The common, but preventable mistakes you must avoid when planning a hybrid event
Virtual events dominated in 2020, but as the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, we’re anticipating a return to in-person events—to a certain extent that is. There are still several travel restrictions and there’s still a continued need for social distancing. These limitations have led to the rise of hybrid events, a system that bridges attendees with both virtual and in-person experiences.
Several businesses and organizations have jumped onto the bandwagon since hybrid events bring a number of benefits to the brands. For one, it allows a greater number of people in attendance. Home Depot, for example, ran a hybrid event to promote their gift cards during the holiday season. They organized an exclusive virtual concert in which they also granted free access to people who purchased at least $50 in gift cards. This move boosted their holiday sales significantly while giving shoppers, both online and in-store, a unique experience. And they’re just one of the many brands who’ve seen the advantages of these hybrid events.
Hybrid events have been around for much longer, though, even before the pandemic began— Apple Special Events, anyone? It’s only a matter of time before they become the default system of events. As such, it’s important to be prepared and proficient in staging them by avoiding these mistakes:
1. Having an unclear value proposition for your event
Unlike solely in-person events, hybrid events can’t guarantee that people will stay for the entire session. This makes it doubly important to have engaging and interesting content. Your in-person attendees have to find your content relevant, and online viewers have to find what you’re offering appealing so that they stay. We strongly believe that it’s the value proposition of your event that draws people in and keeps them tuned in.
Even if you have a number of different presenters and speakers, you should be able to take the lead and make sure that the overall content is relevant to your audience— and don’t forget to make it fun. One great example of this is the annual HubSpot event, INBOUND. The brand has successfully created a strong identity for INBOUND, making it known as the ultimate marketing event which isn’t just informative, but also lots of fun. They incorporate entertainment from musicians and even stand-up comedians into their program, which makes it all the more enjoyable for their audience.
2. Not consulting accounting professionals
It’s no secret that hybrid events can easily run up bills. You’re essentially blending two events into one. You’ll need the usual production professionals and streaming services, yes, but one professional you may need for events like this, involving lots of cashflow, is an accountant. It could be tempting to budget everything yourself, but consulting with an accountant gives you a better idea of how to properly manage your event’s finances. While there’s currently a shortage of accountants, collaborating with these professionals will likely be much easier in the coming years as remote learning is becoming more widespread during the pandemic.
Not only does this help supply the industry with new professionals, it also trains them to become more digitally savvy. Online courses are also just as valid as traditional degrees with graduates prepared for the certified public accountant exam. Professionals with an online accounting degree have the know-how to identify worthwhile investments for your business, since they’re adept at thinking about finances in terms of business growth.
Furthermore, you can expect that they have the expertise to analyze and ensure that your finances remain healthy, even in the digital space. In hybrid events where you have to work with several suppliers and services, it’s important to manage invoices properly. They may even provide more benefits for hybrid event organizers since they’re well-versed in virtual collaboration. Consulting with an accountant is especially important if one of the goals of your hybrid event is to increase sales, boost revenue, or expand the business.
3. Skipping rehearsals
Hybrid events aren’t exempt from technical run-throughs. In fact, it’s even more important that you rehearse for these types of events. You’re juggling two different sets of audiences. You don’t just have to make sure that your on-ground event is going smoothly, you’ll also have to ensure that your online streaming is working well.
This is why it’s important to have your materials ready ahead of time. Have your slides, presentations, videos, and other media designed in a way that’s easy to share online. They should also be visually appealing for in-person audiences. Iron out all the technical details from the camera placements to the clothing of people onstage and on-camera. If you’re using a green screen and are planning to do some compositing, which means you’ll be merging layers of media and videos together, then make sure to inform the people who’ll be appearing in front of the camera to wear colors that stand out from the background.
During your rehearsal, go through all the transitions, streaming shifts, and parts where you’re expecting audience interaction. Doing this as early as possible is a good idea, too, as this leaves you more time to adjust and restrategize should there be a need for it.
4. Using the wrong platform
A key consideration in any hybrid event is the platform. This is just as important as the venue for the on-ground component of your event. The platform dictates what you can do and who can access your event. Depending on the nature of your event, there are features to look for in each platform. These play a huge role in keeping the audience engaged, which is essential because online audiences have a shorter attention span than live audiences.
Interactive hybrid events would warrant a platform that facilitates Q&A sessions between the audience and speakers. You need to take extra care so that the entire audience can put their questions forward, even if they’re tuning in through the internet. Additionally, you could even support conversations between participants through features or platforms like Braindate, which lets people talk to each other and hold discussions together. When it comes to the right platform, make sure that you choose something accessible to your audience, and that it can support all the features you need.
These are common mistakes, but they’re all preventable. With the right preparation and proper professional assistance, there’s no doubt that your hybrid event will be a success.
Article written by Sarah Ackley exclusively for e180.co
Sarah Ackley is a is a management consultant based in New York. She regularly attends events and conventions to learn about the latest industry trends. Outside of her work, she does volunteer work in her community and caring for her grandfather who has looked after her since she was young.