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Live or pre-recorded webinars: what is the best option for course creators?

Webinars are a great way to provide valuable information to your learners. They also help with getting good leads for your e-learning business. Whether you've already hosted a few of your own webinars or consider doing so, here are some statistics you'll find useful: 

Read more: 5 Webinar tips to boost your online course sales

Live or pre-recorded webinars?

That being said, let’s see what are the most important questions that course creators need to ask themselves before choosing a live or pre-recorded webinar option:

What kind of webinar will work best for you?

Starting from the last statistic, the question is: should you host a live webinar or record it and offer the on-demand version? 

Since live webinars are happening in real-time, you as the host are almost entirely responsible for their success. You have to stay on track, engage the audience, and ensure that the tech aspects are running flawlessly. On the one hand, you have a lot of freedom and can adapt when necessary, but on the other, the stress and the possibility of technical mishaps are a lot higher. There are times when going live is the best option and instances when on-demand webinars are better. 

When should you host live webinars?

You should choose to do a live webinar when you need to connect to your audience. It's an excellent way for them to meet you "in person" and have a conversation with you instead of you answering questions on social media or other channels. 

Consider your skills and comfort level with a live presentation before deciding to host. It's important to have a solid outline and practice to see how the timing works and how every piece of technology you'll need to use falls into place. Furthermore, it's paramount that the webinar topic is one you are proficient in. 

A HubSpot survey has revealed that the top two elements that audiences are interested in seeing in live events are Q&As and interactive sections. Taking questions from the audience means you won't have the luxury of researching before answering. It's OK not to know everything and admit that (authenticity is crucial), but you still need to establish yourself as an expert. It's also best to go for a live webinar when the subject is widely discussed at that time or if it is related to an event, such as an online course launch.

Read more: The entrepreneur’s to-do list for a successful course launch

When are pre-recorded webinars the best option?

From the design to the launch phase, doing a webinar requires quite a bit of effort, so it's best to get the most out of it, especially if the topic is evergreen (keeps generating interest over time). Having a live webinar as a one-time event is wasteful. Pre-recorded webinars will give you more time to focus on other ways of interacting with your audience. For example, they can ask questions that you can later reply to and you have more time to come up with thoughtful answers or send them the right resources. 

Furthermore, you'll be able to offer a lot more flexibility where time is concerned — your audience is unlikely to be on the same schedule or maybe even the same time zone as you. Adding to that, pre-recorded webinars are better for building an audience. Since only half of the people who sign up end up participating, you’ll need to drive numbers up. Several sessions are a good step in that direction. To sum it up, pre-recorded webinars are a more cost-effective option that brings more added value over time. 

Read more: Top 6 webinar mistakes for online course entrepreneurs to avoid

Wrapping up

The question of whether to host a live or a pre-recorded webinar doesn’t have a universally correct answer. It all depends on your situation and the degree to which you think it is worth investing in either a one-time event or the on-demand. You may even choose to do a live webinar and then make the recording available. Regardless of what you decide, webinars are powerful marketing tools that can help you broaden your audience and establish you as an authority in your field. 

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