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May 6, 2024

Which to Choose: Live versus Pre-Recorded Masterclass/Webinar


While masterclasses and webinars are a great way to generate leads and connect with your audience, they do require a higher level of work and time commitment. In an effort to save time and expand their reach, many coaches desire to use pre-recorded sessions (also called evergreen or automated).

As a reminder, a live masterclass or webinar is facilitated in real-time with a live audience. An automated or evergreen masterclass or webinar is recorded ahead of time and hosted on a steaming platform. As part of the sales or marketing funnel, both do require registration to access the content.

Before you decide which route to take it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of each type. This will enable you to make an informed decision and ultimately see higher conversion rates of leads and clients.

Live Masterclasses/Webinars – Pros & Cons

Despite the time commitment of a live event, this is still the preferred method across industries and within the coaching space. Particularly if the goal is audience connection, gathering demographic data, and engaging in an authentic way with participants.

Pros of Live Masterclasses/Webinars

  • Real-time Audience Interaction
    This is one of biggest benefits a live virtual event. You can interact directly with those attending in a variety of ways. It allows you monitor how the audience is responding your content, and you can adjust as needed.
  • Customized Participant Experience
    Because the masterclass or webinar is live, you can customize the experience to that specific audience. This can be as simple as welcoming individuals by name or more personal like a short flash coaching session.
  • Authentic Engagement
    Whether you are asking participants to comment in chat, answer questions on a poll, or facilitating a live Q&A, you are connecting in an authentic way with the audience. This greatly improves your “know, like, and trust” factor.
  • Access to Unique Audience Data
    The data you can gather via chat comments, questions posed, and answers to polls is invaluable. This “passive” market research will help you in several ways with your future marketing.

Cons of Live Masterclasses/Webinars

  • Fixed Schedule
    Just like a live in-person event, a live masterclass or webinar is bound by the specific day and time it is scheduled to happen. This requires more planning on your part to fit it into your schedule. And it means that inevitably some folks will not be able to attend live.
  • Higher Risk of “In the Moment” Issues
    Whether it is issues like internet connectivity or webcam malfunction or a disruptive participant, your focus may get fractured and you lose time trying to deal with the issues.
  • Potential Perceived Lack of Preparedness
    Whether you’re nervous in front of the camera or you’ve lost your notes or you’re feeling unwell, you could come across as unprepared. This negatively impacts the audience’s impression of you making it harder for you to convert a participant into a paying client.

Pre-recorded Masterclasses/Webinars – Pros & Cons

The allure of a pre-recorded masterclass or webinar has merit given it can help you leverage your time. However, it is important to be aware of the cons before making a final decision.

Pros of Pre-recorded Masterclasses/Webinars

  • Flexibility with creating and editing content
    Unless you are on a strict deadline, you can record and edit the content around other commitments and tech snafus.
  • Expanded Audience Reach
    Depending on how you market the pre-recording, this option expands your reach because folks can watch at their convenience and schedule not yours.
  • One and Done (sort of)
    Once you have a pre-recording that is performing well, you can set it on (semi) autopilot. If paired with other automations, it decreases your time commitment.

Cons of Pre-recorded Masterclasses/Webinars

  • Minimal audience interaction
    Depending on how you structure your presentation, a pre-recorded masterclass or webinar is basically one-way communication. Additionally, it cuts you off from interacting in a meaningful way with your audience.
  • Additional tech requirements
    For a robust registration and viewing experience, you need to purchase or subscribe to a streaming platform designed for automated or evergreen virtual events like masterclasses and webinars. You also need to make sure you have a quality tech set up for recording both video and audio. You will also need video editing software to create a polished final recording.
  • Upkeep and maintenance of the recording
    There are very few topics that are 100% timeless. It is inevitable that you will need to modify and re-record the session to make sure it is up to date. If aspects of you niche change regularly, you might end up spending more time updating than expected, which minimizes the time savings you are seeking.
  • Generalized audience targeting,
    If you are just starting out and not sure what resonates with your ideal audience, it can be hard to pinpoint or target your marketing, so it connects with their specific struggles and desires. Without direct interaction with the audience, it is harder for you to gather valuable data that can inform your market research.

Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, which option you choose is up to you and your overall goal with the masterclass or webinar. If you are starting out and still determining your niche, programming, and/or ideal audience, live webinars will help you more quickly zero in on what those aspects should be for you.

If you have a good track record with giving live webinars and converting participants into clients, then it might a good time to transition to a pre-recorded masterclass/webinar structure.

Leave a comment on which strategy you want to use or already use in your coaching business.

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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