Hybrid events in the post-pandemic world: Complete guide

Read in

18 min

Event organizers have shown great resilience and agility since the pandemic hit. During the first wave of quarantine, 90% of event professionals experienced the loss of some or most of their businesses

However, this negative trend didn’t last for too long: the release of new health policies helped us better adjust to the regulations and bounce back to connecting people in meetings. 

While 2020 was the year of remote events, 2021 introduced a new trend - hybrid meetings. According to our fellow experts on BizBash, hybrid events will be “the next normal,” so it’s only a matter of time until you decide to organize your first hybrid event in the post-pandemic world.  

What are hybrid events?

The event industry still hasn’t come to one universal definition of the word “hybrid,” so we broke it down into two explanations: one from the participant’s perspective and another from the event organizer’s side. 

Hybrid events from the participant’s perspective

Generally, the term ”hybrid” became popular when countries, states, or separate businesses started reopening after the first wave of the pandemic. While people from some locations could attend events on-site, others stayed in lockdown, hoping to join the events remotely. To unite the two audiences, event coordinators implemented a new setting where a part of the audience could participate in the meeting in person, and other attendees could join the event virtually. 

To cut a long story short, hybrid events are meetings where two different audiences can interact remotely and in person, enjoying equally high event experiences.

But what does the second definition say?

Hybrid events from event the organizer’s perspective

From an organizer’s perspective, the word hybrid might have a different meaning. That is especially true when discussing global, multilingual events, such as conferences or international institution meetings, where interpretation services are a must.

There’s one example - interpreters used to work on-site. They can now work remotely, but the whole audience might still be participating on-site. Would you call that a hybrid event? 

It might sound confusing at first, but yes, that is also a hybrid event! We have previously written how remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) has reshaped the definition of hybrid events, so you can read more about it here.

In other words, from an organizer's perspective, hybrid events are events with hardware integrations where interpreters can deliver interpretation both remotely and on-site. Interpreters who choose to stay at the venue use hardware interpretation consoles, while remote interpreters can provide interpretation from their favorite location.

Now that we have grasped an idea of what a hybrid event might be, we can dive deeper into the types of hybrid events.

Types of hybrid events

Let’s think of some of the most common event types: conferences, business meetings, panel discussions, seminars, workshops, festivals, or press conferences. The good news is that both internal events that happen inside your organization and external events that attract attendees outside of your company can be hybrid. It’s just a matter of preparation! 

Internal events

Most of the internal events happen in businesses and big organizations. Markletic research also shows that bigger companies are more likely to organize hybrid events. 63% of companies with 2000-5000 employees and 71% of companies with 5000+ employees already went hybrid in the past! 

What are the most popular internal hybrid events? 

  1. Governmental sessions. Governmental meetings play an important role in the democratic process. Such hybrid events are common in parliamentary and presidential systems where representatives participate in lawmaking, intense discussions, and voting procedures.
  2. Onboarding meetings. After the pandemic, fewer companies enabled a hybrid work mode, allowing their new employees to choose between working from home or the office. During the first weeks, newbie employees go through the process of hybrid onboarding, where they learn about the history of the company, meet different teams virtually and in person, and understand their position and general company requirements better.
  3. Brainstorming sessions. With distributed work mode, brainstorming sessions no longer look like they used to in the past. Hybrid brainstorming sessions allow participants from different locations to connect, discuss ideas, and develop new solutions.  
  4. Team meetings. Hybrid team meetings unite employees in the office and at home in well-structured, recurring events where each team member presents their tasks and results. This is also a great time for important internal announcements and changes to the team procedures.
  5. Training sessions. Hybrid training sessions allow you to invite external professionals joining remotely to interact with your audience. While your team can be on-site in the office, an invited speaker can present a keynote over a video call. Gaining knowledge and accelerating the professional growth of employees is no longer limited to one place!

External events

While event organizers can hold some of the events mentioned below internally, they are usually open or targeted towards the public. 

What are the most popular external hybrid events? 

1. Conferences. Conferences usually take a few days and involve a wide range of lectures on a shared topic. Participants go to conferences to increase their knowledge and meet like-minded people. Hybrid conferences allow attendees to join the event remotely and in person, enjoying the conference in a format that works best for them. 

2. Speaker sessions. You could think of speaker sessions as small conferences. There are only a few keynote speakers during speaker sessions, but the intention is the same - to share knowledge on a similar topic.

3. Press-conferences. During press conferences, companies provide official statements to the media representatives. Businesses organize press releases to announce new products or other important updates and generate publicity.

4. Product presentations, demonstrations. Huge corporations tend to organize annual events to showcase all of their new products in a single event. Product presentations are much bigger than press conferences and often include a general audience from the public. Imagine how many more people you can reach if you make your product demonstration hybrid?

5. Seminars and workshops. Seminars and workshops usually refer to small events for professional development on a particular topic. Both seminars and workshops tend to have no more than a few speakers and up to 20 participants. 

Just like internal events, external events are now shifting towards the hybrid setting. This way, event organizers can reach a wider audience and increase the number of attendees

Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid events

Knowing the pros and cons of hybrid events is essential before you set on a journey to prepare for your first hybrid meeting.

Why should I organize a hybrid event?

1. Increase your reach and attendance. 

It would be hard to accommodate thousands of people while organizing an on-site event, but virtually, the possibilities are endless. Even with a simple event setup, you can stream your event on social media channels to tens of thousands of attendees in any part of the world.

2. Engage your participants. 

Imagine this situation - during an on-site event, a Q&A session comes up, and people are simply scared to ask questions. You can solve this problem by allowing attendees to ask questions remotely. Remote meeting platforms, like Interactio, are implementing live polling and Q&A tools, and these are just a few ways that can increase engagement during hybrid meetings. 

3. Expand your speakers network. 

Make your hybrid meetings multilingual and invite talented speakers from the furthest corners of the world. With remote simultaneous interpretation services, they can speak any language, and your audience will have no problem understanding them. 

4. Remain flexible. 

Planning an event takes months, so it’s hard to predict the weather conditions (or the quarantine regulations!) on the event day. Introducing a virtual component to your on-site event is a great backup plan to make your event happen despite all odds. 

5. Preserve the environment. 

While virtual events have a long way to go before we can call them eco-friendly, on-site meetings leave an alarmingly high carbon footprint due to frequent traveling. When choosing a hybrid event, you give your attendees an option to join the meeting remotely and avoid flying altogether. 

What challenges will I face?

1. Technological requirements. The most common challenge of hybrid events is to create a setting for your audience to join the event in person and virtually at the same time. Besides choosing a remote meetings platform, you’ll have to set up cameras and streaming equipment on-site. It might seem challenging if you’re doing it for the first time, but don’t worry. Companies like Interactio can assist you in the whole process by providing on-site support, training, and tech monitoring!

2. It might get costly. Prepare your budget in advance if you’re planning a hybrid meeting because it might require a higher monetary investment than a fully virtual or on-site event. Want a little secret from our experience? Starting to plan at least 6 months prior to the event can help you cut the costs by at least 20%. 

3. Limited engagement. During your first hybrid event, it’s easy to forget to interact equally with your virtual and in-person audience. Dedicate separate professionals (hosts or moderators) in the virtual setting to take care of your online attendees to raise the satisfaction rate. 

How to organize a hybrid event

Here are the 4 main things you should keep in mind while organizing a hybrid event. 

Own your event organization process

It’s no secret that starting early gives you the benefit of being flexible and adjusting to the new challenges. Industry professionals usually suggest that people begin planning an event 6 months in advance, but it could take even more time for hybrid meetings. Of course, smaller events won’t require half a year (an internal hybrid meeting with 20 people doesn’t need more than a month to prepare), but leaving some space for negotiations is essential.

Ensure that you have all the milestones ready to test - prepare your equipment, instruct your technical team, make sure to sign all the contracts beforehand, brief your partners and speakers, and instruct your audience on the possibilities of attending the event on-site and remotely.

Before the event begins, be ready to implement a plan B. If your top speaker has an emergency and can’t join the conference, kickoff an activity for your audience - an icebreaker or a speed networking session. Keep monitoring your audience at all times, pay attention to their reactions and emotion and, if needed, just play some music between the sessions - both on-site and virtually.

Accommodate two different audiences

According to a Markletic survey on hybrid events, as much as 72% of respondents believe that they “will get more value out of attending a hybrid event in-person.” Don’t let this objection slide, and get ready to highlight the solutions for both audiences during the promotion period. If you want your virtual attendees to be as satisfied as the on-site participants, consider these three tips: 

1. Prepare exclusive content for virtual participants

Before an event, make sure to prepare instructions on how to log in virtually and listen to the interpretation if it’s available. You can go one step further and provide your online participants with an exclusive experience if you invite special guests to interact with your virtual audience. 

2. Connect both of your audiences

Don’t forget about the importance of connecting your in-person and virtual attendees to exchange ideas and network. Conduct live polls/surveys, open Q&A sessions, and invite your in-person participants to interact with your online listeners via chat. To further the exclusive experience we mentioned before, you can customize the answers to match the setup of your attendees. Finally, consider presenting separate polling results for remote and on-site audiences to spark dialogue or a discussion. 

3. Personalize the experience

Remember that your virtual attendees have a lower attention span than your on-site participants. To balance out the engagement, allow more breaks, every now and then address the participants online, introduce engaging activities, and thank them for being inclusive. 

Prepare your speakers

Preparing your speakers is one of the most challenging tasks while organizing a hybrid event. We have all grown up in a world full of on-site events, and it seems that you have to be technologically savvy to be a lecturer on a virtual section of a hybrid event. 

However, it is not true!

First of all, reassure your speakers and be extra supportive if they lack confidence. Explain that you can assist them with anything! Companies like Interactio provide comprehensive technical trainings for all speakers. Being a master speaker online is more than pressing a few buttons - it’s a full immersive experience we’re excited to prepare you for. 

Additionally, instruct your attendees on the importance of using a quality headset and microphone to provide the best audio experience possible. Consider sending your speakers a package of critical equipment and instructions on how to use it. 

Check all the technical things

Equipment, equipment, and once again - equipment. Hiring an external tech team will save up time and trouble if you’re not the most tech-savvy person in the room. RSI providers like Interactio take care of all technical cues and provide dedicated support throughout the whole event duration.

Remember, we told you that many hybrid events go multilingual with the help of live interpretation services, right? This is where equipment requirements pile up!

To understand what equipment is best for your specific situation, check out our guide on events with simultaneous interpretation. All the hardware and software details - explained! 

How to scale your hybrid event with interpretation?

Setting up a hybrid event moves you one step closer toward scaling up the attendance. Adding live interpretation to the meeting puts you ten steps ahead of the competition. Why? Remote simultaneous interpreting helps you diversify your audience by bringing together people who speak different languages and come from different backgrounds. 

Remote simultaneous interpretation allows every attendee to receive live video & audio. This solution also enables interpreters, participants, and speakers to connect remotely from any place on Earth and interact in their language. While your on-site participants can enjoy audio interpretation from the phone, your virtual attendees can participate in the meeting via a video-meeting platform on their stationary devices. 

Learn more about Interactio hybrid events

And here we are - at the end of the complete guide for hybrid events in the post-pandemic world. Maybe hybrid events are still new, but they definitely have a lot to offer. 

No items found.

Published on

Oct 15, 2021

Share to

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Related articles