MOVING FROM VIRTUAL TO HYBRID EVENTS
Moving From Virtual to Hybrid Events
Face-to-face in-person meetings will re-emerge after this pandemic passes. As they do, hybrid meetings will be a bridge for those not able or wanting to attend the event in person. In the long term, hybrid meetings will likely remain a significant component for many events as we all learn best practices and benefit from the many innovations currently being developed at this time.
Perhaps we won’t need to attend ‘meetings about meetings!’
Consider the following when choosing a Hybrid Event platform :
- Make sure it is from a provider with significant event planning experience.
- That it can also manage virtual and F2F events to standardize your process and data collection.
- That it can provide detailed analytics.
- That it provides all attendees with personalized agenda setting.
- For remote attendees at larger events, have a separate “help” button different from the chat area going directly to technical help support.
- A hybrid event is more complex than a F2F event with many actions and deadlines expected. Use an event platform or project management system that can help manage these actions.
- That it allows remote attendees to interact with speakers, exhibitors, each other and F2F attendees as well.
- That it integrates with a mobile event appproviding another channel for interactivity including remote polling, chat, push notifications, networking and gamification options.
- It has strong privacy and security provisions.
Hybrid Event Promotion :
- As you start to promote the event, make it very clear that it will be a hybrid event and what the specific offerings for the F2F and digital components will be.
- Distribute a detailed online schedule with specific presentation start and stop times with local time zone adjustments for geographically remote attendees.
- As soon as your full agenda goes online, consider building viewer interest through regular, timed releases of content building up to the event. When done properly, this can build both the virtual and the F2F audiences.
- Be flexible in your registration offering allowing attendees to switch to an F2F or the digital component depending on changing circumstances. An attendee might not want to commit to an in person event in the upcoming weeks, however in a few months travel might look more appealing.
- Promote the event on social media before the event and encourage social media hashtags during the event to build networking for all attendees.
- If you feel confident of a large remote audience for your hybrid event, then sponsorship revenue could increase substantially. Look for ways to highlight them including banner ads, acknowledgements, short sponsor videos, sponsor-hosted sessions, an event website sponsor page, and lead generation options.
Best practices for Hybrid Events :
- Consider using an experienced MC for the remote attendees.
- Use online moderators to manage the chat rooms and encourage discussion and input.
- Invest in speaker and moderator training focusing on including remote attendees in polls, Q&A, and in other comments during the presentations.
- Questions from remote attendees should be recognized by name and location from the stage and included as just as much as those delegates in the F2F venue.
- Consider shorter presentation times and sessions as people are easily distracted at home.
- For larger events with multiple sessions and viewers from disparate time zones, consider pre-recording some presentations and bringing both the F2F and the remote audiences together during a keynote address or general sessions.
- For repeat sessions, consider playing the pre-recorded session at designated times for different time zones and asking the presenters to go live at the end of the recorded presentations for Q&A.
- Punctuality of presentation start/stop times is crucial for hybrid events.
- If your hybrid event includes an exhibition, provide a tour of the exhibit hall specifically for remote attendees. Educational sessions streamed from the show floor are also a possibility.
- Consider developing separate content for remote attendees.
Hybrid Attendee Engagement :
- Audience engagement for remote attendees is probably the biggest challenge in hybrid or virtual meetings. Methods for keeping and measuring their attention should be high on the desired features list for your hybrid event platform.
- Make sure that both the F2F audience and the remote audience use the same polling system with combined tallies. Also, text-based Q&A with social and business polling/voting should be available for all attendees.
- In addition to chat and text Q&A, look for a platform that provides real-time presentation feedback from remote attendees similar to social media functions such as: like, applause. Analytics that track these and related items such as length of viewing and when an attendee leaves can be very useful in gauging speaker effectiveness and attendee engagement.
- High production values with good graphics, videos, and presentation visuals are especially important to keep remote audience interest.
- Train speakers and set expectations for them to fully utilize these interaction tools.
- High-energy speakers are always good, but especially so to help keep a remote audience engaged.
- Break up the presentations with different format types. For example, consider incorporating breakout sessions similar to Zoom breakout rooms for your virtual attendees.
Onsite attendees at Hybrid events :
- Use a production or AV team that has significant experience with video streaming and running hybrid events.
- As the sessions streamed to remote attendees can be recorded easily, this can be a benefit to F2F attendees who missed a session or would like to see the session they attended again. Attendees can also view this content whenever they need to if it has been recorded.
- Make sure that the venue has sufficient bandwidth, technical support and fail-safe backup options to manage multiple video streams. 8Mb/second upload speed is a minimum for a quality video stream.
After your Hybrid event :
- Use the recorded content generated during the event to promote future events, to build membership, and/or to create online community.
- Promote future events to online attendees encouraging them to become F2F attendees in the future.
- Offer your content on-demand after the event. This is especially helpful for remote attendees with shorter attention spans allowing the freedom to access the content at convenient times
Hybrid Events are the future – keep abreast of this developing event space with #SolutionsGroupEvents. We know what to do for your first Hybrid blended event!
Contact Solutions Group Events for more information :
+21 11 706 3242