When thinking about your next hybrid event, you may find yourself wondering where to start. Like any well-planned event, before jumping into planning it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your goals and objectives. From there you can plan strategically by creating your timeline, selecting a virtual event platform, building your team, producing your content, rehearsing, and finally executing your hybrid event.
When building your hybrid event team, not only do you have to consider your live event staff, but your digital staff, as well. Consider including the following roles on your digital event team:
Ultimately, it’s important for everyone on your team to understand their role, including you.
Don’t assume you should decrease registration fees for your virtual attendees. If your content shows value, your audience will pay.
Consider being creative with your pricing. Perhaps a live attendee pays a different amount than a virtual one. Or, think of ways to leverage on-demand content for your virtual participants. Perhaps the virtual registration is free, but there is a fee to access the on-demand content. The possibilities are truly endless and should adhere to your business’ goals and needs.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your virtual attendees are saving money on travel expenses so, in theory, they should be able to afford the registration fee.
Choosing the best virtual event platform can be a daunting task, so it’s important to not get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Be sure to ask about the integrations the platform has because you want to be sure it integrates with everything you’re using for your event. Integration is done through a very technical system called Application Programming Interface (API). Think of APIs as a tunnel that allows two different systems to communicate and pass information to each other.
It’s recommended that you choose a platform with native integrations. This means the platform was built to integrate with every other program you’re using (i.e. Zoom, Facebook, LinkedIn, Outlook Calendar, etc). Often, the available integrations will be listed on the company’s website.
If a native integration is not available, plan to budget for a software developer to build the integrations for you. However, this is not always the most reliable or cost-effective option. Additionally, while Zapier is another useful API tool, it is not officially endorsed or reliable.
Most virtual audiences decide whether they will watch a live session during the first minute. Then after a few more minutes, they may decide to leave or multitask. For on-demand content, viewers decide whether to watch within the first 15 seconds. It’s important to keep your content engaging from the beginning. Sometimes this means putting your keynote speaker before the formal introduction or housekeeping remarks.
For live sessions, consider having the speaker acknowledge the virtual audience at the beginning. Another beneficial engagement tool is polling which can be used by both live and virtual audiences. Finally, the live Q&A is a great segment to engage the virtual attendees. Be sure to have the moderator restate the questions from the floor so the virtual audience knows what was asked.
It’s imperative to build your content around your business intelligence by understanding what your audience is interested in, what information they’re seeking, and how they find that information. Once you know this, not only can you garner interest, but keep your attendees engaged throughout the program.
Drawing from the engagement piece, a variety of visual elements should be used in the slide deck (i.e. pictures, videos, graphs, polls, etc). Each slide should equal one idea or topic.
In the same vein of audience engagement, think about what off-screen opportunities you can create for your virtual attendees. If there is a break in the live program, it’s important to keep your virtual audience engaged. This could be done through built-in coffee breaks with coffee pre-mailed by a sponsor, chair yoga, short workouts, and more. Before creating this content on your own, ask your Visit Indy Services Manager about the customizable videos that are available. These assets are an easy way to create a sense of place for your virtual audience.
This is possibly one of the most important factors of your hybrid event.
One of the great benefits of hybrid events, is that your presenters don’t all need to be on-site in Indy to participate. This provides not only a lot of flexibility, but also allows you to feature speakers from around the world.
There are many best practices to keep in mind when broadcasting off-site speakers:
Pre-recording is the best approach if you are using virtual components. This has many benefits from reducing stress for speakers to avoiding potential technology pitfalls. This allows you to enhance the production value of the presentation. Even if the presentation is pre-recorded, you can have the speaker conduct a live Q&A afterwards. Additionally, pre-recording allows you to optimize for on-demand viewing more quickly.
Like all events, once you wrap up your hybrid meeting it’s important to evaluate your key performance indicators (KPIs). Your event’s KPIs should feed into the organization’s KPIs. These are often growth in revenue, net profit margin, and operational cashflow.
When tracking your event’s return on investment (ROI), ask yourself these questions, “Why is my company investing in this event rather than another program?” “Is doing this event important to do now, rather than later?” These questions will help you determine what matters to your organization so you can measure it. Finally, ask, “What if we never had this event again?” as this could help uncover additional ROI to measure.
Thank you for taking the time to learn best practices for your hybrid meetings. I look forward to helping bring your event in Indy to life!
|Marissa Renaldi, DES
Convention Marketing Coordinator