Hybrid Hype – How to Transverse the Gap

HYBRID EVENTS – Discover the truth behind the hype – the pros, the cons and how to pull off an awesome hybrid event!!

The concept of a hybrid event is simple: take the best bits of a virtual event, merge them with a physical event and enjoy ultimate flexibility and engagement. Simples, right?!

Yes, hybrid events are truly remarkable and can be very exciting and engaging – they can allow audiences large and small to be together, if not fully in person then via a shared experience… but be aware, when embarking on the journey of planning a hybrid event, you will essentially be planning two consecutive events  – with the added challenge of bridging them together.

At Virtual Approval, we have already delivered many hybrid events and are planning a vast catalogue more over the coming months, this includes everything from seminars, conferences and award ceremonies; to theatre performances and even funerals. They really do offer an awesome solution for many reasons including: –

  • Your audience can still absorb the content from the comfort of home and regain all the time they would spend travelling to a venue
  • No guest limits. Gone are the days where you would have to worry about overselling an event as the digital audience is pretty much limitless
  • Eco-friendly. No more toxifying air miles and motorway travel for a large portion of your audience. Can you feel that tree hugging you back?

Potential Pit Falls

  • Connectivity!!!! This is the single biggest consideration when picking a venue to stream your hybrid event from. Too many times we have been contacted by event organisers who have the vision of flipping their traditional event to a hybrid format, without giving a second thought to the implications of their venue choice now that we need ultra fast hard wired internet. The considerations that you once had about a venue in the past were probably the list one the left in order of priority. It’s time to rewrite to the new hybrid wish list – see the list on the right and notice the shift.

Does planning 2 events mean double the budget?

Not necessarily – there are travel and accommodation savings to be had for your virtual audience members, as well as the fact you can reduce the size of the venue you’ll require if a portion of your audience will be watching online.

However – there are extra costs in bridging your events that will probably counteract these savings. By this I mean – how will your 2 audiences see and interact with one another. You will probably want a video wall or projector in the venue to see the faces of those at home. You’ll require additional speakers and mics in order to hold a 2 way conversation. What about camera angles? If you want your virtual audience to feel like they are in the room, or watching the event as if it were a TV show, you’ll need multiple cameras, switchers and mixers to show wide angle shots of the room, close ups of presenters and panning shots.

Then to really bring the audience together, we recommend mobile accessible software for polling, word clouds, Q&A, games and voting. This means that both virtual and in person delegates can take part in activities in real time, together.

Second Class Citizens?

I had an event organizer once suggest that their physical attendees should pay for tickets at 10 x the price of virtual delegates. Why I asked??

It turns out their perception was that the virtual delegates would just be watching ‘through the keyhole’ and be a bystanders of the event, having less fun and learning less. Sadly, she isn’t alone in this common misconception.

The solution: if your event is chargeable, then the event ticket price should in my opinion be identical, just excluding the cost of accommodation for virtual counterparts, after all a well delivered hybrid event will in fact be a more fulfilling experience for both parties – no ranking needed.

“We Come One” – As the dance music legend Faithless once iconically sang (cue festival flashbacks of waving your finger in the air)….

And it remains a mantra for Virtual Approval’s Team Purple in every day, now more so than ever. When it comes to hybrid events, we want to bring the full audience to together, wherever they are, in to one unified experience.

  • 1 audience
  • 1 epic experience

As a society, we strive to provide equal opportunities and experiences for everyone no matter their circumstances. Events are no different. Which is why accessibility also forms a large part of the work we do – whether that’s incorporating verbal language translators, captions, sign language, audio description or disability suited venues – we’re well versed in overcoming these hurdles and bringing everyone along for the ride.

When I founded Virtual Approval at the start of the pandemic, my mission was to ‘bridge the gap between physical and virtual meeting spaces, empowering everyone to stay connected’. Back then it was all about transferring (#pivoting) physical events and making them work virtually. Fast forward 18 months and now we deal with a spectrum of transitions– turning virtual back in to physical, physical to hybrid, virtual to hybrid – and all the partial combinations in between.

Basically hybrid is here to stay!

The best hybrid events are those where all audiences and presenters have an equally enjoyable experience.

How do you create this as an organiser?

When planning your agenda, ask yourself a every stage of the event what can the other audience be doing at the same time to have a comparable experience.

For example: –

In Venue Virtual
Welcome drink and networking Cocktail taster class and networking
Table magician Table magician around breakout rooms
Live Band Live Band
Watch the main stage Watch the main stage
Voting – ask the audience Voting – ask the audience
Spotlight audience member for conversation – walk to stage Spotlight audience member for conversation-

Show faces on video wall on stage

Q & A – 2 way conversation Q & A – 2 way conversation
Quiz / Game Quiz / Game
Disco / DJ Dance Workshop / Disco / DJ

 

Other top tips

  • Consider the virtual platform and how your virtual attendees will be able to navigate the experience. At Virtual Approval we have experience hosting on a wide variety of platforms and they all have their quirks. It will depend on the nature of your event as to which is the best fit – or it could be that we build a bespoke microsite to cater for your exact needs.
  • AV is a big consideration for hybrid events. We partner with the best production companies to ensure this is all on point – from the lighting to the audio and the camera quality.

 

Our conclusion: Hybrid is worth the hype, just don’t fall down the gaps – a stable and well built bridge will have your audience jumping for joy.

Give us a call to chat about your vision and let us make it your reality 😊

 

 

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