5 Best Practices For Hosting A Hybrid Conference or Event
Organizing any hybrid event conference demands the host be flexible, innovative, and agile. In this digital era, when devices and gadgets are battling for the event host’s attention, engaging the people remotely attending the conference event can prove challenging. These distractions are comparatively less for the in-person attendees.
Because of the difference in the settings, there is a gap in the experiences obtained by the in-person attendees and remote audience. As a host, your job is to make this gap as less as possible and provide an interactive and seamless event for the virtual and in-person attendees. Below are the 5 best practices for hosting a hybrid conference or event.
1. Ensure You Revise The Content
Last-minute panics can ruin a hybrid conference event. Therefore, you have to do all you can to prevent it, including revising the content. If the content that will be delivered at the conference is decided and topics have been assigned to the speakers, ensure you revisit the videos, presentations, and the content that will be presented at the conference before the attendees.
Does the content align with your agenda of the conference? Does it provide value? You need to provide your participants with valuable content for the time they invest in your event. If it means going through your content several times, it is worth the effort. As an event organizer, ensure you approach your first hybrid conference event as an opportunity to learn. All companies go through a trial period as they shift into this modern way to host events.
2. Fostering Networking Opportunities
Networking is among the top reasons for people to attend business conference events. They want to create beneficial relationships among themselves. Ensure that the attendees in your hybrid conference event are effectively interacting. There should be seamless communication between the in-person attendees and the virtual attendees.
However, the difference in the environments can complicate your efforts to provide networking capabilities. A portion of the attendees is physically present, while the other is attending the conference remotely. Providing effective networking capabilities can be the turning point that ensures success in your hybrid conference.
Encourage the audience to set their user profiles up in the virtual platform, regardless of whether they attend physically or virtually. It helps the exhibitors and attendees easily search for the profiles and begin conversations with their key targets. They can also request personal meetings with each other. If they both are physically present, it will help them manage their calendars better. Professional hybrid conference applications make it easier for attendees to network by interacting v through texts, video calls, and chats.
3. Engage The Virtual Attendees
One of the mistakes made by most event organizers when hosting a hybrid conference event is failing to engage the virtual attendees. Those attending the conference virtually can easily sit back and passively attend the conference. All the participants have to be active for the event to be fruitful. Ensure this does not happen in your conference event
To engage your remote attendees well, ensure that the speakers constantly put-in questions for the remote attendees. This will ensure that the virtual attendees do not feel shrugged off awkwardly. The involvement by the in-person attendees is undoubtedly vital. However, the on-site participants can interact with the conference event speakers in front of them. For those attending the event remotely, this isn’t easy.
Engaging both virtual and in-person attendees at live webinars is critical. Ensure you use the features accessible and usable by the virtual and in-person attendees. For instance, Q&As and live polling can be conducted on the virtual platform applications by both on-site and virtual attendees. It will also help the event organizers to collect the event analytics at the end of the event.
4. Adhere To the On-Site Operation capabilities and prioritize time
Though this isn’t a big concern for the remote attendees, it is vital for the in-person attendees. You have to rehearse where the hybrid conference event should take place. Together with the organizing team, you should schedule a time to rehearse and assess whether lights and sound function in a proper way. It helps ensure that all things go seamlessly when the day comes.
Ensure everything that will be live-streamed is in place, and it provides a clear video and audio to your virtual attendees. Perform a quick technology check before the event, where a person can view the presentation virtually and suggest the needed changes, if any.
The attendee’s attention span reduces with time. A slight sluggishness may prove costly. “Zoom fatigue” is common for remote attendees. Hence it would be best to prioritize time whenever planning a hybrid conference event.
Your hybrid conference event sessions should not be too long, and there should be breaks in between the sessions. However, keeping the sessions short doesn’t guarantee engagement. You also have to deliver quality and valuable content interactively.
Consider the time zones for those people joining the hybrid conference event remotely. If many attendees are joining from different parts of the world, stream the in-person presentation and upload a recording for the virtual attendees to see it at their respective times.
5. Ensure You Perform Economic Feasibility Tests
When setting up the hybrid conference event, economic feasibility is among the crucial elements to consider. However, most people ignore this vital factor. Consider the following:
- Venue booking
- Tear down and set up crew
- The cost of the virtual venue (application subscription costs)
- Production, audio, and video costs
- Catering and beverages for the in-person attendees
- The costs of internet connectivity
- Accommodation and travel for the hosts and keynote speakers.
When the above costs are compiled, they may become a large sum, sometimes extending to thousands of dollars based on the event’s needs. Therefore, it is better to have reasonably accurate estimates of the required capital to be prepared.
You should also consider the money you might recoup from tickets and sponsorships when budgeting. If there are expectations for high ROIs, you can spend more upfront. Otherwise, be wise in drafting the budget. Are you in an industry sceptical about these hybrid events? Consider starting small and gaining buy-in from the attendees or sponsors.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the event industry has seen drastic changes. With vaccinations well underway, hybrid events are quickly gaining traction. Those fully vaccinated can attend the conference in person, while those yet to get vaccinated can join virtually.
Although hybrid conference events are relatively new, their popularity will only increase. As hybrid events evolve, the best practices will also grow. Use the 5 best practices for hosting a hybrid conference event above to ensure success. Remember, hybrid events are here to stay. You better learn the best practices for hosting them.