How to Plan Hybrid Events, Meetings & Conferences
If event planning were an awards show, hybrid events, meetings, and conferences would have taken home the Breakout Star of 2021 category. When the global pandemic hit in March of 2020, virtual events became the norm out of necessity. As planners began to figure out how to bring in-person events back safely, planning hybrid events, meetings, and conferences gained popularity. With so many realizing their benefits, hybrid event production has become a mainstay in marketing and event planning and management.
What is a Hybrid Event?
Planning hybrid events, meetings, and conferences means building an event that incorporates both in-person and virtual elements. Successful hybrid events allow participants to experience the same event in different ways in everything from information sharing to audience interaction. Utilizing hybrid event platforms offers the ability to host the in-person and virtual portions simultaneously, but some planners prefer to present the components at different times.
Planning a Successful Hybrid Event
Planning hybrid events, meetings, and conferences is a balancing act between the needs of your in-person and virtual components. Here are some steps to help you pull it off.
- Identify your theme, budget, content, and goal. What do you want your event to do? What theme and content will be interesting and valuable to your potential audience? What resources will you need, and how much will they cost?
- Build your timeline. Timing is everything in planning hybrid events, meetings, and conferences. Design your sessions to be long enough to be informative, but conscise enough not to lose your audience, no matter where they are joining from. Set a pace that is constant but not rushed. If your in-person attendees have a 15-minute break, consider what your virtual audience will do during that time.
- Outline and formulate your content. What topics will your event cover, and what is the best way to deliver that information – whether through speakers, presentations, group panels, breakout activities, or a combination of some or all of them? Make sure you keep it engaging. Look for opportunities for interaction, audience participation, and creative ways to take advantage of the hybrid nature of the event. If there will be in-person networking components, be sure to build in bonus benefits for your virtual audience so they get as much out of it as your in-person attendees.
- Book your speaker. Make sure you choose the right speaker who will fit the vision of your hybrid event. Be sure to prepare them to address your in-person and virtual audiences by reminding them to repeat questions and draw attention to visuals in a way that is appropriate for all participants.
- Select your virtual platform. Virtual hybrid events need user-friendly and functional platforms on which to host them. Select one that fits your format and creates the experience you want for your user. Make sure you test it out and that all relevant parties know how to use it.
- Promote your event. Your audience size will link directly to how well you promote the event ahead of time. Utilize your website, blog, social media, email marketing, and partner network to get the word out.
- Expect the unexpected. While it will be next to impossible to anticipate every challenge, try to think through the scenarios that are most likely to happen, and have plans in place to work through potential snags.
- Follow up and solicit feedback. Always look for ways to take advantage of the connections made during in-person, hybrid, and virtual events to get attendees to further interact with your business. Send a survey to learn what worked and what didn’t.
In-person events will always be a huge draw, but world events have necessitated, and technology advancements have opened the door to exciting new opportunities to engage with and expand your audience. When planning hybrid events, meetings, and conferences, it is critical to make sure your virtual experience is never an afterthought – your participants will know it if you do. At Paradigm, we can take the burden off of you in making sure the virtual component of your hybrid event is exceptional with our virtual event management. We will partner with you to build and execute a virtual event that resonates with your audience, generates leads, and keeps costs down. Please contact us today.