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We thought it might be about time to update our blog Reasons why you should be running hybrid events in 2022. So what’s changed and what do you need to know about hybrid events in 2024? 

The basic concept of the hybrid event stays the same: you have a venue with an in-person audience and you have a remote audience. This could be individuals in their home, co-working pace or office attending your event at the exact same time. You could also consider groups in the remote space, so one central event and smaller breakout events each with a host, to maximise the collaborative experience.

What we’ll explore in this article:

  • What have we learned since 2022?
  • Why make hybrid part of your event strategy in 2024
  • Avoidable hybrid event errors
  • How to plan and deliver a successful hybrid event

What have we learned since 2022?

In the previous article, we talked about the future of hybrid events (not quite as wild as the projection of Marty McFly and his hoverboard in 2024). We still believe that hybrid events are the best in kind for now and in the future. Hybrid events facilitate not just national and global reach, convenience and sustainability but also very importantly, accessibility. In 2024 we all appreciate choice, if you saw tickets for an event and the options were face-to-face or online, which would you choose? Have you declined to sign up to an event because it doesn’t offer an online option? We’re not saying don’t run in-person events, we’re saying deliver both, take your face-to-face event and make it hybrid, or take your online event and make it hybrid. If you’re not sure where to start that’s where we can help.

Why make hybrid part of your event strategy in 2024

Hybrid events are going nowhere, we’ve got used to them and we like them. Much like AI, Canva and Crocs, hybrid events are here to stay whether you like it or not!

More than ever we are aware of work-life balance, working in your own space, and reducing travel costs and accommodation costs, so in a year when for many businesses, budgets are more slender than in previous years, this a great opportunity for you not to lose delegates who haven’t got the budget to attend in person.

It’s all much better than it used to be! The tech, the experience, the booking systems, participants’ knowledge and skills for using on-screen event tools like Mentimeter and putting their hand up, popping into the chat or going into a breakout room. All the stuff kids are doing in school in 2024.

If you have stuck with in-person events only or moved from online events in the pandemic to a face-to-face programme only we’d love to hear from you and find out how it’s been working out. We have loads of great data from hybrid and online events that tell us what we need to know, provides learning and directions, we’d be really interested to share your learnings of delivering face-to-face events only in 2023 and 2024.

Avoidable hybrid event errors

The disadvantage of everyone being so familiar with hybrid events is that expectations are climbing. When it was all new, and everyone was setting their backgrounds to a beach or space and leaving themselves on mute, the bar was a little lower than it is in 2024. 

We’ve mentioned Mentimeter as one of many tools, if you have an eventful of people most of them will have seen this tool, they’ll know how to join in. A presentation slide of text and imagery will no longer do the job. A bit like Instagram without any video (imagine no pointy dancing videos and no ‘I’m claustrophobic Darren’) we have got used to being entertained on screen. We need to be engaged, we need to be stimulated visually, with sound, we need our attention to be held, we must embrace the many tools and tactics available to keep the audience hooked. They say our attention spans are dwindling… would you agree?

The biggest error we still see with hybrid events is…drumroll please…standy to cringe…a laptop on a table looking sideways at the event speaker with noone sitting at it. Oh heck! Let’s pick this apart very quickly, the visual – terrible, the sound – terrible, the chat and engagement is at zero, does anyone know if the hybrid event audience online can get into the room? Can they hear? Can they see? They will switch off. The at-home/at-work audience is not a less important audience, they deserve the same experience as the delegates in the room. 

And let’s not talk about ‘next slide please’ we all know what each other’s thinking on this.

I liken it to somebody watching a musical through a window with your face pressed against the glass, peering in through the window. You can see what’s going on, you can see the people moving around inside. You can see the audience having a great time, but you’re not really part of it.

How to plan and deliver a successful hybrid event

Getting hybrid events right does take planning and investment, like all the best thighs n lids, you get back what you put in. 

Here is the checklist you need:

  1. Stable, reliable internet access. You need to be able to plug in and stream well, there’s nothing more frustrating than a glitchy link-up. You need to make sure you do everything to ensure your streaming is on point. 
  2. Production planning. How can people see your slides while you’re speaking (if you are indeed speaking to slides)? If you’re going to share any audio or any video footage, how does that stream to what the virtual audience can see? Clearly, crisply, so that they’re not seeing it second-hand and grainy. 
  3. Make sure that your audio is sharp. Invest in a wireless mic that streams to your camera and straight out, So with your footage, the audio is crisp and clear. If your audience can’t hear you’ve lost them, if you are running a video don’t run it from the sound of the TV like the 1980’s TV on wheels at school. Noone will be listening, your speaker won’t be feeling the energy and feedback and your delegates will switch off into their own little world or worse, start scrolling on their phones.
  4. Think about how you make it interactive and engaging, and this will come with a little bit of practice and a little bit of study on your part as a presenter. You need to be checking in with the online audience continuously, not just when all the camera have gone off! 
  5. Get an extra pair of hands. I always say if you are running a hybrid event you need at least one pair of extra hands usually to handle your stream while you’re presenting and to handle a bit of the production while you’re presenting. But also check in with them ‘have we got any questions in the online space? If you haven’t got a comfort monitor or you’re not seeing the chat live either on a tablet or on a screen near where you’re presenting get someone to read them out and make sure to answer them. It’s really important that you’re continually checking in.
  6. If you’re splitting the physical room up into groups to do group work make sure every group has a laptop and web access. Split them into groups and split your online audience into groups too, so breakout rooms. The goal is to have people working in the face-to-face room are also working with people in the online space. People really feel like they’re part of the room, you get that cross-pollination of ideas and they get to do their networking. You get to build relationships and you’re going to have even better ideas. These little tweaks make it better value for money, people feel included and their experience rating goes through the roof. When this happens, that’s when you start to become a leader in your market, a leader in your industry.
  7. Ask people what they want before the event – do they want a networking opportunity, do they want 121’s, do they want Q&As? Do they want a workbook they can print out and follow through the event?
  8. Encourage, but don’t enforce, cameras on. It makes a big difference to the experience for engaging delegates with each other and speaker feedback when they can see if the jokes are getting a laugh and if they maybe need to wind things up. 
  9. Have an agenda and stick to it. People make plans, keep your speakers to time and don’t reduce break times etc if you can. 
  10. Have you get feedback from previous events? Data? Use it to inform your decisions for planning your next hybrid event. Make sure you’re making your hybrid events interactive. Start thinking about the user experience and how to take that to the next level.

That’s a wrap for now

So, yes things have changed, but the foundations remain the same. Bigger and better, or more carefully planned and executed, using the right tools for the job and having enough hands on deck to really deliver is the recipe for hybrid event success.

If you need anything else, please do reach out. You can reach me at Lorna@myohmyevents.com, let us know if you found this article helpful and as above if you have only been producing face-to-face insights, we’d love to hear how what’s going.

Share this article with someone who you know could use a little support with getting to grips with hybrid events.

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