Written by StreamYard
Hybrid Events: The Complete Guide (For Beginners)
97% of respondents in a survey acknowledge that they expect to see more hybrid events moving forward.
This shouldn't come as a surprise.
A hybrid event unifies in-person and virtual events. By hosting these events, creators, businesses, and brands get to connect with their customers, extend their event’s reach, and tap into another audience, which can help generate more revenue for your business.
However, not everyone knows how to run successful hybrid events. In this guide, we share tips to help you when going hybrid.
Before we jump into our handy guide, let’s understand what a hybrid event is and why you should consider them in your organization.
What Is A Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is both an offline and an online event. When you host a conference, workshop, team meeting, or any other in-person event and also stream it live at the same time, it becomes a hybrid event.
But it isn’t just about placing a camera and streaming your in-person event. Instead of event hosts and speakers sending information into a black hole anticipating knowledge transfer, a hybrid event should facilitate two-way communication between the speakers and the attendees, wherever they are watching from.
The key is to make it engaging enough for both in-person and virtual attendees.
Thus, while planning a hybrid event, the focus should primarily be on what digital elements to include to ensure that the entire audience interacts, gains insights from the event, participates better, and drives home value.
Why Should Brands & Creators Consider Hybrid Events?
Besides enabling a free flow of information between speakers and attendees, a hybrid event helps in several ways.
The opportunities hybrid events offer in terms of engaging audiences are endless. By reducing physical and financial barriers, a hybrid event helps attract not just your primary but even the secondary and tertiary audiences. This means those sitting on the fence can actually register for your event when you adopt the hybrid model. As you promote your hybrid event through social media marketing, email blasts, live streams, landing pages, etc., you expand its reach – removing the limit on the number of people who can tune into your event, while also making it more accessible at the same time.
Hosting Impactful Events With Multiple Speakers
Creating impactful events becomes easier when you go hybrid. As speakers get the opportunity to attend your event from anywhere, you can reach out to multiple speakers and widen your pool of speakers. It is important to have a great lineup of speakers. Sometimes logistical challenges can get in the way, such as travel time. By offering a hybrid approach, you can have some people be there in-person, while also bringing in others virtually.
Added Flexibility & Scalability
Hosting successful events depend on an ecosystem of uncertainties. The good news is that choosing the hybrid approach offers you enough flexibility. Rather than relying on external factors that dominate the occurrence of an in-person event, a hybrid event can go fully virtual. For example, if your event venue gets closed due to social distancing restrictions, one can still go live with the event and make it happen without having to cancel the event entirely.
Scalability can fall through the cracks if you are hosting an event as well. After all, you can’t anticipate the exact number of attendees in an in-person event and plan for the venue, seating arrangements, parking lots accordingly. A lot of this type of planning needs to be done upfront. This can result in missed opportunities in bringing more event participants. That’s where hybrid events can help with their scalability. You just need to set up the tech, and you can increase or decrease the number of virtual attendees. You can also adapt settings and content to be reused for future events.
Tracking the number of attendees or variables impacting attendance at an event can be overwhelming. But with hybrid events, you can track the virtual data and the KPIs of your event, which will help drive your future hybrid events.
For instance, instead of merely counting the number of attendees in an event, a hybrid event will help you track how many people joined the event, at what time, which session had the most people, along with when did they drop out of the live stream. Gaining insights about these metrics will help you tweak your future hybrid event strategy and improve the speaker lineup and results. That’s something you can’t do so easily with offline-only events.
Delivering More Value To Sponsors
80% of corporate sponsors are interested in investing in virtual events as long as interaction is there. As brands seek more sponsors for their post-pandemic events, going hybrid has become an increasingly important tool for them to tap into stronger sponsor opportunities.
Hybrid events offer a greater reach that sponsors can utilize to generate more leads. Additionally, they can communicate and engage attendees better through online chats, polls, games, etc. Then there’s the budget factor. As most sponsors pivot their budget allotment in the post-COVID era, hybrid events help them measure their ROI better through deep analytics and reporting.
Building A Content Engine
As businesses continue to look for content that steps up their online positioning, hybrid events can push discovery by building a content engine. You can repurpose your exclusive event and promote it to expand your brand awareness.
For instance, you can trim your event’s live stream and publish it across social media to deliver value to the audience who couldn’t make it to the event. You can also use your live stream recordings as podcast episodes. Repurposing your live streams and circulating them on the web also offers excellent visibility to your sponsors, increasing your future sponsor opportunities.
Lower Travel Costs
One of the most incredible advantages of hybrid events is reduced travel costs – not just for the attendees but also for the hosts, event producers, sponsors, and crew. While your audience can choose to attend the event virtually, you can also manage most of your event virtually. From crews skilled in live broadcasting to live stream producers helping you make the most of your event – there are plenty of ways to lower the travel costs associated with your event.
Your sponsors can also enjoy reduced travel spending by ensuring a minimal number of representatives on the physical venue. A hybrid event, thus, is a perfect pick for events where budgets are limited, and you want to further the scope of your event by cutting down on unnecessary travel expenditures.
Less Environmental Impact & Costs
We live in an era where reducing carbon footprint has become a priority for many. Hybrid events help such attendees by removing the necessity to travel. Fewer requirements for travel results in lower emissions, reducing the environmental impact and related costs. In addition, hybrid events also cut your in-person headcount, further reducing the need for disposable accessories, stationery, place cards, etc.
Tips To Get Started With Hybrid Events
Hosting a hybrid event shouldn’t be challenging. Here is a look at a quick hybrid event guide with tips to follow before, during, and after the event for success at every phase.
Before The Event
You can reduce the amount of stress that is often associated with events by preparing ahead of time. To ensure everything stays on track, prepare for your hybrid event by:
Assigning A Budget
Hosting any event without setting a budget is a rookie mistake. Although integrating the virtual element into your event saves a lot of money and gives you more room to market and promote the event, you still need to assign a budget for both the in-person and virtual elements of the event and have it ready on paper. For example, you need to set aside a budget for the live venue, the equipment and tech that may be required, such as cameras, microphones, and lighting, along with the hybrid event or live streaming platform you plan to use for your event. Don't forget about the costs associated with speakers, refreshments for your in-person event attendees, giveaways for the virtual audience, etc.
Picking A Venue Suitable For Hybrid Events
Begin by understanding your infrastructure requirements. For example, how many seats would you need? Does the venue provide high-speed Wi-Fi connection, on-site audio-visual equipment, and other tech tools along with an experienced on-the-ground audio-visual team to handle technical issues? Don't forget about space for breakout sessions for your remote audience?
Hyatt, for instance, launched Together by Hyatt, a program for event planners that allows them to use artificial intelligence for improving virtual attendees’ experience.
Selecting The Right Streaming Platform
Just as choosing the right physical venue is essential, you need to select the right streaming platform for your hybrid event to produce professional and reliable live streams.
StreamYard lets you share live or pre-recorded streams into a Hopin event. You can also add logos, lower thirds, banners, and overlays to brand your live streams.
Alternatively, you can use StreamYard On-Air — our live webinar platform that lets you host webinars, events, and live streams. It also allows you to collect email addresses and embed the event on your website.
Bringing In Hosts For The Hybrid Event
As you hire an on-site host for your event, don’t forget to hire a virtual host as well. Both these hosts will ensure that their respective audiences stay engaged throughout the event. While you’re at it, also look for a chat moderator who responds and engages your virtual audience while moving their questions into in-person Q&A as and when required.
2. Ensure Safety For In-Person Attendees
Here’s some food for thought: if in-person attendees don’t feel safe or comfortable being there at your event venue, they won’t come in. That’s why, you need to ensure in-person attendee safety and promote the same in your promotional posts and emails.
You can take measures like choosing a well-ventilated venue, using masks, ensuring multiple cleaning and sanitation schedules, providing easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer, following social distancing protocols inside the venue, having various entrances, and exits, etc.
3. Promote Your Hybrid Event
If you think you only have so much time to promote your event, think again.
Marketing your event is no longer a choice. It’s a necessity.
To connect with your existing and future audiences, promote your upcoming hybrid event on social media, create a dedicated landing page for your hybrid event and send email blasts.
Here’s how Hubspot promotes its annual event, Inbound, through a dedicated landing page and a pretty impressive content library.
Another way to get the word out about your event is to go live on multiple platforms using StreamYard’s multistreaming feature and encourage people to sign up for your event. This way you can create buzz and get people talking.
4. Keep Registration Flexible
Your event registration does not have to be restricted. Instead, give your participants enough leeway to easily change their preferred mode of attendance (in-person or virtual).
For instance, someone who doesn’t feel comfortable attending an in-person event today may find it okay to give it a try after a couple of weeks. Similarly, someone who signs up to participate in the event in person today may want to join virtually on the day of the event. So, make switching between modes of attendance easy for registrants.
5. Practice And Test
Finally, before you go ahead with your hybrid event, keep aside enough time for practicing. Also, check the entire site and conduct a dry run at least a few weeks before the event to ensure everything is functioning properly.
In addition to high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, also have a hardline connection ready to avoid latency issues during your live broadcast.
And remember, even though you've done solid preparation and it can minimize the odds of things going wrong, you can’t control everything – you can only manage everything. So, have an alternative course of action for every component of the event. Then, if something goes wrong, you know what to do next.
During The Event
1. Encourage Networking
This may sound like a generic tip, but it’s crucial for hybrid events. If you want your audience to increase their takeaways from your event, then enhance their experience by offering various networking opportunities.
Bring your in-person and virtual attendees together with:
Live polls & Q&As
These offer a quick and fun way to know more about your participants’ opinions. Apart from fostering engagement, live polls and Q&As also work as excellent networking tools. Keep in mind that your virtual audience should be able to hear questions asked by the in-person attendees and vice versa. You can also create an open environment by keeping the questions anonymous. You can use tools like Slido and Mentimeter to strike conversations through live polls and Q&As.
“Simulated live” or “simulive” sessions bring in-person and virtual attendees together through pre-recorded live streams. All the participants can learn from the simulive sessions simultaneously and interact during the subsequent Q&A round to make the most of event networking.
Apple Events is a fantastic example here. One can hardly beat Apple’s simulive hybrid events are enjoyed by both its live and virtual audiences – thanks to the simulated live sessions it streams to roll out the latest product updates and innovations.
Games or trivia
Almost everyone loves playing games. So, bring games or trivia into your hybrid event, and you’ll have the perfect recipe for boosting your hybrid event’s engagement. But that’s not it. You can enhance networking amongst the participants through games. For example, reward them with goodies or exclusive merch for receiving a set number of business cards through networking.
Breakout spaces or rooms are essential for the virtual audience to network better. Participants can check into small meeting room groups, with or without a facilitator, and interact with each other in between an event.
You can find multiple platforms offering a live chat feature for your virtual events. Leverage one of them and spark debates, get answers to things you’d like to know about your participants, and also give regular shout-outs to your attendees to keep them engaged.
#FinCon21 is a perfect example of providing networking capabilities to all the participants by bringing in-person and virtual attendees together via live chats and video calls. This is what one of their participants has to say about networking through the event:
2. Bring Speakers On-Site
While hybrid events allow speakers to be present at the venue or virtually, it’s often better to bring speakers on-site to give more power to your event. When speakers are present in front of your in-person attendees, they can feel the energy and get better connected to them. And same goes for the virtual attendees. When they can see and listen to the reactions of the in-person attendees, they will feel the connection and enjoy the virtual event irrespective of the distance.
To get some inspiration, check out how the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards were presented in-person at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) by the show’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, along with a cast of celebrity presenters.
3. Leverage Social Media
Promoting your hybrid event before the hybrid event isn’t enough. To keep the conversations going, leverage social media during the event as well. Post pictures, stories, short videos, and more on social media to build hype as the event happens. You can also send event swag boxes to your virtual attendees a few days before the event, along with a note asking them to share their selfies with the swag box during the event.
Some events will also create a Facebook Group that is just for attendees to better corral the information.
After The Event
1. Offer On-Demand Content
For somebody who hasn’t been able to join your event, it can be a bummer not to have access to the key content. So, after your event has ended, offer on-demand content by utilizing the recorded live sessions. To bring in more viewers, make the content exclusive by providing limited-time access. For example, it can be two weeks or a month – as long as your content delivers value to your audience, you can make it irresistible with limited availability.
Alternatively, you can make the content available for all, without any time limits to drive views as long as you want. For example, at our Live Stream Success Summit, attendees who signed up could get access to the replay. We also made them available on our YouTube channel:
2. Follow Up With Your Participants
Hosting an event isn’t just about bringing speakers and attendees together. You have to follow up with all the participants to build longer-lasting relationships with them. So, after your event ends, follow a targeted and strategic approach to thank your attendees.
For example, you can send them emails with links to your website, blog, and social media handles. Or, send across a feedback form to find points of improvement.
A rather personalized step would be to send handwritten thank-you notes. You can even have your sales or customer relationship team reach out to the attendees on the phone to learn about their experiences.
3. Analyze The Metrics
As discussed earlier, one of the pros of hosting a hybrid event is that it enables data tracking and analysis. So, don’t forget to track metrics like registrations, the number of attendees, social media mentions, live chats, downloads, in-person sales conversations, etc.
Once you have the data, dig deeper to plan your future hybrid events. By measuring and analyzing the KPIs mentioned above, you can measure your event’s ROI and tweak your event strategy accordingly.
Host Better Hybrid Events With StreamYard
Your hybrid event is an opportunity to deliver value — not just another item to tick off your list. When you provide your audience with different ways to attend your event, you expand its reach, make your audience feel valued, and create some evergreen content along the way.
So, go ahead and embrace the hybrid event model.
And if you're looking for the tool that will tie this altogether and make it EASY to host, check out StreamYard On-Air — our live webinar platform that lets you host a webinar, event, or live stream. You can even embed it on your website, and collect attendees' email addresses with a registration form.
You will be amazed at how easy it is to use our browser-based studio for all your hybrid and virtual events. Create your free account today.