What are hybrid events and how to organize them?
Hybrid events combine the best of both worlds – live and digital. At the same time, they connect both audiences through various tools. Communication usually takes place via serious video conferencing platforms, which allow interaction, gamification and much more.
First thing to be aware of is thorough inspection of the venue before the event. You should always first check your internet connection on site. Sometimes it can be much slower than promised. The second complication can occur with streaming space. The rule is at least 15 m2 or in other words enough space. Before the event, it must be considered where to place all team members and their switches, monitors, and laptops. Also think about how to separate the technical team from the guests and clients. Only a few places provide intelligent solutions. It is also necessary to connect all video, audio and internet connections in the technical area.
Why do we need rehearsal?
Simply because a hybrid event is a technically demanding production. You certainly won’t be able to test all systems an hour before the event, because too many things can go wrong. Therefore, we suggest arranging a rehearsal at least the day before the event. Although this results in additional costs, it allows you to eliminate any errors in online streaming.
The most common mistake is the webcam turned towards the light, which makes the image look terrible live and online. In addition, sound check is a must. While the bad picture can be forgiven, turned off sound can not.
How many employees?
The number of employees varies according to the complexity of the event. You will need at least five experts for the simplest one. Keep in mind a live audience that must be taken care of by at least one multimedia technician and DJ who is the mediator between the two audiences. For an online audience, you need a hybrid event producer, a cameraman, and someone to run the video conferencing system. If the event is very demanding, the team can quickly reach 10 or more technicians. Therefore, do not believe stories about a simple solution with one technician. In our experience, this mission is impossible.
What have we learned from our mistakes?
We have selected other practical tips and recommendations that will be very helpful in organizing hybrid events.
1. Check your license
Check what services your video conferencing license actually provides you. Remember that video conferencing systems, including Zoom, are not free. A free Zoom license for hybrid events is not enough. The price depends on the number of participants and the type of event - meeting or webinar.
2. Links are important
Remember to send event links to attendees in time at least two to three days before the event. Although all online systems send messages automatically, we recommend that you do something more. You can send an invitation from one of the desktop calendars, which is a simple and reliable method, especially if you set a time reminder for participants.
3. Quick contacts
Make a list of contacts of all speakers and important people, who will be involved in online stream. You never know what might go wrong and maybe the only solution will be to call. In addition, prepare detailed technical instructions.
4. Linking presentation
Never forget a linking presentation managed by a DJ. If you want to leave a good impression on your visitors, leave the design to the professionals. Think of the screen as a digital scene that must look engaging and at least as good as the real scene.
5. The backup will come in handy
Get presentations and videos from all speakers in advance. Even if speakers share their screens, you must have presentations as a backup. If something happens, you can jump and start the event without interruption.
6. The names can be suprising
Speakers should log in to Zoom or another video conferencing system with their real name and last name. It often happens that they log in under a different name that technicians cannot recognize and that is not on the program. As a result, confusion may ensue and even program errors may occur.
7. Beware of noise and interference
Make sure there is no noise or buzzing in the event hall, especially in the technical area. If you immerse yourself in a rush event, you may quickly find that you forget to turn off all electronic devices. This also applies to computers, where you should mute all reminders and other notifications.
8. One moderator is not enough
It is essential that you find a live audience moderator and an online audience moderator. Hybrid events simply cannot work without one of them. The online moderator connects both audiences, moderates questions and much more, thus playing a crucial role in distinguishing a good event from an average one.
9. There is only one captain
When production starts, democracy is over. There should be only one leader who will give precise instructions to the whole team. He is a hybrid event producer who plays a similar role as a theater director.
10. Don't forget the scenario
Never forget a precisely prepared scenario, which should include both audiences. We have already written about how to write engaging scenarios for hybrid actions.
HOW TO START WITH HYBRID EVENTS
In the last few months, the day has not passed without our clients asking, what type of hybrid event they should organize. With so many different options available, there is also confusion and ambiguity, most often due to a lack of experience and sometimes a flood of different information online. Google is dominated by advice from video conferencing platform providers or technical support providers. Of course, you can’t do without them, but you still need to consider a lot to make your hybrid action a success. The key challenge is to integrate the various functions into a well-functioning and efficient hybrid event model.
The first question you need to answer is whether you will treat live and online audiences alike. The question seems logical and simple, but in practice this is not always the case. If you are organizing a high-level political meeting, you will not be very interested in the online audience and a simple video livestream will suffice. However, if you are preparing a product presentation, interaction with all participants is key to achieving the end result – selling the product.
Above all, we must not forget how important the role of moderator is in hybrid events. An experienced, unbiased moderator is priceless. The moderator maintains the conversation, makes sure that all participants contribute equally, regardless of their formal strength, directs the group to a specific goal, provides a quality visualization of the process and summarizes the conclusions. We encourage you to work with the moderator in the early stages of event planning.
Hybrid cars are said to have taken the best of the old petrol and the new electrified and sustainable world. We can reach the same conclusion with hybrid events, which are the most logical response to the current situation in the world of events. Their number is constantly growing because they allow parts of the audience to meet live in accordance with the epidemiological situation in the country and region and parts to participate online. Hybrid events are often confused with online streaming (live video streaming). Yes, it is certainly an important part of any hybrid event, but the goal is to connect two different audiences through two-way communication and interactivity.
Organizing such events is challenging. More important than technology is the selection of appropriate content, as it involves connecting two target groups (live and online) with completely different needs.