As the world becomes increasingly more connected online, hybrid meetings and events have in turn become increasingly popular with corporations. Hybrid events are wonderful ways to increase the global reach of a company. They are also an excellent opportunity for companies to attract a larger audience that might have not been able to attend an event in the past due to location or budget concerns.
Hybrid events typically combine an on-site event with a virtual one, by live-streaming live panels, speeches, and meetings to an online audience. These types of events are fantastic options for events such as product launches, trade shows, annual shareholder meetings, and informative seminars or webinars.
If you’re tasked with planning your company’s events or corporate retreats, here are a few tips on how to plan unforgettable hybrid meetings and events that will appeal to both live and virtual audience members.
The most important first step of planning a hybrid meeting or event is being prepared for the task at hand. Hybrid events are unique because you have to take into account two separate audiences: your on-site attendees and your online attendees. Therefore, this requires an additional amount of pre-planning to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
The best way to start organizing your hybrid event properly is to prepare a detailed agenda. First, decide on all the components you want to include in your event, such as keynote speakers, Q&A panels, or happy hours. Then decide how long you want each of these sections to last, which will help you narrow down the total run time of your event.
Then, break down each section of your event and narrow down the details, such as which specific interview questions you’d like to discuss and whether you’re going to allow some time for audience input—both online and on-site. The more detailed your agenda can be the better your event will run, as it will ensure your hybrid event stays on track while also minimizing the chance of any last-minute surprises.
One of the benefits of hosting a hybrid event is that it allows attendees from all over the world to join in on the fun. Therefore, when thinking of the ideal time to host your hybrid event, it might be wise to consider picking a time slot that will maximize the number of attendees that can participate.
For example, if you’re hosting the live portion of your event on the East Coast, you’ll want to consider starting your hybrid meeting closer to noon, in order to accommodate the schedules of attendees in the Caribbean or Mexico. The same reasoning applies if you’re based in the Mediterranean and are hoping to attract an American audience for your hybrid event.
If you want your event’s attendees to have some input on the event’s timeframe, one smart option is to send a poll early on, via social media or email, and have potential attendees vote on their preferred time for the event. This way you’ll have a solid idea of which times work the best for a greater amount of people.
While it’s easy to have an engaging emcee overseeing a live event, it’s a good idea to consider bringing on a virtual emcee to entertain your online attendees, as well. Since there will be some variation between the on-site vs. the online experience of your hybrid event, it makes sense to have two separate people oversee each type of audience.
For example, while you have your on-site host introduce the networking portion of the event to your live attendees, your virtual emcee can start a virtual happy hour online and separate attendees into breakout groups so that they can get to know each other better.
A virtual emcee can also work with the on-site emcee to make sure that questions and comments from the virtual audience members are addressed and incorporated into the event. Just make sure to coordinate with both emcees, so that everyone is clear on when and how they’re supposed to present to the audience.
Kick off your event with an activity that will make both your live and virtual audiences feel welcome.
For your live attendees, a welcome activity can be anything from a quick coffee and breakfast session to a lightning round of fun introductions. While online introductory activities can include an interesting prompt in the chat group or a fun video game to break the ice.
It’s a lot easier for live audiences to engage with an event when they are in the same room or venue. It’s much harder to keep a virtual attendee’s attention after they’ve been sitting for hours alone in front of a screen. That’s why it’s important to create engaging experiences to better connect with your virtual audience. Some options include:
-Open up the comments: Allow virtual participants to write comments, questions, and feedback in an online comments section. By doing so, you’ll not only give them an extra channel where they can engage with one another, but it’s also an easy way to make sure they stay interested and active during the hybrid event.
-Conduct a poll: Share an interactive poll centered on one of the topics or themes that have been discussed during the event. Polls are great ways to gauge your audience’s thinking, as well as another easy activity to keep them engaged during the day’s events.
-Host a Fun Quiz: It might seem like the words “quiz” and “fun” might not go together, but there are plenty of online tools that offer entertaining trivia games and quizzes. Plan on scheduling one during an on-site break between sessions, when live members go off to stretch their legs. Instead of leaving a static image online, offer virtual viewers the chance to participate in an online quiz game that tests their knowledge of the event’s talks and panels. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even offer the top scorers a virtual prize, such as a gift card or branded merchandise.
-AMA: If you’ve booked an interesting keynote speaker, have them conduct a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) panel that includes questions from both live speakers and virtual attendees.
A few days before your hybrid event takes place, it’s always helpful to run through the hybrid meeting or event from start to finish to make sure everything is running smoothly. A rehearsal is a great opportunity to make sure all of your live-streaming cameras are focused and in the right location.
During the rehearsal, you should also make sure to test out the sound quality in both the venue and online platform, perform a dry run of all of the appropriate apps and technology to make sure you know exactly how to use them, and get a good idea of whether your hybrid event’s timing is on track.
One of the most important tips when hosting hybrid meetings and events is to always have IT support available on site. While you can plan every little detail of the event in advance, sometimes mishaps are bound to happen and it’s best to have the experts on hand in case there’s a problem with the WiFI or the live stream suddenly stops working.
It’s also a smart idea to have a backup plan in case your hybrid meeting’s technology fails. Some backup plans can include emailing a recording of the day’s events once the event has wrapped or having a secondary livestream platform available, just in case there are any issues.
Celebrity Cruises is an ideal venue to host your next hybrid meeting or event. Our dedicated team of event planners makes it as easy as possible to organize a memorable company event or meeting at sea.
Plan on hosting the on-site component of your event at one of our innovative corporate event venues, such as our groundbreaking Theatre, which can accommodate large groups of people and features cutting-edge audio and visual technology. You can also broadcast your hybrid meeting to other venues around the ship, stateroom TVs, and even the homes of your guests through the use of WebEx or other technology platforms.
Choose from a variety of stunning restaurants with ocean views to host smaller networking meetings or meet and greet sessions, where attendees can get to know one another better while enjoying dishes crafted by a Michelin-starred chef.
If you’re planning on hosting a more interactive event, we can help you arrange for different corporate entertainment options such as live bands and musicians that can perform for your guests in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Aside from helping with all of the technical requirements needed for a hybrid meeting and event, our team of event planners will also take care of handling accommodations, flights, catering, and entertainment for your live attendees.
Learn more about our corporate event venues on our website. Our award-winning ships are the perfect destination for your next hybrid meeting, event, conference, product launch, trade shows, and more.
Contact us at 1-800-722-5934 or request a quote on our website.