Have you ever stood in front of a crowd, palms sweaty, voice trembling, your mouth as dry as the Sierra, and all you want is for the presentation to be over, and as a result, you start speaking too quickly? Even behind a computer screen, reading from note cards during a webinar for hundreds of names on an attendee sheet can feel scary and stressful. Live webinars can come with a lot of uncertainty, but what if you didn’t have to do it live? And what if it could look like it was live at the same time?
Webinars are a popular and cost-effective alternative to hosting an in-person event. In the five and half years I’ve been with Iron Horse I’ve managed more than 200 webinars. In my first year here, I managed over 60, so I know first hand how powerful webinars can be to gaining a competitive advantage, and how easily a few overlooked details can derail them completely. Most B2B marketing teams move forward with live webinars or on-demand ones, however there is a third option, Simulive Webinars, which gives you the best of both worlds.
What is a Simulive Webinar?
A Simulive (simulated live) webinar is a pre-recorded webinar that comes across externally as a live digital event. A Simulive webinar has the same interactive tools as those found with a live webinar, which enables presenters and moderators to respond to questions from people viewing the webinar. Through the Q&A text widget, speakers can send text responses to questions from the audience in real-time. Additionally, simulated live webinars offer an option to host a pre-recording that rolls over into a live Q&A segment at the end, allowing the speaker to verbally respond to questions at the end of the presentation.
Webinars, like with any presentation, are unpredictable. This solution offers more predictability that may put some stage-fright presenters at ease. If you’re unsure whether a simulated live webinar is the right option for you, here is a breakdown of the benefits and challenges associated with this method.
Benefits of Simulive Webinars
- Less risk. With Simulive webinars, you are able to fix and edit out any unwanted mistakes prior to the live presentation. Worried about a lag when presenting a video or loading a screen? This presentation type reduces the risk for both technical difficulties, such as no wifi, and for unforeseen environmental difficulties, such as a car alarm or loud motorcycles driving by the window.
- Less stress. The safety net of using Simulive is very comforting to news speakers and veterans of the sport. The lack of stress often comes across in the speaker’s voice as well, which is reassuring for the audience and promotes the speaker to a positive of authority on the subject matter.
- More control. Do you have a presenter speaking about sensitive material or complicated legal subject matter? Simulive webcasts are especially beneficial if the subject matter needs to be reviewed by the executive team, or a PR or a legal team before going live.
Challenges of Simulive Webinars
- Requires an editor for video and audio clean up. While a Simulive webinar may cost the same as a live webinar, there is also an additional cost for in-house or agency video and audio editing. You will need to factor in the additional cost and hours that go along with hosting a Simulive webinar.
- Not ideal for interactive presentations. Presentations or training that rely on poll questions and exercises are better off live. If you’re looking to engage with your audience in these ways, Simulive is not the best option for that kind of webinar.
- Not every vendor supports simulive. For reasons I refuse to understand, not all webinar vendors provide for this capability. So, if Simulive webinars are of interest to you and your current vendor does not support this capability it may be time to trial a new provider.
Best Practices for Simulive Webinars
I’ve been at this for a long time, and in that time I’ve learned what works and what does not, and that includes using Simulive. If you’re hoping to have more success and fewer missteps, here are my best practices for using simulated live webinars.
- Make it feel real. When recording, try to go through the entire presentation in one go instead of recording in sections because this makes the presentation feel more real and natural. Remember that you want this to feel like it’s live so it’s fine to have some “umms” and “uhhs.”
- Avoid topical or trending subjects. Everything has a shelf life and you don’t want your webinar to have one too. While you’re doing the pre-recording, do not include topical subject matter like a viral video or everyone buying all the toilet paper in every store around the country. Otherwise, viewers will get a sense that your presentation was pre-recorded. This will also ensure that when the webinar becomes an on-demand resource, it’s not bogged down by examples or small talk that may have been trending at the time but now make the resource feel dated.
- Give your editors time to edit. Before you set your broadcast date after recording your presentation, make sure you give your editors ample time to make their edits. Do not expect a 24-hour turn around for your edits. You’re most likely looking for a 3-5 business day window, in case heavy edits are required, someone falls ill, or other priorities arise.