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What are the hybrid event industry trends for 2022?

Today I’m going to talk to you about hybrid events, I’ve had loads of questions coming in about hybrid events lately. Hybrid events have taken on a few different connotations and meanings.

In their purest sense, hybrid events are the ones where you have an audience in the room in person and you are also streaming to a virtual audience; maximising your audience.

Some people think that hybrid events are; that we as a company do some events online and we do some events in person. That’s not hybrid, that’s a mixed model. Hybrid is where you’re doing both at the same time.


The future of hybrid events

Hybrid looks to be the way of the future, certainly in the short term. The pandemic has caused everybody to shift and you’ve heard me talk before about the fourth industrial revolution where online and the online space has really come into its own. People are now much more comfortable working in the online space, meeting in the online space, with seeing and connecting with people on camera and on a flat-screen. The pendulum really swung to virtual during the pandemic out of necessity more than anything.

As we move out of the pandemic, the pendulum will likely go back the other way. There will be some people clamouring to leave their offices, to meet people in the face to face world, so we need to cater for that. Offering some face-to-face context and content is going to be really helpful for your business.


Why go hybrid with your events?

Hybrid events will continue to happen for two main reasons:

A lot of people have realised that they can attend an all-day conference from the conform of their own home without the travel expenses, without the accommodation expenses. Companies are now saying ‘why would I send you to a one-day conference and you cost me a day’s work to travel there, a day to travel back and the cost of the event ticket. Why can you not attend online?’ It’s a valid point.

You’ve also got the vast environmental impact to consider. Carbon emissions were their lowest ever in 2020 in the modern era. People are realising that they don’t have to travel the globe to do business or to attend a conference or a summit or workshop. You can get a similar experience or an as-good experience in the online space.

If you go back to purely face-to-face events think about how much of the marketing you are losing. If you’re not streaming and you’re not making your events interactive and open to the hybrid market, you are potentially losing thousands of pairs of eyes at your event.


Avoidable hybrid event mistakes

The biggest error I see when it comes to hybrid events is somebody standing at the front of the room with their slide deck speaking to the people in front of them, with a camera at the back of the room. All the people online see is the person on the screen, some grainy slides behind them, and at best some decent audio if they’re wearing a microphone. 

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. 

To really get good value for money and good value from the experience, online people need to feel like they are involved. Go right back to the blog or podcast where we talked about ‘T’ for finishing touches, how do you make your events immersive and interactive? If you want to retain attention and you want to stand out from the crowd, your events have to be immersive and interactive. 

Anyone can stand at the front and talk, you need to be different, and stand out. Event attendees need more from you and they deserve more from you than just watching talk through a set of slides.


Getting hybrid events right

So first things first is to make sure that whatever venue you choose has good 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.

Make sure there’s a bit of production involved. 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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

What should I charge for an online event ticket?

You should be charging the same whether they’re face-to-face or online event tickets. The value you’re delivering and the experience they’re receiving is exactly the same high quality, so don’t necessarily cut prices for the virtual audience. 

You can send the workbooks which will be used by the face-to-face attendees to the virtual attendees, either online or printed, send them the stuff in advance. Send them some drinks and snacks so they get the full in-room experience. You could even send a scented candle to really get their brains working. In previous blogs and podcasts, we’ve talked about engaging all the senses to make sure that you’re making solid memories, so that people embed what you’re teaching them. 

Make your hybrid events interactive

Make sure you’re making your hybrid events interactive. Start thinking about the user experience and how to take that to the next level.

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 little help getting to grips with hybrid events.