Hybrid events: we’re still getting used to them, and it looks like they’re sticking around. If you’re still in the “What the heck is that?” phase, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is a hybrid event?
Like most things that are improved with an online experience, hybrid events merge two pretty great things into something even more awesome. Combining virtual and in-person events just makes sense—it opens up a local event to be more inclusive so everyone can join—defying space, distance, and time, to connect everyone, everywhere.
What are the benefits of hybrid events?
In short: Vast. Here are just a few:
- Attendance. Hybrid events aren’t limited by the capacity of the venue.
- Sponsorship. More sets of eyes = more potential sponsorship revenue.
- More extensive reach. Hybrid events can be attended by anyone, anywhere in the world, allowing you to reach a broader audience than ever before.
- Increased networking. Due to the wider reach and increased attendance, attendees have a greater opportunity to network and connect with people they wouldn’t have otherwise met.
- Metrics. Tracking detailed online interactions and engagement is much easier.
What challenges will I face?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Like anything new, perfecting the art of hybrid event-planning is just a question of getting the hang of it. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Engagement. Your main challenge will be finding a way to engage all attendees—in-person and remote—fully and equally without planning totally separate events. Think carefully about the best experiences for both your physical and virtual audiences—which are the experiences that can intersect? Bingo: there’s your hybrid sweet spot.
- Complexity. Catering to dual audiences while integrating multiple technologies and managing costs can be a juggling act. The fix? Identify a single, streamlined system that supports a hybrid event of your size and format to keep costs and complexity to a minimum.
- Technology. Finally, it’s important to have the right technology to facilitate interaction and keep things running smoothly for both live and virtual audiences. Make sure your physical venue is well-equipped with all the WiFi bandwidth you’ll need, and do your best to provide virtual participants with crisp, clear, high-performing audio and video.
Can I do it alone?
Absolutely—with proper planning and organization, you can pull off a successful hybrid event by yourself. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that it does make things a bunch easier (especially as the number of attendees increases) to have someone help facilitate things, like chatroom Q&As or managing any unforeseen problems that come up. Herding cats is no fun alone (take it from this team of devoted but long-suffering cat parents). If you find yourself heading into “(screaming inside) This is too overwhelming!” territory, there are experienced virtual event organizers or agencies whose help you can enlist support for all the nitty gritty details.
How can I create a successful hybrid event?
Hybrid events are your oyster: they can be as simple—or as complex—as you want to make them. Whatever the scope, outline every minute or every stage of the event to ensure it goes off without a hitch. Plan, plan, and plan some more! And then plan ahead for any potential detours to that plan. In other words, have backup plans for your plans!
We put together a step-by-step guide in our The Secret to Creating an Action-Packed Virtual Event blog. Follow the guide and you shall reach your destination.
What are some cool/unique hybrid event ideas?
When it comes to hybrid events, the sky’s the limit! We outlined a few in our blog Here, There, and Everywhere. The Evolution of Hybrid Events. Here are just a handful:
- Speed dating or networking. In-person speed daters or networkers can alternate between talking to virtual prospects on-screen and flirting in-person.
- Wine and food tasting. For the gourmands among us, consider linking up your local wine or food tasting club into a broader virtual network of chefs, vintners, and other foodies from around the world to really expand your palate.
- Workshops & education. Educators of all types can easily broadcast their classroom lessons online to learners anywhere in real time. Encourage live participation from virtual attendees by asking them to “raise their hands” for questions, just like in-person students would.
- Hubs. If you’re hosting an event—say a hackathon or other work-related project—encourage participants who live in the same area or region to get together in person and tune in together.
Are hybrid events the new standard of “eventing?”
We think so. There are some of us out there who never wanted to go out in the first place and others who thrive on face-to-face interaction. The hybrid way of doing things accommodates both—what more could you want?
What will hybrid events look like in the future?
In the last couple of years (2020, in particular), we’ve seen a rapid evolution in the hybrid space—and if we look into our crystal ball, we see some exciting developments in our future. Holograms? Maybe. Avatars? Probably already there. Follow our blog, where we’ll be giving you the latest and greatest hybrid news regularly.
The future is bright for hybrid events. The coolest part? We get to define where it goes next.
What are your biggest hybrid event questions? You’re in the right place: Share them with us or our Community for best hybrid practices.