Back in the day – in other words, before COVID-19 – getting ready for meetings and events meant time, preparation, and planning. But live functions had to move to hybrid and virtual platforms due to coronavirus-driven lockdowns and social distancing mandates.

While the way in which meetings and events content is presented differs from pre-2020, preparation is still required for success. There is more to a positive hybrid event than putting together many presentations and speakers, dumping them on a streaming service, and believing that participants will happily show up.

The good news is that these following seven steps can help you develop and implement a successful hybrid event, one that attendees, presenters, sponsors, and vendors will talk about and remember! 

1. Define Your Objectives

This might seem to be a basic point, but before you book your first speaker or sign on that vendor, figure out the point of the event. Not all are created the same. Do you want to educate and inform? Provide networking opportunities? Buy, sell, or swap items? Your answers to these questions will help formulate the type, venue, and configuration of your event.

Take some time and effort to consider your organization’s goals and how the event you’re planning will align with those aims.

2. Determine The Configuration

Let’s return to the definition of hybrid events. According to Meeting Planners International, hybrid events “include any meeting or event with at least one group of face-to-face participants that digitally connects with participants in another or multiple locations.”

This definition provides a framework for many different set-up configurations, such as the following.

  • Live main and virtual participants, consisting of in-person presenters in one location and content streamed to virtual viewers.
  • Main and one-way pods, in which virtual viewers come together in groups to watch the live event together
  • Main and two-way pods, which allows attendees to present from different locations or to share perspectives on a topic
  • Studios and pods, which uses space to create and broadcast content to small groups in remote locations

Putting your configurations on paper (literally or figuratively) will lead to more efficient planning. It can help you plan for the right content and activities. Speaking of content . . .

3. Match Content to Delivery Systems

Think about this. When you planned live events before 2020, your focus might have been on keynote speeches, main presentations, or breakout sessions. This planning, in turn, drove the type of content and activities delivered in these formats. Content that might be effective in a breakout session would not have worked out quite as well in a round-table format.

It’s the same with a hybrid event. The highly effective presentations in a live event could fall flat in a streaming environment or pod interaction. While you’re at it, be sure your speakers are comfortable with the designated formats. Someone who struggles with public speaking might do just fine with an online presentation, while another individual with a compelling physical presence would be more effective in person.

4. Stand Out From The Rest

Many, many organizations are developing and putting on hybrid events. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that all these events are remarkably similar.

Don’t fall into this rut. You took pains to ensure that your pre-COVID life happenings would be events to remember. Do the same with your hybrid offering. There are various “extras” you can add to move your meeting or event from the mundane to the spectacular.

Consider the following ideas.

  • Hire musicians to play live music between sessions and panels
  • Produce and show short, fun videos that tie into the theme of your event
  • Involve participants in interactive games, such as trivia, scavenger hunts, or virtual board games
  • Encourage attendees to become involved through a virtual show and tell

Like hybrid event configurations, the extracurricular activities you implement in your event are limited only by your imagination.

5. Promote. A lot

Certainly, hybrid events allow for outreach to more participants than ever. But don’t fall into the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. People still need to know that your meeting and presentations are taking place. They still need to understand why such events are important to them and why they are helpful. Therefore, having your promotion plan in place is an essential part of preparation.

For the maximum benefit and impact, be sure that you target your audience, prepare carefully crafted messages, and deliver them through appropriate mediums and at the right times.

6. Check, Check, and Re-Check The Technology

Before your live event got off the ground, you made sure that microphones worked and audiovisual equipment was functional. You also made friends with the tech person; in case something went wrong.

It would be best if you did this in preparation for your hybrid event, too. In fact, planning is even more important for a hybrid happening because more technology will be in use. You’ll be juggling streaming services, videoconferencing equipment, webinar software, and audio feeds. In addition, you’ll want redundancies in place should something go wrong. And you’ll want to make friends with the tech person.

7. Put Measurements & KPIs In Place

How did you determine the success of your live event? How did you ensure that objectives were met? By the way, remember objectives? The first preparation requirement?

At any rate, to answer the above, you would place audience measurements and feedback in place before the first presentation. The same holds for your hybrid event. Before your first participant logs onto Zoom or your first presenter takes the stage at a live venue, you need your key performance indicators and feedback mechanisms in place. This feedback can tell you if that hybrid event met your objectives.

Feedback mechanisms can include emailed surveys following a streaming meeting, virtual polls after a keynote address, or even live commentary during a particular breakout session. Any way in which you can gauge participant response can be helpful for future events!

Benjamin Franklin Was a G-enius

According to the philosopher, scientist, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is certainly true for life in general and your hybrid event specifically. Preparation is essential to ensure success and to help reduce any potential problems.

With a sound strategy and plan of action in place, your event will resonate with attendees, presenters, vendors, and others.

To help manage any meeting or event in any format, visit eShow to learn about tools and web-based products that can direct you to success!

As an event planner, you know how important it is to have your finger on the pulse of attendee engagement tactics and tools. After all, you always want to produce an noteworthy event with content to remember. Now we are facing a new landscape in the post-pandemic world and may need to craft a hybrid event that features both in-person and virtual attendance. So, how can you make sure that you achieve your programmatic objectives on one-hand, while also ensuring that attendee’s feel connected, engaged and satisfied with their experience? How can you take advantage of some of the best tools in the marketplace today so that you leave nothing to chance?

Do Your Research

Before you begin to draw up your plans, gather as much feedback as you can. You may need to ask more pointed questions than you may be used to, and bear in mind that those who attend virtually may have different objectives than those who come along in person. Also, get into the habit of asking leading questions.

  • Ideally, you would have a survey at the end of each event to help you prepare for the next while memories are sharpest. Otherwise, schedule a discovery call with some key prospects so that you are aware of their expectations and can tailor accordingly.
  • You need to get a clear picture of your audience demographic. This can help you craft those different “avatars” that symbolize each type of attendee and can tailor your approach and content.
  • If you need to deal with different levels of experience, drill into each carefully. You may need to compromise in certain areas or generate backup collateral to help bring newcomers up to speed.
  • Do your attendees prefer to be led by the hand, or can you get away with a less formal presentation? The answer to this question will help you determine whether you need a workshop-style event or need to bring in some keynote speakers instead.

Remember, the more information you gather at this early stage, the better. Choose a broad cross-section of potential attendees, virtual and “live,” so you know what is likely to engage people and plan your event accordingly.

Presentation Options

When it comes to the type of presentation, you have several different formats to choose from.


You can create a hybrid conference and mix several hundred live attendees with, potentially, thousands of virtual participants.

  • Make sure that you bring in interesting, expert speakers who can provide in-depth material for all involved.
  • By all means, schedule some breakout sessions but plan these carefully so that virtual attendees can still engage.
  • If need be, create separate online sessions that will run simultaneously alongside your live breakouts.
  • Remember, it is far harder to hold the attention of a virtual attendee as they may have many other distractions that you cannot control.
  • Your schedule must be as flexible as possible so that attendees can show up for the sessions that mean the most to them.

Networking is, of course, a key component of any live event, but there is no reason why you should leave your virtual attendees in the wilderness. Use the latest tools so that they can engage with other attendees online or at the venue. Allow them to connect with speakers or do business with exhibitors, and remember, some speakers and exhibitors can be virtual themselves and may work alongside those attending the event “live.”


If your primary goal is to educate, you can establish a training session that is both live and virtual.

  • Ensure that each session is as engaging or interactive as possible and guard against boredom.
  • Your approach will be essential if your content tends to be relatively dry, so choose your trainers carefully.
  • Presenters need to know the topic inside out, but they must be highly personable and connect well with remote attendees.


If you are planning an exhibition or tradeshow, you need to take a different approach.

  • You may be dealing with a large audience, and some people may be at various stages of the buying experience.
  • Try to make your virtual attendees feel that they are part of the action, so create an experiential or immersive event.
  • Ramp up your efforts to connect attendees through robust tools that enable networking and interaction at every stage.
  • If some of your attendees are exhibitors and their primary goal is to generate sales, integrate e-commerce facilities to make this as simple as possible.

Working with Tools

In today’s highly connected world, you do not need to work alone anymore. Industry experts like eShow have a range of products that can make it easy for you to connect with your attendees, whether virtual or in person. You’ll be able to gather data from these sessions so that you can analyze behavior and understand attendee objectives. You’ll also be able to integrate your own tools and services so that you always pull accurate data and push enriched data back to your platforms for the best effect.

Provide your attendees with mobile apps to refine their experience. They can download your app to their favorite device to help them find exhibitors, view interactive floor plans, and review session information. They’ll be able to read up about all of your speakers or take notes as they network with other attendees.

If you want to ensure that you provide your attendees (whether virtual or in-person) with the full event experience, consider eShow’s Virtual Event Management platform. You’ll be able to introduce a seamless registration experience where you can collect all of the information about your attendees while processing payments. You can open up your platform to  virtual exhibitors and sponsors who can design a customized virtual booth to converse with attendees. Make it easy for attendees to interact with exhibitors through discount coupons, brochures, and video chats.

If your event is webinar-based, eShow has that covered as well. The Webinar Event Management platform enables you to stream live or on-demand sessions through various presentation options to your virtual audience, so they do not miss out on anything. You can also engage your online attendees through interactive polls or chat boxes.

Plan Carefully and Choose Your Partners Well

Before you start planning your event,  make sure that you fully understand what your attendees are looking to gain from attending your event. Gather as much intelligence as you can ahead of time, and work with companies like eShow to help you plan it all out from registration to execution.

The New Year is right around the corner, making now the perfect time to re-think your event strategy for 2022. The past two years have been a challenge as planners struggled to find their way through unchartered territory, partially relying on trial and error as in-person events came to a halt and digital and hybrid events became the new standard.

Today, it’s clear that some hybrid event features – like lengthy presentations, unstructured happy hours, and virtual scavenger hunts – are best left in the past. For planners who want to make a splash in 2022 and beyond, it’s time to let go of the old and embrace a whole new way of thinking. Here’s a look at some of the top hybrid event tips to help you set yourself apart in the New Year.

Plan Shorter and Smaller Events

While people are starting to get more comfortable attending in-person events again, it’s safe to say they won’t look the same for quite some time. Instead, most events will be smaller, shorter, and more locally focused.

In 2022, and for at least a few years beyond that, planners can expect to see fewer multi-day conferences and an increase in half-day meetings, roadshows, and local business retreats. Instead of centralized mega-events or events held only on the east and west coast, many companies will host multiple smaller events in various locations across the country. 

Focus on the Experience

One advantage of keeping things small is that it allows planners to focus on creating personalized, intimate experiences. For the time being, this is going to be even more important than the content and speakers – particularly for in-person event attendees. Since it’s now easy to consume content from the comfort of your home, attendees need a better reason to take on the expense and potential risks that come with traveling to an in-person event. 

Offer On-Demand Content

Event attendees no longer want to deal with scheduled event sessions and keynote speakers with limited access times. Instead, they want to access presentations when it’s convenient for them. This makes it important not only to live-stream speakers but to also record the sessions so attendees can easily view them after it’s done.

Not only is this far more convenient, but offering this option will keep your event, hosts, and sponsors top-of-mind for weeks after the event is over. One thing to note – if you offer your content for months after the event is done, the excitement will die down. To make the biggest impact, offer it for a couple of weeks or a month at most. This will give attendees enough time to consume the content while also encouraging immediate action.

Shift to an “Event Producer” Mentality

Creating hybrid events is hard work and it requires planners to wear many different hats. To thrive in this arena, you’ll need to start thinking of yourself as not just a planner, but an “event producer.” Your job duties will include designing an engaging and effective program, creating an agenda that will work for both virtual and in-person attendees, and putting on a top-notch production.

Cutting-edge virtual event management software is now non-negotiable if you want to ensure your hybrid event runs smoothly. In addition, you may consider hiring a professional production team to create a thrilling sense of excitement for both in-person and virtual event attendees. 

Customize Your Swag Bags

Sending event merch and swag bags to virtual attendees is still a great concept, but mailing generic kits to everyone is a trend that’s best left in the past. Now, you’ll want to take the time to customize the bags before shipping them out. While this does require more effort, doing so will create a more pleasing and intimate experience for your attendees.  

There are many ways to add a personal touch before shipping out your packages, from allowing participants to choose food and drink preferences to providing certain items based on a participant’s job role or industry, 

Focus on Your Sponsors

Continued uncertainty may make some sponsors hesitant to make large investments in in-person events. However, hybrid events offer them unique and exciting opportunities. Since opening up events to both in-person and virtual attendees increases the size of the audience, this offers much greater exposure. It also creates new ways to increase lead generation and raise brand awareness.

The more value you can bring to sponsors, the more money they’ll be willing to put into your events. Make sure your event management software makes it easy for you to promote them. Some options to consider include adding sponsor logos to registration pages and webinar presentations, offering both physical and virtual sponsor booths, and making it easy for all attendees to schedule appointments with event sponsors.

Have a Backup Plan

While it’s starting to look like things are getting back to “normal,” if the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that you always need to expect the unexpected. To give yourself the best chances of success, try to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and develop an action plan for what you’ll do if it actually happens. 

While this doomsday-mentality might cause you a bit of anxiety, knowing you have covered all your bases will make you feel more confident when the time comes. If something does happen, instead of breaking down or panicking, you’ll handle the situation without breaking a sweat.

Embrace Digital Technology

If you truly want to thrive in the world of hybrid events, you need a top-notch suite of integrated software solutions. Trying to cobble together multiple platforms or making do with what you have simply isn’t good enough anymore.

That’s where eShow comes in. We offer a comprehensive platform for all of your in-person, virtual, and hybrid event needs. From registration and virtual event management to meeting logistics and RFID tracking, we’ll help you shine from beginning to end. Contact us today to schedule your free demo!