How to get started with a hybrid event?

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The past one and a half years have shown that nothing is impossible when it comes to finding quick solutions for the survival of a business. One of the most important lessons we've learned in this period is that we can still go about our day-to-day operations without in-person engagements. 

With the pandemic restrictions easing up in most locations, most organizations are still leveraging virtual events before a full return to normalcy. However, those that want to exploit the engagement opportunities of live events are slowly transitioning from virtual to hybrid events.

Leveraging the hybrid event experience

A hybrid event combines a live in-person engagement with a virtual component and an online audience. The attendees in hybrid meetings, whether virtual or in-person, engage with each other and participate in all activities. 

Keep in mind that a hybrid event doesn't necessarily have to be a livestream.

Depending on the event goals, this can be a live or recorded event. Combining live and virtual experience is crucial to creating an interactive experience regardless of the attendees' location.

Hybrid meetings are inclusive and offer more flexibility for all the attending parties. They allow organizations an opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds. Event organizers can retain the crucial human element of social meetings while still leveraging the unique benefits of pulling in a virtual audience. 

For organizations seeking to be part of this new normal in the events industry, here's how to get started with a successful hybrid event.

Develop your event goals

The secret to planning a successful hybrid meeting resides in establishing why you want to hold the meeting in the first place. Don't rush to plan and recreate a hybrid meeting just because you've heard of its benefits. It's crucial to know what you're doing before designing the desired experiences.

If possible, plan the event based on your previous experiences with hybrid events. This is encouraged, especially if it's your first time hosting a hybrid event. Set clear goals as well as the required resources and determine how to achieve them. Critical questions to help you get started include: 

  • Who is the event for? 
  • What will the attendees learn? 
  • Where will the event happen?
  • When will it happen?

The success of any hybrid event lies in the effort put in the careful planning of both physical and virtual events. Knowing how to run them at the same time is even an added advantage.

Have a detailed event plan

Developing a detailed event plan involves finding meaningful and engaging hybrid event ideas. That is, creating a hybrid meeting that's tailored to the audience's needs and expectations. The plan should have all details for keynote speakers, the timing of the sessions, and a host of other immersive experiences.

Remember: hybrid meetings, like any other event, provide a perfect time for participants to network. That's why there's a need for event organizers to create the best environment for each audience. It's an occasion to plan on bringing the two sets of attendees together rather than socially isolating them.

So, develop a detailed plan to help in the smooth execution of the hybrid event by taking care of every attendee's needs.

Create exciting content and buzz around it

A hybrid event is like any other virtual meeting where you need to get the audience immersed in the entire event experience. One of the best ways to realize this is by creating an event buzz. This can be through social media or any other existing network connecting all the prospective attendees.

An event buzz is also key in spreading brand awareness. The more attendees become excited about attending the event, the more they'll spread the word via their private channels. But first, there's a need to leverage user-generated content strategy for a greater chance of succeeding in hybrid event planning.

Drawing the attendees into the event experience requires attractive and engaging content. Planners should establish the type of content that appeals to and stirs the interest of the target audience. This should be followed up by adopting different content delivery formats such as webinars, talks, and panel discussions for effective presentation to the attendees.

Choose location and technology to use

A hybrid meeting requires both a good physical venue and a tech stack for the virtual experience. The best venue idea may range from the company's headquarters to hotel meeting rooms. Co-working spaces and event halls also provide a great alternative if other explored options are limited.

Choosing a location should also be based on the experience you're looking for. For instance, the virtual aspect of the hybrid event requires a site with good design and settings for an effective virtual experience. This will enhance video and audio capture and transmission to the virtual event platform. 

If possible, a preliminary analysis to establish whether audio-visuals (AV) are necessary at the venue is also key in ensuring seamless interaction for all the event attendees.

Navigate time zones

The biggest advantage of holding a hybrid event is that participants can attend virtually from any global location. Both the in-person and virtual audiences are not limited by distance for seamless interaction. However, one factor that poses a risk to the success of such an event is the variation in time zones.

It may be difficult to accommodate virtual attendees' who have varying time zones. The best time for virtual audiences joining from Europe may not align with the preferred time for the North American online audience. In such cases, event organizers can resort to offering the recorded sessions for virtual attendees on-demand

Alternatively, offer the same session live numerous times so the audiences can attend at a time that works for them. For better chances of success, hybrid event planners should provide clear communications so attendees can plan accordingly. This will help evade confusion and allow the audiences to plan for the best time to join the live experience.

Accompany on-demand deals alongside live experience

The virtual aspect of a hybrid event affords organizers the chance to offer on-demand content after the event has ended. What's more, both the online audience and in-person attendees can benefit from this type of programming.

This is a crucial step towards capitalizing on the benefits of a hybrid event. The live event recordings should be available in a place where they can be accessed long after your event is over.

Similarly, the content should be as evergreen as possible and align with the event's theme to increase engagement and lead generation. To achieve this, a space that can broadcast new material all year long and keep attendees engaged will suffice. 

It also helps if the content is repurposed into new resources for an active integration into future hybrid events' marketing strategies.

Find partners to work with

Bring in sponsors and partners early enough and benefit from their input to make a hybrid event more successful. This may range from funding promotional banners in the early preparation stages to sponsored presentations and demos.

For instance, partnering with large corporations comes in handy if the hybrid event targets a larger audience and a wider virtual reach. The same applies to when there are gifts and giveaways for speakers and attendees. A good partner will surely help offset a few of these expenses and help save on excess expenditures.

Partners are a welcome addition in navigating all the possible unknowns of hybrid event planning. By allowing them on board, event planners can effectively increase the return on investment for the hybrid event and gain a new perspective on approaching the entire process.

Bottom line

Audiences are swiftly changing even as we expect a full return to normalcy. The virtual world has caused us to realize that we can achieve more without crowding one physical space. 

There's a huge expectation that the audience will expect organizations to offer them freedom of choice and flexibility when attending important meetings. For organizations conscious of this new realization, this may be the perfect time to understand hybrid event planning.

Head over to our detailed guide on hybrid events to dive deeper into the specifics of a hybrid meeting.


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Published on

Dec 17, 2021

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