Live Webinars or On Demand Presentations: Which One Is Best For You?

I conduct dozens of webinars every year and always enjoy the immediacy of them, the live questions and excitement of speaking to a live audience.
Live presentations are great, but according to Brainshark, an on demand (meaning – when you want it) presentation hosting company, there could be even more value to enabling an audience to listen to a presentation on demand.
Maybe you’re a sales person and you keep finding it very difficult to have a customer listen to a live presentation or view your webinar at a certain time. What about training your customers or staff – is it best to do it live, or is it best to let them view the online training whenever it is convenient for them.
Brainshark has a free website (myBrainshark) where customers can upload, track and share presentations. Not just the digital presentation file (as you can with Slideshare) but using a telephone Brainshark also enables you to add real time audio, or voice enriched presentations, to your presentation so that it’s whole package, ready for your customer or anyone else to listen to.
Brainshark recently release myBrainshark Pro which added new features, for a fee, to its myBrainshark service.
I asked some questions to a Brainshark representative about live presentations vs on demand presentations:

When should live webinars be done instead of an on-demand presentation?
On-demand presentations are ideal for asynchronous/ one-way information delivery. If you do need true, live interaction (with colleagues, your audience, etc.) and immediate collaboration, a Web conference or webinar might be the way to go.
Oftentimes, though, businesses will see that they’re paying a lot to use Web conferencing or put on a webinar (or even travel to a location – note that U.S. business travel topped $234 billion in 2009!), when on-demand presentations would actually be better for the task.
Often, when people register for a webinar (I know I’m guilty of this…), they forget about it, get busy, have other priorities take precedence… and don’t end up attending. When companies make on-demand presentations about a given topic available though, they can take advantage of a prospect’s interest while it’s hot – and the prospect can view the material right away. See this CRM article – one of Brainshark’s customers is quoted on their success using on-demand presentations over more traditional webinars. (Among other stats, they went from a 27% attendance rate on webinars to now 96%). And as I probably mentioned, Brainshark also provides tracking capabilities – so you can see who viewed your presentation, when, how much content was consumed, how any survey questions you included were answered, etc. Speaking of survey questions – oftentimes, the level of interactivity in live webinars (pre-ordained polling questions, etc.) doesn’t really leverage the benefits of communicating live… again, here, on-demand presentations may be more appropriate.
FYI, with regards to Web conferencing/ online meetings, it can take up to a day or more to find a mostly-mutually-convenient time. When dealing with globally dispersed teams, this is exacerbated. So again, if one-way information delivery is what’s actually most appropriate, on-demand presentations can often be the way to go.
Many live webinars are archived after the live webinar is done. What’s the difference between that and an on-demand presentation?
True. Webinar replays can be very valuable – providing info for non-attendees, being a value-add for registrants, serving as marketing communications fodder, etc. However, at the same time, companies face challenges in the form of high costs, getting non-attendees to view the replay, tracking who viewed the replay and for how long, lack of interactivity (no ability to ask questions), inability to edit/update the replay, lack of timely follow-up and more.
Like webinar replays, on-demand presentations can be viewed at any time – but at a fraction of the costs involved in producing a live webinar and making a replay available. With on-demand presentations, it’s easy to track who viewed your material (how much, where interest peaked, etc.), insert questions, make easy updates (you can re-record your voice on a certain slide and easily insert new info/another slide as information changes… no need to reinvent the wheel), etc. When viewing an on-demand presentation, too, the audience can easily rewind and fast forward, skip to segments of interest, etc.
myBrainshark Pro adds additional features, to myBrainshark for a monthly ($9.99) fee. These features include:

  • Share a presentation privately. Currently all content on myBrainshark is publicly available to a worldwide audience – visible on the myBrainshark site and indexed on leading search engines. By applying the privacy option, users can deliver a message that reaches only their intended audience.
  • Apply password protection. This provides an additional layer of security to content.
  • Add a “guestbook.” By addinga registration form at the beginning or end of a presentation, users can see precisely who is viewing their content – along with the viewer’s contact information, role, company details and more – enabling them to collect an unlimited number of leads, for example, or ensure that all those who need to view the content have done so.
  • Create and send personalized URLs (PURLs). This is an option for monitoring individual viewing activity without a guestbook registration, letting users improve the results of – and insight into – marketing campaigns.
  • Access and run viewing reports. Whereas myBrainshark currently provides access to anonymous and aggregate viewing data, a Pro subscription gives a whole new level of specificity, aiding in timely follow-up with viewers. Users can access detailed viewing reports online and/or opt to receive alerts via e-mail, sent immediately after someone has watched their presentation. These reports show information including: who viewed the presentation, when, how much content was consumed, and how any survey questions were answered.

Brainshark can host other content besides PowerPoint presentations. You can upload video files, Word documents, etc., and add your voice to those too. In addition, you can also record your live webinar as a service, then create a customized, edited replay. Microsoft Live Meeting recordings can also be imported into Brainshark.
Brainshark is not the only product enabling on demand presentations, but Adobe Presenter, SlideRocket and other tools are also available.