What Is a Hybrid Event?
Hybrid events, or events that combine both in-person and virtual experiences, will be an essential part of the new normal in the events industry moving forward. In fact, you may have attended a few hybrid events yourself, as these event have become increasingly common over the past few years. They are the perfect solution for those programs that can be held both onsite and virtually. They are also excellent mediums for amplifying the reach of your event. You will be able to reach a larger audience that does not have the budget to travel to your event, and you’ll be able to sell more tickets than your venue has capacity.
The biggest misconception of hybrid events is that they are simply events that are streamed live to an online audience – such as audiences on Facebook Live. A true hybrid event utilizes technology to create an engaging experience to both the in-person and online audiences so that both types of attendees get a similar value from the event. At true hybrid events, online viewers get to participate in the event in a very simliar way that live attendees do. This means participating in Q&A sessions, interacting with speakers, and networking with fellow attendees.
If you are considering a hybrid event, there will be additional technical implications. In addition to cameras, microphones, trained staff and good Wi-Fi to record and stream your event, you’ll also need a reliable platform to stream your hybrid event so that you can create that virtual event experience, not just stream your speakers. Be sure to partner with an experienced audio visual company to ensure that the virtual aspect of your event runs smoothly.
The steps to planning a hybrid event are similar to those of traditional in-person events. But there are also additional things to consider when planning your hybrid event.
1. Be Prepared
Pre-load and test as much as possible in advance. Assets like speaker slides, videos and animations will need to be provided to the event producer before the go-live date of your event. Make sure that all speakers fully understand the requirements and deadlines for their assets and how much flexibility (if any) there is for changes.
Ensure you communicate with your speakers about where the cameras are located and ideal positioning on the stage, including camera black spots to avoid. Even experienced presenters may be a little nervous about being live streamed for the first time so allow for a little extra time for them to practice with a slide or two of their presentation.
3. Strong Facilitation
The transition from one thing to another is important at live events, but it is even more important when you’re managing both live and online audiences. Thus, it is important to have a strong facilitator who can be the link between both the live attendees and virtual delegates.
4. Acknowledge the Online Audience
A simple mistake many presenters at hybrid events make is not acknowledging the online audience. Remind your speakers to take a few moments during their introduction to look into the camera and specifically welcome the virtual attendees, as well as those physically in the room.
5. Keep to Time
Keeping an event running close to time is important for in-person events, but it is even more important when providing a live stream. Your virtual audience may log on specifically to catch certain presentations and confusion will be caused if the web stream doesn’t match what is on the schedule.