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What Is a Live Webcast and Why Do One? A Short Overview

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 12:30
What Is a Live Webcast and Why Do One? A Short Overview

This is a guest post by Dennis Shiao, marketing consultant and columnist for Content Marketing Institute.

Each year, our clients broadcast thousands of live webcasts. They use live webcasts for product launches, press announcements, lead generation, internal communications, partner training, employee onboarding, customer communications and more.

But wait, you might be saying: “What is a live webcast?”

What Is a Live Webcast?

The term “live webcast” is used synonymously with the term “live webinar.” Just to clear up any confusion!

A live webcast is an online broadcast that takes place at a specific date and time. Just like live television, a live webcast happens in real time, with no ability to edit or correct footage. The spontaneity of a live webcast is one reason users enjoy attending them.

A live webcast may include one or more of these elements: slides, live video, Q&A, polls, online chat and social media integration. Organizers of live webcasts choose which of these elements to include.

Live webcasts are streamed over the internet. End users can experience live webcasts in browsers or mobile apps. More and more users are using mobile to do so—today, 96% of consumers rely on a smartphone to get things done. That means you need to ensure your content is viewable on a small screen!

Speakers have access to the browser-based “presentation console” of live webcast platforms. This console provides controls that are available exclusively to presenters: starting and stopping the broadcast, advancing slides, viewing audience metrics, launching polls, viewing poll results, viewing questions, moderating questions and more.

End users access the “audience console,” which the live webcast platform makes available via browser or mobile app. The audience console enables users to view slides, hear audio, view video, participate in polls, submit questions, etc.

An on-demand archive of the live webcast is available as soon as the live webcast is over. Users who missed the live broadcast can return later to watch the webcast on demand.

Benefits of Doing Live Webcasts

When planning a webcast, organizers choose one of two options:

1. Live - Broadcast at a specific date and time. Live webcasts become available on-demand as soon as they’re done.

2. On Demand - Recorded and made available online, without any live component. With an on-demand webcast, organizers can perform multiple “takes” (or recordings) until they get it right. They can also edit segments of the webcast before publishing it.

In this post, we’ll cover the benefits of live webcasts, all of which are not applicable to on-demand webcasts:

  • Attendee feedback in real time
  • Attendee interaction
  • Attendee preference and enjoyment

Attendee Feedback in Real Time

Live webcasts can connect you with an audience in real time, whether they’re employees, partners, prospects or customers.

As founder of Airtight Concepts, Maiko Sakai helps CEOs, entrepreneurs and founders build a high-functioning, profit-generating machine. Maiko loves to use live webcasts to understand whether her message is resonating with her audience.

According to Maiko, "The number one reason I do live webcasts is to get the immediate feedback from attendees. Unless you do a live webcast, you don't know whether you might be over-explaining something or under-explaining it."

Maiko employs a creative strategy to generate high quality, on-demand webcasts from her live webcasts. On demand is the format she prefers to make available on her website.

To create the most effective version, she hosts multiple live webcasts on the same topic. She takes the audience feedback from the live webcasts and uses that when recording her on-demand version.

Attendee Interaction

When hosting a live webcast, just remember how an audience has gathered online, and taken the time out of their busy days, to hear from you.

Make your broadcast engaging—not boring. Take advantage of the opportunity by using the interactive tools available in the live webcast platform:

  • Q&A
  • Polls
  • Chat rooms or discussion boards
  • Social media integration

David Dulany, founder and CEO of Tenbound, a research and advisory firm focused on Sales Development, broadcasts all his webcasts live, to take advantage of attendee interaction.

According to David, “Live webcasts give us the chance to interact directly with our target market. We’ll always have an open chat box and polls running in order to encourage the audience to participate.”

Not only does attendee interaction help webcast organizers better understand their audience, it also makes the experience more engaging for the audience.

David continues, “We find live webcasts to be more interesting and fun for everyone involved. They’re more engaging than releasing something directly on demand. We cover the on-demand part by recording the webcast and offering it for free on our website and other channels post-webcast.”

Attendee Preference and Enjoyment

Attendees prefer live webcasts! And since each live webcast turns into an on-demand experience, you get the best of both worlds.

Some organizers find that presenters have a higher level of motivation and energy when presenting live.

Kathie Clark, Director of Marketing at Onix, a cloud solutions provider, prefers live webcasts for this very reason. According to Kathie, “The live webcast experience is better for attendees. There is also an energy that presenters tend to give when they have a live audience that is difficult for most people to replicate when they know they are recording. It also puts a deadline out there. It's too easy to push off recording.”

In addition, the interactivity of live webcasts can make attendees feel like the experience was designed just for them.

“Live webcasts enable you to make the audience feel like they’re getting a customized experience. A skilled presenter can engage them through the chat panel by asking questions and requesting that the audience respond in real time,” says Kathie.

Live webcasts can also deepen relationships with attendees—something that’s not possible with on-demand webcasts. Kathie continues, “Audience members can ask their specific questions about the topic and engage with the presenter. It helps build relationships that you cannot do in an on-demand environment.”

When live webcasts are used for demand generation, building stronger relationships can accelerate the sales cycle. Tenbound’s Dulany finds that live webcasts give his team the opportunity to deepen the relationship with prospects post-webcast.

According to David, “What we’ll often see with live webcasts is the conversation with the prospect continues seamlessly afterwards. A highly engaged webcast attendee feels that they know us a bit more and a relationship has been formed that continues after the webcast is over. You can’t get that kind of ongoing conversation from an on-demand webcast.”

If you want to dig deeper on live webcast trends from audience to engagement, use our 2019 guide as a resource when planning your next broadcast.

Intrado Webcasts and Virtual Events 2019 Benchmark Report


What to Read Next:

[In the Know] The Value of Live Webcasts

[Meet Intrado Digital Media] How to Level Up Your Webcast Game (Part One)