Hybrid Events – Dispelling the Myths

by Earl Murtagh-Naughton

The Covid 19 pandemic instantly forced organisations worldwide to transition from in-person events to virtual events. Overnight the way event planners would plan events changed radically – travel budgets would drop, venue capacities would be limited, and the composition of the audience would change also. The world of event management turned upside down, but the show had to go on, and as such, the sector quickly adapted innovated and prevailed. 

Even with vaccination rollout progressing rapidly, the public health situation may allow for the return of in-person events soon, but the need to reach and engage virtual audiences throughout at least 2021 will remain in place. Whilst it is hard to argue against the power of face-to-face interaction – the return to in-person events from virtual ones is unlikely anytime soon however hybrid events will likely become the new norm.

Hybrid events combine both in-person and virtual experiences, providing the best of both worlds for event organisers and attendees alike. A hybrid event can broaden your audience and exposure, offer an international perspective, and provide a richer experience for all of the attendees. 

Here at IMS, we have compiled a shortlist of common myths about hybrid events, showing you why this old-new event type is going to play a significant part in our future.

The Virtual part of a Hybrid Event is just a Livestream 

Hybrid events are often defined as a mixture of live and virtual events, which leads to many people having this misconception. Simply recording your event and streaming it live to a platform like YouTube isn’t enough to categorise it as a hybrid event.

Audience engagement is the key factor that distinguishes a live stream from a hybrid event. When you organise a hybrid event, virtual attendees aren’t simply watching the event live, they are actively participating in the event through offering feedback in real-time, interacting with guest speakers, and engaging in Q&A and Breakout sessions.

In other words, a hybrid event blurs the line between physical and virtual with the seamless integration of technology to facilitate participation between a live and virtual audience.

Virtual and Hybrid Events are just a short term fix

The reality of virtual and hybrid events is that they will continue to play a healthy part in your meeting and event strategy in the future.

With the skills, understanding, & experience gained from organising successful virtual events during the pandemic – why not leverage them as part of your toolkit going forward?

Now that many organisations have the infrastructure and strategies in place and with the help of technology partners like IMS – building a robust virtual presence can be an invaluable tool moving forward and shouldn’t be disregarded at any cost.

Hybrid events are now a vital part of all sectors in some shape or form and are not just a fad that will be long forgotten post-pandemic.

Virtual and Live Attendee behaviours are the same

There is an obvious contrast between how attendees behave during virtual and live events. There are a wide variety of factors that contribute to this including the length of the content, the method in which it’s delivered, and the option to view the content from the event after it has concluded.

A successful hybrid event treats the live and virtual audiences equally, however, the tactics employed to encourage engagement for both audiences should be different.

Important to remember, the task of engaging virtual attendees is a completely different ballgame to engaging a live audience. When planning your hybrid event, it is essential to consider the experience and journey offered to the different audiences. Your overall goal should be to create one event with two distinctive experiences.

Top Tip: A common mistake that many guest speakers or event hosts make is forgetting to acknowledge the virtual audience. At the start of the event, it’s important to welcome both your virtual and physical attendees to ensure that the people physically present in the venue know that your virtual audience is also an important part of the event. 

You can’t provide a personal touch to virtual attendees

When planning your hybrid event, there are many different types of formats you can utilise in order to facilitate interaction from your virtual audience.

One option to consider would be to set up virtual breakout sessions as part of your event which would allow attendees to connect and network with each other. These could run separately to your main event session and can also offer a chance to get more in-depth information from the host of expert panelists.

You can also host live Q&A sessions that allow participation from both virtual and live attendees.

Another simple but great way to provide a personal touch is to send all attendees swag bags in advance of the event. If done right, a swag bag can help show appreciation, improve brand awareness, and leave all event attendees feeling special and valued.

Hybrid Events are difficult to plan and execute

Hybrid events are not difficult to plan and should be nothing to fear.

Even if you’ve never considered a hybrid event before, don’t let it stop you from trying – the time is perfect to host them and the technology needed has never been more accessible.

The key thing to remember about going hybrid is this: hybrid events are a balancing act. There is a balance between in-person and virtual attendees, and therefore, you must balance these two experiences.

Hybrid events are now a vital part of the industry in some shape or form and we are happy to help you navigate this new landscape as your virtual/hybrid technology partner. 

We can help you create a more consolidated event programme with the best technology at the forefront for large or small events, virtual or in-person events either in-house or externally. We can help create a platform where you can engage with attendees and sponsors and get all the information you need.

So if you’d like us to help you to set your event up for success â€“ Book Your Virtual Event Now