If you have a large team and can consistently allocate time in everyone's schedule, you might prefer hosting live webinars as they demand more coordination, preparation, and resources.

Personal preference:

If you enjoy connecting with a live audience and being in the moment, or if you want to gauge real-time audience responses to you and your brand, live hosting is the preferred choice.

How you can get the best of both worlds

Remember, you don't have to make an exclusive choice between live and pre-recorded webinars – why not blend the best of both worlds?

Here are some ways to maximize the benefits of both live and pre-recorded webinars:

  • Use the recording as a lead magnet: Transform the recorded webinar into a lead magnet to enhance your email list-building efforts.
  • Edit for social posts: Edit portions of the webinar recording into engaging social media posts to maintain audience interest.
  • Create a blog post: Convert the webinar content into a comprehensive blog post for a different format of audience consumption.
  • Incorporate into paid ads: Use snippets from the recording in your paid ads to entice click-throughs and capture attention.
  • Repurpose on YouTube: Repurpose the webinar content into YouTube videos, reaching a broader audience on a different platform.

By integrating these strategies, you can make the most out of both live and pre-recorded webinars, extending their impact across various channels and catering to different audience preferences.

Find success with live and pre-recorded webinars

Achieving your business goals is possible through the strategic use of both live and pre-recorded webinars. Live sessions excel in cultivating personal relationships with attendees, thanks to their authenticity, while pre-recorded webinars ensure a consistent and informative experience for every viewer.

The choice between the two depends on your desired outcomes and the format you aim to establish. Live events stand out for audience engagement, whereas pre-recorded sessions effortlessly expand your audience reach and offer greater convenience. 

If you're considering delving into webinars, Hubilo presents a solution tailored for both novice and experienced webinar creators. With Hubilo, you can effortlessly engage with your audience, and create visually appealing, informative, and reusable content. Hubilo, a dependable webinar platform, enhances your webinar experience with a wide range of features, enabling the creation of captivating and interactive webinar sessions. The platform includes customizable webinar interfaces and interactive engagement tools such as live polls, Q&A sessions, and chat discussions to maintain audience engagement and connectivity. Schedule a demo to firsthand explore the platform's capabilities and witness how Hubilo can revolutionize your webinar hosting experience. Check it out today!

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Hubilo is the webinar platform built for marketers that helps you 2X your pipeline. Founded in 2015, Hubilo's powerful engagement features, dedicated client experience team, and custom branding tools have helped create over 12K virtual events & webinars, creating hundreds of millions of minutes of high-engagement experiences and counting. Headquartered in Bengaluru and San Francisco, Hubilo's 200+ employees are dedicated to enabling webinars & virtual events that convert.

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