We’ve been pursuing hybrid elements for our future-minded clients here at MeetGreen for nearly a decade. During the pandemic, we took the opportunity to turn our full attention to defining and refining our virtual events processes. With the return to in-person events becoming more common over the last year, we had the chance to bring the lessons we learned from true virtual events to in-person events to create rich hybrid experiences for our clients in the Spring of 2022. Here are our key hybrid event do’s and don’ts.
Hybrid Event Do’s
Do Have a Run-Of-Show Document
Create a separate run-of-show outlining all details of your event. Having a run-of-show document covering all event elements will streamline the flow of the event and help with transitions between presenters.
Do Dedicate a Showrunner
Dedicate a showrunner staff position. A dedicated hybrid event showrunner can help by:
- Running slides
- Calling cues
- Coordinating messaging for the virtual audience
Having a dedicated showrunner will ensure a high production value for your virtual audience.
Do Tech Checks
Practice, practice, practice! Arrange for a tech check that utilizes all elements of your virtual stream. Make sure to leave enough time to troubleshoot and pivot. It may cost a bit more, but it will save you enormous stress and help ensure you have a polished production.
Do Include Your Virtual Audience as Much as You Can
Even the simplest live stream should have a team member in the chat answering questions if you don’t have time for them to be asked live.
Do Consider Offering Your Content On-Demand for a Limited Time
Making content available post-event to attendees will make them feel they are getting the most bang for their buck. You may need to remind them frequently of how to access the content to keep the event top of mind.
Do Train Your Staff on How the Technology Works
Get your staff involved during live event days. Having several well-versed staff members who are comfortable with the technology and can jump in to answer questions will take the pressure off you. Having a well-versed staff will show the attendees that there is true buy-in for hybrid and keep them engaged with experts.
Do Prioritize Having a Dedicated Emcee for the Event
Ideally, this will be someone who can keep the energy up, drive the program, and keep both the virtual and in-person audiences in mind throughout the event.
Do Provide Both In-Person and Virtual Sponsorship Opportunities
Creating exclusive benefits tailored to each sponsor type will create value and increase exposure to a larger audience.
Do Offer Ways for In-Person and Virtual Attendees to Connect
In-person attendees will benefit from interactions with virtual attendees who might not have otherwise registered. Virtual attendees will benefit from an experience that more closely mirrors the rich networking that in-person events are known for.
Do Make Sure Surveys Go Out Immediately After the Event
Attendees are most likely to respond when the event is fresh in their minds, and their feedback will be invaluable for future planning.
Do Plan Ahead to Repurpose Your Virtual Content
Once the conference wraps, you will have hours of fantastic content to repackage for other uses, such as membership perks or individual webinars.
Hybrid Event Don’ts
Don’t Be Trendy
Don’t put on a hybrid event just because it is what you see trending in the event world. First , focus on the following:
- Goals of your event
- What your attendees value
- What can your budget support both in terms of technology and staffing
One great thing about hybrid is that it can take so many different forms, and it’s not a one size fits all scenario. Here are some examples of the types of hybrid options you can include:
- From a simple one-way live stream of a few conference sessions
- To an entire platform that offers unique experiences for both in-person and virtual attendees
Don’t Try to Run Your Hybrid Event Alone
The added logistics of hybrid events can feel like planning two separate events in parallel. You would not expect to be able to be in two places at once managing two separate events effectively. Be prepared to staff up and have a lead for both the in-person and virtual elements.
Don’t Assume That Everyone Knows How Hybrid Events Work
Assuming your staff, audience, sponsors, or speakers know how a hybrid event works or even have the same assumptions about what hybrid means can be disastrous. Provide thorough descriptions of how your hybrid event will function for all stakeholders across various communication channels. Be prepared to provide effective training to get all parties comfortable with the technology.
Don’t Forget to Have a Plan to Capture & Share Virtual Attendee Data in Real Time
Consider what data would be most valuable to your stakeholders and ensure you know how to access and share it. Data speaks volumes about the return on investment and generates excitement!
Don’t Undervalue Your Content
Consider pricing carefully as you determine rates for virtual or hybrid elements. The same quality content is the heart of both in-person and virtual events; attendees recognize the value and are willing to pay.
Don’t Expect Everything to Go Perfectly
Just as with in-person events, all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for a sudden mishap. Add a technology stack to the mix, and you’re bound to hit a few snags. Be transparent, be communicative, and always have a plan B. Your audience will be much more forgiving if they are kept in the loop.
These are our takeaways. What hybrid event do’s and don’ts would you like to share?
Hybrid Event Resources
Here are a few more resources on hybrid events:
Co-Authors: Britta Ehnebuske & Kate Wilson