Hybrid events are here to stay, but the question on everyone’s lips is; how to include everyone equally so that live and virtual audiences have the same experience…
We need to change our ideas on a hybrid event just being one event. A hybrid event is two events running simultaneously with the same event message to two audiences; live and virtual.
The sooner this conclusion is reached the easier it will become to work out the needs for each event and plan engagement and experience strategy considering both audiences.
There are of course crossovers to take into consideration, most importantly is that people come first! An event is designed for people. Those communicating their message and those attending so, don’t get too carried away with a fancy new trend… If hybrid is not right for your event don’t use it. A bolt-on solution will make attendees feel more excluded than going down either a live or virtual event only route.
Another consideration is engagement vs social interaction at an event. It is well known that delegates get as much out of the social part of an event as they do with the main sessions run throughout the day. Within your event schedule allow for free time where attendees can sit and have a coffee with one another or an evening drink.
For live attendees, you may want to have a social hub within the venue. Similar for virtual attendees have a dedicated area of the virtual event site where they can hang out with other delegates. You could even set up social pods at the venue where in-person attendees can log on to a computer and chat with virtual delegates.
During live sessions allow for both sets of delegates to pose questions to the presenters through live Q&A and open the floor to everyone. Those who wish to ask a question aloud should be given the opportunity to do so. Virtually this can be done through the use of a video wall, showing the person on screen. In-person this can be done with the use of Catchbox’s or a microphone runner.
And… Let’s not forget about the presenters… Live or virtual they need a space to be before taking the stage. This is their space where they can prepare for their presentations relax and chat with other presenters pre and post-presentation.
We’ve developed a digital space called Backstage for presenters to interact with each other, as well as receiving prompts and information from the production manager or producer, whilst still observing the live event. Which is perfect for a hybrid event allowing all presenters to come together.
The main takeaway would be that you can’t 100% replicate live events in a virtual setting and vice versa, but you can take steps to ensure that all delegates and presenters have the best possible experience.