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Hybrid Events - Five questions answered

Event at the Tobacco Dock

Over the last few months the event industry has had hundreds of conversations about virtual events: what are they, what is involved, how do I engage an audience? But this will not be the norm forever. Slowly but surely whether later this year or next year people will start turning up to events. Does this mean the virtual event is side-lined again for the real event experience? Or should it be considered an integral part of your event planning? We have put together five questions that people have been asking, concerning the hybrid event.

What is a hybrid event and are they the future?

This first question is the obvious one and the question asked the most. Hybrid, as an event, has not always been a concern of organisers. In the dictionary, Hybrid is ‘a thing made by combining two different elements’. It is commonly used now in the car industry where it refers to a car that runs on both petrol and electricity. In the event world, it is the combining of two event types: the physical event where people can gather (COVID restrictions applying) and the virtual event, where people log in and watch on-line.

Are they the future? They should be. There is always a greater audience out there than you can possibly fit in a room. Wouldn’t it be great if people from all over the world could attend your event too?

When planning, do we have to think of them as two different events?

Don’t think of it as planning two different events. It’s the same one but there are variables that will need to be addressed so that both aspects of the event are a success. All the elements you need to consider for the in-person event are still relevant: is the venue the right size, does it provide the right support, who are the speakers, what is the catering like and do I have the right AV company to run the technical aspect of the show. Simultaneously, for the virtual attendees you need to ask yourself: Have I got the right platform, will my virtual audience be engaged enough, how can they get involved, do my AV team have the right skill set to broadcast to the internet?

How do physical and virtual attendees interact?

One of the biggest concerns an organiser has with virtual events is audience engagement. With a hybrid event you have to consider the two audience types (physical and virtual) and how they engage with each other and the presenters. There are many social media tools that allow both audiences to get involved such as Q&A and polling and this can happen easily with a hybrid event. If the right AV is supported at the virtual side you can have interactions both ways between the main site and, for instance, a hub where a small number of attendees in another part of the country may have gathered.

What kind of reach can I expect?

There are many options here. Will you be broadcasting on a public platform, do you want it to be invite-only and on some platforms there are different pricing structures depending on the size of your expected audience? As far as your physical audience is concerned, COVID-19 still plays an important part in the numbers of people at a venue. Please check out the current situation and then check to see how the venue can help you within the constraints of current social distancing.

What do I need for a successful hybrid event?

The three elements of a successful event are content, community and production value. When it comes to content, be aware that you have two audience types who will be viewing the content from different perspectives. Community is important and again is different between the physical audience and the virtual audience. Both audiences need to feel cared for and tended to at the same level. As for production value: this can make or break the experience for the audience. Good lighting, sound, camerawork and internet connection all make for a great hybrid event.

Remember to consider the hybrid option from now on. It requires a little bit more thought but the results could be greater than the sum of the two parts. If you are looking for more information please do not hesitate to call us on 01634 841663

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