Hybrid events have evolved rapidly in recent years. The surging popularity was initially due to necessity. But now many organizations—and attendees—embrace the benefits they offer. However, the success of any given hybrid event depends in part on choosing the right hybrid format. There are multiple types of hybrid events, all with some unique advantages. Which will work for you purposes?
1. Live Streamed Event Content
A simple livestream of event content is the most barebones option, and the least costly. It’s simple, but effective, and it does offer a workable option for people who can’t attend a physical event. However, this approach doesn’t let the virtual audience interact with the content in any way, meaning it’s easy to lose viewers if engagement drops.
2. Concurrent Live and Virtual Events
At the other end of the scale from a livestream, is a hybrid event with fully developed agendas for the live and virtual arms. This is a resource-intensive option, so it’s also more costly. Both arms of the event need dedicated hosts, and extra people and tech are needed to capture and broadcast live content to the online audience.
A fully hybrid event means more resources, more people, more bandwidth, and more expense. But since the aim is to deliver a comparably high-quality experience to both live and virtual attendees, there are big rewards for organizations that do these types of hybrid events.
3. Multi-Site Hybrid
This type of hybrid event sees multiple live events happening at the same time, but in different locations. With the multi-site approach, all the different hubs are connected via virtual technology to a single central staging site. Live content is then staged and broadcast from this central location. The hubs can also be connected to one another.
Multi-site hybrid events let each hub location host its own local in-person networking, social, and other hands-on sessions. Mixed in with this live content are the sessions that are broadcast from the central site to all the hubs. With this approach, event attendees can minimize travel time and expenses. And since they’re enjoying both live and virtual content, it’s much easier to keep engagement high. On the flip side, it can be an expensive way to hold an event, since it means using multiple venues, plus the staging site.
4. Staggered Hybrid Event
With the staggered hybrid event, the live portion of the event and the virtual portion take place at different times. Typically, this means the live portion happens first and the virtual sessions a week or more later. In this order, the live sessions are recorded and then used as the basis of the content program for the virtual event. This can simplify the virtual portion somewhat, since there’s no need to synchronize the two content schedules. Plus, it means there’s none of the potential difficulty of broadcasting live content.
Another approach for these types of hybrid events is to hold the virtual arm first and the physical event second. Organizations that adopt this approach don’t have the benefit of pre-recorded live content. However, sometimes a well-planned virtual schedule can persuade some attendees to attend the live event as well.
Learn more about real-time vs. asynchronous hybrid events here.
5. Ongoing Hybrid
This approach extends the event experience from a multi-day or week-long affair to a series of mini events over the entire year. For instance, an organization might develop a program of mini events that includes in-person sessions every quarter, plus monthly online sessions.
This option can be an effective way of building a community, as it means people get used to seeing the same faces at each event and naturally start to form professional connections. The downside is that it can be difficult to keep interest levels high over the long-term. An ongoing hybrid approach needs a great content program as well as effective marketing to keep attendance figures strong.
6. Hybrid Alternate
This is a hybrid in name only because it’s less a type of hybrid event and more of an alternating arrangement. With this option, the organization alternates between holding a fully live event and holding a fully virtual one.
Typically, this means alternating on an annual basis, but the exact schedule depends on the organization and the event. The simplest version of this might be monthly corporate meetings that rotate between in-office meetings and virtual meetings.
7. Speaker-Only Hybrid
This is another hybrid event format that’s hybrid in name only. It’s a hybrid meeting in the sense that while your audience is virtual, your speakers, panelists, or discussion participants are live in-studio. For small one-off sessions this can be a hugely effective combination. It provides the engagement of a studio experience with the advantage of a larger virtual attendee pool.
Even better if you can have a small audience in the studio, along with your speakers or panelists. Your on-stage speakers benefit from live audience participation, and this helps increase engagement for virtual viewers too.
8. Micro Experiences
Micro experiences are similar to multi-site hybrid events but on a much smaller scale. One very simple—very effective—example is Twitter watch-parties, where users congregate on the hybrid event platform, watch a specific movie or TV event together, and live-Tweet the experience. These types of events can be fully virtual, but many do have a live element, such as watch parties for events like the Academy Awards or the World Series.
Pick a Hybrid Event Format That Works for Your Audience and Organization
There are lots of ways to bring a virtual audience together. When picking a hybrid event format, it’s important to consider not only your budget and resources but also what makes sense for both your organization and your audience. Whichever of these types of hybrid events you choose, it will take planning and preparation to ensure your success. We can help with that. Contact the team at XtendLive today.