The Pros and Cons of Live versus Pre-Recorded Poster Presentations

Your scientific conference is coming up, and as the event organizer, it’s time to start deciding on event details and logistics. You want your conference to run smoothly and decide to host your conference online. At face value, the virtual format simplifies the operation. But lots of other decisions need to be made, such as: will poster presentations be streamed live, or recorded prior to the event?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.

Pros of Live presentations:

  • They’re more engaging for the audience
  • Presentation content can be tailored to the audience and their interests
  • More suitable for smaller conferences and more intimate settings

Cons of Live presentations:

  • Vulnerable to last-minute changes, emergencies, no-shows, and technology issues
  • Rigid in that they take place at a specific time and place
  • Time restraints may make it difficult for attendees to watch all the presentations that they want, for example, if two posters are being presented simultaneously

Pros of Pre-Recorded presentations:

  • It reduces stress for presenters. Because presenters can record until they have a version of the presentation that everyone is satisfied with, they can be sure they share all the information they hope to, and do so at a time when they feel focused, relaxed, and confident
  • Poster presentations can be archived and redistributed after the event
  • As the event organizer, you get a completely accurate reading of how long all presentations will be, and how much time you need
  • Pre-recording also makes it much easier to enforce time limits on presentations

Cons of Pre-Recording:

  • Less opportunity for conversation and interaction with the audience
  • No continuity between presentations or communication between presenters about related topics
  • Can easily become boring, as viewers feel less committed to the events on their screen
  • Potentially reduces motivation for attendees to attend the event, especially if it will continue to be available after the conference

One way to feature the benefits of pre-recorded presentations without losing the charisma and spontaneity of live conversation is to have authors pre-record presentations that are then followed by live Q&A. This lowers the stakes for the live portion of the event, while still making the virtual atmosphere as engaging and informative as can be. Alternatively, if you choose to have live presentations, it is possible to record the event as it unfolds live so that the content and “live atmosphere” can be accessed online after the conference ends.

Some of what will inform your decision to pre-record or have live presentations will be context-specific. The right choice for you will depend on the size of your audience, the duration of the conference, which virtual platform you use–regardless, we hope you make a choice that meets all your needs.

Have other ideas about how organizers can reap the benefits of both pre-recorded and live poster presentations? Reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ePostersLive to share your thoughts, or email us at [email protected]. Together, we can transform scientific conferences in the digital age.