With online tools making it easier to work closely with partners on the other side of the world, location is no longer an obstacle to building corporate relationships with staying power. Location is also no longer a barrier for creating events that appeal to a global audience. Hybrid event structures, which maintain the experience of a live event while adding a virtual element to include remote attendees, are a cost-effective solution to long-distance travel and busy schedules.
As technology improves and the need for cost-effective meeting solutions increases, the hybrid approach is set to become far more dominant in coming years. Stay ahead of the curve with these seven tips for creating a successful hybrid event.
1. Have a clear vision.
It is vital to have a clear vision of event objectives and measurables before you begin the planning process. This will dictate the form the hybrid event will take and the virtual components that will be used. Many hybrid events don’t stream the entire event, and choosing the most engaging content to share with online attendees will help keep them engaged. It’s unlikely anyone is going to stick around to watch a two-hour roundtable. They’re much more likely to log on to take part in a Q&A session or listen to a great speaker.
2. Invest in equipment and expertise.
The equipment you use for your event needs to be of a reliable quality, as poor audiovisuals will instantly decrease online engagement. Consider how you will gain feedback from your virtual audience and what social tools you can use to develop conversations with both audiences before, during and after the event.
3. Market to both audiences.
Hybrid events are designed to appeal to two audiences—live and virtual—which means marketing and promotions must be created accordingly. The most effective approach is to separate the audiences, creating content appropriate to their specific needs. Don’t forget to keep your overall message consistent throughout.
4. Take advantage of multiple platforms.
Webcasting products such as Adobe Connect and Onstream Webinars allow multiple streams to be webcast simultaneously. This means an entire panel of speakers can interact in a virtual space, observed by both live and online audiences. Taking advantage of multiple platforms will make your event as engaging and interesting as possible, for speakers as well as attendees.
5. Acknowledge the remote audience.
A simple mistake some presenters make is ignoring the online audience. Ensure both audiences remain engaged and feel included by instructing your speakers to address the camera, as well as the live audience in front of them. Speakers can also actively invite people to send in questions and comments via social media and respond to them live.
6. Unify the conversation.
This is where online facilitators and moderators are helpful, taking the vibe of the live event and translating it into something more accessible to remote attendees. Having dedicated people to manage social media accounts and send out key takeaways will give online attendees more to discuss and get excited about.
Social media also allows live attendees to connect with online attendees, adding their own photos, videos and commentary via a designated hashtag. Not only will this make online attendees feel more connected to the event, but it will also provide you with valuable marketing material that can be used long after the event is over.
7. Don’t forget the data.
Hybrid events provide great return on investment, and a little extra work when planning your event can go a long way, particularly when reaching new audiences and increasing attendance. Use of digital technology also allows you to gather audience data and insight, which will prove invaluable when planning and marketing your next event.