2020. What even was that? But you know what, there was a lot of ingenuity during the year, and it sparked some really great and innovative event ideas.
The response of the events industry since the pandemic began has been incredible; changing the game by adapting, diversifying and embracing virtual and hybrid events too. Technology has moved forward 5 years, in just a few short months.
A survey conducted by The Event Academy showed that 76% of event managers will run a hybrid event in 2021.
We’ve been learning about hybrid events too, which promise to be the hottest event trend of 2021. We’re loving some of the ideas being developed for hybrid events right now. Here’s some of our takeaways, as we forge ahead into our 2021 events.
HYBRID EVENTS AREN’T NEW
Hybrid events are not new to the events industry, although they were perhaps less common or referred to by other names in the past.
Let’s have a look at the popular not-for-profit organisation TED as an example. It started as an annual conference and then during the 90’s became a viral video phenomena and has now evolved into a huge platform of hybrid events including TED Talks, TEDx and the TED-Ed – all with the aim of sharing and presenting ideas beyond the room in which they are broadcast.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Knowing your audience is key when creating and curating your hybrid events. Knowledge is power.
What do you know about your audience? What do they like? What engages them best? What common pains do they experience?
Make sure you align your event’s mission with your audiences, to encourage them to participate and fully engage with your event.
Choosing the best possible hosts is essential to your hybrid event’s success. Brief your hosts to participate in both the in-person elements of the event, as well as the virtual components. Good hosts and moderators will encourage discussion between all attendees, and keep the event focussed. Proper training and briefing is essential. Make sure your hosts are properly briefed and are sent all the relevant information way ahead of the event to set them up for success. Include all FAQs that the delegates may ask, information about the event’s themes and logistics, and provide housekeeping notes for the day too. Give them comprehensive details of how to interact with the whole audience.
It’s important to remember that a screen-based online experience of an event requires more concentration by the attendee, therefore keep sessions short to maintain attention.
An important challenge for hybrid event planning is around in-person and virtual audience connection. You can promote interaction between the two groups. Create small groups of both virtual and live guests to ensure interaction. The smaller group the higher the chance to engage in knowledge sharing and networking. A good event app or platform should include this feature. Work closely with your AV supplier to ensure the technology works for everyone.
Getting the right balance when it comes to breaks is fundamental if you want to allow both in-person and online attendees to fully engage with your content, network with each other and maintain their motivation to engage with your event for its full duration.
Break can really help everyone take a moment to reflect on what they’ve just heard and refresh themselves physically and mentally. They’re important to prevent stimulation overload. Too few breaks and you risk overstimulating the audience and them switching off.
Gamification of your event is a creative way to get attendees involved in your event online and in person. Try hosting a game between the physical and virtual audiences. You could run a scavenger hunt, hiding items both digitally and physically. Offer points for collecting certain key phrases from particular speakers. Make sure its a fair competition though, games should be equally accessible to all audiences.