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Live vs. Virtual Event: You Don’t Have to Pick Just One

Live vs. Virtual Event: You Don’t Have to Pick Just One

As technology improves, virtual events are maturing into an exciting alternative to live events.

There’s a lot of buzz about the benefits of going digital- but how do virtual events really measure up against live events?

The Traditional Live Event

In a live event everyone involved is in one location.

All the content is presented there, and while there might be handouts or resources available later any interactive components end when the event does.

Benefits of Live Events

The biggest advantage of a live event is the opportunity for physical demonstrations.

An introductory first aid class, for example, would be hard to teach online since students need to show they’ve learned the practical skills.

Many public speakers have been taught to communicate more effectively in person, where their body language and expressions are easier to read.

Plus, some people enjoy the chance for social interactions between sessions.


Live events are expensive, both in planning time and logistical costs.

Organizers have to worry about site fees, refreshments, and permits on top of what their content and guests cost.

That long planning time also makes them inflexible. It’s hard to change event dates or guests last minute.

Event materials like programs and information guides have to be printed in advance, and if anything substantial changes it’s not easy to fix before the event.

Too often hosts end up making jokes mid-event to excuse their outdated materials.

While live events are exciting, they have a narrow reach. Attendance is limited by location capacity restrictions, travel expenses, and ticket costs.

Only attendees get to see the content, and once the event is over, it’s over.

Finally, live events are hard to evaluate. The main indicators of success are attendance and ticket sales.

Those only measure how many people were interested enough to go, not whether they enjoyed the event.

The Power of a Virtual Event

Virtual events are fully online.

All presenters and content are distributed online, and there’s usually some form of chat system for the audience to participate.

Advantages of a Virtual Event

Going digital provides almost unlimited reach.

It’s easy and inexpensive for the audience to attend, and viewers can join from anywhere with an internet connection.

If a potentially global audience wasn’t a big enough draw, virtual events are also very cost effective.

The entire budget goes into production value, quality content, and other features that directly impact audience experience.

Event materials can be changed up to the last minute if need be. Those materials- and the audience engagement forums- are available for the audience long after the event has ended.

Someone could watch a recording of the event and still participate in a discussion about the content.

Being online translates into a wealth of data about the event. Organizers can do more than track attendance.

They can measure engagement both during and after the virtual event, assess which materials performed best with their audience, and adjust problem areas before the next event.

It’s an innately responsive process.


The only significant disadvantage of a virtual event is the lack of physicality.

However, there are surprisingly few situations where the audience needs to be physically present to fully enjoy an event.

Most of the time creative staging and good lighting can provide audiences with a better view of the action than if they were a few rows back at a love event.

Live or Virtual Event: Level Up Your Events

More and more organizers are choosing virtual events to save money and focus on quality.

There are a few cases when a live event is still necessary.

However, that doesn’t mean hosts can’t take advantage of a virtual event’s wider reach and longer engagement cycle by putting their live event online.

Take that first aid class we mentioned earlier.

Broadcasting it as a virtual event could serve as both a study aid for the students and a refresher to those who’ve already proved their knowledge.

It would also give some useful skills to those who don’t live near a training center.

So which is better, a live event or a virtual one? When performance counts, you don’t have to pick just one.


Tap into a wider audience by choosing both! Let us help you with that.


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