The Express Blog

Hybrid events in 2021: where physical and virtual become one

If you haven’t yet experienced the numerous benefits of hybrid conferencing, 2021 is the year to get on board and see why it’s being so embraced by organisations across the globe.

Whether it’s a formal corporate event like an AGM or investor meeting, an intimate workshop, large trade show, or entertainment extravaganza, hybrid online events aren’t just filling the gap for businesses who can no longer bring large groups of people together, they’re breaking barriers and expanding the possibilities of what corporate events can achieve.

If you’re ready to host your own successful hybrid video conferencing event in 2021, here’s everything you need to know to get started.

What is a hybrid event?

Hybrid events join the physical and virtual worlds so that participants can simultaneously interact and experience the same content online as those who are at the live venue. Using advanced webinar technology, events such as conferences, trade shows and annual general meetings (AGMs) are no longer confined to those who can physically attend. Instead, they’ve opened up to a global audience who can log in and participate from anywhere in the world.

As social distancing regulations continue to minimise the number of people allowed to attend physical events, the hybrid model of video conferencing is not only a necessary reality, it’s paved the way for exciting new innovations that benefit both organisers and participants.

Unlike entirely physical meetings, virtual seminars and conferences are highly measurable. The technology allows participants to be tracked and engagement metrics and other data to be gathered in real-time. 

Having the option to participate online also expands an event's reach, and lowers travel costs that would usually be associated with flying in and accommodating important stakeholders and speakers.

And unlike simply live-streaming a physical event, hybrid events use the latest webinar technology to facilitate user participation through features such as live voting, Q&A sessions, and HD-quality audiovisuals that make attendees feel like they are right there and part of the action.

What types of events are good for hybrid conferencing?

So how do you know if your event is suitable for the hybrid conferencing model? The good news is that almost any event can be tailored and enhanced by the option to join in virtually. 

The following have proven to make great hybrid events:

How to come up with hybrid event ideas

Coming up with a topic or idea for your hybrid event can be difficult. There’s a world of possibilities out there and because online events are so marketable, organisers feel they need to come up with something new and creative to attract the largest audience possible.

And while being creative is great—and encouraged— it’s not the be-all, end-all to an event's success. By following a simple formula, anyone can come up with successful online event ideas. 

  1. Start by researching the themes your community is currently interested in. Simple tools like Google Trends can help you understand what’s trending online, but it’s also helpful to research what your competitors are doing or polling your customer base.
  2. Once you have a list of topics that appeal to your target audience, refine that list down to topics that are highly relevant to your brand.
  3. From your list of highly relevant topics, think about which presenters, sponsors, and experts you can realistically approach to be involved in your event. The topic which you believe will attract the most passionate and engaging speakers is the best hybrid video conference idea for you.

The beauty of hybrid events is that your remote audience can still get involved with all the fun that’s going on in-venue. And while the goal of your event is to reach KPIs and help your audience towards their own success, don’t be afraid to include some lighthearted entertainment to break up any dry topics or longer sessions. 

Virtual music concerts, art contests, and stand-up comedy have all been used by leading organisations to make their hybrid events more memorable and immersive. 

How to plan your hybrid event in 2021

Once you’ve researched and strategically chosen a topic for your hybrid event, it’s time to start planning the event. 

One of the first steps will be choosing the format of your conference. Will you use a webinar format in which presenters are allotted rigid speaking slots followed by a Q&A session? Or will it be more of a town hall set up where members of the audience are encouraged to interact?

If your organisation is known for a certain event style that’s been successful in the past, it’s good to replicate that experience as much as possible by working with an experienced virtual event provider who can guide you on how to update your content for an online audience.

Quality virtual event providers will also help you determine how much time you should set aside to plan your event and the technology you’ll need to pull it off.

What technology will you need?

To host a high-quality event, it’s essential that you have the right technology to support both your presenters and attendees. 

To start with, your venue, audience and any remote presenters must have a stable Wi-Fi connection. Test your signal and modem in advance and advise remote presenters to plug their devices into a modem rather than relying on their Wi-Fi connection.

Aside from reliable internet, your most valuable investment will be quality webinar and teleconferencing technology, preferably with a managed hybrid conferencing option in which an expert will help run your event.

Many webinar and conferencing platforms only offer do-it-yourself style setups, which can leave you in big trouble if something goes wrong technically, and puts a lot of stress on you as an organiser when all you want to do is focus on delivering your content to your audience.

By choosing a managed hybrid event provider, your event will be fully supported by technical staff who will monitor and troubleshoot throughout. You’ll also be given access to an experienced event manager who will moderate any Q&A and voting sessions and ensure the seamless running of your event.

Quality webinar providers also offer audio conferencing services, meaning presenters can dial into an audio stream if there’s a technical issue on their end. It's critical to be able to provide an audio backup option that's integrated with the video platform you choose and supported by your managed webinar provider.

Qualities to look for in a virtual event provider include:

  • The ability to connect thousands of attendees and speakers
  • Presentation options such as slides and audio
  • Interactive features such as Q&A sessions and voting
  • Outstanding customer service and 24/7 support
  • Australian-owned and operated
  • Post-event reporting
  • Transcription services
  • Advanced security and guest registration

The takeaway

When it comes to hosting a seamless end-to-end hybrid event, having professionals step in and manage the process for you will help ensure that your 2021 event is a big success.

Still wondering if it’s the right option for your organisation? Get in touch with the team at Express Virtual Meetings. We are experts in both managed and unmanaged virtual events and can give you the best advice to fit your unique circumstances.

We’re completely Australian-owned and operated with 20+ years of experience helping Australian businesses with their audiovisual conferencing needs.

We’re confident that you’ll love hosting your next hybrid event with us, so we’re backing it with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. Book a chat with the team online or call us on 1300 849 300 today.

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