As an event planner, delivering an unforgettable experience for your attendees is a top priority. When your attendees are fully engaged, they stay tuned, take action, and become loyal followers, if not raving fans.
Two years ago, when the world suddenly had to pivot to online events, the novelty of zoom and other platforms allowed room for grace as event planners, speakers and audiences learned how to engage virtually. Today, as we are emerging from the pandemic, event planners are faced with a new challenge: producing hybrid events with both in-person and remote components.
In the past, for many events, the in-person experience was the priority and remote audiences or recorded content on-demand was considered an add-on to the main event. Now, event planners are expected to deliver the best of both worlds: seamless integration of live on-stage speakers and remote presenters and an equally engaging experience for in-person and remote audiences.
The good news is that technology has stayed ahead of the curve and there are a number of great tools at your disposal. Here are some of the best ways to improve your production value and ensure high engagement with your remote audiences during hybrid events.
Create a Two-Way Experience
Creating a two-way experience for remote attendees is no different in concept than creating opportunities for in-person audience engagement. You want to turn passive listeners into engaged participants by giving them opportunities to interact with the event, each other, and the speakers.
- Use features like live chats, polling, and on-video Q&A moments to allow your remote audience to participate more fully.
- Gamify aspects of your event with incentives and rewards for participation to increase engagement from both your in-person and remote attendees.
- Give your remote attendees a way to visit and interact with the sponsors and exhibitors in real-time.
- Build-in special sessions for remote attendees to network with each other and/or the live audience.
- Create special moments/sessions for virtual attendees specifically. For example, host a post-presentation fireside chat with the speaker and questions from attendees that can only be accessed virtually.
Optimize Your Production for a Remote Audience
As technology has improved, so have attendee expectations, and professional-grade broadcasts are the gold standard your events will be measured against. Your remote attendees want to engage with content that is produced, not just streamed through basic video conferencing software. To optimize your hybrid event for a remote audience you will need a live streaming strategy that takes into account your equipment needs, a team to run the equipment, and the quality of internet service available at the event venue. At the very least you will need:
- An on-site/in-room AV production team to set up and run video and audio feeds. This may include multiple cameras.
- A video encoder for converting the RAW video files from your camera to streamable digital files.
- The event venue’s internet service which must be stable and capable of handling a live stream.
If your event will include remote speakers or pre-recorded content, consider broadcasting live from a studio, or shoot and record in advance on location and have the video professionally edited. When content is being created for a remote audience, the setup is different than if the presentation is being made to an in-person audience and packaged for a remote audience.
Seamless transitions from the live speaker, to recorded video or other graphic elements, will also help the professionalism of the overall presentation. There are a lot of technical details to be mindful of and working with a professional AV company can help you control variables that would negatively impact the virtual presentation.
Keep Presentations Short and Interactive
Shorter presentations with higher production value and mixed media keep audiences engaged. This is true for either remote or in-person audiences. Keeping speaker presentations to no more than 45 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Enhancing the speaker presentation with live Q&A, strong visuals, creative design, and graphics will make the content more dynamic and interesting. Creating compelling content that is visually stimulating also delivers the experience attendees are hoping for.
Ensure Speakers Can Engage With Your Remote Audience
Hybrid events require even more speaker support than in-person only events. You wouldn’t have your invited speakers take the stage at a live event without first previewing their materials, making sure all the AV equipment is set up properly, and making sure your speaker is comfortable with the set-up. The same goes for a hybrid event, with the added caveat that your speaker now needs to be able to engage with both the in-person and remote audience. This may not come naturally, especially if remote audience interaction is new to them.
Consider how your speaker will engage with the remote audience and how you will facilitate audience participation. If time allows, do a dry run with your speakers, so they are familiar with how the technology and interactive features will work.
Partner with a Pro
Delivering on the hybrid experience requires creativity, skill, and technical prowess. If you want to create a truly memorable experience that grabs and holds your attendees’ attention and allows them to interact fully with your event, you need to up the production value. This is where an experienced AV team can make all the difference handling the multitude of details and possible technical mishaps that can make or break your event.
At Seamless Event Solutions, we don’t believe in leaving anything to chance. We have been working with professional event planners for more than twenty years. As your AV Partner, we can offer creative solutions for all of your virtual or hybrid event needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.