July 21, 2022
Hybrid Events: How to Successfully Host Them in 2022
Hybrid events are a must in your event strategy going forward. Read on to learn about the agile and flexible infrastructure your organization needs to host hybrid events successfully in 2022.
What are Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events are events that blend virtual and in-person experiences together. They help bridge the gap between both live and remote audiences by allowing people to connect in-person if they want to, while also allowing those who either cannot or choose to not attend in-person to tune in virtually. Hybrid events give your audiences the opportunity to be on the same level of engagement and participation with your event, no matter where they are located.
When to Host a Hybrid Event?
One of the first decisions you should be making is whether to include a virtual component to your event altogether. You might be asking “Does it make sense? When should I host a hybrid event versus one that’s on-site?”
- Hybrid events: If your event attracts attendees from near and far, such as a tradeshow, sales kick-off meeting, or conference, a hybrid event can be the perfect solution. Hybrid events also come in handy if most of your attendees who typically would attend in person cannot, due to limited travel budgets, venue capacity limitations, or health and safety concerns.
- On-site events: If there is a high chance that all your attendees will be there in person such as customer luncheons or team bonding outings, it would be best to plan these on-site. Especially if the event content will not translate well virtually. Keep in mind that if you do decide to host an on-site event, the health and safety of your attendees need to be the number one priority – make them comfortable and at ease by offering a self-service check-in option and adhere to social distancing guidelines when it comes to seating arrangements.
Why Host a Hybrid Event?
There are many benefits that come with your organization creating a hybrid event over an in-person one. Below are a few of those benefits to keep in mind:
- Higher attendee participation and reach: Due to barriers such as scheduling conflicts and budgeting, some people cannot attend an event in-person. With hybrid events, you can overcome those barriers and attract more attendee participants by providing event access from the comfort of their homes or offices.
- Reduced costs in travel and accommodation: Those with budget constraints will not have to worry so much about the costs associated with the virtual experiences that a hybrid event brings.
- Increased audience engagement: Since there are minimal geographical limitations when it comes to hybrid events, you can target and connect with both live and virtual audiences – and attract speakers who might not otherwise be able to offer their expertise in person.
How Can Your Organization Create a Hybrid Event?
Even as hybrid events continue to grow in popularity, they do take a lot of planning ahead of time. To host a successful hybrid event, you need to have the right tools in place to do so. Below is a handy checklist of best practices to take into consideration that can help you successfully execute a hybrid event from start to finish.
1. Hybrid Events Still Need Venues
Just because your event will be a mix of both virtual and on-site attendees doesn’t mean that the physical location for a venue should fall by the wayside. An important part of the whole hybrid event experience is the visual element. Keep in mind that on-site attendees will be physically gathering in your space when it comes to a hybrid event and a venue will be a very important part of both the live and virtual viewer experience. The venue doesn’t have to be a lavish one but should be a venue that includes the basics to give the program a polished feel – a robust, hard-wired internet line with the right amount of bandwidth dedicated solely to livestreaming the event, space to accommodate audio/visual equipment set-up and a podium for presenters and speakers.
2. Make a Venue Equipment Checklist
For your hybrid events, it is crucial that the venues you choose have the technological capabilities and digital infrastructure to support those events and provide a great experience for your remote and in-person attendees. Depending on your budget, here are several venue equipment necessities to take into consideration for a successful hybrid event:
- Use the Right Cameras: When it comes to your virtual audience, a high-quality video camera is a necessity to create a fulfilling, live streaming experience and to keep them engaged. When it comes to deciding on what kind of camera to use and how many you might need, here are a few things to consider - will the event require close-ups or be a panel discussion? Will you need more than a couple of angles? If so, this would require you to have multiple cameras set up. If you do choose to go with multiple cameras, consider a video switcher, a device that will allow you to switch between multiple cameras while live streaming the event, which also needs someone to choose the camera angles to show. A couple of other things to consider - what screen size will the attendees that will be live streaming the event be using? What will your on-site display screens be like? You will need a camera that will support all screen sizes – desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.
- Wireless Microphones: Although a crucial part of the hybrid event experience, audio tends to be overlooked until the last minute. To avoid a last-minute scramble and poor audio, make sure that the venue you choose for your hybrid event is equipped with high-quality wireless microphones so that your remote participants can clearly see and hear who is talking and what is taking place. You can also supplement your audio setup with an audio operator that watches the speakers and can shut the microphones on and off to avoid the microphones being accidentally left on. If there’s going to be a Q & A portion of your event or if multiple microphones aren’t a viable option because the event is being held in a hotel or a temporary meeting space, you’re going to need to have wireless handheld mics passed around by your in-person attendees before they start to speak.
- Internet Bandwidth: You do not want your hybrid event upended by weak internet connection that cannot handle the volume of attendees that are all trying to connect to your event all at one time. There are a few things to think about when choosing a robust internet line. Your internet line needs to be hard-wired, and the right amount of bandwidth and speed to accommodate and support all the live streaming content from your organization that will be taking place. This is critical for the ability to connect hundreds of attendees at the same time through either their desktop or mobile device.
- Display Signage: When it comes to hosting a hybrid event, you will be designing your event for not one, but two experiences. With that in mind, you should think about your organization’s content that will be displayed across different touchpoints, such as directional signage in the venue, on-stage banners, live social feeds, and sponsored content. Since you will have attendees tuning in both live and virtually, it is of upmost importance that the messaging on your event’s signage is clear and consistent for a memorable experience. With exceptional display signage comes the right lighting. Depending on the format of your event (i.e. if you’re live streaming from a large venue), you will need the proper lighting equipment from an AV provider to make your event display signage stand out and capture your audiences’ attention.
3. Do a Full Technical Run-Through
Give your hybrid event team ample time before the event to test out the lighting, camera, and audio equipment beforehand so that you can smooth out and resolve any non-functional tech issues so that they don’t arise during the event. Once everything has been tested and is fully functional, your team should run a full rehearsal of the event so that everyone can get comfortable with the equipment and that everything flows the way it should.
4. Have On-Site Technical Support
You’ve finished setting up your hybrid event – that doesn’t mean you can sit back and hope that the tech is going to take care of itself. You need to have an on-site tech team monitoring behind the scenes that will make sure that everything is running smoothly and ensure nothing will be noticeably disruptive to your in-person and remote audience while you are livestreaming the event. Your tech team should also have an incident response plan, in case anything suddenly goes wrong.
It’s safe to say that hybrid events took off the past few years and are the future business solution of the events industry. Although they are here to stay, mastering their execution will be tricky if your organization does not have the right technology in place to provide your on-site and virtual attendees with an equitable experience. Reach out to the experts at CDW to see how we can help your organization build a solid, hybrid events strategy in 2022.