• Learning and Development

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communications: What’s The Difference?

The ways in which we communicate are changing.

Today’s exceedingly digital existence is rapidly transforming our collective preferences for modern communication mediums. Email, video conferencing, text messaging and chat enabled much of the world to transition work, school, and almost everything else online seemingly overnight as the coronavirus pandemic caught the world by surprise.

Now, due to the shift in our world, a new trend in digital communications is on the rise: asynchronous video communication.

Digital communications technologies can be separated into two types: synchronous and asynchronous communication.

What’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication?

Synchronous communication happens live with no delay.

Synchronous communications are two-way communications in which participants can converse with each other in real-time.

Examples of synchronous digital communications:

  • Virtual meetings over Zoom, WebEx, and other telecommunications platforms
  • Live online classes via video conferencing technology
  • Open discussion sessions such as “office hours”
  • Live events, webinars, and communications delivered with video conferencing software
  • Slack chats, threaded discussions, VOIP and video calls (when parties are engaging in real-time)


Asynchronous communication has a lag between sending a message and receiving a reply

Asynchronous communications are back-and-forth exchanges with a delay between messages or one-way communications that can be received by an audience at their convenience. Asynchronous communications also include live streams and broadcasts that are delivered in a one-to-many setting (think Facebook live streams) with a slight delay, just like a live television broadcast.

Examples of asynchronous digital communications:

  • Email
  • On-demand video messages
  • Pre-recorded video lessons and training videos
  • Recorded meetings
  • One-to-many live streaming
  • Project management solutions such as Trello and Asana
  • Collaborative file sharing solutions such as Google Suite, Microsoft 365, and Dropbox
  • Text messages
  • And again, Slack (when people respond in a timely, but not immediate manner), as well as other workplace chat apps


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Video Communication Technologies Are Now Essential

With many people now working remotely and educators teaching virtually online, communication via video chat and video conferencing solutions like Zoom has increased dramatically.

Real-time video conversations offer the sense of engagement and connection you naturally feel when you are interacting with colleagues in the office face to face. And many times, it can seem like the quickest way to communicate and collaborate. But in excess, live video calls are productivity killers.

Educators, too, have had their fair share of headaches with “Zoombombing,” students who can’t attend a live class session or who have slow internet connections, as well as difficulty managing the time they spend teaching to students with the time they have left to work with individual students in an online setting.

When it comes to video-enabled communication, live video conferencing is no longer the only way to exchange and deliver information quickly, in a virtual face-to-face setting.

Many organizations and educational institutions are quickly discovering the importance of supporting both synchronous and asynchronous video, as both have distinct advantages for a variety of use cases.

Advantages of Synchronous Video Communications

Synchronous video communications enable small groups of meeting participants to converse and collaborate through audio, video, and screen sharing technologies. They also provide an ideal solution for interactive online classes where teachers and students can see and talk to each other in real-time. Video conferencing makes it possible to meet with someone in another room, another building, or another country as if there were sitting on the other side of the table.

Advantages of Asynchronous Video Communications

On-demand video offers a more flexible, but extremely rich medium for detailed communication. It’s often even more effective than live video communications simply because, like email and other text documents, it can be viewed at any time, from any location, and it can be searched and watched again later. Asynchronous video communications offer the same ability to support communicating, collaborating, and teaching through both pre-recorded videos and live video streams that include a video of the presenter, screen shares, and other video sources.

Live video communications that are delivered asynchronously can be recorded at the same time — not only can viewers start from the beginning of the live stream if they join late but they can also pause and rewind with live DVR controls. And when the live stream is over, the on-demand recording is ready for immediate viewing.

With an asynchronous video platform, your live stream can be broadcast securely online. This helps you reach more people and minimize “accidental interactivity” incidents that degrade the live stream, such as:

  • Attendees not on mute contributing background noise during the presentation
  • Hold music taking over the audio stream
  • Enter and exit notifications
  • Proprietary viewing software confusing or preventing viewers from joining the meeting

Asynchronous video combines the clarity, emotion, and engagement of video conferencing with the flexibility, ease, and retention of an e-mail or instant message.

Here are five examples of how using asynchronous video can make an impact at your organization.

  1. Make status updates more efficient and actionable with on-demand viewing.
  2. Preserve and share institutional knowledge for greater productivity.
  3. Ensure consistent and engaging onboarding.
  4. Optimize and scale training programs.
  5. Capture town halls and key leadership presentations.

Below, we explore how using both synchronous and asynchronous video technologies, together, can optimize teaching and learning, communication, training, knowledge sharing, and more.

Sourcing the Right Mix of Video Communications Solutions

Synchronous video communications tools are really built for one task — video conferencing — they do not make managing and sharing video recordings easy, which can have a big impact on productivity and collaboration within an organization.

An asynchronous video platform not only lets organizations deliver video communications privately to live audiences, but also allows team members to record, share, search and view on-demand videos in their library — keeping sensitive information secure and accessible only to the right people. Imagine a world in which no one has to take notes during a meeting, because recorded video conferences can be searched and viewed at any time, from anywhere. Or where you simply record a video wrap-up of a sales call and send it to Salesforce, without having to type a thing.

Enabling both synchronous and asynchronous video communication is an essential component of effective digital transformations. Asynchronous video solutions offer invaluable features for archiving, searching, and viewing video-based information that synchronous video tools simply do not. Video conferencing solutions can record videos, but they lack the essential video management component that makes the information shared with those tools easy to find and access later, from any location on any device.

Integrating an asynchronous video platform with synchronous video conferencing offers a complete video communication solution that’s as flexible as it is effective, while offering additional productivity and collaboration benefits. Using both systems in concert means you can secure your meeting recordings, simplify video sharing, scale knowledge sharing, improve new employee onboarding, and enhance teaching and learning.

Organizations that adopt and integrate both video communications technologies have a complete video communication stack that supports a broader use of video, including the following:


Watch a Zoom Meeting Captured With Panopto


Video Is More Than Video Conferencing

Video Today Is More Than Video Conferencing

As video continues to grow in importance across every department at most organizations, now is the time to heed Forrester’s advice to “plan for video content, not just video conferencing.

To learn more, including the latest recommendations from industry analysts at Gartner and Forrester, as well as the best practices now in place at forward-looking organizations like Siemens, Microsoft, and the New York Stock Exchange, download our white paper by clicking the link below.

Download the White Paper: Video is More than Video Conferencing >