When it comes to events, there’s no room for error. Planners must consider every meticulous detail so your event runs smoothly. This is especially true in hybrid events — you’ve got two separate audiences to cater to. It’s not easy finding the perfect venue, creating an engaging program in-person and on-screen, managing catering and technical needs, and keeping your audience’s attention. But even with all the preparation in the world, unforeseen circumstances can still derail your event.
Good news: knowing what can go wrong when planning a hybrid event can help you develop your defenses against them. Here’s a rundown of 15 mistakes to avoid if you want to have a successful hybrid event.
The flow of an in-person event varies greatly from a virtual event. But when you have both formats, you’ll need to consider an optimal program design that allows each audience to get the most from it. Think carefully about segment transitions, how much of the in-person event your virtual audience needs to see, and how they can engage as though they were attending in person. Likewise, make sure event technology doesn’t get in the way of the in-person experience.
Mobile event apps have forever changed how events are managed and experienced. With a mobile event app, event managers can easily share important information with attendees, and attendees can quickly access all necessary resources from the convenience of their own devices.
Even virtual audiences can benefit from a mobile event app. They can get reminders and notifications, share content in the feed, create schedules, and engage in live polls and other interactive features.
No matter your event topic and program, testing is a non-negotiable step. This means testing your event technology as well as the overall flow and design of your program. See where bottlenecks occur. Make sure transitions are fluid and seamless. Go through the user experience of registering for your event, getting reminders, participating in polls, and other functions. If you find something to be confusing or frustrating, your attendees probably will, too.
Not everyone in your hybrid audience will have the benefit of seeing sponsors and exhibitors up close. Make sure you promote sponsors and exhibitors throughout the event so they get maximum exposure from their participation.
For example, you might provide dedicated break-out sessions for sponsors or exhibitors to interact with attendees. You can incorporate sponsor or exhibitor logos into your branding and promotional materials leading up to the event, such as emails or website graphics. You can also create exclusive virtual booths for them where they can answer questions from virtual attendees or showcase products/services during the live stream of your hybrid event.
The more your sponsors see value in your event, the more likely they are to sign up as a sponsor in the future!
Rehearsals are essential for any event, but they become even more important when dealing with a hybrid format. There are not only the logistics to consider but also the technical challenges of combining multiple event platforms into one cohesive experience. The goal should always be to create an environment where all participants feel like they’re attending the same event regardless of whether they’re physically present or joining virtually.
Practice makes perfect, right?
When using any kind of event technology, you need good support that knows how to work all of your systems. If audio or video goes out, you’ll need someone to troubleshoot and get it back up and running. Otherwise, your virtual audience will miss out on key parts of the event. You’ll also need dedicated support teams to handle everything from online registration to accessing the event to using the mobile app. You never know where problems might arise!
Attention spans are short. Trying to pack too much high-value information into a single session or event can tire your audience. This also means not overcrowding the screen with content or feeding your audience too much at once.
One important consideration with a hybrid event is length — you don’t want to make your events too long.
Lengthy events can overwhelm virtual and in-person attendees. You risk losing engagement and interest. Try keeping each session to 45 minutes to an hour, with breaks in between.
Lots of things can interfere with your streaming quality — camera angle, image quality, lighting, and buffering speed, to name a few. Recognise and address these potential issues before they affect your event.
Not ensuring you have enough bandwidth to broadcast your virtual sessions can reflect poorly on your event. Users will struggle if they’re not able to see your content clearly.
Audience engagement is key when planning a successful hybrid event. Immersive environments encourage meaningful participation. Organisers can do this through interactive activities such as Q&A sessions, live polls and discussion forums; personalised experiences such as unique opportunities tailored to individual interests; technology such as AR/VR to push boundaries further; and collaboration between attendees through networking sessions or team-building games.
Networking is by far one of the most valuable parts of an event. This takes a unique approach in a hybrid setting, as not all attendees will be able to connect face to face. Bridging the gaps between the two audiences can help everyone establish connections.
Your speakers arguably make the event successful. For the most part, they’re the reason why your attendees sign up. Not going through the speaker flow with them (e.g., entering and exiting the stage, mic-ing up, etc.) can rattle their confidence and may distract them from their session.
It’s easy to focus so much time and attention on your in-person attendees since they’re right in front of you. But your online audience is watching too and deserves to feel like part of the action.
Having interactive activities, ensuring good audio and video quality, and good communication throughout the event can go a long way in making online audiences feel included.
Hybrid events tend to take more time than just online or just in-person events. Allow enough time between sessions for breaks, camera angle changes, troubleshooting, and other nuances. A good rule of thumb is to double your setup and planning time.