February 27, 2021

Live vs Pre-recorded Webinars: Which Type to Use for Your Webinar

Live vs Pre-recorded Webinars: Which Type to Use for Your Webinar

Webinars have opened up a world of possibilities for individuals and companies looking to connect and share their offerings to anyone, anywhere in the world. However, not many realize that there are two different types of webinars: live and pre-recorded.

While they are both meant to accomplish the same thing, live and pre-recorded webinars (also known as automated webinars) come with their differences. This article will help you differentiate live vs pre-recorded webinars by covering the following:

Read on to learn about the biggest differences between live and pre-recorded webinars. If you’re looking for examples of pre-recorded webinar platforms, check out the top automated webinar tools.

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

The difference between a live and pre-recorded webinar is that live webinars happen in real time and have a unique, one-time result, while pre-recorded webinars are created with a video before the event is scheduled, and meant to be set on a recurring schedule or made available on demand to reuse more than one time. (Pre-recorded webinars are also often called on-demand webinars too.)

Live webinars are focused on the host and how they choose to deliver a presentation to their target audience, typically using a combination of video, voice, and screenshare. Pre-recorded webinars are focused on the attendees and how they want to consume and engage with video content. Pre-recorded webinars prioritize the attendee & consumer experience, whereas live webinars prioritize the host’s content delivery.

A graphic of multiple viewers watching webinars in different settings”

Since live webinars are happening in real time, the success of the live event depends on the host. The host is responsible for staying on track, interacting with the live audience, and ensuring that the technology is fully functional. There’s a lot of freedom on the host’s end, but this also means there are many potential points of failure as live webinars are prone to tech and connectivity issues.

With an automated webinar, you’re able to create and market it with your audience in mind. The presentation will take place as you intend, allowing you to focus your efforts on engaging the audience and making sure that they have an enjoyable, interactive webinar experience. While the webinar won’t change in the moment, there’s a lot less pressure while it is taking place.

When to use pre-recorded webinars over live streaming

A great webinar strategy leverages both live and automated webinars, and the best strategy is to run enough live webinars until you're happy with the flow of your webinar content and know what your top questions are through live Q&A, so you can plan your evergreen content accordingly. 

An automated webinar can really compliment what you’re already doing with live webinars, and free up your time to do more things that require your unique attention. Here are some pros to using an automated webinar:

  • Make your product demos available at all times - This will allow multiple people to see your product in action at their own convenience without you having to continuously demonstrate how it works.
  • Train your staff efficiently - Team members can now absorb the same material as they join your company at different times, while you continue with business as usual.
  • Automate your onboarding process - New customers or clients can get up to pace on their own time without you needing to be present throughout.
  • Reach a larger audience with important information - Whether it’s a product update or company-related news, you can reach more attendees than you would in a single live webinar.
  • Save yourself from burnout - Use a single webinar recording as many times as you please, saving you and your team from inevitable burnout.
  • Make recruiting more efficient - Demonstrate in a reusable presentation why candidates should work with you, and utilize features like polls to get to know them better
  • Make orientation easier for new team members - Create a guide that newcomers can engage with at their own pace, and provide them a platform to easily ask personalized questions
  • Bring new value to old videos - Repurpose your past videos into an automated webinar, and add interactive elements throughout to breathe new life into them

When to use live streaming over automated webinars

Sometimes hosting live virtual events will have the most benefits for you and your audience. These are some live webinar pros that will help you determine if live streaming is better for you:

  • Host a one-time event - Not all events are evergreen, so you might prefer to go live if you’re celebrating a special occasion or discussing temporary information that doesn’t have a lot of re-use value.
  • Connect with your audience - Hosting a Q&A or prioritizing back-and-forth conversation between you and the audience are best done live.
  • Don’t mind spending the time - Live webinars require more coordination, preparation, and resources, so you might prefer to do so if you have a big team and can regularly make time in everyone’s schedule.

Webinar event comparison: automated vs live webinar

With an online event, anything can happen. What will happen depends on whether the webinar is live or pre-recorded. This is how the most common events will play out for an automated vs live webinar.

Event Live Webinar Automated Webinar
Giving a presentation Host is responsible for staying on track, relaying information, and handling slip-ups Presentation can be edited as desired; it can be produced, if you would like to do so
Nervousness and stage fright Nerves might impact host’s delivery; host appears to lack confidence Can edit out any mistakes before you publish the video
Audience questions Host can answer live; presentation might be interrupted Moderators can answer using chat as the webinar continues on or respond by email when it’s over
Technical difficulties Malfunctions can interrupt and derail the webinar; the video often lags if the host has poor connectivity or slow internet No technical difficulties; only attendees require an Internet connection good enough to stream video
Unexpected interruptions Visitors (children, pets) can appear in webinar; audience members can interrupt if mics and cameras are on Doesn’t happen with an automated webinar
Unexpected interruptions Visitors (children, pets) can appear in webinar; audience members can interrupt if mics and cameras are on Doesn’t happen with an automated webinar
Connecting with the audience Host can engage live through video and voice with the audience Host and moderators can respond to questions through chat and email; polls, questions, and other interactions can be pre-programmed
Sharing resources Shared chat messages, Q&As, and screen sharing disappear after the event; follow-up emails are sent outside of the attendees’ moment of intent All shareables are pre-programmed to be delivered throughout the webinar, creating an engaging user experience for attendees


6 case studies for using automated webinars: from 6x the training to interacting with thousands at once

If you’re new to pre-recorded webinars, you might be hesitant to believe that they could be beneficial. Here are 6 companies that greatly benefited from using eWebinar to create automated webinars.

1. Later: Creating two-way conversations — the key to converting prospects into customers

Later was the first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014 and has now grown to become the top visual marketing platform for Instagram, and other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Before finding eWebinar, Later could only host one live webinar per week, and it was taking up way more time than any of the other efforts in their marketing strategy — without the right return on that investment.

Later realized that creating a two-way conversation was the key to gaining the critical feedback on their product needed to convert more prospects into customers, and eWebinar’s automated and strategically-placed interactions create the perfect space for this. Now, Later can create 5 new webinars each quarter and use eWebinar to automate them so they continue to bring value. They can also put more effort into each new webinar, because they know they will run for a much longer period of time than their one-time live webinars were running.

2. HomeSpotter: 6x more training

HomeSpotter is a company that builds relationships between real estate agents, brokerages, MLSs, and clients. Before eWebinar, they were frequently hosting live webinars to train and onboard new customers and give demos. Needing to prioritize their time towards larger deal sizes, small leads would often fall through the cracks.

After making use of automated webinars with eWebinar, HomeSpotter was finally able to service every single lead that comes in, and train new customers on a regular schedule. They’ve now been able to increase their training sessions to multiple times a week, which is four to six times more training than before in any average week. They’re able to reach customers when most convenient across time zones, and the sales team can maximize their efforts.

3. Penny AI: Training tens of thousands of direct sales consultants

Penny AI is a digital personal assistant designed to help direct sales consultants. Before using eWebinar, they were spending many hours preparing webinars to target individual users. Now, they’ve been able to host training sessions for tens of thousands of direct sales consultants when it’s most convenient for them, and have been able to use the analytics collected to better their business.

4. W+R Studios: Increased lead flow

As a web software company for the real estate industry, W+R Studios was used to running a big webinar strategy using live webinars. Once they discovered pre-recorded webinars, they were able to create high-quality, engaging presentations that could take place more often and be free of technical issues. They’re now able to focus their time where it matters most, and have seen an increase in leads as a result of their automated webinars.

5. Espresso English: Interacting with thousands of students

Espresso English provides ESL online courses and e-books for thousands of students. They were struggling to make their large-scale webinars engaging, but the functionality available through eWebinar helped them to reach more students and make them more enjoyable. They’re now able to offer more workshops to existing customers and prioritize their schedules.

6. BombBomb: 5/5 ratings with increased engagement all around

As a video engagement platform, BombBomb has always prioritized being able to make human connections over video. After struggling with their scaling efforts by using other automated webinar solutions that didn’t meet their needs, they were able to use eWebinar to create pre-recorded webinars with a personal touch.

Since the switch, they’ve been able to increase their registration, attendance, watch time, and audience engagement rates.


Now you know the differences between live and pre-recorded webinars, including when to use them, how different events might unfold, and how pre-recorded webinars have improved customer engagement. If you want to learn more about what a pre-recorded webinar can do for you, check out eWebinar’s features.

If you’re already convinced of the value, sign up and try eWebinar free for 14 days to start getting your precious time back and putting it towards the things you can’t automate.