The events industry has gone under a massive transformation since March 2020. With a pandemic sweeping the world and in-person events canceled, it seemed like all was lost. But if there’s one thing event professionals are known for it’s being flexible. Thanks to this knack for adaptability, a surge in virtual events completely shifted the paradigm, and audiences were introduced to brand new ways to connect and experience the world. Simultaneously, planners learned how to harness the power of technology to continuously deliver exciting events.
And now that things slowly start opening up again, event professionals are faced with a new challenge – hybrid events. Yes, it’s time to bring together virtual and in-person knowledge to create riveting and immersive experiences for attendees. But before you jump face-first into it, let’s get the most common pitfalls out of the way, shall we? Keep reading to find out 15 hybrid event mistakes to avoid at all costs!
Clichés exist for a reason, and the notion that practice makes perfect is one of the mantras everyone involved in the planning process should hold dear. It’s doubtful that any event professional would neglect to rehearse the aspects inherent to the in-person facet. However, it’s fairly easy to do so when considering the virtual part. But that’s a huge mistake. Virtual event rehearsals matter just as much as the in-person ones. And since hybrid events are literally both virtual and in-person at the same time, practicing is all the more important.
Everything needs to be tested before the big day, and that includes lights, sound, videos, materials, and virtual tools. Anticipate everything that could go wrong and report any issue you might find. It’s the best way to ensure all goes seamlessly when it’s showtime.
Not Hiring An Emcee
One of the most glaring hybrid event mistakes planners incur is ignoring the virtual audience – but more on that later. To curb this potentially fatal flaw, planners should hire a virtual emcee that essentially serves as the voice of those who are watching from home.
This person will moderate the chat, take questions, and pass them on to the speakers, as well as consistently work to engage with those who can’t be physically present. The lack of a stand-in for your virtual attendees will only sour the experience for them.
Heavier content is all fine and dandy when we’re talking about in-person events. However, when we shift the conversation to hybrid, things differ. Remember that you’re now appealing to two very contrasting sets of audiences.
And keep in mind that in the age of on-demand content, no one wants to look at heavy and long presentations for hours on end. Keep the content engaging, entertaining, and straight to the point. Use as much visual aid as possible and get creative with b-roll footage and green screens. Both audiences will thank you!
This is yet another instance where planners must recall that hybrid means in-person plus virtual. Sure, the physical audience probably wouldn’t mind a three-day-long event with five-hour sessions sprinkled in there. But the virtual attendees? Not so much.
Make sure to reach a compromise in terms of time that will keep everyone happy. Attention spans are short as it is, particularly when someone is watching from home. It’s preferable to spread it out over several days and cut the hours.
Not Training Your Speakers
Speakers have their work cut out for them. It was hard enough to learn how to appeal to a brand new type of public in the virtual sphere. With hybrid events, they must now avoid the trap of speaking and engaging with the in-person attendees only.
The best way to avoid this is to offer support. Train them in the art of marrying physical and digital to the point where they could host their own talk show. And if you don’t have the necessary credentials to do it, find someone who does – it will pay off!
No Broadcast Quality
Back when virtual events became the norm, many planners were under the impression that a Zoom call was enough. However, webinar fatigue soon set and proved that Zoom just won’t cut it in a long run. The same principles of storytelling and engagement that we applied to in-person experiences must be replicated into the virtual and, consequently the hybrid space.
As we mentioned before, get creative with the tools available to produce broadcasting quality – camera angles, b-roll footage, green screens, quality audio, and video are all things that deserve attention when producing hybrid events.
Disregarding The Online Audience
Being back in a room with other people to enjoy an event will be exciting. So exciting that the temptation to forget everyone who’s tuning in from their computers will be at an all-time high.
Don’t – and we cannot stress this enough – forget about every single attendee who isn’t present. People remember bad experiences, and no one likes to feel left out. Disregarding the online audience will have ugly consequences for the brand and/or organization.
Not Enough Bandwidth Or Power
Moving on with our list of hybrid event mistakes to avoid, we have the internet and power issue. It takes a lot of bandwidth to pull off a hybrid event. The venue where the physical portion of the experience is taking place must be equipped with enough bandwidth to ensure a seamless experience for virtual attendees. And on the same note, assuring that this audience is educated about the Internet needs on their side is paramount.
When choosing your hybrid event venue, make sure to double-check whether they meet the internet and power requirements necessary to put on a spectacular in-person show and broadcast it to the virtual attendees. Nobody wants a power outage or a choppy live stream!
Going For The Wrong Platform
Hybrid and virtual event platforms have experienced a boom in the demand, which means there’s plenty of choice for planners. This, however, can be more of a blessing than a curse – especially if you don’t know what to look for.
When the time comes to choose the platform remote audiences will have access to, put your researcher hat on. Make a list of everything you want and don’t rest until you find it. Lean on your production and event technology partners – they should be able to find the perfect match based on your event’s objectives.
Opting For The Wrong Sponsors
The importance of sponsors can’t be overstated, but rushing to choose anyone that’ll have you isn’t the best way to go about it. Sit down and think long and hard about your event and your goals.
What type of sponsors would make sense in this scenario? Refrain from choosing partners that have nothing to do with the industry and theme of your event. You’re looking to minimize distractions, not amplify them.
Not Following Up Post Event
Audience engagement doesn’t end when it’s lights out. If you’re looking to plan a memorable experience that will leave audiences wishing for more, pour some heart into your post-event marketing.
Share surveys, ask for opinions, make them feel heard. Share the best bits of the event on your social media and keep coming up with strategies that drive engagement even after it’s all over.
Not Considering Different Engagement Strategies
Each audience poses a different set of challenges. What works for a physical attendee won’t work for a virtual one. Especially not where engagement strategies are concerned!
So don’t fall into the trap of feeding a tiger and a dolphin the same thing because they have distinct needs. Taking the easy route will only lead to dead-ends.
Not Nailing The Pricing
This can be a little bit of a complex task to nail. If you do decide to charge both audiences the same, you have to be sure remote attendees get a special package that includes perks the in-person audience doesn’t receive. Otherwise, you might want to consider charging them less.
Not Thinking About Networking
Attendees will be eager to network amongst each other, which leaves a lot of room for the physical audience to ignore the virtual one. Come up with relevant strategies that facilitate networking amongst virtual attendees and between them and the in-person audience.
Doing It All By Yourself
Let’s face it – even though we all know that hybrid events are the future, they’re still fairly new ground for most planners. The best way to assure an event goes smoothly is to surround yourself with a partner with experience in the field.
Production and creative professionals will be your number one allies when it comes to training speakers, bringing broadcast quality to the table, choosing the right platform, and much more. If you need help on this end, make sure you reach out to us. We’ll help you avoid all of the most common hybrid event mistakes!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2020 and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.