Make your hybrid hip and happening

From scavenger hunts to competitions (with prizes!), audio-only sessions to conference walk-arounds – there are plenty of ways to make a hybrid conference cool. Blending the in-person and virtual experience is not as hard as you may think – but it does take a bit of forward planning and strategy to bring it all together. If the past 18 months have shown us anything in this space, it’s that a well-planned hybrid conference with a creative and interactive line up of content can be literally mind-blowing.

To help you shift from the ‘how’ to wow – here’s some insight from the event specialists at FCM Meetings & Events.

Ask your audience

Companies don’t do enough of this. The first step is to engage your audience from the get-go and ask them what they want to see, hear, learn and do. While you’ll have high-level plans and concepts in mind already, getting feedback from your delegates will help you to -:

  • Understand what key themes/topics your audience is interested in
  • Flesh out plans for content and format
  • Get a heads up on the technology you’ll need to accommodate both your virtual and in-person delegates.

Offer flexible registration options

Given that travel restrictions can happen at a moment’s notice – keep your registration options flexible. Allowing delegates to switch from being a virtual guest to attending in-person or vice versa, is critical for your event’s success. This will give people a sense of confidence to forward plan. Consider offering a hybrid registration model, where attendees can pick and choose which parts of the event they’d like to attend physically or online. And guests love to be able to access recorded sessions after the event.

Schedule smartly

While in-person delegates may not mind a long day of sessions because they get to break it up with networking and mixing with other people – scheduling for virtual guests is a different story. No-one wants to sit at their computer for nine hours straight. Consider starting later and finishing the live and virtual sessions earlier. Schedule networking, in-person meals or other activities for the beginning and end of the day. Keep your sessions short or if it’s a longer session, break it into two segments. Your virtual guests won’t have the attention span of your in-person delegates.

Design Q&A for everyone to play

This is the easiest way to include all your guests - wherever their seat may be. Sessions should feature Q&A time wherever appropriate and the ‘playing field’ should be even. To do this, alternate between in-person hand raising and reading the questions submitted virtually. Alternatively, provide tablets or have in-person attendees use their devices to submit questions so they’re all going to the same place.

Either your event host or your chatline monitor can read out the questions to the presenter so your speakers don’t feel overwhelmed by working the technology, reading questions and answering- all at the same time.

Lock in your keynote

It doesn’t matter whether your event is face-to-face, hybrid or virtual – keep your keynotes. Importantly, let your A-list speakers put the A in awesome for your event! An impressive keynote speaker will draw both an in-person and virtual crowd and they’re often the highlight of the event. Be sure to brief your speaker well before they go on stage what the audience makeup is for your event.

Include a variety of experiences

Your virtual delegates may like to multi-task while they’re tuning in. Include some audio-only sessions to reduce screen fatigue for virtual guests. Audio only allows your virtual guests to do some physical activity while they’re listening in. Having a virtual host for your online delegates is also a great way of keeping people at home entertained between sessions or during lunch or coffee breaks. Your virtual host can really bring the event to life with a walk-around of the event space or conducting interviews with people attending in-person. This way your virtual guests aren’t left naval gazing during designated lunch or session breaks.

Get your game on

A bit of friendly competition between guests is a fun way to bring people together, encourage networking and to gee up the online chat. Think about including a trivia game show or a quiz on the event’s content, a raffle or competition. Make sure you have decent prizes to incentivise people! A scavenger hunt works well in person and online, and gets your in-person delegates moving around the event space.

Build your hybrid event with a dynamic mix of content and technology with help from the experts – aka the team at FCM Meetings & Events. Contact us today!    

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