When the pandemic struck in 2020 and turned the world upside down it also took the corporate world by full force. Event organizers were compelled to make an unprecedented shift to virtual events. As digital-first events quickly became the new normal amidst global lockdowns, it is no surprise that even a year later as the world slowly returns to pre-pandemic normalcy these digital experiences have become a permanent fixture but of course not without some crossover. Events in 2021 and beyond are likely to have a hybrid model which basically means a blend of in-person and virtual event experiences, optimized for each audience.
Why hybrid? Hybrid events present a unique opportunity to reach audiences that are unable to attend in-person meetings or events whether the reason compounds to travel restrictions, safety concerns, scheduling issues, cost or just personal preference. With the fluidity of the ongoing crisis, hybrid events can also be a safeguard against complete event cancellation. But perhaps the biggest factor in the hybrid model is that for the most part, the digitization of events has allowed for an on-demand experience such that attendees can consume parts of an event experience in their own time. Just as we have seen the shift in declining television viewership to a surge in streaming services, it is likely hybrid events will hold steady well into the future as people adapt to having more choice and agency in how they work.
So now that we know virtual events aren’t going anywhere, how can you ensure a successful hybrid experience? Despite what you might believe, you won’t need a ton of high-end technology, like virtual reality, 3D renderings, augmented reality, holograms or anything of the sort. You can make a quality hybrid event with accessible technology and without an exorbitant investment. Here are six tips to succeed at your first hybrid event:
Quality audio is key. Poor sound, static or noise interference are the highest annoyances for any audience but for remote attendees especially. In fact, the sound of a bad microphone has been found to cause physiological stress responses. If we go even deeper, research has shown that sound quality can determine your perceived credibility and professionalism. Both your live and virtual audiences deserve to be able to hear your presenters clearly so they can absorb the information and remain attentive throughout the event.
Don’t be camera shy. What’s just as bad as spotty sound? Grainy video. Whether you are catering to a live conference and webinar with hundreds of attendees or just a few dozens, a high-definition camera can improve your event production and will be worth the investment when producing videos from the event for your future marketing efforts. A hybrid event needs at least one fixed camera, but (budget permitting) multiple cameras per session are preferable because different angles and shots can help keep the virtual audience engaged.
Stream for all devices. Don’t assume that your virtual attendees are all sitting at their home or office desk on their laptop. Mobile has become increasingly important, so you’ll need to make sure your vendor’s streaming capabilities work on iOS and Android mobile devices. When choosing a webcasting provider, you will want to ensure they have the appropriate solutions to handle different types of streams.
Engage both audiences. It is easy to succumb to the common pitfall of only focusing on your live audience during the event which doesn’t translate as well for your virtual audience. Consideration needs to be given to how each audience will receive information and how reciprocal communication will occur. In an optimal situation, the audio and video are linked two ways. That is, attendees at the physical event can see and hear all of the remote audiences and vice versa. For larger events, this might not always be possible, therefore, the priority should be that all remote attendees can see and hear the physical event, and that they can submit comments and questions. Adding a virtual host to your event can also be a great way to guide and engage your virtual attendees.
Remember, time matters. Day-long event structures won’t work the same way for a hybrid event with a remote audience as they might for a live conference. It is crucial to always think digital-first when formulating your agenda and content. It’s also important to consider that without live interaction, virtual attendees’ attention span will differ to the live audience. Breaking up the agenda with diverse activities and shorter, 20-30 minute sessions will help you maintain your virtual attendees’ attention level and your in-person audience will likely thank you for them, too.
Consult with an audio visual expert. Pivoting your event to a hybrid format is not an easy job to do on your own, but working with an audio visual partner that has experience in designing and managing the integration process for both live and virtual aspects of these types of events takes that burden off of you. Sonix AV Solutions has helped many clients adapt to changing circumstances in the corporate space and has also enabled them with the tools and technology to navigate the evolving digital landscape, while creating impressive meeting and event experiences both online and offline. With all the latest technology at our disposal, an immaculate track record, and the acquired expertise to develop custom solutions for events and meetings of any scale, we are ready to help our clients succeed at creating their virtual or hybrid events while crafting an unforgettable audio visual experience.
To schedule a consultation with Sonix AV Solutions please contact us at (246) 251-8432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.