Four Key Considerations for Virtual and Hybrid Events
While in-person meetings will never go away, virtual and hybrid (in-person combined with virtual) models are becoming more common.
Unique considerations accompany both virtual and hybrid meetings. Which model you select rests on which one will best achieve the goals and objectives of your meeting. Here are some key considerations as you incorporate hybrid and virtual into your event program.
Choosing the Right Platform
In a virtual setting, selecting a meeting platform is equivalent to choosing a hotel or venue for an in-person environment. Choosing the right platform requires consideration of many critical factors. For example, some event planners might assume that the number of attendees is the sole or most important element when selecting a virtual meetings platform, but it’s merely one consideration.
Other factors are equally, if not more, important. For example, event planners should ask these questions when choosing a virtual platform:
- Do you need two-way communication or just broadcast capability?
- Will there be breakout sessions as part of your event?
- Will you have a moderator?
- Do you want to poll attendees?
- Where are your attendees located? Do you have an international audience?
Selecting Your Subject Matter Experts
Another critical consideration for achieving success in a virtual or hybrid meeting environment is speaker selection. One benefit of a virtual environment is that more speakers can attend.
Many subject matter experts are incredibly knowledgeable in their fields and are compelling speakers but cannot dedicate travel time to speak at an event. These experts can now join virtual webinars because they can afford to give up just a few hours of their workday.
Higher profile speakers are also becoming an option for virtual settings. Since the cost for securing a higher-profile speaker drops in a virtual environment, certain types of speakers can become viable and in-budget options for your virtual event.
With virtual meetings, you also have an opportunity to select speakers ideally suited for this type of environment. While some speakers thrive on the energy of an in-person event, others excel in a virtual setting. When planning a virtual or hybrid meeting, ensure you take your speakers’ comfort level and skill-set into consideration.
Creating the Right Environment
Lighting, background and production value become even more critical in a virtual environment versus in-person. Since attendees’ only connection to the speaker is virtual, what they are looking at around and behind the speaker matters immensely.
Panel sessions must be planned out more carefully as well. People who aren’t used to being part of a panel discussion in a virtual or digital environment should be briefed beforehand and given time to practice gaining comfort with the new environment before the meeting or event begins. Conducting pre-show rehearsals is even more critical in a virtual setting.
Planners should consider body language, etiquette, group dynamic and the subtle physical cues that occur in-person. These small moments can be easily exposed on screen and can easily capture your attendees’ attention – in a negative way.
Creating an Engaging Virtual or Hybrid Event
How do you keep your event engaging in a virtual or hybrid environment?
For a hybrid meeting, how do you maximise the online experience while differentiating from the in-person experience? Online events tend to have higher registration numbers but greater attrition – it helps attendees have a reason to attend or an investment in their registration. Don’t forget accessibility for online attendees – the ability to have closed captioning and transcripts is helpful.