Over the past year when live events weren’t possible, we rapidly learned how to pivot and deliver events virtually. This resulted in new ways for attendees to participate, and created a new set of expectations for events. As in-person events return, remote audiences remain. We’ve entered the domain of hybrid events.
So, what exactly is a hybrid event? A hybrid event is an event where there are two distinct audiences, live and remote, engaging simultaneously. A hybrid event’s responsibility is to provide equally valuable experiences that meet the distinct needs of both audiences.
Hybrid events are beneficial for many reasons. They open the doors to a much broader audience, make attendance accessible and empowers the audience to choose how they want to experience the event.
Now that we are committed to a broader set of expectations in participation, how do we make remote and in-person audiences feel equally valued? How do we ensure that the digital offering won’t take attendees away from the live audience? And how do we engage both audiences in a meaningful way?
How to Create a Hybrid Event Experience
The trick to planning a hybrid event is that you are seemingly planning two events, then integrating them. Although the event is the same, the delivery for each audience is different. Remote and live audiences are not the same, the key is to plan the event for the audiences experiencing them! Of course you could simply stream the event to the remote audience, resulting in a “fly on the wall” experience. But, catering to the remote audience more will result in a better overall experience and increased engagement for those attendees.
Thinking like a TV producer and considering all facets of the broadcast will help. Consider when to introduce the virtual audience to the event and how to keep them engaged in the in-between times, like during the networking moment or a lull in the presentation. When you think about the virtual audience in this way, the experience will compel them to stick around.
How to Include the Virtual Audience
When planning a hybrid event, it is easy to prioritize the live experience, but the virtual experience is just as important. They need to feel the love when in-person attendees come back! The remote attendees want to see themselves reflected in the event, and to know that they are actually involved in the audience and space.
Some ways you can ensure they feel seen and cared for are to build in ways for them to participate, and prioritize them. When you see them engaging, call it out, say their name, make sure they know they are seen. When you do this well it encourages more people to participate.
You can also help the virtual audience feel special by offering them added perks! Offer material goodies, bonus content, or a notable host exclusive to the digital experience. When you provide extra perks that are only accessible by the virtual audience, you maintain their attention and validate their decision to experience the event virtually.
Build a Bridge Between the Live and Virtual Audience
We can’t forget that live audiences’ expectations have changed too, everyone’s expectation is different, we need to create community! How do we build ways for the in-person attendees to communicate with virtual audiences too?
Building a bridge between the live and virtual audience is crucial. You can do this by adding a chat feature, building in a Q&A section, implementing games or introducing break out group sessions to the event. When you give the live attendees tools we are used to having virtually, they are able to interact with the remote audience. This also allows for real time data collection so you can continuously make your hybrid events better.
There is still more change in our future, but it is changing for the good overall. We don’t want to go backwards, we want to keep evolving forward. Hybrid has been a previous consideration, but now we feel it is the path ahead.
The team at BeEvents is super excited about the hybrid evolution in events. We have always taken a guest centric approach to our design work, making the audience our top priority. It is in our DNA to design for each separate audience and consider the bridge that connects them; we’re always thinking about how it will all play together.
If you are interested in diving deeper into the hybrid world, we can help you strategize and bring your event to life! Contact us to set up an introductory call today!