Hybrid events are becoming an increasingly popular option for event planners, as they provide the opportunity for both in-person and virtual attendees to enjoy the event. However, managing a hybrid event can be a challenging task.
How Do You Manage a Hybrid Event?
Communique has been hosting hybrid events since 2001. To help you in planning your next hybrid event, we gathered answers to the most common questions we most often hear from clients.
Do the onsite and virtual audiences have to interact or network with each other?
No, it is not required. It’s up to you and your particular event goals. There are a lot of reasons to keep them separate. People typically want the experience they signed up for. Meaning, if they registered to attend in-person, they’re going to want to focus fully on the full in-person experience.
Most hybrid event platforms enable your in-person and remote guests to chat or network. If, however, you decide to keep networking separate, make sure your platform provider offers a mobile app to help facilitate in-person networking.
Do the in-person and virtual parts of our hybrid event need to happen at the same time?
This is, again, optional. Most people think of hybrid events as taking place at the same time. However, there is a lot of flexibility with your options here. For example, you can host the in-person part of your event, and then a few days later, your virtual guests can experience their own event. This might include recorded or on-demand content from the in-person event. In addition, hosting the virtual and in-person parts on different days or times takes some of the pressure off you and your team.
Another option is called a combination hybrid event. Here parts of the event that happen at the same time for everyone, while other parts do not. For example, keynote sessions, breakout sessions, networking, and other portions are designed for all attendees to be taking part at the same time. They’re “synchronous”. Within the event, on the other hand, there may be activities that aren’t constrained by specific times and can be experienced by attendees at a time of their choosing. Example of these elements could be an exercise challenge, the trade show floor, or a wellness lounge with yoga classes. These activities are “asynchronous” and can happen at any point along the participant’s journey.
Related article: What are the types of hybrid events explained
What are our options for attendee Q&A?
The first option is for the in-person attendees to submit questions through a mobile event app via their phones. The virtual guests can submit questions online via their browser while viewing the sessions. In this case a central onsite moderator can view all of the questions from both in-person and virtual audience members via a single computer screen. Selected questions can be read out loud for the presenter(s) to answer.
Another option for in-person attendees is to ask their questions via a microphone. Make sure that the AV setup has the microphone broadcast/streamed to the virtual attendees via the webinar console.
Do I need any special speaker preparation?
Yes. This is often overlooked. You have trained speakers for in-person, trained for them virtual, now you need to train speakers to deliver sessions to both audiences at the same time.
TV is all about action and intimacy. Work with your speakers and production crew to deliver sessions that cater to both audiences. For example, make sure your onsite production crew understands the medium being used which requires more close ups of the presenters faces and pull back to see the stage.
- Make sure speakers say good morning and acknowledge both audiences. Look at the physical audience, then turn and look at the camera for the virtual guests.
- Write a script for the speaker to remind each audience that the other is present. Do this at the beginning of each session.
- Make sure the speaker repeats the in-person question, so the remote audience hears it.
- Speakers should not use a laser pointer or point at the screen that is next to them because the remote audience will not know what they are talking about.
Can we bring virtual guests on screen if they want to ask a question?
Yes. This is possible with the right hybrid event platform. Your hybrid event platform must include a bring on stage feature that enables a moderator to temporarily allow an attendee to share their microphone and webcam.
In addition, you’ll need a projection screen or monitor onsite that displays the virtual audience member for your in-person audience to see.
Some of our speakers can’t make it in-person. Can they still participate in panel discussions?
Yes. Your AV provider can set up so that remote speakers can participate via a webcam. You will also need a projection screen or monitor onsite that display the remote speakers for your in-person audience to see.
The benefit of this set up is that it lets you bring in incredible speakers from anywhere in the world and reduce your speaker fees!
How can we keep our virtual participants engaged?
A good hybrid event platform can offer lots of engagement options. The most common engagement strategy is to enable online guests to submit questions and participate in polls alongside the in-person attendees.
Another option is to create a VIP experience for your virtual guests:
- Create an exclusive Q&A round table with your top speakers where virtual guests can ask questions
- Add gamification and/or a scavenger hunt that includes prizes
- Use role-based access to special sessions or networking rooms for VIPs
- Send them a box of swag, or a voucher for a delivered meal
Another way to engage your virtual guests is to create a virtual lounge with breakout rooms and a live forum. Include a Slack channel for members to connect before and after the event.
Related article: Virtual Event Engagement Ideas
Why does a hybrid event need extra budget for production?
A hybrid event requires more hardware and staff to connect the two audience portions. There is also more set-up time required by your AV team including more testing.
Can our AV company handle the onsite production and send the stream to the hybrid event platform provider?
Yes, this is possible. However, make sure to partner with a hybrid event platform that offers dedicated live day support for the sessions. This is necessary for troubleshooting any issues that may arise during the live event.
Related article: Hybrid Event Production Check List
Will there be a sound delay between the in-person and virtual portions of our event?
- Virtual and in-person speakers: In terms of presenters speaking to each other, there should be no perceptible delay. Your AV partner will likely bridge them in via a low latency means.
- Virtual and in-person attendees: There will be a delay for the remote audience of approximately 15-30 seconds, minimum.
The main reason you need to be aware of a delay is if you’re planning to do live Q&A or surveys. The on-site and virtual attendees will be seeing/hearing the session at slightly different times, so it’s something to be aware of and plan for.
Did we miss one of your hybrid event questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy to help get your questions answered.
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