Hybrid events are here to stay. While they are not a new phenomenon, the popularity of virtual events during the pandemic has shown how powerful those digital aspects can be for increasing an event’s reach and engagement.
Integrating the digital into live events has given rise to the hybrid event, but creating them comes with unique challenges. Here are some of the best practices for engineering hybrid events.
Create an immersive virtual experience as well as a physical one
One of the great benefits of hybrid events is that venue capacity is no longer the limit for attendees. A live event that could host a thousand attendees can now host tens of thousands as a hybrid event.
With a hybrid event, it is key that virtual attendees don’t receive a lesser version of the product. The production of your event needs to transcend the physical and create an immersive experience for all attendees—the sound, visuals, and interactive components should be appreciated by everyone.
Make sure your livestreaming setup is seamless
A good hybrid event should be more than just a streamable live event, but that shouldn’t diminish the importance of a seamless, professional livestreaming setup. This should consist of top-quality cameras and sound equipment, a reliable livestreaming platform, and skilled professionals to operate all of it.
You also need to have fast, stable internet connectivity from your venue throughout the entire runtime, and this should be tested thoroughly before the event.
Keep the content engaging
The success of your event will rely on how well you can engage your audience. You will need to provide top-quality content that goes beyond performance and spectacle. Your audience should be participants, not simply spectators.
This will mean incorporating interactive elements such as Q&As, live polls, competitions, and live chats so that virtual attendees feel welcome and just as involved as those attending in person. All of these elements can be achieved through clever use of screens, lighting, sound, and other technical support.
Source professional sound equipment
Whatever style of hybrid event you are planning, whether it is a concert, conference, screening, or debate, the sound needs to be perfect. Everyone present needs to hear clearly and the sound should also translate just as impressively to the virtual audience.
This will involve sourcing professional sound equipment, such as microphones, sound desks, and speakers.
Have technicians present to resolve any potential technical difficulties
Hybrid events have even more moving parts than live events, so it is important to have a skilled team of technicians present in case of any technical difficulties or errors.
Having professionals on hand will help to solve any problems quickly and reduce disruption to a minimum. This allows the event to get back on track as soon as possible, without risk of losing the audience’s interest or engagement. In addition to personnel, you should also have reliable backups ready for electricity and internet connectivity.
Plan and test beforehand
The importance of thorough testing cannot be overstated. Both the live features of the event and the digital ones will need to be tested before the event takes place.
For the live event, this will involve testing the functionality of any deliverables, rehearsing lighting sequences and sound cues, and testing all the microphones, speakers, and screens. The digital components, such as the cameras, livestreaming, and interactive features will also need to be tested a few times to ensure there are no hitches on the day.
Hybrid events offer so much more than either a virtual or live-only event can on its own. To capitalize on the increased reach and engagement of a hybrid event, it is important to plan extensively, make audience engagement a priority, and test all technical components thoroughly.
Christian Ablett is the owner of Stage Engage, an AV and event production company with many years of experience working with agencies, organizers, and production managers around the world to provide technical event support and produce live and hybrid events that make an impact.