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Let’s face it. COVID-19 has created a profound change in the way we meet and exchange ideas. Event organizers and managers are now faced with a sink-or-swim challenge – creating imaginative new ways to hold events or bust.

Out of necessity, but accustomed to always having a ‘Plan B,’ event organizers quickly pivot to a whole new world of challenges. Now the hybrid event, a combination of in-person and virtual experiences, is becoming the hottest trend in planning and holding events.

Organizing registrations, boosting virtual engagement, and networking for the hybrid option now propels your responsibilities to new heights. No less daunting is the task of ensuring that the technical aspects of hybrid events roll out without a hitch. Requirements for the audio, visual, and lighting aspects of a hybrid event have become doubly important.

Here are some tips to help you take on these technical challenges while considering attendees’ two different experiences during a hybrid event.

Choose A Venue That Can Support Technical Needs

For the in-person piece of your hybrid event, you have many new boxes to check when choosing a venue. Everything from a schedule to sanitize surfaces, to room airflow and physical distancing is now on your list. Audio, visual, and lighting capabilities should also be on your list when narrowing down the venue choices. But more on that below. First, let’s look at the factors affecting the streaming of your event.

High-Speed Internet + Loads of Bandwidth is A Must!

Maybe you’re planning a large-scale hybrid event that includes online learning applications, streaming audio/video, and the ability to download brochures or other digital materials. You’re going to need the highest speed internet and bandwidth possible. This is true, not only for online participants. In-person attendees also need uninterrupted access to their email and any streaming or virtual elements needed to connect with the remote participants.

Imagine a  couple hundred people using mobile devices and laptops simultaneously to participate in online polls, attend virtual lounges, and consume streaming audio/video. That’s going to take a lot of bandwidth! The more attendees you have, the higher the demand.

Inadequate speed and bandwidth can ruin your audio and video with remote participants experiencing lag time, or even worse – seeing a frozen screen and leaving the event thinking they’ve lost their own connection.

Ask the venue for their upload/download speeds. If your venue can’t support the demand or the cost is prohibitive, investigate purchasing an internet package from an ISP that provides wireless service for major events. You might even arrange for your own private network, which means you won’t have to worry about outsiders in the same venue gobbling up bandwidth.

Audio

What is the most common phrase you’ve heard online over the past year?

“You’re on mute.” 

“We can’t hear you.” 

“Sorry, we’re having technical difficulties.” 

Audio problems are one of the most common reasons people get frustrated in a virtual setting and leave, so you must get this aspect of your event right.

For crystal clear audio, include a quality microphone on the checklist for remote presenters. Ask them to ensure that they have a quiet room with no pets or children demanding attention. A good P.A. system is a must at the live venue, and presenters who move around will need lavalier microphones.

As for your web-based system, make sure you’re using an advanced online platform that includes reliable audio technology. For example, consider a Webinar Event Management platform that provides high-end customer support.

To avoid lag when remote participants interact with live presenters, ensure your audio streaming does not automatically include a delay.

Visuals

You’ve become a master of curating content at your events, packing them with fascinating guests, images, slides, and videos. At a hybrid event, you need to boost the engagement of virtual attendees who need extra attention to detail. For example, try adjusting your camera angles to show the presenters’ faces and expressions more clearly for remote viewers.

If you plan to show a remote guest on screen interacting with an in-person presenter, position a screen at the presenter’s side. When not used for conversation, this screen can be turned on to display remote attendees, connecting the two audiences. The live presenter can then turn to the remote guest and interact in a traditional in-person conversation.

For video and slide presentations, do tests to check if all visual elements can be easily seen when viewed on a laptop. You’ll need a high-resolution video feed to ensure your content is clear and legible, especially if the text appears on slides. Recorded videos should be shot with high-definition cameras for a crisp look, and screens should be big enough for both in-person and remote attendees to see the content.

Lighting

At a hybrid event, you need to heighten the immersive experience for your virtual attendees. Good lighting is crucial to ensure remote viewers feel like they really are a part of it all. Your expensive cameras and screens will be wasted without proper lighting.

One way to help remote viewers have the best experience is to include shots of the live audience during the action to ensure that lighting covers both the stage and the audience. In addition, lighting may need to cover specific audience locations, for example, where mics are set up for Q&A sessions.

Ask remote presenters to ensure a clean background with no distractions behind them and request they purchase a video conference lighting kit. These affordable video kits can include a stand, a phone holder, and an LED ring light that clips onto their laptop to soft light their face.

When looking for the best lighting options at the venue, consider brightness, adjustability, and durability. It would be best to choose durable LED floodlights for longer distances or a softer ring light for closeups of the talent.

Enlist Support

Even if you’ve thought of everything, minor and sometimes major mishaps can happen during any event.

If you want extra insurance for a smooth program, ensure technical support is dedicated to troubleshooting at the event. Internet connections, network, visual, audio, and lighting need constant vigilance to prevent and fix any issues.

Hold a rehearsal with support and include a team of testers viewing remotely on laptops to report any concerns. Keep a list of mobile phone numbers for each of your support contacts to quickly troubleshoot any problem that may arise.

The big day is coming! With eShow’s web-based products and services, rest assured you’ll have customer support helping you master the technical challenges of your hybrid event.

One of the beautiful things about in-person events is the ability to make true connections with the people you meet. Whether you’re interacting with clients, vendors, or speakers, there’s just something about being able to engage in natural, organic conversations.

The good news is, it’s totally possible to spark memorable conversations during your virtual or hybrid events as well! The key lies in taking deliberate steps to increase interaction in ways that create a natural and exciting experience for your attendees. Start with these tips.

1. Allow for Detailed Profiles

Allowing attendees to create detailed profiles is one of the best ways to encourage engagement. Make sure your virtual event platform gives online attendees the ability to add a photo, bio, contact info, and more. Not only will this allow everyone to showcase their personalities and interests, but they’ll also easily be able to follow up with each other after the event is done.

2. Add a Private Social Feed

Adding an environment where both in-person and virtual attendees can chat with each other during the event will create bonds. This will also allow them to share their thoughts and ideas and interact with each other in a way most people are already familiar with. To ensure the best possible participation, make sure you let attendees know about the platform ahead of time and encourage them to use it throughout the event.

Once your social feed is in place, you can also spark interesting conversations by asking interesting questions. This may be something event-specific, like “Which upcoming speaker are you most excited to see?” or something more random, like “What smell brings you back to your childhood.”

3. Use Breakout Rooms

Using a virtual event management platform will allow you to incorporate breakout rooms into your virtual and hybrid events. By allowing smaller groups to get together at certain points during the event, you’ll give everyone a chance to speak, ask questions, and share their thoughts and opinions.

4. Make it Fun!

No matter how exciting your event is, sitting in front of a computer all day can start to feel a bit boring. Break things up by adding in some fun and light-hearted sessions throughout the day or, at a minimum, at the end of the day. Virtual happy hours have grown in popularity. If that doesn’t appeal to your audience, you could add a cocktail class, virtual baking class, or a fun craft.

You can also involve your sponsors by having them offer swag that goes along with your planned event. For example, a sponsor could mail each attendee a cocktail glass engraved with their logo. While this is will require some pre-planning to make sure all attendees have the materials they need, the payoff is well worth it.

5. Add a Chat Feature

Providing a chat feature will keep your off-site attendees engaged and ensure they feel like they’re an important part of the event. By allowing attendees to chat with each other, you’ll also encourage personal connections that they can pursue after the event has ended. For best results, make sure your platform allows for both group and one-on-one chatting.

6. Group Attendees by Interests

During sign-ups, it’s a great idea to ask attendees why they’re joining the event or have them choose from a list of interests. Then, when you’re planning your smaller breakout rooms, you can use this information to match up attendees based on their shared interests.

7. Create Comfortable Spaces

When planning hybrid events, it’s important to pay attention to the comfort of both on-site and off-site attendees. In addition, you’ll also want a set-up that makes it comfortable for in-person and virtual attendees to interact with each other.

Luckily, there’s plenty of modern technology that does just that. Many event spaces are already equipping their conference room with systems that help everyone communicate. While it’s normal to focus on the comfort of your in-person space, it’s also critical to make sure you can make it work for everyone. Live attendees must feel that they have enough space to walk around and not feel over-crowded, while virtual attendees must be able to contribute to the conversation just as if they were there.

8. Pan to the Crowd

One of the benefits of hybrid events is the ability to use cameras to make everyone feel connected. When recording your events, take advantage of the opportunity to cut to the crowd and put their faces up on the big screen right alongside your featured speakers. This can break up an otherwise monotonous event and create unexpected conversations. Even better, the randomness of this unexpected move can make everything feel even more real.

9. Add Some Friendly Competition

There’s nothing quite like competition to get the conversation going. Plan a fun event that both virtual and in-person attendees can do together. This could include taking certain actions during the event, solving puzzles, posting photos, or having a scavenger hunt. You may even consider creating teams made up of virtual and in-person attendees, so they have to work together to achieve their goals. This is also another way to involve vendors, as they can provide branded prizes to the contest winners.

10. Get Social

The excitement of your event doesn’t have to end after everyone goes home! Consider creating a Facebook group for attendees. This will allow them to connect more deeply. You can also share photos of the event, create posts to spark additional conversations, and start generating excitement for the next year’s event right away.

eShow Helps You Create Unforgettable Events!

At eShow, we provide the technology you need to make true connections during your virtual and hybrid events. Ask us today how we can help you create memorable conversations that will have your attendees thinking about you and your company long after your event is done.