Hybrid How-to: ways to make your event the best of both worlds

How do you capitalize on the opportunities presented by the new normal of hybrid events? Here’s our advice.

Market Widely

One of the primary benefits of a hybrid event is a broader audience. Without the cost and time barriers of travel, you can reach people all across the globe. To leverage those potential viewers, ensure you’re marketing not just locally but to your secondary audience as well.

This may require a rethink in terms of understanding your potential attendees. With all your promotions, make sure you clearly communicate that there will be virtual components as well as in-person so guests can pick which experience works best for them.

Think Virtual-First

The key to a hybrid event is for online attendees to feel excited about their experience, not like they bought cheap seats to the live event. The best way to do this is to focus on the virtual aspects from the start, and then add in the in-person elements. If you put your digital audience at the front of your mind, then it will show up in a more cohesive and thoughtful hybrid event.

Consider content that will keep your remote viewers’ attention. Shorter talks drive engagement and will benefit your in-person attendees, too. Add a virtual emcee to your event.

Chances are there will be someone there in person letting attendees know what sessions are happening when, reminding them to visit the sponsor booth, or otherwise addressing issues as they crop up. Build in the same for your digital audience. This will keep them engaged and like they are part of the experience, not just an as outsider, looking in.

Make it Customizable

Virtual is not the same as in-person. It never will be, and it’s best not to pretend it is. Understand that a hybrid event requires the creation of two different experiences. That’s not to say you should create two different events. Both experiences should feel connected and like an integral part of the larger gathering.

Consider creating separate registration streams for your attendees so it’s easier for them to navigate the sessions that apply to them.

Make every attendee, whether they are hybrid or virtual, feel like their experience is special. Don’t force in-person attendees to interact exclusively online when they could be chatting over a coffee.

It’s okay to create in-person only networking, as long as you provide something exciting for your virtual audience such as Zoom mentoring sessions or exclusive digital panels.

Focus on Safety

Safety is one of the biggest priorities for your event guests. If they don’t feel safe, then they won’t feel comfortable participating in sessions. For in-person, this means ensuring that the latest health guidelines are being followed. Have your procedures in place, and make sure they are clearly communicated.

For digital, safety looks a little different. Set expectations for how your attendees should behave by having a code of conduct. Make sure you have moderators present in chat forums or virtual discussions, and that your attendees know where to go if there’s ever an issue. This applies to in-person experiences as well.

Make Use of Technology

Going digital-first provides the opportunity to use technology to up your event game. Consider having your speakers pre-record their sessions, but then have them present to answer questions or facilitate a discussion afterwards. This will up the quality of the video that your remote audience will see and will help keep talks short and focused.

Digital also allows the opportunity to provide on-demand content, instead of solely live. This can further expand your reach by accommodating different time zones and schedules and increasing the lifespan of your event. ′