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When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, the events industry was thrown into turmoil. All over the world events were cancelled or postponed in an effort to protect communities from coronavirus.  

In what was already a challenging industry, event organisers were presented with yet another obstacle to manage; how to keep the sector afloat during international lockdowns. 

Event organisers welcomed another problem to solve, however, and with the assistance of technology, events were able to be moved from in-person to virtual.  

A picture of the future skills centre in exeter.

Any event professional will know that the world of events requires fast reactions and the ability to think outside the box, and the pandemic certainly put these skills to the test. As the pandemic progressed, event attendees were craving the interactive elements and connectivity that an in-person event offers. Unfortunately, not all areas of the world were ready for the return to face-to-face delivery. It was vital for the event industry to move into a world of hybrid. 

Hybrid functionality offers both in-person and virtual elements to an event. This afforded event organisers the opportunity to reignite the world of in-person events, whilst offering delegates that did not wish to be there in the flesh to attend remotely and still be part of an event. 

macbook pro displaying group of people in a virtual meeting

Since the start of the pandemic, online platforms have gained far more functionality and hybrid is quickly becoming the norm. With platforms offering networking features, online advertising banners, exhibition spaces along with speaker engagement and videos, the opportunities for an event organiser to maximise their engagement, programme content and revenue have become vast beyond the capability of a purely in person event.  

Whilst the Future Skills Centre does not proclaim to be hybrid experts, these are our top tips on how to run a great hybrid event!

Define why you need to have a hybrid event

Define whether the purpose of your hybrid element is to facilitate a remote speaker, or to allow participants at home to join in. Understand the percentage of guests that will be joining remotely, and what functionality they need to have from home – will they need to engage and interact or simply listen to the presentation speaker? Correctly identifying the need for hybrid will help make your event fit for purpose. 

Choose the right platform to host the meeting

Once you understand the functionality of delegate and speaker engagement, select the right platform for your event. 

If you just have one or two speakers or delegate joining remotely, then Microsoft Teams or Zoom might suffice. If you are looking for a more complex setup with multiple engagement features, and a complete online event to support the in-person, more professional platforms such as EventsAir, EventMobi or Hopin may be ones to consider. 

Consider the tech required 

This is where our Future Skills Centre team can help – the AV! 

The FSC’s main Conference Suite, Touchdown Point, is permanently equipped for hybrid set up with static cameras and audio. We can also facilitate hybrid events in any of our offer meeting rooms through a range of products, including our Meeting Owl which provides high definition 360 degree views of the room and our Poly Studio bar which offers seamless presentation, high level audio and audience engagement. In addition to this, the FSC works with industry professionals to support our customers that have more advanced AV requirements.

black video camera on black tripod

Moderation and Administration 

Moderation and administration are vital for online events. We recommend for all hybrid events that you enlist the assistance of a colleague to facilitate the online meeting, and for larger scale events we would suggest you employ an AV delivery professional to facilitate and navigate the online events platforms for more complex setups. 

Having someone on hand to troubleshoot queries and tech issues will ensure the event runs smoothly, both in-person and online. 

Engage with those at home 

Attendees that have joined remotely can often feel forgotten as they are not visible in the room. Ensuring engagement with them is essential, so that all delegates feel part of the event. 

We recommend regular check-ins with those at home. This can be either through a facilitator engaging on a chat function or by having the speaker/presenter checking in verbally. Including Q&A sessions also offers online participants the option to be involved.  

Have a run through

We all know that rehearsal ensures smooth delivery. Why should it be any different for your online event? 

Double check that all the online elements are tested and ready to go! Check event joining instructions have been sent out, all the AV is organised, speakers have rehearsed their talks, your facilitator is briefed and troubleshooting FAQs are ready on hand. Whilst you cannot prepare for every eventuality, rehearsal will save time on the day and help you to identify potential problems in advance.  

Record presentations

We all know that IT can fail on us, and it is often at the most inconvenient moment. To avoid hiccups with online content we suggest that online speakers should pre-record their presentations, just in case on the day their live connectivity is not working; perhaps their wi-fi has failed or the cat has knocked a cup of tea all over their laptop! Having a backup recording provided in advance can still ensure delivery of the presentation to both online and in person participants. 

You may also want to consider recording in-person talks, either in advance or on the day, to upload online at a later date! 

person raising hand at an event

Generate revenue

A good salesperson would say that they can find income and opportunity in every scenario, and hybrid events are no different. 

If you are planning to charge your delegates to attend in-person, consider how you can warrant the online charges. It could be that your delegates in-person are getting lunch and coffee, so why not send goodie bags and packs to those at home? This can easily justify the charges to join online, along with valuable content from worthy well-known speakers. 

For those joining online, you could consider hosting brand ads on the web pages or event platform through a range of sponsorship packages. Some event platforms allow you to host networking, and therefore you may choose to have sponsors join in the networking paying a higher fee to engage with potential buyers. You can tailor these options to your event programme and purpose.  

Follow up and de-brief 

Let’s say you’ve successfully delivered your hybrid event. Well done! Whilst this event may have finished, there are always lessons to be learnt. 

We recommend you follow up with delegates on their experience (both in-person and remote), and not only that, but host a de-brief meeting as an event committee. Consider what went well, what you can do to improve things next time and any actions for the venue – we always take on board feedback and welcome recommendations to enhance your experience as user of our venue.  

woman holding camera recording a meeting

And there you have it! 9 great ways to ensure you run a successful hybrid event.  

Here at the Future Skills Centre, we would be delighted to work with you to deliver your next in-person or hybrid event. If you would like to enquire about a booking, please get in touch!