Hybrid events are becoming the new normal as the events industry grapples with the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19.
According to the Australian Edition of the Cvent Planner Sourcing Report 2020, nearly 80% of event planners support a future of hybrid events, with 40% stating that such events are an ideal transition back to in-person events. Some 38% of the respondents also felt that hybrid events are a viable permanent option to increase event attendance
However, creating a hybrid event is no walk in the park. Organisers face the dual responsibility of ensuring that both the online and offline event run seamlessly, and that your in-person and virtual attendees are equally engaged.
Here are Altafy’s top five tips to ensure that your next hybrid event is a resounding success:
1. Nail the technology
Choose a high quality virtual event platform that allows you to have maximum flexibility with your event agenda. Some features to look out for include the ability to upload a variety of media such as live streams as well as pre-recorded videos, a live chat function for greater interactivity, and a seamless connection to social media. Additionally, your sponsors will appreciate the availability of lead generation features. Ask your platform provider to run a demo.
Bandwidth issues are a common problem faced by virtual attendees, so dry runs are crucial prior to the event. Inform your attendees of the technical requirements, like internet speed, so that they can be prepared. As an additional security, ensure that the most important content is available to them offline or for downloads, post-event.
Dry runs are also critical for your speakers and tech teams so that everyone is onboard with the technology and transitions are seamless.
2. Set expectations for your attendees
Hybrid events are a fairly new concept for traditional conference attendees. It is therefore important to inform and educate both your virtual and in-person attendees of each other’s presence at the event, and the things to expect. During sign-up, give your attendees the flexibility to choose between online and in-person options for different segments of the event. Prior to the event, brief attendees on how to log in, navigate their way through virtual conference areas, and share details on how the conference agenda will flow so that there are no surprises.
3. Hire a great virtual emcee
An experienced emcee will be able to build a better connection between your speakers, virtual attendees, and live audience. The person can increase engagement by interviewing speakers and attendees before and after sessions, or during breaks. They can also relay questions and comments from the virtual audience to the in-person emcees and attendees.
4. Excellent time management
Your online audience, in particular, will be planning their day around your conference schedule. Ensure that all your sessions start and end on time so that you do not lose their attention. Practice your timing during your dry runs to ensure that everything runs according to schedule.
5. Encourage interaction
Polls, live chat boxes, and submitting questions beforehand are some ways to increase audience interactivity and engagement. Highlight “tweetable” content so that your audience members have bite-sized information that can be shared on their social media channels. Offer a unifying hashtag.
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