What Exactly is a Hybrid Event?
Not everyone can agree on what a hybrid event is. Hybrid event is simply a word coined to create structure and common understanding for an industry in the midst of change. For now, it’s the only nomenclature organizations have to describe the endless possibilities for new event models post-pandemic that reach both in-person and remote audiences.
Many event professionals on social media say they dislike of the word “hybrid.”
- They see it as a “fad” or a trend
- They don’t believe it encompasses the specific event design they have in mind
When it comes to hybrid event models, hybrid doesn’t have to necessarily mean 50% virtual, 50% in-person. Further, it doesn’t need to require reaching two audiences simultaneously.
With hybrid events, event hosts can play with space and time. The event can be in the same place at the same time, in multiple places simultaneously, or spread the event out in a given location over a longer period of time, etc.
Three Hybrid Event Models
Event organizers can generally choose from three types of hybrid events.
Hybrid Event Type
Only broadcasting the live sessions to a remote audience via a hybrid event platform that includes additional content for consumption.
Events that are session focused vs. exhibitor booths. Also, organizations that have limited additional budget beyond the in-person event.
A virtual event is hosted to reach remote attendees on different day(s) vs. the in-person event. This can be before or after the in-person event.
Organizations that want to reach both in-person and remote audiences, but do not have the resources to produce both event types at the same time.
Hosting both a virtual event and in-person event at the same time.
Events that have a strong networking component. Also, the organizer must have sufficent, time, funding, and resources to host both events at the same time catering to two different audiences.
Make Sure It Is One Event, But Two Experiences
Hybrid events are a balancing act between on-site and virtual audiences. Each audience should be catered to differently, much like an NFL game.
- Make sure that the virtual attendee experience is not an afterthought to the live event.
- Adjust the agenda for the virtual event audience. For example, if the in-person event agenda is 8 hours long, pair back the virtual event agenda to four-hours or less per day. Use tracks to accommodate more sessions.
- Prepare speakers for a hybrid format. Make sure speakers say good morning, afternoon, etc. and acknowledge both audiences. Look at the physical attendees, then turn and look at the camera for the virtual attendees. Also, make sure the speaker repeats the in-person questions, so the remote audience hears them.
- If there are breaks in the in-person agenda, consider setting up a sideline reporter based in the hallway or other common area to broadcast interviews and updates to the virtual attendees. The goal is to make sure there is no downtime for virtual attendees.
- If the hybrid event platform enables networking between in-person and virtual attendees, make sure to properly educate attendees on how to use it.
The future of the events industry is an ever-connected, engaging world of online relationship-building peppered with memorable face-to-face experiences and more accessibility and sustainability for all involved. Virtual events are not a temporary solution, but a compliment to what organizers been doing forever and it’s here to stay, like it or not.
Hybrid models will make events more inclusive than ever before. Whether people decide not to travel out of a concern for health and safety, budget, time constraints, or carbon footprint awareness, they will all be part of the event experience as one community.
Communique Conferencing has been delivering virtual and hybrid events since 2001 (20 years’). If you need help navigating requirements for a hybrid event, please get in touch – we are happy to help.