One event – two experiences
You wake up in sweat... .
Since you have known that you need to organise your next corporate event, you have not been able to get your mind around the fact that you are in a totally different reality due to the COVID-19 crisis which is actually not over yet. Questions galore race through your head and they keep you tossing about in your bed for hours on end.
- Can I even ask anyone to travel to the event venue in these times?
- Is there a limit to the number of people I can invite?
- What if more people want to attend in-person?
- How do I choose who gets to attend live?
Well, guess what! We are here to help you. Read on and let us help you to structure and to tame the demons in your head.
Are all events suited for a hybrid setup?
First, it is essential to define the purpose of your event as well as the intended outcomes. Not all events are suited for hybrid and the worst that could happen is to give online attendees the feeling of being mere tag-ons, not part of the main happening.
From the outset, you need to create a clear meeting agenda and event planning which translate your purpose to both types of audiences (live and online) in different but equal ways. In other words, don’t try to duplicate what works in a live setting to an online event as that would degrade your audience to mere viewers and passive spectators.
Once the purpose and the intended outcomes are clear, it is important to prepare thoroughly. You know the saying: he who fails to prepare prepares to fail. ...
This is no different with hybrid events.
Choose the venue and the best hybrid event platform.
Carefully choose the setting, for both live and online experiences.
For the live part of the event, this means selecting the right venue and everything that goes with it, whilst for the online part it is important to choose the right software with exactly those features that will enable you to seamlessly integrate with your live components.
How to keep attendees engaged during hybrid events?
For each part of the event, you need to create a dialogue between live and virtual attendees.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Use icebreakers to ease the connection between online and live audiences.
- Use a networking software to introduce people with similar industries or professions
- Hire a professional master of ceremony for the entire event and professional moderators for workshops.
- Make sure everyone’s face is visible and that attendees appear in a professional manner on-screen
- Train and brief your speakers well before the event
- Pre-record content as a backup in case online speakers cannot connect
- Send as much information, documents, and materials as possible before the event as this will greatly enhance audience involvement with your topics and event settings.
- Ask all online speakers to use a greenscreen and decide together on the setup of the room from where they will broadcast
- Poll regularly to take the pulse of both audiences
- Use interactive software for gamification and audience engagement
- Invite online audiences to take the floor and mix with live audiences
- Create live and online experiences (some for each type of audience separately and some mixed) and then feedback to the plenary session.
How to market your hybrid meeting and event in the right way?
The most important principle here is to manage expectations and to clearly state the advantages of online and live options.
In all cases, attendees should be able to choose how they attend your event according to their preferences. If you need to refuse live participants because some safety protocols apply in the region or in the venue of your event, communicate these rules and principles before registrations start.
Make a contingency plan that enables you to switch the event entirely to online in case the safety situation deteriorates around the venue and new measures or lockdowns are implemented by the authorities. No need to make this a show-stopper: one of the main advantages that are built into hybrid events is that “the show must go on”.
Don’t forget that you need to completely rethink the way you market your event as going hybrid enables you to reach out to more and different types of audiences.
If you do, it is important to understand that you can segment your event and price participation in entirely new ways.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Will online and live attendees pay a different price?
- Are some sessions different for the different parts of the audience?
- Will your online component follow the same timeframe as your live event?
Or will you spread some online parts over multiple days?
- If you have to deal with different languages: into how many languages will you offer to translate?
(if you open up your event to more online participants, the additional number of languages this entails might come as a significant cost)
Invite your attendees to connect on social media and create a group where people can discuss before and after the event. In this way, the value of your event does not stop when the event is over. By keeping the interaction between your participants going, you can engage with them in more sustainable ways and stimulate the dialogue and the connection between the different types of audiences.
Don’t forget that you can also create more options for sponsors and partners as you can give them visibility on both parts of your event: online and live.
After having carefully gone through all of the above in terms of purpose, outcomes, and preparation, you can safely assume that you are ready to rock! Nothing stands in the way of making your event a well-deserved success.
Collect data and analyse it.
Finally, data are everything in this world as they enable you to improve from one event to the next on the basis of the information you collected during the event. You will find out what worked well and what you should avoid, what your attendees liked and didn't like about the event, what they'd like to see at the next event, how to save on your next event budget and a lot more valuable information. You can even break this down into different audience categories, event topics, speakers, logistics, …
Nothing enables this better than hybrid events.
Tonight you will undoubtedly sleep like a baby!