As countries start to cautiously reopen following COVID-19, we expect hybrid events to pick up in number. Unlike traditional live-only events, hybrid events enable you to bring the global community together, irrespective of distance or imposed cross-border travel restrictions. This approach can bring in new attendees while also helping you retain them for your upcoming events.
However, as hybrid becomes the new way of running events, it can be easy to forget that virtual attendees are real people too and need to feel as included in your event as their live counterparts. If not corrected early on, you could be losing attendance from a large chunk of your global audience in the forthcoming years.
That’s why we’ve put together a few things planners and producers might overlook that can result in the failure of your event.
Promoting only the live version of the event
Hybrid events are as new to your attendees as they are to you. This means it’ll require a lot to convince them what benefits online participants will get, what learning they can expect, how they’ll be engaged, and how they can connect to your show. However, if you neglected to promote the virtual part of your event, not only does it look like you don’t care about this set of attendees, it also cuts off all the potential leads you could’ve gotten that way.
Pricing virtual participation the same as in-person
Let’s be honest—virtual experiences and live experiences are very different. Though our goal is to do justice to both, we know that live events will cost more because of the venue, stage setup, furniture, and, most importantly, the health and safety supplies you’ve bought for your venue to deal with the post-COVID-19 situation. While there are certain costs you’ll always encounter, regardless if your event is virtual or in-person, it’s not fair to burden your virtual attendees with in-person costs just because they want to participate in your event. It’s important to find a price point that doesn’t make them feel like they’re paying for in-person perks they’re not receiving.
Putting speakers on the show without any rehearsals
Speaking is an art. However, not everyone can speak impromptu. Run through sessions with your speakers so they get a feel of being onscreen while catering to both live and virtual audience. You could also employ a moderator who can manage questions directed at the speakers from both mediums. Featuring an unprepared speaker is neither fair for them nor for your audience.
Deviating from the core theme of the event
Inviting speakers just because they’re influencers is not reason enough. It’s important to know if they can contribute to the subject your event is themed around, so research speakers before inviting them. Look at their expertise, interests, past speeches, and relevance to your event and then shortlist them.
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Live streaming the event without testing A/V
One of the biggest flaws event managers commit while running hybrid events is completely forgetting the online part of it. To ensure a smooth experience for your online participants, it’s important to make sure they can see and hear you clearly. Invest in good cameras and microphones while live streaming your speakers and other parts of the show. If you have the money, it would be ideal to hire someone to monitor and troubleshoot technical issues.
Not spending enough time to test the mobile apps
Mobile apps can serve as the best medium for both online and offline participants to connect. They can create a sense of community amongst them. However, not testing the mobile apps and running a show with many glitches simply ruins the experience for you and your attendees. Ensure that your mobile app can host all your attendees at one time and can render seamless chat and video services.
Ignoring online participants when it comes to engagement
It’s easy to get carried away by your immediate live participants and forget to engage their online counterparts. It’s important that both your online and offline participants feel involved to create a memorable event experience for everyone. Try to involve your online participants by asking questions, involving them in quick online contests, running polls, and more.
Collecting feedback only from the live attendees
This again adds up to forgetting the online part of your event. Given that hybrid events are here to stay, it’s important (now more than ever) to know how your online attendees’ experience has been. Getting feedback only from your live attendees might look like you don’t care as much about your remote participants.
Giving away swag bags only to those who attended in-person
How would you feel attending a friend’s party where only a few people got appreciation gifts for attending? Terrible? Well, that’s how it might look when you cater to only the participants present at your venue. Replace traditional giveaways with new digital swagbags packed with brochures, coupons, free software licenses, and more. This also lets you focus on being fair and sustainable at the same time.
The key to ensure all your participants have a good time is to balance catering to both your online and live audiences. If it’s hard for just one person to accomplish this, you could hire someone who focuses on engaging the online attendees, provided the content and theme is kept intact.
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