Producing a hybrid event is not as difficult as you might think. With the right equipment, people, and processes in place, event organizers can make their in-person events hybrid able. Here are some of the main elements you need to think about.
Hybrid event strategy
In any event—in-person or hybrid—strategy always comes before planning and execution. Hybrid events require more inclusive thinking about how each component (marketing, programming, implementation, access) impacts both in-person and remote attendees.
On-site gear and coordination to broadcast the content
Organizations can use the same equipment and production staff to produce an in-person event as they can a hybrid event as long as the software-as-a-service platform to connect the two audiences is also in place.
Depending on where the activity takes place—in an exhibit booth, breakout session, or general session—and how much programming will be streamed, planners have two options:
- Bring equipment and crews to the locations where the action is taking place (periodic exhibit booth demos, for example, in which portable cameras, microphones, and lighting can capture a live demo and audience Q & A)
- Move the action to a few key locations where cameras and crews are placed (best for a more elaborate production, such as a general session, a large breakout session, or a central demo stage on the exhibit floor)
Less equipment and fewer crews help bring production expenses down; however, scrimping on equipment and production people can also lower the production value or diminish the experience for remote audiences.
A better option for event planners is to be selective about the programming shared with remote audiences and coordinate the broadcasts (put only those sessions to be streamed in rooms or areas with the appropriate equipment and technicians).
Video conference software and production to bring the remote audience in
Enabling remote audience members to participate in in-person event activities is the other half of the audience inclusivity equation. Virtual event or video conferencing software can take the feed from the live event and show it to the virtual audience. It can also show remote audience members to the in-person audience (via a large, in-room display screen). A behind-the-scenes producer or in-room remote audience monitor can help live speakers field questions from both audiences.
The hybrid event crew
It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of people to produce a hybrid compared to an in-person-only event. However, it takes experienced people to bring the in-person and online elements together, including:
- Producers — an executive producer oversees all the elements of the hybrid production, coordinating how the production is seen in both the physical and virtual environments, while other producers may be in charge of various types of programming (keynote addresses vs. breakout sessions) and hands-on tasks, such as managing technical rehearsals and the broadcast team.
- Engineers — In-room and remote engineers manage all the hardware (cameras, lights, microphones) and software connections, settings, synchronizations, and transitions and incorporate any presentation graphics or assets into the online broadcast.
- Network engineers — Network engineers make sure the bandwidth, speed, and reliability of the connection are appropriate and functioning. Network experts can also help you determine the amount of connectivity you’ll need for the event.
- Editors — When organizers use pre-recorded video during the event or archive presentations for post-event viewing, editors remove speaker blunders or add visual overlays (speaker names, titles, companies) at the bottom of the screen.
- Speaker support — CEOs, especially, often need additional support when they deliver hybrid keynote addresses. The support can include speechwriting, coaching, or stage direction to have the right effect on in-person and remote audiences.
- Set designers — While informal settings (kitchens and closets) and fake backgrounds are acceptable for virtual-only events, hybrid events need settings that work (stimulate, motivate, deliver brand awareness or tell a story) for both in-person and online viewers.
Because most in-person events can become hybrid able, producing a hybrid event is more like the same event but with a larger audience. That’s not to say producing a hybrid will be a breeze—there are still a lot of moving parts. Working with an experienced partner like Smartsource® can help you make the transition to hybrid and enable everyone who wants to attend your event.