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Hybrid Events: A How-To

Vimeo and Virtual Events

You know the crackling feeling of an in-person event: the hum of excited attendees, the buzz of interactive panels, the energy of a packed venue. It’s hard to recreate the magic of having everyone gathered in the same room, but in light of the recent pandemic, organizations have had to adopt live streaming solutions to create digital experiences that still bring people together.

As COVID restrictions begin to slowly lift and a sense of normalcy starts to return, some companies are welcoming employees back into offices for the first time in years. But those same companies may also give employees the freedom to work remotely. This split in in-person versus remote employees only makes the issue of live-streaming even more complicated.

Whether you’re planning an internal all-hands, customer meetup, or an industry conference, hybrid events can help you stay connected with your employees and customers, no matter where they are.

We know, you feel like you’ve just figured this whole virtual event thing out, which makes you less than enthused to now host both virtual and live audiences. Hybrid events may seem daunting on the surface, but when executed properly, they can offer up a lot of potential. Giving attendees options when it comes to how they experience your events enables you to expand your audience reach without sacrificing the engagement opportunities provided by an in-person experience.

We also know there are plenty of challenges that can come from accomodating a live stream experience. How do you monetize your event? Is there a way to gate access for specific attendees? How do you help make joining an event easy and approachable even for the most tech-averse guests?

Here’s some good news: you don’t have to answer those questions alone. We’ve compiled a guide to help newbies and experienced streamers alike launch their own live event. Let’s dive into how you can plan and host a successful hybrid event, as well as highlight some use cases where hybrid events have been carried out successfully.

SIX USE CASES FOR VIRTUAL EVENTS

The event space is expanding — it’s not just broadcasters anymore. With many venues and organizations allowing people back through their doors, event planners need to get creative when it comes to delivering solid experiences for in-person and remote folks alike. Let’s look at a few examples of where hybrid events have been proven to work.

Internal Events

These events are for employees within an organization. Programming varies from a quick, 30-minute meeting to an all-day event. Typical internal events include all-hands meetings, employee training, sales kick-offs, or company-wide events like holiday parties.

Conferences

Hybrid conferences are becoming increasingly common in today’s world. They can last for a single day or multiple days. They typically include a moderator or MC, multiple speakers and keynotes, breakout meetings, networking activities, and other experiences to keep attendees engaged.

The best hybrid conferences will use the right software to connect in-person attendees with people attending from afar. Whether it’s through ​​live polling, chat rooms, direct messaging, or even digital business card exchanging, there’s no shortage of creative ways to make your remote audience feel like they’re at the conference with everyone else.

Webinars

Webinars are the OG virtual events, but hybrid webinars are surging as a result of their ability to combine the best of both worlds — virtual conferences and in-person conferences. These typically last between 30 minutes to an hour, and commonly function as either a demand generation channel or a thought leadership channel. If you hop on a webinar, you’ll likely find housekeeping notes (aka “this webinar will be recorded”), speakers, a slide deck, data, and a few tools — like Q&A or live polls — to engage audience members.

Hybrid webinars center around actionable content. Organizations and creators looking to grow their audience can leverage webinars to increase thought leadership, brand awareness, and education around their services.

Festivals & Award Ceremonies

Looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? In reality, this image is from the 2021 Moxie Awards, which accommodated both in-person and remote audiences around the world. Moxie got creative with hosting the event, going as far as to send virtual attendees gift packages that were not to be opened until instructed. Needless to say, there’s plenty of opportunity to make a hybrid festival or award ceremony one to remember.

These types of events could include performing arts programs, music festivals, and award ceremonies. Organizations are adapting their experiences for both in-person and remote audiences and finding innovative ways to punch up excitement.

Performing arts events may include live talent, exclusive interviews, or other live entertainment to keep those who aren’t attending in-person hooked. They also attract a broader audience coming together to celebrate an artist, a type of music, film, or entertainment.

Sporting Events

In a way, sporting events have always been a hybrid experience, with thousands packed into stadiums to watch the game and even more tuned in from around the world. But professional sports leagues are continuing to innovate new ways to further enhance the remote spectator experience. Whether it’s through unique camera angles that you’d never be able to see in-person or exclusive content that provides insights into their favorite players, sporting venues are taking the hybrid experience to the next level.

In the last couple of years, sporting events have transformed to adapt to the times, which means sports content covers everything from live streamed games, on-demand games, live interviews, and other content to keep the fandom alive.

Faith-Based Events

Churches are finding new opportunities through video. Faith-based communities find a lot of flexibility by live-streaming their sermons and community events. Whether those events are services, classes, community workshops, or just a virtual gathering — a live stream helps a congregation stay connected even when they’re apart.

HOW TO PLAN AND HOST A HYBRID EVENT

The value organizations found in virtual events is undeniable. It enabled many businesses to connect with larger audiences at a fraction of the cost. And while there are events that are better suited for an entirely virtual setting, hybrid events can capitalize on the benefits of a virtual setting, in addition to baking in the added excitement and flair of an in-person gathering.

It goes without saying, but planning and hosting hybrid events requires a whole lot of time, attention, and patience to ensure they go off without a hitch. 

To help you hit the ground running, we’ve got nine tips on how to host a hybrid event.

Determine Your Hybrid Event Goals

Before you plan your hybrid event, you’ll need to identify event goals. Pro tip: This will also help you determine what hybrid event type you should stream.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the goals for my hybrid event?
  • Is this an internally-facing or externally-facing event?
  • How many event sessions do we plan to have?
  • Will the event registration be free, paid, or a combination of both?

Identify Your Target Audience

Any seasoned event professional will tell you the most important KPI is the attendee experience. Make sure your hybrid event hits the mark by clearly identifying your audience beforehand.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • How do you need to reach them?
  • How will your audience, both in-person and remote, engage at the event?

Create Stream-Worthy Content

Content dictates everything when catering to your remote audience— how you shoot it, what type of cameras you’ll use, how to light it, and even some of your encoding and technical choices.

Four Components to Awesome Hybrid Event Content

Relevance: Make sure the live streaming content aligns with the interests of the intended audience, and that the content matches your brand voice and targeted prospects and customers.

Engagement: Keep viewers and attendees on their toes by encouraging interaction with the stream (we love keeping things exciting with the live chat feature). Consider ways you can get your in-person attendees to engage and interact with your virtual eventgoers. Keeping the audience entertained will make sure everyone gets the most out of the day.

Consistency: If possible, turn the live event into a series (either annually or otherwise). “Keeping your events consistent is a guaranteed way to increase brand awareness and brand equity while engaging meaningfully with your audience,” says Vimeo’s Live Production Lead Tom Gott.

Actionability: What is the call to action at the end of the hybrid event? If you want to convert the audience, make sure to facilitate viewer interaction after the event is over.

For Virtual Attendees, Use Gate Event Registration with Ticketing

This is where a Brushfire subscription gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Not only can you stream on Brushfire Online, but you can control content and attendee authentication by using our Ticketing & Registration platform.

Optimize Your Attendee Experience

By using Brushfire to sell tickets or registrations to folks that aren’t able to attend the event in person, you’ll also get access to a host of features that will maximize your attendee experience. Get in touch with us to learn more.

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