While hybrid events have been around for years, the necessity to intentionally plan for live and virtual attendees in a new way has been pushed to the forefront as a result of the pandemic. Even though the term is familiar to many, some planners are brand new to the idea of hosting a hybrid event. If this is you, check out our introduction to hybrid events for a better idea of what they are, along with key considerations when approaching and designing a hybrid event.
First, we need to get a couple common misconceptions out of the way regarding hybrid events. Hosting a hybrid event is not:
- Simply a livestream of a face-to-face event (to remote attendees)
- Always a lower-cost option (compared to being 100% in person)
Start with a clear idea of the attendee paths – the journeys you want to create for both the live and the virtual participants. Establishing persona types will help bring to life the various experiences you’re looking to create in a more tangible way. (We find it inspirational to give our “personas” names and faces too.) Carefully consider the techniques you might use for storytelling. How many presenters do you anticipate? Are they comfortable presenting to dual audiences? Using a skilled moderator or host is even more crucial to keep your audiences engaged. Speaking of engagement, take advantage of all five senses to keep interest and energy levels up. Provide relevant and personalized content and remember the critical importance of your communications campaign (think beyond an email campaign).
Work to create community before, during and after the event – leverage existing communities and create new ones. Using technology to help connect attendees and promote interactive engagement is key for a successful hybrid experience. Remember to help facilitate all 3 unique connection points – in-person attendee to in-person attendee, in-person to digital attendee, and digital participant to digital participant – not to mention connecting your attendees to your speakers and hosts whenever possible.
When you think about it, you’re creating one event with two very different experiences and each audience type requires thoughtful (and different) design thinking. Remember to focus on your participants, and their unique needs, and you can make hybrid happen successfully!