ybrid events have captured the imagination of event organisers. In a recent survey conducted by meeting professionals international organisations, 70% of the respondents said that hybrid events are the future of event hosting.
Nevertheless, most professionals are still trying to fathom and master the art of hosting hybrid events. How does one manage delegates at a physical venue and the virtual audience and generate content that can be absorbing for both groups are some of the questions that event organisers are grappling with!
This blog is a guide for those who need some direction on how to plan and host hybrid events.
How to plan a hybrid event - Five integral steps
Planning an event is very important. We take care of last-minute details for even the smallest meeting that we host. So, when it comes to hosting an event with two sets of audiences, the planning must be even more detailed and intricate.
1. Have a clear vision:
For your hybrid event. Find answers to the 6Ws. Who is the event for? What will they learn? Why will they find the event appealing? Where will it happen? When will it happen? And who will conduct the event?
That will give a lot of clarity to you as an organiser and will help you in planning and marketing your event.
2. Prepare a detailed event plan:
Be the designer of your event. Come up with something unique, meaningful and engaging. You will have to create an event that meets the needs of both your audiences. Plan to the minutest of details. Broadly your plan should include the sessions, the speakers’ details, timings of the sessions, tech details and much more.
Remember to plan for a few common sessions for both audiences and some sessions that may be exclusive for each group. Such a detailed plan will help in smooth execution and will ensure that your event is hosted without any hurdles.
3. Set roles and responsibilities:
For your event to have the right flow and be flawless, you need to detail all team members’ roles and responsibilities. Considering that you are hosting a hybrid event, you will need a bigger team. Set clear duties and responsibilities for your team and ensure that there is no overlapping.
Build a team that shares the same passion as you do for the event.
4. Content creation:
Content creation for hybrid events needs time and planning. The needs of the two groups are different. While your live audience will be fine with attending more sessions with fewer breaks, it is entirely the opposite for your virtual audience.
Your virtual audience will prefer short, easy to assimilate content, while your physical audience may expect detailed and elaborate content. So, finding the right balance to meet the needs of your diverse audience will be a challenge.
It is challenging to meet everyone’s expectations; hence, find a middle ground. Have a couple of sessions that are common for both audiences. The rest can be offered as a video-on-demand for your virtual audience. They can choose to view the content at a time suitable to them. For the common sessions, select the format of a talk show or a Q&A. That will keep the audience engaged and encourage interaction.
The bottom line while planning content is to ensure that irrespective of the format, number of sessions, length of sessions etc., both your audiences have a similar experience and receive the same amount of knowledge/information.
5. Seek sponsorship:
Once your backend work is done, seek sponsors for the event. Sponsorships and collaborations are essential because they help in various ways. There are three kinds of sponsors you can approach.
First are the large companies who have a big reach and can spread the word. Second, a company who can help you with gifts and giveaways for speakers and attendees. And lastly, a tech company who can take care of your technical needs. Seek sponsors whose work is somewhat in tandem with your event.
Whoever is the sponsor, be sure to give them good visibility in all event-related communications.
How to host a hybrid event
Hosting a flawless event is possible only when certain aspects are taken care of before the event. Some of the points to consider before hosting hybrid events are:
1. Selecting a virtual platform:
Since you will have a virtual audience for your event, choose your virtual platform with care. Utilise a platform that offers you live streaming, engagement and networking features, high-quality audio and video and the choice to record sessions. These features are essential and should be considered non-negotiable.
Before you finalise your virtual platform, request them for a demo. In the demo, check for the features you desire and see if the platform offers you enough tech-support.
2. Communicate with attendees:
Communicating with your attendees is essential. Communication ensures that they have the correct information and are updated about the event. Consider changing your communication strategy a few days before the event. At this time, you could have a trailer for your event. Just like how movie trailers increase our anticipation, try to achieve the same with your welcome video.
Your virtual attendees may need a little more hand-holding, especially if it is the maiden hybrid/virtual event for them. You could make their experience better by designing event FAQs. The FAQs should address common and pertinent questions about the event. Taking small initiatives like these ensures that your attendees do not have any anxieties and feel welcomed.
3. Be flexible:
Given the uncertain times today, the need of the hour is to be flexible. There may be unforeseen snags and glitches with your event technology. Don’t panic. Instead, reschedule the sessions and ensure that the show goes on. But, be sure to communicate the changes with your attendees.
Just like with virtual events, rehearsals are essential for your hybrid event. Remember, your speakers will be interacting with two sets of audiences, hence ensure that they practice to get the feel. Rehearsals help you to ensure that all your tech aids are working well and are positioned in the right manner.
You can make changes wherever needed so that the actual event is glitch-free and an excellent experience for your attendees.
Right strategy and approach are two critical essentials for hosting a hybrid event.
The tips mentioned above will help you plan and host an entertaining and engaging hybrid event. Eventually, your hybrid event will succeed if you treat the virtual component as part of the event and not as a separate entity. So, add sessions or remove sessions, select the right format and speakers, find the middle path to suit both your attendees, and you have the recipe for the perfect hybrid event in place!