Welcome back to the blog, or if it’s your first time; hello! I would love to talk to you today about the secrets of hybrid events. Recently we talked through what hybrid events are and what the industry is looking like regarding hybrid events, have a scroll through our blog to find that article if you’ve not seen it yet. Right now, I would love to walk you through the secrets to delivering outstanding hybrid events.
The secrets of hybrid events
Hybrid events could be you sitting at the front of the room, with 20 other people in the room, streaming to an online audience with your iPhone, it does the job. It means you get to speak to the people in the room and it also means you get to speak to the 100 – 200,000 people that are streaming. However, people learn differently, so your audience needs more. Your audience expects more and quite frankly, your audience deserves more. They deserve better.
Any person, and in fact every person is doing the chalk and talk; standing at the front of the room with a slide deck speaking to the audience and streaming it. That’s not how you make an impact. So if you really want to level up your hybrid events, carry on reading, I’m going to whizz through some hints and tips that will really start to set you apart in your industry.
How to interact with hybrid
At MyOhMy Events we always talk about making your events immersive and interactive. So first off when you’re designing what you’re going to talk about for your event, I want you to really concentrate on when you’re going to check in with the online audience; take questions from the room.
“Hi, have I got any questions from the online audience?” Whether that’s you check in with the tablet that’s by your hand and actually read the chat that’s coming in from your online audience, or whether you’ve got an extra pair of hands (which I highly recommend) who is monitoring that chat for you, you can feed you some of the question themes and perhaps even some of the questions directly.
How to immerse with hybrid
Make sure that you’re speaking with and to your online audience as well as the people that are in front of you, in the room. That’s how you get immersive and interactive. Make sure that you’re thinking about how else can I cater for the different learning needs? You can stand and talk at the front, you can run a set of slide decks, make sure you have someone on production showing those slides to the people online.
The secret to engagement with hybrid events
You need multiple camera angles and some production to shift between those cameras to keep the online audience engaged. We have an attention span of about 90 seconds. If the screen isn’t changing and moving every 90 seconds we zone out and stop listening, our eyes stop working; our ears we stop taking stuff in. It’s why as a speaker you’re told to move around the stage, to slowly move from side to side. It keeps things visually interesting to keep everyone engaged.
Music and video for hybrid events
Think about playing music and sharing videos, this works for the in-room people but also have your production cue that up and play it to the online space as well. It can be really crisp and really clear and really easy to do, and a really easy way to add a different dynamic to level up your events.
Goodies and hybrid events
Are you sending out goodie packs? Or are you giving people in the room goodie packs? Whether that’s notebooks and pens or resources to use, it could be books to read and take away with them. Have you thought about sending those packs to your online audiences? Now if you’ve got 1000 people, it might not be practical. But what about flipping that goodie pack to an online resource so that everybody that buys an online ticket is getting the same good stuff? Give them the same extra resources that the in-person attendees are getting. To help throw in a packet of nuts and some snacks or a drink to make it in an Instagram worthy goodie bag and really optimise the marketing potential that a good goodie pack has, everyone loves a goodie bag! So make it count and make it pack a punch.
Hybrid event production
We’ve touched a little bit on production, but I really advocate if you’re going to use a hybrid event as your flagship event or as an event that really sets you apart. This is how you’re going to sell your product to your audience, or this is how you’re going to bring thought leaders of the industry together, think about investing in some production. Now it doesn’t have to cost the earth. However, you will need to put some budget aside for it. If you haven’t got all the cameras and equipment, either the production team will bring it or you can hire it reasonably straightforwardly for a day or two. Get yourself some production support from people that know how to switch cameras, how to feed in some really nice virtual backgrounds to really make your online feed look sharp and look exceptional.
And you know what? You can do this through Zoom, you don’t have to pay a fortune for really expensive online platforms. Yes you can get platforms like Hoppin, On24 or Feedloop which will all do online conferences for your live feed, however, you don’t necessarily have to invest in licences for those. You can do it via zoom and a good production team will be able to deliver for you. They’ll also be able to weave in your slide deck, so the people on the screen are not just looking at a pixelated slide behind you on the stage. They are actually looking at either you, picture in picture, they are looking at you mixed with your slide or a mixture of the two but they can see it clearly and they can get the information from it. There’s nothing worse than grainy slides when you’re referring to “look behind me on the slide at this piece of data” and the online people can’t see it. This goes right back to them ‘peering in the window’ and being second class citizens or second class ticket holders and watching through the window and not really getting the same value as your in room people (something we talk about in previous articles). So make sure your production is working and is looking sharp..
The secret of great sound in hybrid events
Invest in good quality audio, you need to be wearing a lapel mic. Get yourself a microphone that hooks up to your live feed so that your audio is super crisp and super clear. If you have other speakers in the room, make sure their mic’d up and that you have a camera on them so that your production can switch between angles easily.
You can even have people dialling into the meeting, broadcast that to the people taking part in the room and mix it in with your live feed. The people online getting to see the virtual speaker can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Have a look around to see what companies are doing production-wise and what equipment they have to start out with.
As I said it doesn’t have to cost the earth but it will make a massive difference to the work that you’re doing. The fact that they can share resources, they can share ticker, they can share social media hashtags to the people online means that they start to watch a highly produced TV programme that they can interact with, as well as watching some excellent quality speakers and getting some really valuable information as well.
The secret to hybrid audience collaboration
Think about how you can get your online audience and your face to face audience to collaborate. What do I mean by that? We’ve always talked about immersive and interactive. It’s one of our key features and if you’re breaking your room up into small groups to do some work to mastermind together, to have a conversation how can you encourage collaboration?
Think about giving every group a laptop, opening up the online groups, splitting them into breakout rooms and saying okay, so you have four people in the face to face space, here’s your laptop, and there are three people in the online space for you to work with as well. So you’ve suddenly got a group of seven all working together. Some are online, some are face to face and they can all be masterminding together. They all get to network in a way that they wouldn’t have previously met. This adds an extra dimension. It means you’re really pulling the online people into the room with you, there’s loads of tools that you can use to weave in collaborative working in your group work.
Imagine in days gone by your group would be sitting around a table with a big fat marker pen and some flip chart paper. Remember those days they feel like a distant memory? There are virtual ways of doing that now, one of my top tips is to create some Jamboards. Google offers a free collaborative working platform called Jamboard. It means that everybody that’s logged into Jamboard can be working on the same document at the same time, sharing ideas, sticking post-it notes on it, sharing images, sharing sounds, sharing thoughts and what you effectively get at the end of it is a flip chart paper. The virtual participants or face to face people can present back to the group, you can also go ahead and save as a PDF and it’s collateral for the whole of the session available afterwards.
You’ve also got great platforms like Mentimeter, you can get people involved in sharing their thoughts, get involved in polls, and get involved in expressing their opinion in the face to face space and online. I also really advocate a platform called Slido so people can ask questions and it’s super easy to have the Slido app open on your iPad while you’re presenting, you can see the questions there as well.
The secret to making your hybrid audience feel heard
If you grab your production person or your event manager, they potentially can weed out those questions for common themes. So, when you glance at your iPad you might have the top five questions, that really collect together all the questions that have been coming in from online, so you can have a moderator to help with those, really helpful and it helps people feel heard. We know that people love to be heard and that people love to be validated. We get people phoning in all the time to their favourite radio show; “Can you give my Mum a shout out, it’s her 70th birthday?” and how excited, how much of a kick people get when they hear their request read out, or their comment and shout out read out on the radio. It’s exactly the same in the event space. “Hey, I’ve got a question here from Lorna from Philadelphia.” That person is suddenly going to feel like ‘Yeah, I’m in it, that was me, I asked that question.’ It really makes people feel valued, really makes people feel heard. And that’s what you want in your hybrid events.
How to become a market leader in hybrid events
Making your hybrid events immersive is key to high level user experience. We go back to the fundamentals; make the event easy to access, we make sure that we’ve got somebody to help if something should go wrong and people can’t access it, so make it as smooth as possible. But, what’s going to set you apart is the in-meeting experience, how can the audience get involved? How can they get involved in the conversation? How can they get involved in the conversation that’s happening in the room with you the speaker and with all the other delegates as well? Think about that in the design phase and you’re going to have a stellar hybrid event that people will be talking about for ages and ages. Not only the amazing content and the value of the content that you’ve given them, but the incredible experience that they’ve had. That’s how you become a market leader in hybrid events.
I’ll leave it there for now, these are my top tips. If you need anything else, please do reach out. You can reach me at Lorna@myohmyevents.com, or you can leave a comment below and I will definitely answer you back. If you haven’t listened in yet, try out the MyOhMy Events podcast, please do share it if you know someone that needs a gentle nudge into levelling up their hybrid events. Until next time, it’s been a pleasure. Take care.