MPI defines a hybrid event as a “meeting or event with at least one group of in-person participants connecting with remote participants in one or more other locations.”.
There is some confusion as to what a hybrid model is, so we have created a handy diagram to show the differences between hybrid and virtual:
The most important thing for a hybrid event is developing something that offers a great experience for those attending online and in-person. Do not simply stream the talks and call it hybrid. Creating an on-stage experience for physical attendees will mean considering great stage set design, decor, quality video projections/LED walls, crisp PA system, lighting design and other stage effects. A lot of this won’t come across for online audiences, so you have to consider how to make it into an interactive show for them.
Here are some of the models that event organisers are discussing:
Community-building hybrid event
These could take the form of a series of events for physical attendance, but that offers virtual visit uptake with online streaming coupled with an on-demand webinar service that will keep the virtual audience engaged and encourage sign-ups and views well after the physical show is concluded. You could also include small networking group areas and one-to-one sessions to virtually meet and discuss topics and the event.
Chat opportunities and meeting rooms during events (i.e. Swapcard can help facilitate networking in a virtual space) for both physical and virtual audiences. These events encourage networking, and so the emphasis should be on connections between attendees and their interactions. This might take the form of industry events with access to a lounge/networking areas to discuss topics and make introductions. The organiser needs to keep the audience engaged during the live show for community and network building models. For this, polling and Q&A apps (i.e. Slido) work well, in addition to in-built chat functionality during the session.
Live-stream hybrid event
Using digital channels in addition to your physical events allows you to live-stream simultaneously from the physical event to a virtual audience. For live-stream models, you can reach a much wider audience for talks than might usually attend the physical event. However, managing the moderation session chat and Q&A can be challenging and coordinating a seamless event experience for virtual and people at the venue when everything is completely live. Giving your attendees two ways to attend will mean that people not confident in returning to live events can still enjoy the sessions at home.
Premium hybrid event
You may want more than just the attendance fee for some of your talks for membership organisations or large exclusive events. You may wish to gate this content and make it available on-demand for a subscription or a one-off fee to access a live stream or make the content for members only.Managing speakers who talk at these exclusive events and what can be released online, needs careful consideration.
The Multiplex events model offers physical speakers that are spread across several sites or ‘hubs’ worldwide simultaneously. They are streamed using Full HD and ultra-low latency technology like that provided by BluMotion at the recent Paris Peace Forum. A small physical audience attends these hub events, while remote audiences can watch live. Speakers can attend either physically or virtually.
Getting the right balance for your hybrid event
Just as hybrid events offer the best of both worlds, you can also combine your models to make something that’s perfect for your event.
For example, you might have a large live congress that will be live-streamed, with options for networking/ community-building webinars on-demand and some in-studio panels. The keyword here is flexibility – bringing virtual and physical together offers so many opportunities.
Think about what would best work for your audience in combination with the objectives you hope to achieve from staging the event.
The perfect balance will be in how far you integrate the virtual and physical elements; you could have a passive audience following a live stream or a nodal style event where you link standalone physical events through 2-way virtual technology – allowing all participants the benefit of in-person interaction but with a global impact. The presenting and engagement opportunities when opening up to both remote and physical audiences are endless.
GoRemote can help to achieve seamless virtual sessions that fit in perfectly alongside your in-person content. To discuss how GoRemote can help stage-manage your hybrid event for your virtual speakers, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.