Hybrid event | Horizon Leeds | award-winning event venue

Preparing for a hybrid event

Whether you’re an event manager who has stacked portfolio of live events and are only just venturing into the world of hybrid or, you’re completely new to the events world and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with some handy tips for preparing for your hybrid event!

As you would ask your selected venue about capacity for in-person attendance you should also be asking your platform provider what their stream capacity is. A couple of things to add to your list when it comes to capacities…

  • Virtual attendance means that travel isn’t an issue, are you reaching for a wider international audience that could increase your numbers?
  • What are the risks of further lockdowns, can the platform handle capacity for a fully virtual event if a worse-case scenario occurs?
  • Don’t forget to include staff, exhibitors, technical support, and others that are on the planning team.

This is vital to know as hitting certain benchmarks in numbers or exceeding your planned capacity allocation could influence your budget or reputation if you need to cut delegates from the list.

Are you charging to attend the event, and will your price points be different for in person to online?

It’s something to think about, a consideration should be taken to the value both audiences will be getting from the event. Yes, you can argue the content for each delegate will be the same however, face to face brings easier access to networking with peers, exhibitors, and speakers which adds value. Other considerations are around the provision of lunches and refreshments for your live audiences.

Personally, I think this is one of the trickier sides of a hybrid event but providing you can mirror this value with your online audience – your on to a winner.

Don’t just stream your live event, making sure your virtual audience feel part of the event should be a top priority. Think about how you are going to share content with your digital delegates compared to in-person delegates? How can you tailor sessions and make it bespoke – that way you’re delivering a high-quality event both online and in person. When it comes to breakouts, we strongly advise you not to have mixed in-person and virtual groups and it can be isolating for the virtual delegates.

Choosing a platform provider who has the infrastructure to show more than just the stream can be essential. This can become a fantastic sales and marketing tool.

It’s likely that you’ll have slides, videos and other assets for your event so make sure these are pre-planned, pre-loaded on the platform and tested in advance, just like you would do for an in-person event!

Ensuring you have a great support team from the venue, the platform and technical crew on the day to deal with any arising issues from all sides. Great teams make great events and with this new virtual world we are working in – technical support should be a top priority.

Hybrids offer the benefit of virtual so you can attract speakers from across the globe. Therefore, not all of your speakers will be in the same place, some may be streaming from home or remote offices, so rehearsals allow you to also check for teething problems such as internet speed, lighting, appropriate background and any distractions to suggest your speakers remove themselves from?

As the Event Manager, you’ll need to check everything is working correctly and everyone is comfortable and understands their roles and the brief.  Remember, this could be the first time they’ve presented in a virtual or hybrid setting so don’t be surprised if they feel a little uneasy with the technology.

The key to rehearsals is ensuring everyone is happy and I again re-iterate our point above; great teams make great events and technical and platform support at this stage is vital so they can manage any mishaps and put your presenting team at ease.

Ensure that you have a plan in place to utilise social media pre, during and post event. A great way for audiences to feel engaged and involved is getting conversation started on online platforms.

Create a pre-event buzz, it gets you audience talking to each other and can make for some great networking opportunities.

Can you use a hashtag for the event to get your delegates sharing selfies from home or the venue, sharing their session highlights or favourite speakers.

As hybrid events incorporate both live and virtual audiences, it is important that this is taken into consideration. A live audience is present, it’s much easier to catch their attention and get them involved. For the virtual audience, you’ll need to capture their focus so that they feel fully engaged.  Consider where the camera is located and be mindful – make sure you address your virtual audience.

Some things to think about.

  • Having a colleague monitoring and engaging with your virtual audience, so they don’t feel neglected.
  • Utilising audience interaction tools such as Sli.do polling and q/a’s that your remote audience can easily take part in

Networking capabilities for your online audience – lunch time roundtables or speed dating with keynote speakers to give your online audience a chance to ask in-depth questions and network?

Ensure that any marketing collateral and giveaways are posted out to the virtual audience pre-event. Several clients also provide virtual delegates with a good voucher so they can order in lunch.

Housekeeping rules from the start will help everyone know how the event will run.

Think about different variations journeys for all attendees. The event will be a different experience virtually to in person, so this needs to be considered. Think about your virtual audience on arrival, refreshment breaks, lunch periods, hold music, pre-recorded content or planned networking with colleagues and speakers are all great options. Avoid ‘dead air’ or blank screens. Think about what you can offer to enhance all experiences.

You’ve created a schedule and timed it during the rehearsals so make sure you stick with it. It goes without saying that sometimes it can be taken out of your hands but ensure that if this does happen you keep everyone informed. You’re human, people will be far more forgiving if you explain what’s happening.

Keeping to time is essential. Attendees will have planned their day accordingly, and they may not be able to attend full event but have put time aside to attend those sessions that they are most interested in, which you’ve advertised to be at a certain time. This doesn’t apply to just the attendees but those speaking too, especially if you have high-profile big hitters who are time poor. If you want them to return, you must make sure it’s a slick event.

This emphasises the huge importance of rehearsals. So, if you take anything away, … rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. You’ll thank us for it later.

Any event is a professional occasion. Make sure that your choice of clothing, or even background doesn’t cause a distraction (or clash!), it’s easily done without realising. You want the feel of the event to be the same for all audiences. Remember! Don’t wear black top and sit in front of a black wall – you don’t want to be a floating head…

You will find that a lot more people are engaging with hybrid events as they allow for an increased wider audience whilst reducing geographical challenges.

We hope these tips were useful for preparing for your hybrid event – don’t forget to share yours with us

If you’re looking to add pizazz to your next event, get in touch with our friendly event team.