With the advance of new technologies and the covid-19 pandemic, hosting events and meetings online is more usual than it ever was. Hybrid events have also become popular, but what are they?
Hybrid events combine the aspects of in-person and digital meetings to provide the best possible experience for both audiences. Some of your attendees will enjoy the in-person event, while those who stay at home still have the opportunity to participate and engage in the meeting.
There are several benefits to hosting a hybrid event:
- More people can attend your event. Physical venues have a capacity limit. However, hundreds and thousands of people can join virtual meetings regardless of their location.
- Top-tier speakers can give a speech remotely. Imagine you want an expert on the topic of interest to speak publicly at your event, but they can’t go to the venue for whatever reason. With a hybrid event, they can join and give a speech at any time, even when they are thousands of kilometres away.
- It can be more interactive. Technology allows us to share surveys, live polls, videos, hashtags to boost the audience, and much more. Online attendees will appreciate some interactivity and sharing their opinion. Everyone can do their bit in hybrid events.
- You can attract more sponsors. According to an AIM Group survey, almost 80% of sponsors are interested in virtual events. They see them as the future of meetings, which is probably true.
Now that we’ve established the benefits of these events, read on to discover how to host them in 2022.
Guide to Hybrid Events in 2022
Make sure to accommodate both audiences
Most companies are familiar with hosting in-person meetings. They offer appetisers, ensure the temperature is okay for everyone, hand out brochures on the schedule, and so on. But how do we please those who stay at home?
First, it’s important to create exclusive content and interactive actions for your virtual attendees. Whether it’s using polls to determine what comes next or providing a virtual space to share their opinions, they will appreciate anything engaging. Keep in mind that they are most likely alone at home – anyone can get bored in such a situation!
Of course, there’s no way you can hold a virtual event if you don’t have the technical needs covered. Provided that you have a steady internet connection, here are the basics you need:
- Technical support and staff: You need experts on software that can handle the technical aspects of the event. Should anything go wrong, they must react quickly and fix the problem.
- An event platform. Where are you hosting the meeting? Is it Zoom, or maybe Arena? Be that as it may, the proper hybrid event platform should be user-friendly and provide tools for audience engagement. Bear in mind that people of all ages may attend your event, and most of them want to feel integrated and participate.
- Event registration. How will your guests register? Find a registration platform you can link to your CRM and event management system. If you plan to charge for tickets, make sure to select a registration platform that can connect to a payment gateway and accommodate your ticketing system.
- A room with the right light: A room with natural light is best, but it’s also advisable to have the possibility of adding extra spotlights.
- HD camcorders, tripod, and several cameras: You should prepare at least three cameras to provide several points of view, preventing virtual attendants from getting bored. Imagine a TV show that never changed its plans, wouldn’t you feel weird? The same goes for hybrid events.
Keep sessions short and fun
Our attention spans are narrowing due to social media, the Internet, and our fast-paced world. The more information we are exposed to, the quicker we shift our attention from one stimulus to another.
Online attendees can leave the meeting with just one click if they get bored. Since we want to keep their interest, we need to grab their attention. How? Using GIFs, making jokes, or asking questions to answer with specific hashtags are practical ways to keep them engaged.
You might also want to keep the sessions short. Don’t spend 30 minutes discussing one topic that you can cover in 10 minutes. Do you remember those high school teachers that repeated themselves over and over? It was agonising, and you want to avoid their mistakes as much as possible.
Record and upload the different speeches
Have you ever attended a physical event that didn’t allow you to enjoy every presentation because they overlapped? Guests can get frustrated if different topics of their interest are covered simultaneously.
Fortunately, a hybrid even allows you to record and upload every presentation. Your audience can watch the speeches they missed, which results in an increased level of engagement and enrichment.
Collect feedback and data
One advantage that hybrid events provide is collecting data effectively. Everything that happens online gets recorded. You can and should leverage your audience data to improve upcoming events.
Did people stay, or did they leave soon? How much did they interact? What was more interesting to them: polls, debates, videos? Did they provide feedback on any platform?
Every piece of information you can gather from your attendees’ experience is valuable. Your guests are your customers, and every reputable marketer knows their opinion and perspective are the most important thing. The same goes for sponsors. If they spend money on your event, they want to see results. Get as much feedback as possible for them, and make any changes in the future that can result in better sales or impact.
Modern technology, combined with the covid-19 pandemic, allows companies to hold hybrid events. Said events combine in-person and virtual attendance. To make the most of them, you must cover every technical aspect, which includes:
- On what platform will the event take place?
- How can attendees register?
- How can you make the meeting interesting and interactive?
- What data can you collect? How will you use it for better results in upcoming events?
- What sponsors showed interest in the event? What are their opinions? Was it profitable for them? Are they willing to invest in the future?