X Close

Top 13 Hybrid Event Production Best Practices

Using a hybrid event strategy offers many advantages, which is a huge reason why this format is becoming so widely used. Hybrid events offer a great amount of flexibility, as well as the ability to adhere to necessary guidelines when in-person events need to be kept on a smaller scale. But hybrid event production is a fairly new model, so it’s still unfamiliar to many event organizers. This means it can be hard to find good resources for information and tips to run these events successfully.

Luckily, Impact XM has you covered with plenty of useful tips for event organizers to follow when planning a hybrid event. In this post, we’ll cover some common challenges that many event planners face when producing hybrid events – and how to avoid them. We’ll also describe some of the best practices to follow when producing a hybrid event.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll find in this article:

  • What Are Hybrid Events?
  • 5 Challenges You Might Face During Hybrid Event Production
  • 13 Best Practices For Producing Successful Hybrid Events

 

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, we’ll answer one very important question: what exactly are hybrid events?

 

What Are Hybrid Events?

Hybrid events are an ideal live event format providing the best benefits of both in-person events and virtual events. A hybrid strategy provides flexibility for attendees to be able to enjoy your event either in-person or online. This increased flexibility, in turn, allows for greater audience scale and reach.

There are many other benefits of hybrid events , such as greater sponsorship opportunities and boosted engagement. While the pros of a hybrid strategy greatly outweigh the cons, there are a few challenges that you may need to overcome along the way. Let’s go over some of those next.

 

5 Challenges You Might Face During Hybrid Event Production

Bringing together virtual and in-person events with complex digital elements can lead to some unique challenges. In this section, we’ll go over some common challenges of hybrid event production and tips for how to avoid them.

 

1. Tough to juggle two audiences

While we love that hybrid events allow hosting organizations to easily scale their virtual audience globally, juggling attention between them and the in-person audience can be difficult. Ensuring that both audiences are equally engaged and feel included to the same degree is a challenge exclusive to hybrid events. A common complaint of event audience members who attended hybrid events virtually is that they felt left out of certain aspects of the event, or that the content didn’t keep them engaged as much as it may have if they were present in person.

Here’s how to avoid it:

A great way to offer a similar hands-on experience to your virtual attendees is to send out activity kits in advance. Provide them with the same swag bags, pamphlets, and activity materials that your in-person attendees will receive. This will contribute greatly to your virtual audience’s satisfaction. Additionally, keeping your sessions short and allowing for frequent breaks will help combat the “Zoom fatigue” phenomenon that many people experience while working from home.

 

2. Catering to a wider audience

When opening up the online portion of your event to a global audience, you may need to consider adjusting session times to accommodate those in other time zones. Someone watching from another continent may not be able to attend a live presentation if it happens to be at 3:00 AM local time for them. In addition, a portion of your audience may speak another language, or they may not be fluent in the language in which your event’s presentations are being given.

Here’s how to avoid it:

To combat time zone issues when scheduling your hybrid event sessions, we’d recommend recording all of your live sessions and making them available to re-watch post-event. This way, those who were not able to make a live session at the time it was scheduled can enjoy that content on-demand whenever it suits them. Additionally, choosing a hosting platform that allows for automatic generation and translation of captions is a great way to cater to those who may have trouble understanding your speakers.

 

3. Providing sufficient networking opportunities

Many people attend live events with the intention of using them as networking tools. Being in a space (whether physical or virtual) with people who share common interests and work in the same field is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and form new connections that can benefit both parties. When using a hybrid platform, it can be challenging to bring together your physical and virtual audiences.

Here’s how to avoid it:

To help unite your attendees, consider using digital networking tools like live chat, forums, and breakout rooms to help your audience members connect with each other. These features can be made available to all attendees, including those present at your live venue. This way, all attendees will have the opportunity to mix and mingle, and none of them will feel left out.

 

4. Technical difficulties

Adding extra technology to your live event strategy can make things more challenging, especially if you aren’t experienced with it or are trying something new. Technical issues can really throw a wrench into your live event agenda and can be a cause of frustration for both hosts and attendees. Preventing these issues should be a big priority when planning out your hybrid event.

Here’s how to avoid it:

In advance of your event date, think about what potential technical issues you could see arising. These could be internet connectivity problems, audio outages or glitches, and so on. Once you’ve made a list of potential issues, figure out some ways to fix (or better yet, prevent) those issues. The more you plan ahead and implement safeguards, the better you’ll be able to avoid issues … or at least fix them quickly if they do happen.

 

5. Adhering to COVID-19 guidelines:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, restrictions and guidelines for events continue to change. Due to the ever-changing guidelines, it can be hard to determine what safety requirements will be mandatory when the date of your event comes around. As frustrating as this may be, we’d suggest planning for the worst. That way, you’ll be prepared should restrictions change between when you’re planning an event and when you’re actually running it.

Here’s how to avoid it:

As an example, even if you’re not sure you’ll end up needing them, have personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and hand sanitizers ready to go for your in-person live event. Although not all places currently require masks to be worn indoors, it’s good to have them handy in case those restrictions change. Plus, some of your attendees may want to use them even if they’re not necessarily required in that space.

 

13 Best Practices For Producing Successful Hybrid Events

To make your hybrid event the best it can be, there are some best practices we’d suggest following when planning out your event agenda. These thirteen tips will help you run an outstanding event, keep your attendees happy, and even possibly increase your ROI!

 

1. Prioritize the safety of your attendees

When hosting a portion of your audience virtually and another portion in-person, you need to ensure all of your attendees are kept safe. This means that you’ll need top-notch cybersecurity for all online aspects of your event, as well as necessary precautions for the health and safety of your in-person attendees as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us globally.

Why it matters:

Going the extra mile to ensure your attendees and their information are safe and secure will benefit you two-fold. First, it will minimize the risk that something will disrupt your event. Second, it will increase your audience’s confidence in your organization. Show your attendees that you care about them by protecting them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ensure that your chosen hosting platform has top-notch cybersecurity
  • Consider having a third-party security audit completed in advance of your event
  • Take all necessary COVID-19 safety measures into consideration

 

2. Consider your budget limitations

In the beginning stages of planning your hybrid event, you need to map out your event budget. If you have necessary expenses in one area, you may need to cut back on spending in others. For example, if your budget doesn’t allow for a large venue, you can reserve your in-person tickets for select VIPs while increasing the scale of your virtual audience. A big benefit of using a hybrid event strategy is how flexible it allows hosts to be with their budgets.

Why it matters:

Figuring out all aspects of your budget is essential to ensuring your event results in a positive return on investment. If you plan ahead, you won’t end up going over budget while still putting on an amazing event that your attendees will talk about long after it ends.

Key Takeaways:

  • Figure out the total amount of money your organization can spend on your event
  • Make lists of necessary expenses vs. “wants”, and allocate your budget to those areas accordingly
  • Find creative solutions to budget limitations (like the venue size idea mentioned above)

 

3. Keep your audience engaged

While hosting two audiences, it can be difficult to engage both your in-person and online attendees. However, keeping your audiences engaged and interested in your event content is imperative to the overall success of your hybrid event. Try to make sure that your sessions cater to both audiences, and keep the content interesting and fun!

Why it matters:

If your event is not engaging, your audience will get bored and leave your event feeling much less satisfied. Captivating your audience with interesting speakers, activities, and other event content is essential to attendee satisfaction and retention.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep all content as interesting and interactive as possible
  • Schedule sessions for a reasonable amount of time, in keeping with the average attention span
  • Allow for frequent breaks between sessions, possibly with activities or chat rooms available for those who are interested

 

4. Attract the right sponsors

Finding sponsors for hybrid events can actually be easier than for other live event types. Sponsor companies will love the extra exposure they’ll get from putting their marketing materials in front of two audiences. This is especially the case if your event content will be available to stream on-demand post-event, providing even more long-lasting exposure for them. With your virtual audience being nearly infinitely scalable, potential sponsors will be attracted to the possibility of reaching a huge pool of potential clients/customers.

Why it matters:

Bringing in sponsors for your event will add to your event’s budget and potentially allow you to spend a little more on things you want, rather than need. Sponsors will provide value to your event by adding to your budget/revenue, and you provide value to the sponsors by putting their content in front of your audience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Figure out what kinds of sponsors you’d like to have involved in your event
  • Map out what benefits your event has to offer to sponsors, as well as what you’d like sponsors to provide you in return
  • Decide what kinds of ads you’d like to allow sponsors to present, such as:
    • Sponsored sessions
    • Booth(s) at your venue
    • Banner ads/pop-ups on your online event platform
    • Commercials for your on-demand content post-event

 

5. Balance live sessions with evergreen content

For your virtual audience especially, it’s important to make sure that your live content will make them feel like they should attend live rather than watching the recording on-demand later. If you’re worried about your audience tuning out during the live sessions, add incentives or online exclusives like a live chat, Q&A with the speaker, raffles, or games. While having your audience present and engaged during live sessions is important, it’s also important to consider evergreen content when planning your event agenda. What sessions will bring the most value to your audience that watches recordings on-demand? What speeches will you be able to re-use the most for marketing purposes, promotion of future events, and so on?

Why it matters:

You want to provide the most value to all of your audience members, whether they tune in live or watch recorded sessions on-demand post-event. Your live audience should feel like they’re getting value out of being at your event as it’s happening, but those who watch recordings post-event should still feel like they’re getting value from evergreen content.

Key Takeaways:

  • Add incentives to attending sessions live (raffles, Q&As, etc.)
  • Maximize evergreen content potential with valuable presentations you can re-use

 

6. Try creative strategies for networking & collaboration

Uniting your online and in-person audiences can be tough. However, one way to easily bring groups of virtual and in-person attendees together is to facilitate networking between them. Your audience members may be attending your event with the intention to network with others in their field, so adding these collaborative sessions to your event agenda will surely be a crowd-pleaser.

Why it matters:

Networking is one of the top reasons why many people choose to attend live events. Facilitating opportunities for networking will add to your audience’s satisfaction and encourage them to attend your future events.

Key Takeaways:

  • Create many opportunities for networking and collaboration between your attendees
  • Foster a community around your event through social media, forums, and other networking platforms
  • Schedule “breakout sessions” as dedicated time for pre-selected groups of attendees to meet and chat with each other

 

7. Select the optimal hybrid event format

Depending on what your event is based around (your organization’s niche, product launch, learning experiences, etc.), you should select a format that is suitable for the goals you’re looking to achieve. Maybe having only presenters at your event’s physical location and having all your audience members tune in virtually works best for your event. A hybrid event model offers plenty of flexibility, so you can customize your event’s format to perfectly meet your needs.

Why it matters:

It’s important to choose the right format for your hybrid event. Choosing the wrong format could make the event more difficult for your staff to run, lower attendee satisfaction, and generally contribute to a lower level of success for your event as a whole. Optimizing your event format will ensure that your event runs smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone involved.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tailor your event’s format to suit the needs of your event and its attendees
  • Consider the wants/needs of your sponsors when selecting an event format
  • Check out our breakdown of hybrid event types to learn more about some of the formats you might choose to use

 

8. Use optimal pricing strategies

There are many factors that you need to consider when it comes to determining how to price tickets for your event. This may be even more challenging, when hosting a hybrid event, as you need to appropriately price both in-person and online ticket options (and perhaps even various tiers of tickets under each of those categories). What has proven to be optimal for many event organizers is a dynamic pricing strategy that offers varying levels of access to the event and its content. Offering more affordable options for virtual attendance will attract more potential attendees and help expand your event’s overall reach, while higher-priced “VIP” type tickets will help increase your event’s ROI even more.

Why it matters:

An important part of planning your hybrid event is considering how to price your tickets to be affordable while still maximizing your return on investment. You want to attract the highest possible number of attendees while maintaining price points that will ensure you bring in revenue once all is said and done.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider your budget and sponsorship revenue to determine how to price tickets for a positive return on investment
  • Offer multiple tiers of ticket options at various price points to attract a broader audience
  • Attract attendees to higher-priced tickets with exclusive access to extra content, behind- the-scenes access, etc.

 

9. Use analytics to gain insights from the data

You can use the data gathered from attendee registration and participation metrics to gain insights into your audience and the overall success of your event. Perform analysis on engagement data like clicks, shares, comments, and more to see how engaged your audience was with your event content. Use polls and surveys to collect other valuable data on attendee satisfaction. These analytics can also be shared with your sponsors to prove that your event was worth their investment.

Why it matters:

The digital elements that come along with a hybrid event model bring with them easier access to event information and data. These are very valuable tools for seeing how successful your event was, what your audience likes and dislikes, and how you can better plan any future events. Event sponsors will also appreciate any extra data/insights you can provide them!

Key Takeaways:

  • Make the most of the data gathered from the digital components of your event
  • Analyze all data to gain insights about event success, attendee engagement, and more
  • Share all relevant data with event sponsors

 

10. Select the right location

When hosting a hybrid event, your venue will double as a recording studio for the content being streamed/recorded for your virtual audience. So, it’s ideal to have a venue that will be optimal for doing these recordings, especially if it has a nice-looking background where your speakers will be presenting. Try to find the best venue you can while keeping your budget in mind to get the best “bang for your buck.”

Why it matters:

It may not seem like choosing a venue would be that important when hosting a hybrid event, especially if the majority of your audience will be viewing online rather than in-person. However, since your venue will serve more than one purpose, choosing an appropriate venue is an important part of any hybrid event plan.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider your budget and keep within it
  • Look for a venue with a nice backdrop for session recordings
  • Stick to a venue appropriately sized for the number of in-person attendees you expect to have

 

11. Use technology to your advantage

In addition to picking the right physical venue, choosing the right virtual venue for your hybrid event is very important as well. Consider what features your ideal event hosting platform should have: visibility selections (based on what level of access a user should have), proper cybersecurity, live chat, and other interactive features. Ensure you can offer your virtual attendees a personalized and safe experience.

Why it matters:

Chances are good that the majority of your audience will be viewing your hybrid event digitally. The virtual side of your audience will be much easier to scale than the in-person audience, which is limited by the size of your physical venue. Choosing technology that can support a large audience live-streaming all at once, along with other additional features that you want for your event, is an important thing to consider when planning your event.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make a list of all the wants and needs your ideal hybrid event technology should fulfill
  • Take your time choosing the perfect platform to host your event online
  • Conduct several technology checks before your event to ensure everything runs smoothly

 

12. Hire experts to fill specialty roles

If you haven’t run many hybrid events before, it may be worth the investment to hire some experts to do some of the more specialized technical tasks that your event requires. For example, hiring an audio-video team will ensure that your live-streamed content goes out to your virtual audience in high quality. An experienced MC could be worth adding to your team for keeping your audience engaged. And a tech support team that can answer any questions or concerns from your attendees would also be a great option to consider. For any areas where you do not feel your internal team can effectively cover all necessary tasks, bring in some experts to fill those roles.

Why it matters:

Specialty experts may add to the cost of your event, but the tasks they can do for you and the issues they can help you avoid or quickly resolve make them well worth the investment. Being stuck working with technology you aren’t experienced with or having AV issues are certainly not things any event organizer wants to deal with, so bringing in the experts to help you handle these things is a good practice.

Key Takeaways:

  • Figure out what areas of your event your internal team can handle, and where you might need some extra help
  • Determine how much of your budget can be allocated to hiring experts
  • Find and hire the right people to fill these specialized roles on your event management team

 

13. Strive for audience satisfaction

Satisfying both your online and in-person audiences at the same time is one of the hardest things to achieve when hosting a hybrid event. Your virtual audience may have other things distracting them at home, and their attention span may tend to be on the shorter side compared to those present at your physical venue. It’s important to tailor your event specifically to make your audience happy and to leave them feeling satisfied with their experience. Make the most out of your sessions by adding interactive, engaging elements alongside them. In addition, provide ample opportunities for networking, and ensure your attendees feel heard by asking them for feedback.

Why it matters:

Prioritizing attendee satisfaction will ensure that your audience leaves your event feeling like they had an experience that was worth their investment and time. Satisfying your audience is also important for encouraging them to attend any future events your organization hosts. In short, audience satisfaction is a key factor in overall event success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Appeal to your audience with exciting event content and fun activities
  • Satisfy your attendees with exclusive access to additional content
  • Survey your audience members and ask for feedback to learn what they liked and disliked about your event

 

That covers all of the top challenges and best practices you should know about when planning your next hybrid event. Head over to our Industry Insights section to find more helpful resources and information to help you with your event planning or reach out to our team at Experience@impact-xm.com to discuss how these best practices can be applied to your business.

Request a Proposal

This form collects your information for follow up and will add you to our mailing list. You can unsubscribe or update your subscription preferences at any time. Check out our privacy policy for more details on how we protect and manage your data.