Top Tips to Host a Hybrid Event That Everyone Will Talk About
The past year was several things, including pretty lonely. For event organizers and corporate entertainers, the world felt especially strange, because without in-person events, the world just seemed disconnected. Fortunately, the rise of virtual events and live streams has been able to replicate some of the face-to-face interaction we’re accustomed to from networking events. And now, with the world slowly returning to normal, another type of event is starting to shine: hybrid events!
Chances are, you’ve seen talks of hybrid events sweeping across your social media pages or creeping into your meeting invites. And if you’re planning on hosting a hybrid event of your own, there are definitely some pointers you’ll want to know first. From, ‘what is a hybrid event’ to ‘how to host a hybrid event,’ these are the answers you need to keep audience members talking.
What is a Hybrid Event and Why Should You Care?
Hybrid events combine both virtual and in-person audiences through the use of onsite events and a virtual event platform. While one audience gathers in a physical location, the other checks into a live stream to keep up with the action. Other virtual components, such as chat streams, help keep both audiences engaged with the content at hand.
Following the recent events of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid events are rising in popularity for obvious reasons. For one, there’s a large health advantage for those who are immunocompromised or have immunocompromised loved ones, but want to begin to return to events. Hybrid events allow these individuals to partake in the fun from the comfort of their own home — which can also be a major benefit for more introverted attendees (we see you in the comments!).
Secondly, hybrid events offer a significant environmental benefit. We all know travel can be costly, not only for attendees but also for the planet. Hybrid events have the potential to better the carbon footprint of any event, considering half of the attendees will travel and the other half will offset harmful emissions from home.
The bottom line is that hybrid events are probably here to stay, and if you want to plan one, you’ll need to keep both audience types entertained. Now that you can answer ‘what is a hybrid event’ with confidence, let’s tackle how to host a hybrid event with confidence.
How to Engage In-Person and Virtual Audiences
The key to hosting a hybrid event is to engage both your in-person and virtual audiences. One way to think about how these audiences play into one another is to compare them to a hybrid car. Imagine the in-person audience as the gas and the virtual audience as the electric power. The in-person audience will fuel the event, but the virtual audience is what will give the event its oomph.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how to engage both the gas and the electricity — err, I mean the in-person and virtual audiences — at once, I’ve got you covered.
1. Always Hire an Emcee to Host a Hybrid Event
Event organizers, take note: If you want to host a successful hybrid event, you’ll want to hire an emcee… like, ASAP. Short for Master of Ceremonies (MC), an emcee is the glue that keeps hybrid events together. Their primary role is to introduce key speakers or entertainers, transition between event segments, and keep the crowd energized. However, they actually do much, much more.
When you hire an emcee to host a hybrid event, you tap an individual who can manage both the virtual event platform and the onsite crowd. An emcee strives to make an emotional connection with all viewers through the use of well-timed humor and on-the-dime interactions that break down barriers between in-person and online participants. Under the emcee, different types of viewers become a single, unified audience.
2. Never Make Virtual Attendees Feel Like Second-Class Citizens
Remember the hybrid car analogy from earlier? You never want to give all of your attention to an in-person audience when it’s the virtual audience that can really make your hybrid event sing. So, rule number one of hybrid events is to never make virtual attendees feel like second-class citizens. Virtual attendees are just as much a part of a hybrid event as the in-person audience, and they should feel that way.
If you have an emcee on board, that person can really step up to make sure virtual attendees are engaged with the event. Through the chatroom or comments section on your virtual event platform, an emcee can ask virtual attendees questions, take a live poll, or crack some much-needed jokes. They can spend time within the virtual event platform to ensure those at home feel just as much part of the hybrid event as those in the in-person audience.
3. Treat Your In-Person Attendees Like a Studio Audience
While an emcee revs up the virtual audience online, it’s a great idea to treat your in-person attendees like a studio audience. Just like a studio audience, these people will be on the receiving end of your scripted content. They’ll listen to the intros, the speeches, and the music interludes. They might even get brought up on stage or called to ask a question face-to-face.
So, when the emcee hops in the virtual chat with the online audience, it’s smart to read those replies back to the in-person audience as a type of unscripted dialogue. Emcees can announce online audience poll results to the in-person audience and ask their opinion, or intersperse responses from the virtual Q&A sessions in-person to create parallels between what’s happening on either side of the hybrid event.
4. Incorporate Additional Content for the Virtual Audience
To go above and beyond and host a hybrid event everyone won’t stop talking about, you have to give your audience something to talk about first. One way to do this is by incorporating additional content for your online audience. Remember, these individuals won’t have the same face-to-face interaction as an in-person audience. So, use either your virtual event platform or a social media platform to give your online audience a one-of-a-kind experience.
For instance, grab some behind-the-scenes footage of speakers gearing up to hit the stage that you can share exclusively with your digital peeps. Or, give the virtual audience a quick opportunity to ask the speaker a question before they head in front of the in-person audience. Even unique worksheets or personalized swag delivered to their door can create an unforgettable hybrid event.
It’s Time to Host a Hybrid Event No One Will Forget
The world is ready for connection again… are you ready to give it to them? If not, you’re not alone. It can be tricky to navigate the world of virtual and hybrid events. Before long, you’re searching for anyone to explain, “What is a hybrid event?” Fortunately, I’m a corporate entertainer and emcee with more than 10 years of experience engaging hybrid audiences across the globe — after hosting more than 200+ virtual shows in just the past year, I know I can help you host a hybrid event with confidence.
Beyond an entertainer, I’m a partner for your hybrid events. And with my own studio and production team, I can meet you live on site or log onto the livestream with the rest of your virtual audience. What are you waiting for? Plan a hybrid event no one will forget any time soon by booking me today.