59% of marketers believe that hybrid will be a THE format in 2021's marketing strategy, according to a Sleek Event's (event agency) survey. Hybrid events will be a major challenge for all event organizers in upcoming years. Introduced as a way to stay connected with face-to-face attendees while increasing online capacity, it could be the perfect format. Nevertheless, hybrid events are complex and therefore require more planning than physical or virtual ones.
👌 Deliver a successful experience for all your stakeholders
The hybrid event brings higher degrees of complexity, which are felt at every level: for the organizers (how to create a unified and synchronized experience), the participants (how to interact with the speakers or other participants remotely, or in-person), and everyone behind the scenes (how to highlight the speakers, the retransmission of the event or how to manage the catering...).
The main challenge: how do you create the synergistic event that will benefit all stakeholders?
🎯 Find the right platform for your needs
To be as efficient as possible, you need to establish a list of event goals: get qualified leads, increase your brand awareness, build partnerships, etc...
With these objectives in mind, define the essential features (the must-haves) and those that are nice to have, but not essential (the nice-to-haves). For example, if your goal is to get your guests to meet, you will need a matchmaking feature for your remote audience (must-have) and meeting room generation (must-have), which go beyond a chat integrated into the event (nice-to-have).
From this defined set of needs and wants, define functional specs that you can communicate to your providers and that will clarify your needs. Use these specs to find the most suitable technology solution for your needs.
📐 Refine the important details
Some details deserve more attention than others, especially those related to the user experience. Use an interactive online agenda so your attendees can have more visibility and engagement with the event and the various conferences.
Keep in mind that time passes differently for both audiences; a one-hour face-to-face conference is much more engaging than one hour in front of your screen! You will have to juggle these possibly different perceptions of time to offer a pleasant experience to the virtual audience.
Therefore, it's important not to leave any "dead air time" unused. For example, during a coffee break for your face-to-face audience, plan a special activity or question and answer session for the remote audience. Plan special activities for each audience, so that no one feels short-changed in the attention they receive.
On the sponsorship side, how can you guarantee your sponsor's multiple coverages, both virtual and on-site? Your online event platform must be able to offer exposure to the sponsor's content before, during, and after the event.
Pay special attention to your speakers: they must be comfortable in front of a live audience, but obviously also in front of the camera. They must also give equal attention to both of the different audiences they address.
Finally, go beyond a simple face-to-face event broadcast online, avoid "zoom fatigue" with integrated chat boxes, live quizzes and polls, and other interactive tools so that your remote participants don't feel excluded.
🖇️ Manage both audiences simultaneously.
It's crucial not to focus your event around just one audience, or you'll discriminate against the other, and thus miss the whole point of the hybrid.
After the event, organize an informal meeting place for the face-to-face participants, and a networking session for the remote participants. It is often (too) difficult to get your audiences to communicate with each other, and potentially frustrating. It's better to share an online thumbnail of all participants so that everyone can meet up later if needed.
🧐 Leave no room for the unexpected.
In a hybrid event, the most important component is the organization and fluidity of the overall event. Thus, you need to ask yourself upfront who is responsible for what, and how much time will be needed to complete your project? How many project managers will have to contribute?
There is also the question of delegation: do you prefer to manage everything internally (you must have the resources!) or go through an event agency experienced with these processes?
You will also have to create a global Lead Wire for your event, which will provide a minute-by-minute schedule, as precise as possible. Ideally, we will create a thread that traces the experience on-site (taking into account breaks, meals ...) and a thread for remote participants. This will force you to propose content without leaving any "dead air time".
Finally, make sure you have everything planned and have emergency procedures in place should problems arise. You will need to test everything beforehand (several times), but beyond that, you should plan additional measures, for example: What is the procedure if the microphones do not work? Is the video is lagging behind the audio of the live event?
To successfully plan your hybrid event, you'll need to create a journey that engages both of your audiences without discrimination in content quality or quantity, while making sure you've covered all possible technical contingencies and make sure no problems are unforeseen. Start by defining your goals for each of your audiences, then for the event as a whole. Write out your essential features, and finally choose the event management platforms that best fit your needs and have the features you need.
We hope this article has helped you to better understand the planning of a hybrid event. Don't hesitate to contact our team to know more about the features offered by Digitevent :)