To paraphrase a question from Dave following a recent webinar, “What about pre-recording the presentation, playing that in the live event, and then having live Q&A?”
While 1080 Group is now exclusively in the teaching business, our legacy hearkens back to the first virtual event production company on the planet, EnvoyGlobal.com. With that much time in the biz we’ve seen our share of successful and not-so-successful pre-recorded webinar/webcast presentations.
In this, the first part of a two part series we’ll look at different scenarios for doing pre-recorded webinars/webcasts. Then next week I’ll offer analysis and tips for doing so effectively.
Case #1: Executive needs to make multiple appearances
Years ago we did a 76 webinar series for Novell. Then-CEO Eric Schmidt spoke live, then a product manager came on and did a product presentation, followed by Q&A with just the product manager. We recorded Eric on the first event, and his bit was generic (state of the industry stuff) such that the recording could be re-used in the subsequent 75 events, and the PM’s part for each subsequent event was live.
Note that a variation of this might also be used to cover widely disparate timezones over the course of a day or two.
Case #2: Backup plan
Challenge: A notable surgeon was planning to present live, but as the event date closed in found out he was going to be on call. Since promotion had already begun, moving the event date would have been costly, so we created a recording of the surgeon (in case of emergency, literally!). It turns out we didn’t have to use it.
Case #3: Professional voice talent
More than one client has been concerned with having a perfectly scripted and executed talk track. In some cases this was simply a desire for perfection, in others it was driven by concern for a regulatory environment and being sensitive to the exact words that were to be shared. Each time professional voice talent was called upon to create the audio track, and the slides were pushed live (by the event producer) while the recording played. In some cases, only text-based Q&A was allowed so another member of the client’s team could respond.
Case #4: The presenter is a talker, but not a PowerPoint designer
I know my friend Shelley Ryan of Killer Webinars likes this technique. In advance of the live event, the client presenter does their “talk” which is recorded. Then slides are created to use during the live event, and these now match the talk track perfectly. These are either pushed live by the producer/moderator or combined with the audio track in pre-production into a complete audio/visual recording to be played in the live event.
Case #5: Worry
As the saying goes, “Most people would rather die than give the eulogy.” Nobody wants to look silly in front of others. I recall one VP of Marketing who, though she was an otherwise smart and adept communicator one-on-one, was absolutely wretched when presenting. To the chagrin of the team, she insisted on doing the presentation herself. She did accede to letting them pre-record it. It wasn’t great, but improved the result.
Case #6: Perfection(ism) or leaning toward on-demand being the more important use case
Another music analogy here. Most live concert recordings are poor aural experiences relative to the studio-production (delivered via iTunes or…). For most of us, however, if we went to a concert and the experience was exactly like the recording, we’d be disappointed that the band didn’t talk to the audience, extend that one cool guitar solo, or deliver a stunning lightshow that the MP3 didn’t include.
If you want to produce a webinar/webcast recording that’s perfect and visionary, it’s not wrong, per se. But live communication isn’t like that, and there’s even research to suggest that imperfection is a definitive part of natural communication (evidence suggests that it’s even useful – but don’t go saying “Roger said you should use ums and ahs when you speak” :)).
In other words, effective communication and perfect communication are not 100% synonymous.
The bottom line
In the purest sense, “live” and “recorded” have opposite ideas of perfection. Unfortunately, the message you get from many web conferencing, webinar, or webcasting companies is that all you have to do is push the “record” button and you’re golden.
The discerning observer should recognize that they are two are different beasts. Neither is right or wrong; neither is superior. The discerning observer should understand that there are tradeoffs, figure out what they are and, in the end, make an enlightened decision about what to get versus what to give up.
Stay tuned for part two to look at the pros, cons, and some tips for doing this right.