How to Organize an Amazing Hybrid Event
We outlined five steps to help create your own amazing hybrid event. Read more and get started with your event today!
Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from our book The Ultimate guide to Hybrid Events. You can access the entire book here.
We talk about what hybrid events are and why you might want to opt for a hybrid event format, so let’s talk about how to pull it off with these five steps.
Step 1: Build your budget
First, you’ll have to understand the budget implications of both the in-person and online components of your hybrid event. Ensuring you allocate your resources so that both the physical and virtual aspects are strong and engaging is important.
Within your budget, you’ll have to make specific considerations for a number of aspects of hybrid events, such as:
Contracts: Are there any minimum spends or obligations in place for your physical venue? Can you count on a certain number of attendees showing up in-person?
Sponsorship: 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in hybrid events. In order for them to reach both in-person and online audiences, however, you’ll have to offer them sponsorship channels. For virtual attendees, virtual forums and digital branding are a good place to start, while swag, onsite branding, and sponsored booths suffice for in-person attendees.
Tax laws: Since hybrid events can host speakers and entertainment from anywhere, you’ll have to check the tax obligations for the specific location that person is attending from. This will help you set aside the right amount of revenue to pay them.
Step 2: Get the right technology
According to an EventMB survey, a main frustration plaguing event organizers was that the virtual experience component of their event didn’t match the experience available to in-person attendees.
Making sure you have the right technology to make the virtual aspects of your event truly engaging is a must, and it’s what has allowed some event companies to become industry leaders in the last two years.
While you’ll need to invest in technology that makes the in-person experience run smoothly, like microphones, lighting, projectors, WiFi, and on-site tech support, you’ll also need to ensure the virtual component of your event is just as engaging. There are a number of considerations to take into account to pull this off.
Choose the right hybrid event platform
A platform that allows you to embed the event directly onto your site or event landing page will help you to merge virtual attendees into your in-person event seamlessly.
Consider vVenues, an online platform that provides immersive, engaging virtual experiences for online event attendees. Over the last two years, they have run virtual events for clients like Women in Tech and Dell Technologies. Their events mimic the experience of going to a physical event, from the moment an attendee enters and gets their “lanyard”, to the hybrid event booths where attendees can speak in person or digitally to vendors.
Their platform is so effective, in fact, that 82% of survey respondents who had attended their events reported that it felt no different than going to an event in-person.
Provide online support
Having experts ready to deal with any tech hiccups or questions from virtual attendees ensures that no one gets left behind or has a subpar experience.
Of course, choosing a solution that’s intuitive and easy to use for attendees is important, but you can’t assume that each attendee’s experience will go off without a hitch. Provide clear, helpful instructions for how virtual attendees can engage, and an obvious avenue for questions and support.
Step 3: Enable virtual attendees with engagement tools
What can you do to make the experience for virtual attendees as engaging as possible? It all comes down to the tools and features you can offer them. Here are some notable favorites:
One of the benefits of attending events like workshops, lectures, and conferences is getting to take part in breakout groups, where attendees can collaborate and problem-solve in real-time.
This is a feature you can offer virtually, as well. With the right solution, you can create and organize breakouts quickly, host them within the main meeting, work with integrations like Miro and YouTube, and customize them in a way that fits the theme of the event. Virtual attendees can participate just as easily as those joining in-person.
Live emoji reactions
Providing the option for virtual attendees to add to the conversation with emoji reactions can keep things fun and engaging. It can also help them to feel like they’re a part of the discussion.
It’s important to create an experience where virtual attendees don’t fade into the background or become an afterthought. With a spotlight feature, you can ensure whoever’s speaking gets the attention they deserve, and a chance to be a part of the conversation.
Picture in picture
Sometimes when a speaker is giving a presentation or sharing their screen, they lose their view of the video call participants, making it hard to know if anyone’s engaged. Picture in picture provides a way to get around that. This feature allows you to bring your video call to the front while you’re presenting or screen-sharing, again ensuring that your video call participants can receive the attention they need.
Distance shouldn’t get in the way of attendees taking part in a great keynote talk or panel discussion. Video conferencing allows virtual attendees to watch talks and sessions as they happen, making the experience as engaging as if they were right there in the room.
Step 4: Give your content strategy the care it deserves
An event can be expertly-budgeted, technologically flawless, and stuffed with engaging features, but if your content is lacking, can you really call it a success? When it comes down to it, good content is the foundation of any hybrid event.
The challenge lies in creating content that is just as engaging online as it is in-person. This requires a lot of planning, with the following considerations:
Types of sessions: Be clear about the length of speaker slots (they could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour each, and your attendees should know what to expect), the level of interaction each session will feature, and whether or not there will be a Q&A portion. Make sure you have what you need in place to execute these plans for both your in-person and online audience.
Cadence and quantity of content: How many sessions will you feature in a day? Will all content be streamed live, or will you make it available for people to take in later? Or both? It’s important to consider pacing so that you’re providing enough content to keep your attendees entertained, but not so much that they’re overwhelmed. It’s also important to provide breaks between sessions so attendees can grab a coffee, stretch, or check their emails, just as you would with an in-person event.
Overall, the content possibilities with hybrid events are endless. As Onemotion/vVenues CEO Mats Mileblad puts it, “Today, there are more opportunities than ever to attract international speakers at a significantly lower cost,” which means that events can be more relevant and entertaining than ever.
Step 5: Spread the word
If an event occurs but no one heard about it beforehand, did it ever really happen? An event is only as successful as the communication strategy used to get the word out. Our top tips for spreading awareness about your event and getting it to the right people are:
Build a dedicated landing page for attendees to register
Create an event hashtag for people to use on social media
Ask people to share that they’re attending on their social media (and to invite colleagues and friends)
Share marketing material like videos and blogs to drum up anticipation
The messaging you choose provides a great opportunity to increase excitement for the fact that your event will include both in-person and online components. Take a page from Saleforce’s book, who used the following messaging to build excitement for Dreamforce 2021:
“Dreamforce 2021 will be more inclusive than ever – with digital experiences available for everyone, from anywhere. Get ready for the first-ever global Dreamforce. Combining small inspirational in-person experiences with innovative and immersive digital ones – it’s going to be one epic family reunion, all done with your safety in mind.”