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How to set up a hybrid event (with the tools and technology to get the job done)

As the world moves away from large-scale in-person events, the business community has taken a definitive lead in embracing the hybrid event model.

Despite the numerous benefits, this shift has meant that organisations need to rethink how they set up event spaces to accommodate both in-person attendees and those who are joining remotely. 

Not sure which tools and technologies are required to make your hybrid event a success? Read on.

Why you should create a hybrid event

When organisations hold events, it’s more than just the attendees that benefit. Whether it’s a trade show, all-hands meeting, annual general meeting, investor update, product launch or conference—when current and prospective customers come together over a common purpose, the benefits are endless. Events can greatly help organisations with:

  • Lead generation
  • Showcasing your expertise
  • Attracting investors
  • Building audiences
  • Creating hype around your products or services

When you supercharge a physical event so that it also includes virtual elements such as live-streaming and interactive features, it’s known as a hybrid event. 

The benefits of hybrid events over physical events

Hybrid events allow organisations and event attendees to enjoy the best of both the physical and virtual worlds. Here are some of the benefits that come about when you move your in-person event to the hybrid model:

  1. Increased reach & attendance
  2. Higher engagement with your audience
  3. More powerful sponsorship opportunities
  4. Reduced travel and accommodation costs
  5. Increased sponsorship opportunities
  6. Improved ROI
  7. Access to invaluable insights

How to set up a hybrid event

Now that you understand why hybrid events are so valuable, let’s discuss the tools and technology you’ll need to require to make your own a success. While there are many considerations that go into setting up a hybrid event, the following steps are a good guide to follow.

1. Create a thorough plan

The first step in preparing your hybrid event is mapping out a thorough roadmap. Start by identifying your SMART goals. You’ll need to consider your theme, event format, whether you’ll have external speakers dialling in and how many attendees you expect. This will help guide you on the tools and technology you'll require to get started. As a general rule expect to include:

2. Keep physical and virtual audiences in mind

The success of your hybrid event relies on your ability to leverage technology that balances the needs of both your physical and virtual audience. 

For example, will you require a microphone to maintain audio consistency for those who are tuning in remotely? Will you need breakout rooms to encourage interactivity between in-person and remote attendees? Will you set up a backdrop to give a nice uncluttered appearance for those tuning in from home?

If you’re relatively new to hybrid events, speak to a virtual event provider who can help guide you.

3. Choose a hybrid event provider 

Your most important job will be sourcing a professional hybrid events provider with a quality platform that can deliver a seamless event, from initial planning stages right through to post-event reporting. Look for a platform that offers a managed virtual event option, including:

  • HD video and audio
  • The capacity to handle thousands of attendees
  • A facilitator that keeps your agenda running smoothly
  • Secure infrastructure
  • Features such as Q&A sessions and live polling
  • Pre, during, and post-production support
  • An electronic registration process

4. Set up and manage guest registration 

Guest registration can be one of the most stressful elements of planning an event—regardless of whether it’s in-person or being held virtually. With electronic guest registration, your hybrid event provider can take over the reins with the provision of registration assets such as a landing page, confirmation, and reminder emails and real-time attendance lists so that you can focus on more important things like creating great content and promoting your event.

5. Film pre-recorded content

To break up speakers and create valuable content your audience will love, include pre-recorded snippets such as interviews, videos, and product demonstrations in your program. The great thing about pre-recorded content is that you have greater control over the message than when using live speakers. To keep your videos short, sharp, and professional, invest in editing software as well as a camera or quality smartphone.

6. Set up your space 

Don’t leave it too late to practice setting up your space. You need to take into consideration that there’s a live and remote audience that needs to be catered to, and you should create a space that works for both. 

If you have remote speakers tuning in from home, your hybrid event provider can set them up with a virtual background. Participants simply need a blank wall behind them and to wear a shirt of a contrasting colour. Make sure participants have their camera at eye level so the audience feels like they are having a personal conversation with them.

7. Get your lighting right

Depending on the format of your event, lighting can be complex or simple. If you’re live-streaming from a large venue, you may require proper stage lighting including spotlights, stage washes, and colours. Speak to the AV provider at your chosen venue about hiring lighting equipment, if necessary.

It’s also important to have any remote speakers set up their lighting at home so that there’s a light source in front of them rather than behind, and that there are no dark spaces such as a hallway behind them. 

8. Check your internet

Nothing will upend your hybrid event faster than a weak internet connection or choosing a provider whose platform can’t handle the volume of attendees trying to connect at once. Make sure that you have:

  • Appropriate bandwidth for each room being streamed
  • The capability to connect thousands of attendees at once
  • The platform has mobile and desktop connectivity
  • Your provider has a secure infrastructure, ideally located in Australia

9. Do a full technical run-through

Testing all your equipment and tools is key to smoothing out any issues before they arise. Once you’ve tested all your tech, your hybrid event team should schedule and run a full dress rehearsal including all your speakers and pre-recorded content. This gives them the opportunity to run through their presentations, get comfortable with the equipment and find the best lighting and audio options to make the event as professional as possible.

10. Have tech support monitor your event

You’ve finished setting up your event and your dress rehearsal was a great success—that doesn’t mean that you can sit back and hope that your tools and tech are going to take care of themselves on the big day. 

To ensure that all the hard work you put into preparing for your event doesn’t go to waste, it’s important to have a tech team monitoring from behind the scenes. Good hybrid event providers will have a team ensuring smooth transitions between speakers, managing your agenda and most importantly, monitoring your stream from beginning to end.

11. Measure both physical and digital engagement

It’s essential that you measure your event metrics, not just to determine ROI, but to prove the effectiveness of moving your physical event online. With the right hybrid event solution, they’ll be able to provide you with a post-event report that gives you invaluable insights into attendee engagement, which speakers attendees most resonated with, drop-off points, and audience demographics. 

The Takeaway

Setting up your own hybrid event is easy with the help and expertise of a highly respected virtual event provider like Express Virtual Meetings. Our managed virtual events team is there to guide you through the process from the moment you reach out to us, during your event, and right through to supporting you with post-event reports. 

As well as being 100% Australian owned and managed, the Express Virtual Meetings team is so sure that your hybrid event with us will be a success, that we offer a 100% money-back guarantee.

Ready to benefit from your own hybrid event? Book a demo today and enjoy 10% off your first virtual event or call the team on 1300 849 300.

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