Hybrid over troubled water: how to adapt your in-person events for the COVID age
Dec 28, 2021 14:03
The COVID-19 pandemic has recently entered a new phase as the Omicron variant has taken hold. Hence, if your business or organization had only recently started holding in-person events again, it might need to have a rethink. Still, you might not have to switch entirely to holding online-only events.
As the University of London explains, any event can be “hybridized” – letting you welcome both in-person and online attendees to the same event. So, how should you organize what are known as ‘hybrid events’?
Implement one platform for holding various hybrid events
Whether you want to ‘hybridize’ something as small as a webinar, as large as a conference or something of an in-between size, you should look for just one online event platform capable of handling any of these options.
Harvard Business Review points out that almost half of all organizations use at least two platforms for internal webinars – but this can be a relatively cost-inefficient strategy.
Look for a suitable venue or space
Basically, a hybrid event works by permitting a certain number of attendees to be in the same physical space as the presenter or speaker while other attendees watch and participate via online video chat. So, you need an event space that would be conducive to all of this.
You might actually need multiple spaces at once if, say, you will be hosting a large-scale academic conference where a keynote presentation runs concurrently with a number of smaller seminars.
Make sure you have suitable, fully-functioning equipment
Naturally, your heart could quickly sink if an event is seemingly going well but a technical wrinkle then suddenly throws a wrench into the works – for example, because a certain lapel mic hasn’t been attached properly, potentially rendering the speaker using it inaudible to people listening from home.
Hence, before the event even starts, you should carefully inspect all of the hardware – including cameras and sound equipment – you will be relying on for everything to proceed as smoothly as possible.
Select the right speakers for each event
Whether the only people speaking at your event will be existing members of your team or you will be bringing in some guest speakers from elsewhere, you should verify that they will all not only be knowledgeable about the topic of the event but also comfortable with implications of the hybrid format.
For example, they will need to remember to simultaneously cater to both the physical and digital audiences – such as by answering questions from both audiences at a live Q&A section, if the event has one.
Take account of what your target audience thinks
You could do this through various means. Your choice of hybrid event platform could provide you with ready access to detailed analytics revealing when, as you get underway with holding an event, its online attendees are actively engaged and when they aren’t.
However, people who have been to events you have previously put on might already have given you impromptu feedback on what they would like to see from events you hold in the future.
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