4 questions to ask while planning your hybrid event

In our November blog, we discussed how hybrid events are the inevitable next step in the event industry. As the world slowly opens back up, planners and guests alike are looking for safe, convenient ways to find connection and have experiences. Hybrid events offer the flexibility that many are looking for, plus, if done correctly, a wow-factor that will impress attendees.

Here are some questions to consider for your next hybrid event:

Are the presentations engaging for both in-person and online guests?

We know how to pick good live speakers, and we know that online presentations can be engaging, but how do you do both? The right technology can make a big difference. Ensure that you’re trusting your live-streaming to the professionals. They can make sure that your lighting and sound are just right and that the video quality is suitable for your stream. Consider, instead of Q&A with a microphone for your live audience and text for your virtual one, using an app for both, so everyone can ask questions through the same channel during the presentation. Maybe the questions can be broadcast on the presenter screen so even those attending remotely can feel like they are in the room. Not every presentation is going to be one-size-fits-all for both types of attendees, but good quality AV, an enthusiastic speaker, and the right tech can help.

A photography student adjusting camera lighting to capture a photograph

Do in-person and online guests have the same opportunities?

If in-person attendees can network, eat, view products, and attend workshops, make sure your virtual guests can, too, especially if they are paying to attend your event. Many event apps provide the opportunity to showcase vendors and create social feeds and discussion boards, so incentivize your live attendees to get in there and interact with the online crew. This brings your two audiences together and helps your virtual attendees feel included. If you have the budget, consider sending care packages to your pre-registered online guests. These packages can include event swag, snacks, coupons for a food delivery service – anything that would give them similar perks to being at the event in person.

Is your event accessible?

We’ve written previously on how to host an accessible event in the physical realm, so you already know to consider things like safe surfaces, transportation and service animal support. But what does accessibility look like for an event that runs simultaneously in person and online? Closed-captioning is a big one for your virtual attendees. This helps not only those who may be hard of hearing, but anyone that may have a lot going on in their remote location. If you have hired a sign language interpreter for your event, ensure they are on camera so folks viewing remotely can see them. All event-related apps and websites should be AODA compliant and screen reader friendly, and as much as possible, try to record your sessions so that they may be accessed on-demand. This is beneficial to both live and virtual guests. They can view or rewatch sessions and it keeps your event, content and sponsors at the forefront of their mind for however long you keep the on-demand content available.

Do you have a plan in place for going all-virtual?

If the in-person component of your event is suddenly unfeasible (don’t just think about pandemics – think snow storms, a fire at the venue, electrical issues), make sure you already have a plan in place. How will you ensure your presenters have the tools they need to present from home? How will you communicate the change of plans to your attendees and vendors? Be as detailed in this plan as you can. Draft the emails if you see fit. Yes, this is a lot more work on top of the momentous task of executing a hybrid event, but when plans change, you’ll want to be able to communicate quickly and clearly with all those involved. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the unthinkable really can happen, so it just makes sense to be prepared to transform your already amazing hybrid event into a truly stellar online one.

A snow-covered highway with driving cars on a winter day

For more tips on how to master virtual and hybrid events, check out our blog page.

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