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Our Top 5 Tips When Planning Your Hybrid Event

As restrictions start to ease it’s only natural businesses have started planning for the return of live events. However, after the world of live events was put on pause in 2020, businesses have recognised the true value of virtual and hybrid events. With high quality production, recognised speakers and a well orchestrated plan, there is no reason why a hybrid experience can’t communicate your businesses brand with an engaging and memorable impact. There has no doubt been a shift in the industry landscape as 80% of businesses believe hybrid events will continue throughout 2021 and beyond, even with the return of live events. However, many businesses would agree, hybrid events don’t come without their challenges so we’ve put together our top 5 key tips when planning your hybrid event. 

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1) Keeping Both Audiences Engaged

To no surprise, the most frequently spoke about challenge of any hybrid event is the engagement of both the at home audience, and the live attendees. It’s important to understand that both audiences will be experiencing your event differently, but it’s about reducing the effects of this online barrier so that the online audience feels as much part of the event as the live attendees. 

There are many ways to do this, starting with a plan to allow the online audience to participate in live polling, Q&A, competitions and gamification where the audience benefit from participating. Have prizes available as a form of motivation to get involved and consider switching between skills and knowledge based activities that appeal to different audience types. 

The audience need to feel part of the conversation from the minute your event is announced to the weeks after your event. Consider creating dedicated hashtags, social media groups and topics of conversation across your channels to promote a discussion and involvement even before the big day. Could you send out pre-event packages that include gifts with incentives to contribute to your social groups? How about a virtual selfie booth where delegates can show their face whether physically there or joining from home. The possibilities are endless but it’s worth continuing these discussions throughout your event and after to keep your brand at the forefront of their mind. 

2) Creating a Professionally Produced Experience

There’s nothing worse than watching a poorly pieced together production with muffled sound and the dreaded buffering wheel. It’s important that you consider mixing live and pre-recorded content to ensure the audience always has something to view. Like you would have a tech desk at your live event, you need a master controller that manages your sound and lighting to deliver a professional, smooth show. 

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You should consider the quality of equipment you are using. High-definition cameras should capture your event and translate it to your virtual audience with crisp and clear sound. Consider using different camera angles or even 360 degree cameras that are capable of highlighting speakers as well as the live audience. As a business experienced in providing high quality production services, we know how important this is in making your hybrid event come to life. The online audience should feel as though they are involved in a cohesive and well thought out program, with your event replicating the viewing experience of a TV-show, rather than a strung together online video call. 

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3) Navigating Different Time Zones

Although hybrid events allow for a wider reach and a global audience, your event needs to take into consideration different time zones. You need to adapt your agenda to work with various locations, always making sure there is some form of content available. You could even organise networking opportunities or different activities based on area. 

For example, by creating country teams you can create a worldwide tournament throughout the show, with each country gaining points for different activities. The best events offer different live streams on different topics allowing the audience to choose to listen to what they are truly interested in. This being said, you should favour quality over quantity, it’s better to have live sessions and interactive group discussions over lots of pre-recorded presentations.

4) Choosing the Right Speakers

Suddenly with travel no longer being a constrictive factor, you have the opportunity to bring in high calibre virtual speakers and audiences from across the world. With this added advantage it’s important you bring in relevant industry professionals, thought leaders who’s opinions your audience will value. If needed, they should be coached and mentored for virtual presenting (which is different to presenting live on stage), so whilst they may think they are ok, it’s best to include technical rehearsals with them before you go live. 

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Ask yourself, what is the purpose of your guest speaker? Is it someone who will kick off your event and bring high energy or someone you would like to include in later sessions to inspire and educate your audience. You should add content to break up speakers and add visuals, using infographics images and animations to help engage the audience.

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5) The Venue Choice

Having both a live and virtual audience, your venue choice must meet the requirements of both in person and online aspects of the event. Firstly, both the internet bandwidth and connection speed in your chosen venue need to be high to ensure you don’t lose any audience members from technical issues. 

The venue needs to have both audio and video recording capabilities with lots of space for your audience (social distancing measures considered) and your equipment. When choosing a venue you need to examine how you want your event to appear to the virtual audience, the layout of your audience and the presentation itself.

Test, test and test again

The best practice to avoid any of these challenges is test, test and test again. You want to uncover any possible issues before the event and correct them. Prep for multiple device usage and be aware of your online attendee's tech needs, you could even create a clear guide to mitigate technical issues and provide a live phone number/ messaging service that can quickly help the audience member get up and running.

The concept of hybrid/ virtual events is nothing new to the World Wide Team, with over 40 years’ experience hosting live and hybrid global events, we are experts in our field, continuing to connect businesses with their audiences around the globe. Our team of event professionals are here to help you plan and create a hybrid event that captures both audiences and delivers your message with an impact.

If you are still stuck on how you can bring your existing ‘live’ event into a virtual/ hybrid environment with the same impact, our team offer a complimentary 1:1 consultation in which we go through a series of questions with you that help form a clear brief of what you are looking for. We provide strategic direction on content creation, distribution, logistics of the event, venue selection, production and technical services and audience engagement along with different approaches based on budgets and global gathering restrictions. One size does not fit all in the virtual world of events! Fill in the contact form below and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss how we can help! 

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