Two Types of Virtual Event You Need to Know About Now

The Two Types of Virtual Events You Need to Know About Now

10 min read
The events industry has gone through the wringer since COVID-19 brought lockdowns.
Fortunately, we’re a resilient bunch and things are looking up with the uptake of virtual events, and audience acceptance of virtual is growing.

The virtual concept has surged dramatically, as event professionals find their feet in the new normal of post-pandemic life.

Amongst the burgeoning use of technology for virtual events, there are two approaches: live broadcast, or pre-recorded.

Each has pros and cons, but either way the possibilities are exciting.

The two types of virtual event you need to know about right now Click To Tweet

Live Virtual Events

Live broadcasting an event lends a more ‘live’ feel to the occasion. It is produced with a skeleton staff on site, including essential tech support crew.

Speakers, MCs and entertainers may speak or perform from the same venue – often a studio – or they can be live streamed from multiple locations.

Event delegates watch or participate in the live stream of the event, using Zoom or similar software.


Live Virtual Events
  • Easier production
  • Cheaper to run
  • Less risk of leaks prior to event
  • Scope for digital enhancement


Live Virtual Events
  • Technology risk
  • Less polished production
  • Need talent who can adapt to virtual

In essence, there are two types of virtual event: live broadcast, or pre-recorded. Discover the pros and cons of both. Click To Tweet

Live Virtual: The Good News

Live Event Vibe

Live broadcast is the closest virtual comes to the IRL (‘in real life’) events we all know and love. It allows for any minor gaffes you’d expect at a live show. The speaker might cough mid-speech, or mispronounce somebody’s name, which lends an air of immediacy and authenticity to the event.

It also enables real-time engagement where guests can pose questions to presenters, once again lending more of a live vibe.

Easier production

Live broadcast is delivered warts and all. No editing needed, or in fact possible. Apart from crossing fingers for seamless streaming technology, it can take a load of pressure off the event planner.

The live, immediate nature of the event creates a more relaxed atmosphere for all involved.

Cheaper to run

Live broadcasts cost a whole lot less to run. There’s not as much production involved, and fewer staff are needed to deliver the event.

Live broadcasts can be streamed from a studio, but they don’t have to be. Studio fees, which replace venue fees from good old pre-pandemic times, can be avoided in many cases.

Less risk of leaks prior to event

Live broadcast carries less risk of information being leaked out to the public before the event. This is most relevant for awards nights, where the recipient of an award is only announced on the night.

It’s much easier for a leak to get out with multiple people working on editing and production of a pre-recorded event.

Scope for digital enhancement

The event can still be enhanced with digital effects, as more studios start to offer this feature for live broadcast format. From sponsor branding and messages, to the more sophisticated use of green screen technology there are many creative possibilities.

Weighing up live vs pre-recording events? 'Live' offers authenticity. Click To Tweet

Live Virtual: The Nitty-Gritty

Technology risk

Seamless streaming technology is mission critical for live virtual events. As the saying goes, technology is great when it’s working! Streaming can potentially fail or drop out at a vital moment, plunging your event into dark silence until the issue is fixed.

This is a big one! Although minor blips are more forgivable in a live format, it is absolutely essential to check if the studio or streaming provider has robust contingencies in place.

Less polished production

Too many gaffes and blips can be distracting. Live broadcasting is delivered warts and all, which is great for creating a live vibe. Yet the flipside might be a less polished, less engaging experience for the audience.

Transitions between speakers, and fielding audience questions may be clunky if not managed effectively.

Needs talent to adapt to virtual

Watching an event on screen is never quite the same as IRL, so it’s super important to plan the format to maximise engagement from start to finish. That means selecting speakers, MCs and entertainers who can adapt to virtual.

Not everyone is comfortable talking or performing to dead space in an empty studio, and the absence of live audience buzz may dilute their energy.

It’s important to keep this in mind when selecting talent for virtual events.

Adaptability of speakers and talent is key to pre-recording an event for virtual streaming later Click To Tweet

Pre-Recorded Virtual Events

Pre-recorded events involve filming the host, speakers and performers in a studio, with a production house producing an event showreel of a polished product.

Staff or other delegates then tune in to the event at a set time. Although not as live or interactive, there is a world of creative possibilities to edit and digitally enhance the showreel.


Pre-Recorded Virtual Events
  • No errors
  • Polished result
  • Creative digital enhancement
  • Less limited for talent options
  • Rollout to multiple time zones
  • Not reliant on real-time technology


Pre-Recorded Virtual Events
  • Recording multiple takes
  • Higher production costs
  • More time intensive
  • Longer lead times

Hosting a virtual event? Huge possibilities to digitally enhance the showreel when pre-recording. Click To Tweet

Pre-Recorded Virtual: The Good News

No errors

Production is pre-recorded so any errors get edited out. There’s ultimately more control and confidence over what gets delivered to audience/delegates.

Polished product

The edited and enhanced showreel produces a more polished end product than a live virtual event. Depending on the objective of your event, and the expectations of your target audience, a seamless performance may be crucial to success.

Creative digital enhancement

Pre-recorded virtual events are perfectly placed for enhancement that totally ups the ‘Wow!’ factor. Sophisticated 3D technology and ‘green screen’ enables realistic (digital) placement of presenters within any setting – well beyond the fun backgrounds available in Zoom and similar.

Imagine your keynote speaker presenting from the beautiful lobby of an historic hotel, a launch product appearing in a fun location, or a virtuoso violinist performing from an exquisite cliff top location. Even have your CEO appear to fly in to land gracefully onto the stage.

The sky’s the limit for creativity. Look for studios offering event enhancement packages, and they will guide you further on what you can do.

Not reliant on real-time technology

Unlike live virtual events, pre-recording eliminates the worry about connectivity issues and seamless broadcasting with pre-recording. That’s certainly one less headache…

Quality studios offer event enhancement packages when pre-recording an event for virtual Click To Tweet

Pre-Recorded Virtual: The Nitty-Gritty

Recording multiple takes

In the interests of smooth, polished production, there’s generally no acceptance of errors. That means potential for those presenting having to record multiple takes.

It can be frustrating for all, very time consuming and likely to incur additional costs.

Higher production costs

Production costs for pre-recorded events are higher than live virtual events. Studio fees, and the production team – including any special digital effects that need to be coded by an expert – need to be factored into your budget.

More time intensive

Although the technology has been around for a while, it’s a rapidly growing field for both suppliers and event planners. As such, briefing your supplier will likely be more detailed and take longer, and you may need to involve more senior management within your organisation – CEO, CIO and CMO for example – which can delay approvals and project sign off.

It’s important to also factor in the lead times for producing the pre-recorded video. We suggest factoring in at least 2-3 weeks production time before the event showreel rollout date. Consider any awards that need judging, announcement of entries or other similar processes in your event planning.

Forward planning is key when recording for an online event Click To Tweet

Virtual Events are Our Saving Grace

Although the technology is nothing new, it has certainly changed the game for event planners. Virtual events are going to be here for a while. Whether you opt for live virtual or pre-recorded events, the opportunities to embrace change and be truly creative are here right now.

Next steps

About the Author

Alison Clarke

Alison is the founder and director of Enhance. It turns out she has a flair for connecting talent with clients. A classical pianist graduating from the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Alison spent a decade performing on the international stage, was twice awarded scholarships to the Chamber Music Residency Program in Canada, and was invited to International Musician’s Seminar Prussia Cove. She now manages talent and events worldwide.

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