What Is A Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events, offer a mix of face-to-face and virtual experiences simultaneously. You complement your face-to-face, on-site, physical event with viewing over the web, both live and on-demand. The result is a hybrid event, conference or meeting that serves two audiences: Virtual attendee at the physical event and those who attended but want to review sessions they may have missed.

What is your Goal?

When planning a live meeting, the first objective is to determine your goals. The same is true for a hybrid meeting that incorporates virtual elements into the live platform. Ask yourself what you want the end goal to be. Are you looking to expand your audience to members who could not otherwise attend? Are you offering continuing education, the virtual platform helping to increase the ability to gain this education after the conference concludes? It’s important to meet your objectives with the audience that’s virtually present as well as with the live audience. 

Decide What Goes Hybrid

Choose the conference elements you want that are available to a virtual audience. Are you streaming the entire conference, general sessions or educational workshops? Perhaps it’s the well-known keynote speaker who has star power to attract an expanded audience. Just as the on-site audience will pay a fee to see a giant in the industry that may be retired and rarely speakers, so too will the virtual audience pay to have this opportunity.  It’s important to determine what you can bring to audience members that they wouldn’t otherwise see on their own.

Adapt the Agenda 

If you’ve determined your virtual audience will view the presentations from varying time zones, try to adapt your agenda to the best times for your participants.

Define the Content

Once you’ve determined which sessions will be streamed, define the content of those presentations. This helps determine the rate of data transfer or bandwidth needed. Do you have one speaker showing a PowerPoint presentation or a panel of speakers with no visual elements? A static image such as a slide with no video does not require a strong signal to transmit. If you are transmitting high-definition images, however, the signal will need to be a greater capacity. The more motion or video the presentation contains, the stronger the signal needs to be, which requires a more expensive technology.

Guide your Speakers and Get their Acceptance

It’s important to let speakers know from the very beginning that they will be presenting to both a live and a virtual audience. Give them as much information about the virtual audience as you can, such as the number of people who are viewing online and what cities they are viewing from. Isuggest building the virtual experience as close to the physical experience as possible. Make sure the virtual attendee has the same opportunity as the one who is on-site.

Determine your Virtual Audience

If this is your first time entering the virtual community, it may be difficult to determine who would most likely attend the presentation virtually versus inperson. First, decide if you are reaching a local, regional, national or international audience. Perhaps your membership includes an international contingency that has stopped attending live meetings due to travel costs and budget cuts. This group would be a prime target for the virtual presentation.

Understand the Technology

Knowing your technology needs can be a daunting exercise. While AV providers have a general knowledge of audiovisual equipment and online processes, most do not have the specific technical skills to set up the virtual presentation.

Have a Backup Plan 

Every good planner knows that you shouldn’t plan an outdoor function without having backup space indoors. The same is true for a virtual event. If the technology goes down and you lose the signal, you need a backup plan. If a presenter is off-site, as in the example of a live case at a hospital, a taped case can be aired in the downtime or the agenda can be shifted to the next live presentation. 

Allocate Dedicated Staff 

Just as a congress has staff members assigned to each function, from technical to onsite management, so should the virtual component have a dedicated staff member. This person should have no other job but monitoring the online presentation and perhaps the social media responses.

Follow up

Just as you would survey your on-site audience for feedback on the meeting’s success, so should you survey the online audience?