Hybrid events are here to stay—especially with the current state of the world.
For those not in the know, hybrid events combine virtual and physical elements to create an event structure that has the ability to host people from numerous parts of the globe.
There are a number of benefits to hybrid events—cutting down travel costs and widening your scope of participation—but they can be challenging to hold.
We share seven approaches businesses can follow to create successful hybrid events.
1. Invest in Technology
For a hybrid event to be a success, you need to invest in technology. People who will be tuning into the event—either as viewers or as virtual participants, will need webcams and microphones.
Attendees won’t want to watch low-quality video streams—participants or hosts joining in virtually will need good technology that transmits HD audio/ video. And in case you're looking here are some great tips on how to get the most out of virtual conferencing.
This is particularly important when a virtual participant is sharing a presentation—one can create the best pitch decks for an event but still lose the audience if they can’t read the slides.
It is worthwhile investing in good quality webcams and microphones for speakers to use when presenting virtually at the event. This will ensure a smooth experience for everyone involved.
Another area of concern is connectivity—a bad internet connection on either side can derail the virtual element of a hybrid event.
Organizers haven’t got much control over the internet speed of virtual participants—but you can check with your speakers about how strong their connection is and test before going live.
At the event venue, it is imperative that organizers confirm the connection speed and power requirements.
A lot of power is required for a hybrid event to work—lights for speakers, microphones, screens for presentations, laptops, as well as streaming devices.
Any glitches could spell doom for the event—double-check everything to make sure that there are no possibilities of overload.
Live events are tricky to manage—add in virtual elements, and you create more room for error. Check and test everything before going ahead with an event.
2. Find Sponsors
Hybrid events require careful planning and implementation—for companies with little experience in this area, it can become a challenge to get all the parts right.
Bringing in a sponsor with expertise and resources makes the process that much easier.
Sponsors or event partners can not only help in the planning stages of the event—but can also provide necessary resources to hold the event.
They will be able to provide technology, devices, and apps—or at least fund them—as well as share advice on how to organize the event and what to ask of venues.
A number of event sponsors have the wherewithal to provide equipment at the venue as well as to virtual speakers and hosts.
This helps to ensure that lighting, sound quality, and connectivity are streamlined for all virtual speakers—thus providing a better experience for attendees.
Sponsors can also help provide hosts or moderators for the event—they may have a pool of people they can dip into, saving your company the stress of training new hosts.
With all that goes into making a hybrid event possible, getting assistance from people in the know can only drive you towards success.
3. Script Your Event
The biggest complexity of hybrid events is that it is a combination of live and virtual elements—this makes the flow of the event harder to streamline.
While one can’t be inflexible during live events, some order needs to be defined for the show to go off without a hitch.
Scripting elements of the event will make it easier to stay on schedule and to reduce stress for participants.
Certain parts of the event can easily be scripted—the welcome message, with short introductions for the speakers, and the closing speech thanking sponsors and organizers.
For speakers, it is important not to script their entire talk—this removes authenticity and limits chances for interactivity with other speakers and the audience.
However, letting participants speak for as long as they want without direction can derail the entire event.
Instead, it is best to at least have a few pointers lined up—as well as an agenda for the proceedings.
The agenda can outline how long each participant speaks for, when the interactive elements like quizzes are brought in, and when the Q&A begins.
Adding structure to the event—and sharing it with the audience—will help things flow organically and put everyone involved at ease.
Scripting an entire event from start to finish isn’t feasible—nor interesting—but if a few sections can be defined in advance, it will make it easier for hosts to manage proceedings.
4. Host Duties
Due to the nature of hybrid events, hosting them requires some amount of experience—or, at the very least, a bit of training.
Sponsors can help find a host with the required amount of experience but they will still need time to familiarize themselves with the topics and the speakers.
If the event organizer needs to find a host, they will need to give them adequate material to understand how to coordinate the event—whether they are hosting in-person or virtually.
It would also benefit the organizers to have a host and moderator, instead of asking one person to do everything live.
The host can handle the official announcements and introductions, while the moderator coordinates between the speakers.
A third moderator could handle the interactive aspects of the event—connecting with people on social media and sharing audience questions on-screen.
These are aspects that could be handled by an A/V team, but it is best to allow them to deal with technical elements such as lighting, presentations, and video calls.
No matter how many hosts and moderators the event calls for, they need to be chosen well ahead of time to give them enough room to prepare for the event.
Many hosts will also require sessions with speakers before the event to understand their tone and pace.
A good host is integral to making a hybrid event successful—choose them carefully and give them the necessary amount of time to work with speakers to deliver a high-quality event.
5. Test Your Event
Testing is an integral part of event management—for any live event that involves so many moving parts, one needs to have some kind of run-through before bringing in audiences.
Some of the areas that must be covered in the testing phase include A/V equipment and internet connections.
Wireless connectivity also needs to be examined—while the event itself needs to have powerful speeds to work, there needs to be enough bandwidth for the audience to use the internet.
A large part of the interactive element of a hybrid event disappears if the attendees can’t connect to the internet to comment on social posts or participate in the Q&A.
It is also important to check how the power systems hold up when all the virtual speakers are online, along with the lights, screens, and multiple connected devices.
Virtual participants should also be asked to test out their devices to find out what their connectivity is like, how their software functions, and to test out audio/ video quality.
While you can’t account for everything going smoothly on the day of the event, if you prepare and test in advance, you can fix any glitches before they happen.
6. Spread Awareness
Organizing your hybrid event is crucial but all the time spent on it will have come to naught if nobody knows about it.
Marketing your event is a crucial step in its success—and it is not something that can be cobbled together overnight.
Use a poster maker online to create attractive visuals that are branded and powerful—these posters can easily be printed out for distribution or shared on social media and via email.
Post regularly on social media about the event—update your header and your pinned posts and include links to the ticket page or event registration page.
Engage with participants online by sharing their posts and commenting. Interact with followers and redirect interested parties to your website to register.
Send out newsletters announcing the event and write or source blog posts about speakers to build awareness about them.
You need your audience to know when, where, and how the event will be taking place—but you also need to cater to the different types of attendees.
Attendees who will be physically present might have to print out tickets, not to mention, travel to the venue—this group will need plenty of notice to prepare.
On the other hand, virtual attendees can attend with the click of a button from their homes—it is easy for this section of the audience to forget about event details.
For physical attendees, regular email reminders should be scheduled in the week before the event.
On the other hand, virtual attendees could receive reminders closer to the date, or even an hour before the start of the event.
Marketing your event needs to be a priority—there is no point in doing all the work of setting up an event if you can’t attract people to it.
People have attended your event—now what? Your hybrid event doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it is one step towards growing your business.
You have a database of attendees who registered and attended—you also know who didn’t attend.
Consider asking those not present why they couldn’t attend—was there something you could have done to make the event more enticing for them?
To the attendees who were there, send a survey through Typeform to collect data about their experiences.
Ask them what they liked, what could be improved upon, and whether they have suggestions for guests for the next event.
Give people the option to sign up for your newsletter to get regular updates about events—this is a great way to add to your email list.
Hybrid events also give you the option to record the entirety of the proceedings—these videos can be shared with tiered attendees or gated to improve your reach to a whole new audience.
Think of your event as a piece of the growth puzzle—it presents several opportunities to learn and improve, as well as to boost your reach.
Hybrid events are set to become an integral part of the future—but it is a different kind of beast than either virtual or live events.
We have shared seven methods businesses can use when approaching hybrid events—by following these, you will be better equipped to hold successful events and grow your company.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about digital marketing, visual design, and small business growth.