Virtual event and live event combinations is something that many people are considering in these uncertain times.
This is a great option to consider in the current state.
The lasting effects of a cancellation can be devastating for a business and/or industry. If people have lost money for an event that you didn’t end up holding then potentially they won’t have that money available to spend with you in the future, even if they wanted to.
Let’s look at the positives of hybrid events (with a live and virtual event combination) and some things you might want to consider when you go down this path.
Before your event
1. Make sure everyone receives the same
This goes for their experience as well as access to information such as workbooks, PowerPoint Presentations, additional information and links that might be referred to during a session.
It also applies to any trinkets or promo items that delegates might have been handed out if they chosen to attend in person. You don’t want all of your virtual delegates feeling like they are missing out or being disadvantaged. You can send them a pack in advance so they still feel like they are part of the event.
Otherwise make it clear in the registration process what the different expectations should be for the different registration types – face to face onsite and virtual event.
2. Consider your sponsors, partners and key stakeholders
You may have had agreements in place or previously set an expectation of their benefits for being associated with your event. If your numbers have reduced for in person or you’ve changed your event format consider how you might bolster their arrangement so that you are now exceeding your previous commitments in other areas or adding in new benefits.
3. Speak with your venue
If you are holding an event, I have no doubt that the current climate, venues are going to want to work with you, not against you. If you are needing to for fill minimum numbers for the venue, and your attendance is going to be lower than that, look to how you can add extra value to those who will be attending in person.
For example, your workshop had a minimum spend of $2,000 which was originally 20 people at a food and beverage package of $100 per person. Now you only have 10 people who will be attending you still need to spend $2,000 in total but don’t just stick with your $100 per person package. Ask your venue where you can spend the extra $1,000 to enhance the package of those 10 people. Could you do a glass of champagne on arrival? Could you increase from filtered coffee to barista coffee? Could you go from a buffet lunch to a plated alternate serve? Could you increase the quality of your alcoholic beverage package or add in spirits?
In the Room
1. Set the expectation of inclusiveness
This goes for both those who are remote virtual event delegates, and especially for those in the room with you. It’s easy to focus on what (or in this case who) is right in front of you but don’t forget those who are virtual. Out of sight, in this instance, definitely should NOT be out of mind.
2. Consider your set up
Look at how you are going to set up the room if you are going to stream live to virtual event delegates. In particular where you are going to place your in room delegates and the camera that will live stream the presenter. Consider this vision at all times and stages of your event. For example, don’t set the camera up above those seated in the room that will block the vision if they stand to go to the bathroom.
Make sure your virtual event delegates have a clear line of sight to the presenter at all times.
Nervous wandering presenters need to know the boundaries of how far they can wander, whilst remaining in the camera line of sight for virtual event delegates, even mark out the floor with tape if need be.
3. Tips for presenters
Face the camera! It sounds like an obvious one but you’d be surprised how many presenters wander and will turn side on to the room, meaning it could be their back to the virtual delegates.
Before you start your presentation ask all of those who are in the room to hold off their Q&A till the end of the presentation.
If anyone interjects during a presentation make sure everyone knows that the standard response needs to be “that’s great and I’d love to chat with you further about this during the next break”.
Present like you are speaking to an auditorium of hundreds. Even if you only have a dozen people in a small workshop right in front of you still present like this. Why? If you don’t, you may find yourself caught in small talk with one person right in front of you and loss the attention of the rest of the room, and definitely all of your virtual delegates.
When you are doing a live stream you are going to have a mic on. Make sure your presenters consider their clothing and, if they have long hair, potentially having it tied up so that it doesn’t brush against the mic.
1. Make it interactive
You want to engage your audience, not only in the room but your virtual audience as well. Consider introducing a polling and Q&A platform that will allow your presenters to ask questions of your whole audience, not just those in the room with them.
A poll can be done from a remote location anywhere in real time. A platform for submitting questions will allow a presenter to answer the burning desires of someone watching remotely as well.
We’ve used a really affordable platform called Sli.do (https://www.sli.do/) in the past with great success for our clients.
2. Consider your staffing (for both your virtual event and in person delegates)
Consider your staffing at the live event as well as for your virtual delegates. Even for a small event consider having:
- A presenter that is focused on delivering and engaging with all of your delegates, in the room as well as virtual
- In room help that can focus on assisting delegates in the room with their questions and/or issues. You want to make sure that the presenter doesn’t feel the need to double up on this role which runs the risk of them moving out of the line of sight of the camera or becoming disengaged with virtual delegates.
- Tech support that can ensure your delegates who are online are being cared for and feeling the virtual love. You ideally want them interacting with the presenter so that they can convey any issues or concerns of your virtual delegates directly to the presenter if need be.
- A run around handle anything and everything person. Don’t underestimate the value of this role. When you forget the blue tac and someone has to run to the shop or your session goes overtime and you need someone to delay catering, this is your person. This person needs to be switched on and able to act without prompting. This role is what allows the above three mentioned already to totally dedicate themselves to their role which is how all of your delegates will get the most out of their in room and virtual experience.
1. Repackage your virtual event recordings
Depending on the style and duration of your event could you sell the complete content for people to consume at another time? Or if your content was educational, could you edit this to turn it into an online course? Could you break down segments of the event into individual modules that could be sold separately rather than an entire course?
There are plenty of options to repackage your content and that is one fantastic benefit about moving to a hybrid event and live streaming/recording it.
2. Event Champions
Originally you may have expected to have a large number of people in one place at one time for your event, don’t despair. Do you have people that champion you and your cause/content in other locations?
Could you partner with them to bring together smaller groups in other locations? You could then roll out your pre-recorded content again and live steam yourself into their various event locations. This would give delegates of smaller satellite events the opportunity to run with existing content themselves but still have a real time interaction with you PLUS your champion.
Concerned about whether you need to cancel or postpone your event, the process for cancellation or postponement or you are interested in how you can look to make your event a successful hybrid event with content your can continue using long after your event finishes then reach out to us. Book a free time to chat to one of our Event Managers to build your new Event Strategy.