How can you achieve a successful hybrid conference? In light of the raging Coronavirus pandemic, many event organisers pivoted to online conference and event services to bring people together. And there is more: recent studies say, even post-COVID-19 pandemic, the future of events and conferences lies in hybrid events and meetings. As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic’s first impact, many people are still sceptical about attending an in-person event and it does not seem to change in the near future. Leveraging hybrid conferencing will allow organisers to expand their reach and increase ROI, and as a positive side effect, support sustainability measures through less travelling. In this post, we provide you with a brief walkthrough to ensure hybrid conference success.
What Are Hybrid Events?
With postponement and cancellation of live events, virtual conferences have become the new normal. However, despite the effectiveness of virtual experiences, nothing can compete with a face-to-face event. As countries adapt to the pandemic and carefully open up, many people are still wary of travelling for association meetings. The rise of hybrid conferences provides a chance to combine both virtual elements and in-person experience.
The definition of hybrid events is simple: a few people attend in person, while the virtual audience follows the proceedings online. The unified experience promotes inclusivity, diversity, and allows for exciting exchanges. How do you reap the benefits of a successful hybrid conference? Check out the tips below:
Tips to Ensure Hybrid Conference Success
Have Clear Objectives
Beginning with the end goal in mind is crucial for a successful hybrid meeting. What do you want to achieve in your event? Your goals could be a better engagement or increased attendance to your association meetings. With a clear objective, you can decide on the best event strategy. For instance, virtual attendees can present a challenge since their attention is difficult to retain. Therefore, if you aim to improve interaction, the remote sessions should allow you to achieve your goals.
Be Mindful of Your Audience
You should consider two types of audiences, to achieve hybrid conference success; live and virtual. While your live audience will have an agenda for the session, you can forget to tend to the virtual audience. During planning, consider the time zones of your attendees, and pick a convenient time for them to follow the event. It would be best if you also were mindful of the audience’s perspective when formatting the sessions. For example, traditional lecture-style may be an excellent option for in-person attendance, but TV show format works better with virtual attendees.
Choose Your Content Carefully
Content designed specifically for a live or virtual event may not work in a hybrid event setting. If you use PowerPoint slides, you risk losing your online audience. Besides, online attendees cannot raise their hands to ask questions or participate without a sophisticated technology setup. You have to come up with suitable content to keep all your guests engaged. For instance, you can include an interactive session for Q&A or polls after the keynote speaker. You should also keep the sessions brief to avoid alienating your online audience.
Invest in the Right Tools
Even with the right content, your event can be unsuccessful if you do not have the necessary tools. When you are streaming a session, the audience should enjoy uninterrupted and clear visuals throughout the event. For the best live streams, you need excellent internet connectivity, top-notch streaming software, and HD screens. The best technology will ensure your keynote speaker addresses both the online and live attendees directly. It would be best if you also had high-resolution displays for better visibility. Ensure you test drive all your equipment and fix any glitches before going live.
Market the Event
A strong marketing campaign is vital for successful event planning. You need to promote your hybrid meetings to attract the desired audience. You can start by creating a dedicated landing page on your website for the conference. The page should have all the details for the event like time, tickets, venue, speakers, and agenda. You can also utilise social media by adopting the event’s hashtag and building a buzz around the conference.
Online attendees can easily zone out after staring at a screen for long. Therefore, your hybrid conference needs to be interactive and exciting. Encourage audience participation throughout the sessions through social media or live polls. You can also create an interactive quiz that enhances their understanding of the theme.
Have a Follow-Up plan
How do you know your hybrid conference was a success? Event management does not end with the completion of an event. Planners often have a post-event follow-up plan to measure the outcomes. You can set your key performance indicators and use data collected to extrapolate the areas that need improvement.
Hybrid conference success is achievable with adequate planning. The above tips can help you to achieve your event’s objectives and increase your reach.
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.