10 Tips for Planning a Successful Hybrid Event
Planning an event? Deciding between live and virtual formats? Why choose? Our world is one where we don’t have to chose in order to host an engaging client or employee experience. You might not expect your AV company to bring you the secrets to a truly successful hybrid event, but we’ve been producing hybrid events for years and we’ve gathered more than a few helpful tips to help you reach that goal!
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
When your presenters are fumbling over their words, and transitions are choppy, it becomes distracting and even boring to your audience. That is why you always need to take plenty of time out for rehearsals. There are so many variables when you mix live and remote presenters, making sure that you rehearse with all of your presenters gives everyone the highest opportunity to prevent embarrassing pauses to be prepared and help smooth out the transitions between live and remote segments.
If you need more tips on rehearsing your presentation, this article from Harvard Business Review may help.
Avoid audio issues by testing all audio feeds in advance.
Audio Visual can make or break your hybrid event. It’s the most challenging part of the event process and the most important. If the online users are unable to hear your speakers clearly or if your audience is hearing echoes or feedback, it can completely ruin their customer experience. Make sure to speak with your team early on as to who will be overseeing your audio. And ensure they avoid audio issues by testing ALL of your audio feeds in advance and perform a lip sync check so that your audio is in-sync with your video. If you’re using an AV company like us, include us in your process early so we can help you plan the sound in advance.
Plan the design of your room.
Many people only think of the stage or the layout of the chairs when thinking of design, but there’s much more to it than that. You must also consider how the cameras and AV equipment will impact your room’s design. If you want it to feel like your audience is in a studio, larger cameras work great, but if you don’t want cameras getting in the way, you may consider robotic cameras.
It’s important to think about your camera placement as well. Ensure the live event attendees won’t be situated in front of your cameras, or that they will have to walk in front of them to go to the bathroom or exit the building, as this will be distracting for your online audience.
Have a fast internet connection – and a backup too.
Fast internet is critical to having a successful hybrid event. So, ask your venue to provide you with the upload and download speed of their internet, and do not accept anything less than 5 megabits each. It’s also important to always have a backup internet source available in case your main internet source dies. And ensure that if this happens, your backup source will automatically be connected.
Have at least 2 different cameras to get multiple shots.
Let’s face it, sitting at your computer, watching the same screen for 2 hours is not fun. That’s why we recommend having 2 or more cameras at your hybrid event. Switching between different shots of your presenters, of your stage, and of your live audience with multiple cameras and different angles will help you keep your online guests interested and engaged in your event.
Have physical and virtual sponsor booths available.
Your sponsors play a key role in the success of your event and it’s affordability. That’s why it’s important to show them your appreciation by ensuring they can meet as many of your guests as possible, in as many ways as you can. Luckily, with hybrid events you can create live in person and virtual sponsor booths where your sponsors will have the opportunity to help you engage and delight your guests even more. It’s a win for you and your sponsors.
Have a team member specifically assigned to your online attendees.
Just as you would have ushers and event staff assigned to the guest experience at your live events to ensure that your guests have what they need and find their way to the appropriate spaces at the right times, you’ll need to ensure that you assign someone to do the same for your online guests.
They’ll have questions and comments, and the’ll participate more purposefully if they can tell that there is someone live on the other side to respond. Make sure that your online guest experience staff has an event schedule and engages in proactively making announcements, reminding guests of what’s coming up, and prompts guests to check out your virtual sponsor booths in addition to answering questions and comments in the chats.
Have separate content for your live and online viewers.
The experience won’t be the same for your online and your in-person attendees, and you don’t want it to be. Let’s face it, there are some things you can do in-person that aren’t as easy to do online. Like meet and greet with speakers, and networking. You might try creating breakout rooms to allow attendees to network, pre-recording some segments of the event, and having some speakers participate remotely or virtually only, so your event can by dynamic and last beyond the live portion of the event. (By making the recordings available online.)
Create opportunities for your live and remote audiences to engage with one another.
I know we just said to have separate content for your live and online audience, but doing so in a way that your online audience doesn’t feel left out is crucial to your successful hybrid event. This can be tough but inviting all of your guests to participate in a live poll or Q&A, chat rooms, or even exchanging digital business cards are tricks that often work to bring your virtual and live audiences together.
Raise your teleprompters to eye level.
When your teleprompters are high up and next to the cameras, your presenters will look all of your guests in the eye making your guests feel like they are in conversation with the presenters directly. This subtle trick alone can make all the difference for your guests how positively they will remember your event over time.
The Best Tip of All for Planning a Successful Hybrid Event…
Involve your AV partners EARLY in your event planning process.
Your Audio Visual service provider has become an integral part of your event production team. If you’re planning to hire an AV company the earlier you include us the better. We can provide advice on your event structure, your venue choices, the staging you’ll need, the equipment you’ll need and even the software you’ll need to help you accomplish your event goals. What’s more, including your AV partner early can help you save time, energy and money by helping you anticipate and prevent costly challenges early.
There’s a LOT to consider when planning any event, and even more when you decide to go hybrid. We know these tips will help as you plan for the best event ever! If you have questions or you’d like some advice, our hybrid event experts would love to help. z
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