Hybrid events are expected to dominate the events industry this year and the next. We’ll take a look at how you can engage all your attendees, whether they are virtual or in-person.
How to make everyone feel included?
According to data published by Markletic, 71.1% of event organizers admit that connecting the in-person attendees and the virtual audience is their greatest challenge. If you struggle with making your hybrid events equally engaging to both parts of your audience, here are five simple things you can do.
1. Make the content accessible and relevant to all participants
While your in-person and virtual audiences have their specific content needs, you should also provide content that will be relevant and available to both groups. This is essential for creating a shared experience and encouraging discussions between them.
According to Markletic, 47% of event organizers say that hybrid events help them connect with internationally dispersed audiences. However, communication at international events may be impeded by time zones, language, or technology barriers. If you want to appeal to existing audiences or attract new clients in remote parts of the world, you will need to overcome these obstacles.
2. Reach for professional tools
To make your event satisfying and engaging to both audiences, you need to prepare the virtual content with utmost professionalism. It is good to opt for a venue equipped with appropriate infrastructures, such as multiple cameras, advanced sound and lighting solutions, etc. Partnering with AV experts who specialize in hybrid event production is also helpful.
Of course, these measures will impact the costs and pricing of the event, but they will make a big difference to the experience of the virtual audience.
3. Facilitate interaction through technology
To have more engaged attendees on both sides of the screen, you need to look for solutions that facilitate interaction. Letting a remote audience call a virtual phone number for free to ask their questions may be a solution, though modern digital communication technologies offer more convenient options.
Thanks to modern technology, you can enable virtual participants to interact with speakers or influencers during live-streamed presentations and Q&A sessions, or meet in-person participants at breakout and networking sessions. A mobile app may be beneficial here, as it can deliver digital content to in-person participants through their phones.
4. Help the audience prepare for the event
You can help participants navigate the event by familiarizing them with the technology in advance. It’s also important to clarify which sessions will be live-streamed, which ones will be available on demand, and how participants can connect with each other. The information should ideally be available in formats that work together with digital planning tools, such as a Discord Google calendar integration.
Participants can be invited to see some content released before the event or to meet other participants on social media or online forums. This pre-event engagement will help them be more active during the event.
5. Encourage networking beyond location
One of the main advantages of hybrid events is their potential to connect people across geographical borders. As an event organizer, you should help participants make the best of this opportunity by scheduling time dedicated exclusively to hybrid networking, creating a space to facilitate this form of engagement, and creating opportunities for in-person and online audiences to interact.
After the event, you can create an online space where participants can access on-demand content, see pictures and video recordings from the event, leave their feedback, and reach out to others.
Choose what works for you
This is just a small sample of things you can do as an organizer of a hybrid event to encourage engagement among virtual and in-person participants. You can implement them or use them as inspiration for your own solutions. Remember, participants need to feel included in the shared experience to engage with others during the event, so even starting with one of these steps and building more in slowly can help improve engagement and create a more meaningful event for all attendees, no matter if they're in person or virtual.
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an IP PBX phone system and an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace has written for sites such as WebSitePulse and Codemotion.