How To Plan a Hybrid Event To Increase Your Reach and Revenue
Virtual events were the name of the game through the Covid-19 pandemic. While in-person experiences are slowly starting up again, the pandemic has changed how events will run for the long term. We expect a continued emphasis on virtual options and hybrid events — also known as integrated events — from conferences, to fun runs, to galas, and more.
At first, it could feel daunting to continue creating virtual options for your events, but there are so many benefits to offering a virtual alternative. You get a higher return on your investment, because more people can attend. There are also reduced travel and environmental costs. We’ve got you covered with a bunch of tips, and we’re here to help you execute on all the added details. So have no fear, and read on!
Practical Tips for Hybrid Events
Events that integrate live and virtual audiences require an extra layer of planning and consideration of practical details. Here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Consider the time zone
You could have attendees across the country, or even in different parts of the world. Consider timing the event so it makes sense in as many time zones as possible.
Get extra organized and secure
When you’re organizing multiple sessions across live and virtual audiences, get extra organized with your spreadsheets! Create a document that includes session names, URLs for the meeting link, and passwords (this is key – make your event secure and private). Make sure you can share this information quickly and easily with attendees.
Adapt the flow of your event
With a hybrid event, you’ll want to build in more breaks and divide your schedule into manageable pieces so the virtual audience doesn’t get the “Zoom fatigue” that we’re all too familiar with. “Quality over quantity” is a great mantra to repeat to yourself as you plan the schedule. Think smaller segments and less (but highly impactful) content. We also recommend testing and rehearsing everything ahead of time – every meeting link, every microphone, every camera. With a hybrid event, there are more elements that could go wrong, and you can avoid day-of mishaps with robust rehearsals.
Get creative with sponsorships
A hybrid event creates so many new avenues for sponsorships! You could have a sponsor of the entire event, the event app, or the livestream. You can send push notifications on the virtual side of the event that feature different sponsors, and you can even create virtual ebooths. Each session could have its own sponsor that is featured on the first slides and has a minute to speak to the audience before the session starts. When it comes to sponsorships, you’re only limited by your creativity.
How to Engage a Virtual Audience
Engagement doesn’t come as naturally with a virtual audience, so you’ll have to put a little extra effort into planning and facilitating engagement throughout the event.
Add new interactive components
Create avenues for both live and virtual audiences to engage in fun ways. Make sure both audiences can participate in Q&As and live polling. You might even plan virtual happy hours or networking events.
Have a strong speaker & moderator
Any type of event needs a strong speaker, and this becomes even more important when you add a virtual component. You’ll want the speaker to capture the attention of both audiences. Make sure they remember to engage with the virtual crowd, not just the people sitting in front of them. Similarly, you’ll want a strong moderator. This person is behind the scenes supporting virtual audience members, facilitating breakout rooms, pushing up any pre-recorded content, starting polls, pushing out slides, and managing any other interactive components for both audiences.
Prep the audience ahead of time
We can’t stress this enough. Help your audience – especially the virtual one – know exactly what to expect. They should have no questions about how to join the event, access any breakout sessions, and interact with other attendees.
Research an event platform or app
If the size and budget of your event are big enough, you could consider an event app or platform that seamlessly integrates virtual and live audiences. These platforms can manage networking, live polling, speaker Q&A, and more. Hop In is a good, affordable virtual venue option that provides a virtual welcome lobby, public and private messaging, networking, unlimited video sessions, and more.
Hybrid Events are Here to Stay
And I, for one, am very happy about it. We’ve already seen them yield huge benefits to our clients and help reach a bigger audience – whether that’s more donors, more fun run ticket buyers, or more leads for a marketing funnel. But we know that hybrid events are unchartered territory for a lot of companies. Reach out to us if you’re wary of the extra details that come with planning integrated events or want to brainstorm how they could expand your reach and revenue. We’d love to help your event run seamlessly and get better results than you could imagine.
Kristin is the CEO/Founder of The Source Marketing Group. The marketing agency is focused on elevating female-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses.