Tips for Engaging Both In-Person & Virtual Audiences During Hybrid Events

The last few months have brought major changes to the events industry. With current social distancing regulations in place, events of all types – conferences, classes, and even concerts – are now taking place virtually. As the global landscape continues to evolve, we’re seeing that there will be situations where hybrid events, those with a limited in-person audience paired with a remote audience, may be safe and effective for engaging audiences. 

Hybrid events have been around for some time. For years, large conferences have broadcast general sessions to online viewers in order to open up content to a larger audience. Recently, this format is rising in popularity in order to engage audiences as social distancing and travel restrictions continue and will become an essential the events industry.

Engaging two unique audiences is a balancing act and requires organizers to think about creating an engaging experience for both audiences. In this blog, we share tips for creating an experience that engages your in-person and remote audiences. 

Create content that engages 

Your content is critical during hybrid events. With a portion of your audience tuning in virtually, your content needs to be compelling to compete with distractions and keep virtual attendees engaged while sitting in front of a screen. 

When planning, think about how both audiences will engage with your content. Take into consideration differences in screen size and how content will be displayed to both audiences. Taking in content on a large screen or monitor is quite different than on a laptop, so consider text, video, and imagery that will translate well across platforms.

Additionally, think about content length and breaks. While long keynote sessions work when your entire audience is together in-person, you may want to offer shorter, digestible content to keep your virtual audience engaged. 

Make your virtual audience feel included

Truly hybrid events provide an engaging experience for both virtual and in-person audience. To engage your virtual audience, incorporate activities to keep your virtual audience actively participating. Using live polls and Q&A sessions throughout conferences work to keep attention on your content. Gamification, like trivia or virtual scavenger hunts, is a fun way to keep attendees engaged. Last, surveys help organizers and presenters gather feedback on the attendee experience. 

Add a mobile touchpoint 

We’re all spending more and more time on our phones these days. Incorporate a mobile app into your hybrid event to keep attendees engaged on their platform of choice. Rather than browsing social media or the news, your remote attendees can use their phones to connect with other attendees and further engage with your content. 

Guidebook apps for hybrid events offer an engaging platform for both audiences to connect, learn, and engage.

Foster engagement between live and virtual audiences 

One of the challenges in hybrid events is making your in-person and virtual audiences feel connected. There are ways to encourage interaction between the two groups, though. Earlier, we discussed keeping content digestible for virtual audiences, well, adding breakout sessions with small groups of virtual and in-person attendees into your schedule is another way to keep your virtual audience engaged with your content and with your in-person audience. These small group discussions will give attendees the chance to dive deeper into topics and reengage.

Another idea for encouraging dialog amongst attendees is to hold virtual hangouts or coffee breaks. This unstructured time will give attendees the opportunity to get to know each other just as they would network and chat during an in-person event. 

Keep the conversation going 

A benefit of hosting sessions and events virtually is that your content can continue to live on after the event ends. Most conferencing and webinar platforms allow hosts to record sessions, which in turn enables organizers to send and share this content after the event. Attendees who couldn’t make certain sessions or want to rewatch can easily do so with content following the event which keeps them engaged with your organization for days and months!

For more on virtual events, visit our Virtual Events Toolkit!

Interested in learning more about how to make an upcoming virtual or hybrid event more engaging? Get in touch today to speak with a Guidebook product specialist.

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