Planning hybrid events or conferences? How do you bridge the divide between the in-person and virtual attendees? According to marketing research firm Markletic, 71.1% of event organizers surveyed say this is their biggest challenge when designing and programming their hybrid events. So what's a savvy organizer to do? Here are five creative ways to program hybrid events that give you an edge in the game.
5 Ideas For Standout Hybrid Events
1. Virtual and In-Person Event Ambassadors - Who are your influencers? During your planning phase, consider who you may tap to be the "faces" of your event; one in-person ambassador and one virtual ambassador (or more, depending on the size of your event). Ambassadors can assist you in keeping everyone informed of changes, delays, technical difficulties, or other issues, and help build connections between your two audiences.
2. Pre-Conference Connection - Get your virtual and in-person attendees mixing and mingling ahead of your event. Schedule an online networking event for all registrants before your conference, such as a virtual business card exchange, to get things started and to introduce your ambassadors.
3. The Power of FOMO - Mini, or "teaser" virtual sessions highlighting your conference content leading up to your event can help build excitement and set the tone for engagement during the actual event. (Hint: This is a perfect opportunity to try simulated-live mode!)
4. Mix & Match Panel - For panel discussions, gather both in-person AND online presenters. Having both demonstrates that when you said it was a hybrid event, you meant it - top to bottom.
5. Blended Breakouts - Invite your virtual attendees to join the breakout sessions happening in-person; make certain they feel as included and welcome as active participants. Also, train your session presenters and moderators on best practices for facilitating with a blended audience.
Bonus tip: Ease up on lengthy presentations—plan for interaction breaks about every 5-8 minutes to keep both of your audiences engaged.
A Few Reminders For Hybrid Event Planning:
1. Virtual First - Design your event with your virtual attendees in mind first. There's a natural energy and flow with in-person events that are harder to replicate online, so take all the knowledge we gained over the last year-and-a-half to create exciting, immersive virtual event experiences, then integrate your in-person event components.
2. Technology Heavy Lifting - Your venue needs to have the technological muscle to manage the load, from robust wifi at the physical venue to production equipment, such as lighting, AV, sound, etc.3. Pick Your People - Your virtual and ground-control crews are vital to the entire experience. Event staff for tech support, expert moderation, attendee assistance, and an on-site event production company can make or break your event. Choose wisely.
4. Event Design For All - Accessibility isn't optional, for both in-person and virtual attendees. Plan for both with signage, closed captioning, and other inclusive features.
Need more hybrid conference planning tips? Download the Ultimate Hybrid Conference Checklist today!
The Future is Hybrid
There are so many creative ways to design hybrid events for maximum attendance, engagement, and, ultimately, ROI. EventBuilder can help you build hybrid events that work. Contact us and we'll show you all we can do.