Best Practices for a Successful Hybrid Event
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a large quantity of event cancellations and refunds for tickets, travel costs, and other accommodation fees. Looking to the new year, companies are searching for a way to host events while still following social distancing protocols to keep their attendees safe and healthy. The solution – hybrid events.
What a Hybrid Event Means & Why Host One
Hybrid events are events or meetings that includes a physical and virtual audience. Learning conferences and seminars, tradeshows, and recruiting events are all great examples of events that can go hybrid. Hosting a hybrid event has many advantages, like increase in reach, cost savings, and a greater return on investment.
To ensure an effective hybrid event, you will need to overcome digital distractions for your virtual audience, finding ways to keep them engaged and creating a unified experience for both virtual and live attendees. Here are some best practices to follow to help you host a successful hybrid event.
Being prepared is key to hosting any type of event. For a hybrid event, you will want to organize all content materials (presentations, speeches, videos, etc.) ahead of time and have them uploaded to your streaming portal of choice. Choosing the right virtual event platform for your hybrid event is determined by the type of event you are hosting. There are many platforms that offer on-site and online tickets and registration, marketing tools, and built in networking rooms.
After uploading your event’s materials, running a rehearsal or dry run can be beneficial to your presenters and on-site staff. Make sure everyone is familiar with the technology and the lay-out of the event.
Preparing your attendees is important as well. Your marketing efforts should state that the event will include both a live and virtual audience, and you should provide each with the event’s agenda. Your hybrid event should also show flexibility and allow your attendees to switch from a live audience member to a virtual one, if COVID-19 restrictions increase in their area.
Engaging Both Virtual & Live Audiences
Creating a coherent message and engaging both audiences equally during a hybrid event can be challenging. Most of the time, remote audiences are dealing with many more distractions than the in-person attendees, like digital interruptions or at home disturbances.
To keep your virtual attendees engaged, consider having two moderators, one for the on-site attendees and one for the online. This will help blend the audiences by being able to take questions from both during live presentations and your remote audience will feel more included. Be sure to have your speakers acknowledge the virtual audience by looking into the cameras and giving shout outs to its’ members.
Another way to keep both audiences engaged in a hybrid event setting is to organize networking areas, or breakout rooms where the digital attendees can interact with the in-person members, speakers, and sponsors. You can set up screens on stage and around the venue to allow more interaction with both audiences. It is also important to keep in mind that during breaks for the physical attendees, you will need to provide valuable content for the virtual audience.
Here are some other ideas to keeping your audiences engaged with your hybrid event:
- • Organize live chats, surveys, and polling in your virtual event platform. You can make this feature accessible to both audience members.
- • On screen comments during live presentations, interviews, or Q&A sessions
- • Use social media – live-Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds
- • Incorporate gamification – an interactive gaming experience to promote audience engagement and learning.
There is nothing worse than attending a presentation that is made up of mundane PowerPoint slides or watching pre-recorded speeches. For your hybrid event, creating captivating content is vital to capturing your audience’s attention and creating a positive experience. Since you are catering to two audiences, it is helpful to create content that is translated easily to video or your streaming platform. You can also create content that is designed specifically for each audience
For example, you can offer exclusive virtual and in-person panel discussions or interviews with keynote speakers and sponsors, creating a better experience for each group but still offering some of the same materials. It is more difficult for remote audiences to sit through hours of presentations, therefore offering your content on-demand can help your virtual attendees stay more engaged. You don’t want to make it feel as if each audience is attending a completely different event, so be sure to still incorporate the virtual attendees in live sessions with the physical members.
Encouraging interaction from both viewers through different engagement tactics listed above helps your attendees stay involved in your event’s content.
Team up with Your Venue
Working closely with your venue can help you host a successful hybrid event. Team up with your venue to ensure you have all the necessities to running a smooth event, like high spend internet, an on-site A/V team to help with any technological issues, and a plan to adjust the layout for social distancing and a unique digital experience. You will want screens and various equipment spread throughout the venue to create an immersive experience for your virtual audience and help make them feel as if they are attending in real life.
Imagen Venues in Houston, Texas offers two large, multi-event centers that can be easily arranged to fit the needs of a hybrid event, including social distancing measures and state-of-the-art multimedia equipment. Imagen Venues offers the latest technology to live-stream your event and has Wi-Fi capability for up to 2,000 devices. Contact Imagen Venues today to start planning your hybrid event!
Hybrid events come with its own set of challenges but following these best practices while hosting your event can help ensure your attendees have a memorable and positive experience. Just remember to keep your digital audience in mind throughout each step of planning and find exciting and meaningful ways to keep them engaged.