Author: Rhianna Greensmith / Splento
Two years on it is not necessarily something a lot of us like to bring up, but the pandemic hitting in 2020 certainly did alter the way we navigate events – corporate or otherwise! Moving over to digital and remote living, we grew so used to digital work that we were woken up to the many benefits of hosting events away from an event venue too.
Many businesses (likely including your own) have continued offering a remote option for their events, even after we all returned to a sense of normality, and they have resolved to offer hybrid events so that delegates have the option to attend either in person or remotely.
Hybrid events are excellent because they offer the benefits of an in-person event and a virtual event simultaneously.
Although hosting a hybrid event is not difficult, to maximise your attendees’ satisfaction you are going to want to avoid a few common hybrid event mistakes. This article will take you through 10 mistakes to avoid when hosting a hybrid event, and tips on how to avoid them, including:
- Thinking your hybrid event will take the same amount of time to plan as an in-person event
- Delivering exactly the same event to your in-person attendees as your virtual attendees
- Not rehearsing the event beforehand
- Making the event go on too long
- Disregarding the audience attending virtually
- Not checking the internet connection at your venue beforehand
- Not choosing the most efficient virtual platform to host virtual attendees
- Limiting networking opportunities
- Limiting event photography potential
- Not following up with all attendees after the event
Key Hybrid Event Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Thinking your hybrid event will take the same amount of time to plan as an in-person event
Hosting a hybrid event requires you to plan in ways that you would not be required to if you were only hosting an in-person or a virtual event. We will cover many of these extra steps through the course of this article but having to consider, for instance, how you can ensure the virtual and in-person attendees interact and choosing the right platform to host your hybrid event are extra steps that will eat into your planning time. You need to factor in enough time to your planning strategy for these extra tasks to ensure your hybrid event runs smoothly.
Delivering exactly the same event to your in-person attendees as your virtual attendees
What works for your in-person attendees is not necessarily going to work as effectively for your virtual attendees. It is much easier to sit through a presentation in person (where you are surrounded by other attendees and there is a community feel) than it is to sit through a long presentation when you are online – there are likely to be more distractions, to start with!
You can post interactive links in the chat box of the virtual platform to keep your online attendees engaged. There are also other elements to the differing experience of virtual and in-person attendees at hybrid events such as networking, but we will touch on that later.
Not rehearsing the event beforehand
Especially if this is your first time hosting a hybrid event, we cannot stress the importance of doing a run-through of the hybrid event before the real thing. See it as a pilot or dummy run.
We put a lot of trust in technology and often feel like virtual event setups do not need to be rehearsed but this could not be further from the truth, particularly when you are relying on the technology to work alongside your in-person plans.
Practising your hybrid event before the big day helps you to be confident of its run-time and you can identify anything that could potentially go wrong. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.
Making the event go on too long
As previously alluded to, the attention spans of people attending an event virtually are markedly lower than that of in-person delegates, due to the lack of a collective environment that you get when physically attending an event. Therefore, do not make your presentation too long and consider including some interactive elements in your event, such as polls and quizzes, to keep the virtual attendees at your hybrid event interested. Plan extra short breaks – even 5 minutes – from time to time, to break up the rhythm and flow of the presentations. These help to keep interest and attention up and create space for the virtual attendees to grab a quick coffee, or take a comfort break, which they would otherwise do during your presentation.
Disregarding the audience attending virtually
It can be easy when there is a room of people at your event venue, sitting chatting amongst each other and physically engaging in the event, to forget that there is a whole team of people that are also there but not physically in the room. It is so important that you do not forget about the virtual attendees at your hybrid event and keep them feeling included in the process throughout.
If your hybrid event is on a larger scale, then consider having a big screen displaying the virtual attendees’ webcams, and broadcasting an image to them of the in-person attendees – making sure that their view includes the whole room. This way, both parties feel like they are fully a part of the event.
If you are delivering the same presentation to your in-person and virtual attendees at the same time, then make sure that you keep actively checking in with your virtual attendees and direct any questions to both parties.
Not checking the internet connection at your venue beforehand
Hosting a big event virtually requires a fast, reliable internet connection. The last thing you want is for your online attendees to have a bad experience at your event because the live video footage is laggy, blurred or interrupted.
When choosing the venue for your hybrid event, check that the bandwidth is large enough to ensure that your virtual attendees get as smooth an experience as your in-person attendees.
Not choosing the most efficient virtual platform to host virtual attendees
A key part of the planning process is choosing the best hybrid event platform for your particular event – do not make the mistake of choosing the wrong platform!
Do your research into what virtual event platforms are available, to first understand what you are working with. Once you have an idea of what the platforms out there are offering, make a list of your goals and what you would like out of the platform for your hybrid event, and choose one accordingly.
Limiting networking opportunities
Of course, it goes without saying that networking strategies online are very different to in-person. But when you have a hybrid event you must find a way of implementing both strategies simultaneously. It is important that the in-person attendees and virtual attendees also have the ability to network with each other and that the two parties do not remain entirely separate.
In-person attendees can network by talking amongst themselves as they would at a normal event so they are already accounted for. Virtual attendees can network through breakout rooms – obviously, the nature in which this takes place depends on the platform that you opt for, but there should be the option for the virtual attendees to talk amongst each other in smaller groups, away from the full party.
To get the in-person and virtual attendees at your hybrid event to interact, you have to get everyone a bit more interactive. If your budget allows, you could purchase a number of tablets and set up the virtual platform on them, so that virtual and in-person attendees can communicate in a video call environment.
Limiting event photography potential
Usually, when you hire an event photographer, the only instructions you have to give are to take photos within the venue – of the setting, attendees and speakers etc.
With a hybrid event, however, you want to make sure that the event photos clearly show that it was a hybrid event and that there were online attendees, so that the online delegates do not feel left out. In order to represent the harmony between the virtual and in-person attendees at your event through your event photos, you could ask your event photographer to make sure they take photos that show the big screens with virtual attendees. In addition, they can arrange to take a number of screenshots from the virtual environment, but this needs discussion in advance and appropriate access arranged, etc.
Not following up with all attendees after the event
Make sure that you send out a comprehensive email after the event to all attendees at your hybrid event – both virtual and in-person. This allows your attendees to reflect on the event, and it sends the message that you appreciate them attending.
You obviously want to give your attendees the best possible experience and interacting with them like this will help sustain their positive outlook on you and your company.
Post-event communications are also the idea marketing opportunity for follow-up sales and booking for future events.
Virtual attendees can even be encouraged to attend in-person at your next event, with a “Hope to see you for real next time” campaign.
If you follow these hybrid event tips then you will be able to avoid making the most common hybrid event mistakes!
In need of an event photographer for your hybrid event? Consider booking Splento!
Splento photographers can even be available within two hours of booking. They are experienced event photography professionals, available for fixed hourly rates and deliver your fully retouched photos within 24 hours – guaranteed!