What is a Hybrid Event?
At ZiaBia, we believe it is one event with two audiences attending - one in a physical venue and one joining virtually.
So, building on from our previous hints and tips for online events, here are our considerations for Hybrid events.
From the start
- Remember you are essentially organising two events, both of which need to be treated equally and planned for properly
- It is more important than ever to ensure the roles and responsibilities for everyone involved are clear. Who is looking after the virtual audience, who is looking after the physical audience? Put a clear structure in place and allocate to your team
- Have a plan of how the event team will communicate on the day. It’s important to remember not everyone will be in the same place and, just like the audience, you could have a virtual team as well
- Don’t forget to consider and plan for any Health and Safety requirements for the physical audience. This includes any Covid requirements. It’s been a while since we have been in a room together, so this is an important aspect not to be overlooked. Your venue will be keen to work with you on this with their own procedures
- Contingency plans should be in place for all speakers, the host and the technology – think of anything that could go wrong and always have a Plan B and Plan C!
- Sustainability – the profile of sustainable events is growing. By having a virtual audience your event is already more sustainable – just think of those people not travelling to your event. Now how else can you build on this?
- Audience wellbeing – it’s really important to ensure this is considered and implemented. Small messages such as encouraging people to keep hydrated, stretch, take a pause are key
- Inclusivity – diverse events, both in terms of speakers and attendees, provide a broader range of viewpoints and generate richer discussions. The more inclusive your event is the better, but if you are not sure where to start then a good starting point is the DICE charter which provides help in diversifying your programme and your audience
- Accessibility for everyone - accessibility should be addressed and acted upon whether your audience is attending in person or online. Think about captioning, translation, font size, colours, venue accessibility. Ask your speakers and attendees if they need any support to attend your event and listen to what they tell you
Use of budget
- A hybrid event is a bigger investment as there are two events to be budgeted for. Look to use budgets wisely and be creative with your solutions
- Invest in the technology and internet connections you use for your hybrid event! This is essential because, as with virtual, the success hinges on the technology employed and this cannot afford to fail!
- Tailor your communications to both audiences – for example, your online audience doesn’t need to give you their dietaries (unless you are sending them any food hampers of course!)
- Joining instructions and pre-event information is more key than ever – audiences need to know how to… join, connect, engage!
- On event day, welcome both audiences right from being greeted at the registration desk or when logging on. Consider branding, welcome messaging and signposting to help them find their way around - making them as clear and simple to follow as possible
The virtual audience
- You have to ensure the virtual audience feel like they are part of the event and have a say, as much as the people in the room do. They are not second best!
- Could you have some content available for the virtual audience only – a behind the scenes interview is a great value add!
- Consider sending food and beverage boxes or experiences to the virtual audience so they have something to do in the breaks as well or that they can access your engagement tools online to join in the fun
The physical audience
- The audience in the room will automatically get a different experience – meeting speakers, spontaneous networking, the physical exhibition and catering to name but a few!
- Make sure the physical audience see who the virtual audience is and know how they can engage with them
- Make sure there is an opportunity for attendees to communicate and connect in advance – hybrid events are perfect for creating an event community!
- Networking - there are many networking tools that can be used to ensure that both audiences can interact. By using apps this brings the people in the room together with the people taking part online
- Make it fun, have a photo booth that both audiences can use to share the experience! Or create a photo mosaic of photos from both audiences – visual elements always do well
- Email out digital goody bags for both audiences (this also is more sustainable due to less printed materials!)
- Be immersive and interactive - include competition elements and gamification and/or use a social wall!
- Brief, prepare and rehearse your speakers properly to accommodate both audiences
- Remember not all speakers need to be in the room
- Factor in enough rehearsal time as you need to rehearse the physical and the virtual speakers all together and ensure both environments work – especially if you have a mix of speakers on a panel!
- If you have pre-recorded speakers think about using some of their content for pre-event marketing to create excitement in the build-up to the event. It will increase engagement and show an insight into the agenda
Delivering the content
- It is important that one audience doesn’t feel second best – a host is more important than ever to engage and bring both audiences together
- Involve both audiences with activities in the agenda - tools such as Slido are great for this. Bring your virtual audience members on screen to ask questions live, and bring your live audience members on stage
- Facilitation is required for both the virtual and physical audience – consider how this will be achieved. A facilitator is key to involving the online audience and giving them a voice. Bring your facilitator on stage to connect with those watching online
- Consider what both audiences are going to see, hear and how will this appear depending on where they are participating from – will your entertainment work for both?
- Think camera angles and positioning – channel your inner TV presenter!
Making sponsors visible
- As well as a physical exhibition space in the face-to-face conference, consider how sponsors can get exposure to your online audience
- Include them in your pre-event communications – logos, weblinks, company profiles
- Can you include them on your programme with sponsored slots or an elevator pitch?
- Run sponsor advert breaks during the refreshments
- Many online platforms allow for exhibition/break out areas with video, Q&A, presentations for the virtual audience to visit
After the event
- Record the content so you can share with those unable to attend. Or to use for marketing at a later date?
- Analytics from a virtual audience is easy, so don’t forget to capture data from your physical audience as well
- Make sure to continue the conversation after the event – the event doesn’t finish on the day
- Get attendee feedback – what did both audiences think of their experience? This will be hugely valuable when planning your next hybrid event
The toppest tip!!
- Manage expectations – it is unlikely people will have organised or attended a hybrid event in the last year and so the whole experience needs to be handled and managed in a new way
Each event, face-to-face, virtual or hybrid, needs to be created with consideration and care. We are here to help and support you with your journey - contact us!