The Pitfalls to Avoid When Hosting a Hybrid Event

The blend of live and virtual formatting makes reaching worldwide audiences possible, allowing businesses to adhere to restrictions and social distancing measures at a venue. As more companies build up their experience in the hybrid space, audience members have ever-increasing expectations and can afford to be more selective on the events they attend. Not only will some attendees want to remain at home in the current circumstances, they now have the added benefits of on-demand content and listening to the event in their own time. To make sure your event is one to remember, we have created a list of some of the key pitfalls event organisers need to consider (and avoid) when planning a hybrid event.

An image of a speaker at an event holding a remote control and using hand gestures.

Going live without rehearsals - practice, practice, and practice again

Going ahead with an event without rehearsals and test runs is a recipe for disaster. You are unlikely to do this in a live event, so why do it for a hybrid one?  Practice, practice and practice again. This goes for both the production elements of the show, and for the panel members/speakers. You want to ensure that all lights, sound and camera equipment is tested and that the event runs smoothly when cutting between pre-recorded content and live sessions. 

By running rehearsals of your event, you can identify and work through any equipment niggles, test the validity of live links to virtual speakers, and work through any schedule changes. Speakers should be coached in advance, to be comfortable with their presentations, with teleprompter equipment and given guidance to deliver a seamless presentation that is engaging and easy for the virtual audience to interpret. While rehearsals do add expenditure to your event, it’s well worth it for a show that runs effortlessly.

Treating live and virtual audiences as two separate events

Hybrid events are about finding a balance. You shouldn’t treat your live and virtual experiences as two separate events, but equally you shouldn’t consider them as one individual event. The aim is to achieve two separate experiences that are intertwined to form one cohesive show for both audiences. Managing the logistics and costs of both aspects of the event can be challenging, but ensuring a steady balance to create a synced event is essential.

An image of two hands shaking. One of the hands is a blue virtual hologram.
An image of a production team working behind the controls panel at an event.

Leaving the layout until the last minute

A key consideration when choosing your ‘in person’ venue should be your plans for the layout of the event. You should conduct a site visit as soon as possible to consider room layout, cable runs, access, sound systems, lighting and camera positioning. Your live audience need to feel uninterrupted by production equipment while your virtual audience shouldn’t feel like they’re missing any of the action. 

The days of setting up one single webcam and pressing record have gone! Virtual attendees demand a more engaging experience, requiring different shots, camera angles and graphics to remain focused. With this in mind, make sure you consider a multiple camera set up to capture the speakers, audience reactions and the ambience of the room. Given the current climate there are added considerations around social distancing and Covid protocols.  Make sure you know what these are in each given city and country, to ensure your audience and crew have a safe and memorable experience.

Failing to deliver content for the virtual audience

Your virtual audience’s attention span is short so keep your sessions concise, relevant and punchy! It’s easy for your virtual audience to disengage and walk away from (or not concentrate on) the screen so it’s imperative you don’t drag out a topic for too long. Keep your audience engaged by ensuring your content is customised and relevant, navigating between live speakers and virtual components that are interactive such as live polls, social media feedback, gamification, Q&As or breakout sessions.

Someone working on the control panel of an event with many screens.
A blue world map with white links between countries

Dismissing the requirements of different time-zones

One of the many benefits of virtual events is that you can reach an audience from any time-zone, anywhere around the world. However, with hybrid events you have the added challenge of an in-person audience and setting a suitable time for your live show. Think about where your physical audience is located and can you reach them all in one event? 

Think about the interactivity you would like to achieve from your virtual audience and how best to marry the two to achieve a truly memorable hybrid experience.  On-demand content should always be available following an event as it increases reach, offers an opportunity to re-purpose the content and prolongs the life of your event for months after it was held.  

Although hybrid events can be tricky to navigate, if planned and orchestrated correctly, they have the potential to communicate your businesses brand with a captivating and memorable impact. For more tips on the hybrid space, check out our previous blog: 'Our Top 5 Tips When Planning Your Hybrid Event.' 

Or, if you would like to learn more on how to create a hybrid event that delivers the same impact as a live experience, our team offer a complimentary 1:1 consultation.  With over 40 years experience planning and facilitating international live events and delivering production and live links across multiple platforms, time zones and continents, we can help. We will work with you to form a clear brief of what you are looking for. 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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