Hybrid events.

Hybrid is the latest buzzword within the events industry. You might have been familiar with hybrid events before 2020. However, it’s more likely that you’ve been seeing this style of event pop up in the past few months. As a result of remote working and social distancing, companies and event professionals have been scrambling to get their colleagues, clients and members meeting again.

So, what is a hybrid event? We think Hopin says it best: “Hybrid events use community-enabled technology to actually re-create the onsite event virtually, with all of the opportunities, experiences, and benefits of the in-person event.”

In other words, a hybrid event combines a live event experience with a virtual online component. A hybrid event can be a conference, awards ceremony, summit, workshop or annual meeting.

 

Hybrid event or virtual event?

There’s a few key differences between a hybrid event and a virtual event. A virtual event is fully remote. An event production team manages the event and delivers the virtual event broadcast from a remote production gallery.

On the contrary, a hybrid event is hosted from an event studio or venue. There is a production team on-site to provide event and technical management. A hybrid event is broadcasted to an online event platform and the event production team oversees camera operations and livestreaming.

As opposed to a virtual event with remote audience and presenters, hybrid events bring together both virtual and live audiences and speakers. We think a hybrid event can be narrowed down to two formats:

Hybrid speakers with a remote audience.

Hybrid speakers with a hybrid audience.

Green screen event studio.
Green screen studios can be built-for-purpose within an event studio or venue.

Hybrid speakers with a remote audience.

This hybrid event format brings together virtual speakers who join remotely and live speakers who are based at an event studio or venue. The studio either contains a green screen space or alternatively a physical set with equipment to broadcast the event to a virtual event platform. The audience stay at home and view the event through the online platform.

A hybrid event is an opportunity to enhance your event programme. One session can be live from the studio, the next can be a remote keynote address. A panel containing both live and remote speakers who interact with each other can also be included. As a result the audience is kept engaged with the variety of presentation styles. All sessions are broadcasted to a branded platform in real-time, just like a live TV show. And importantly, due to lower on-site attendance, having a mix of live and remote presenters allows for adequate on-site social distancing.

With the introduction of new technologies and ways of working, engaging with presenters and speakers from around the world has never been easier. This is a great benefit of a hybrid event and another fantastic way to enhance your event programme.

An additional way to enhance your hybrid event is to pre-record sessions and presentations. A pre-recorded session isn’t only limited to presenters attending the event studio. With the right equipment and technologies, you can have remote speakers join your speakers at the studio for the recording. Pre-recording these sessions usually results in a more relaxed presentation style, as not all presenters will be comfortable with a live TV-style broadcast!

A pre-recorded session can be edited prior to the event. We can create branded graphics such as animated intro videos, sponsor loops and branded backgrounds. As a result the audience is provided an attractive and engaging viewing experience. More on graphic and content production here.

This type of hybrid event is becoming one of the most popular types of event delivery with lockdown restrictions in place and many people unable to travel to an event.

Nik Gowing hosts a hybrid virtual conference from within a green screen studio and speaks with a remote presenter on a screen.
We created a 3D virtual environment for our client’s international Summit. Nik Gowing hosted from within a green screen studio and remote speakers were streamed in for sessions.

Hybrid speakers with a hybrid audience.

Let’s focus on the real key stakeholders of an event – the audience. Event managers are starting to plan a different type of hybrid event for mid-to-late 2021. Speakers for these events will continue to be a mix of live and remote. The audience, however, will be split between live and virtual attendance.

There are many things to consider when introducing a hybrid audience. COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing policies will be particularly important to consider when planning any hybrid event with an audience in the near future. As a result of social distancing restrictions, venue capacity will be limited. We anticipate virtual attendees will make up a majority of a hybrid event audience until social distancing is completely relaxed. Keeping a virtual audience means safer event delivery and minimized risk for all stakeholders involved in the event.

It’s important to keep both your live and virtual attendees in mind when planning an event programme. For example, event managers should plan to:

  • Have a mix of remote and live presenters to keep your live audience engaged. This will ensure they don’t spend the whole event looking at a screen on-stage if there are only remote presenters.
  • Provide interactive elements for your virtual audience to engage with the live event. This can include polls and Q&A and using networking apps like Wonder.me.
  • Ensure your presenters engage with both live and virtual attendees by suggesting they speak both to the camera that is filming the broadcast and directly to the live audience.

This format of hybrid event will allow you to reach a much wider audience than a pre-pandemic live event. There will be less constraint on the maximum number of attendees. But it’s not only about the number of attendees. Audience members that were previously prohibited by travel, financial or personal limitations will have a better opportunity to join and experience your event.

While there are many great benefits to hosting a hybrid event with a mix of participants, there are also many things to keep in mind. Will the event studio or venue be able to accommodate all of the broadcast equipment, stage, event crew and live audience?  How many live vs remote speakers will there be? What online platform should you use? How can you ensure there is a consistent brand? Will it be a multi-day, full-day or half-day event? How can the remote audience be kept engaged?

Here’s the answer to all of these questions. By engaging with an experienced event production agency such as Go Live Group, guidance will be given throughout the event planning process. In addition to logistics and creative support, we have the answers to any technical question and have the knowledge to produce a seamless event. Let’s discuss event production for hybrid events further.

 

As an event production agency, how are Go Live Group involved?

Now that we’ve covered the different formats of hybrid events, let’s discuss how Go Live Group support with the planning and delivery of the event.

We always support with general guidance and advice on running a hybrid event. To make sure the event will run smoothly, we create carefully detailed plans and workflows. Our support can range from speaker management to recommendations on virtual platforms and physical venues or event studios. But most importantly, as an event production agency, we’re here to deliver the creative design and technical production for the hybrid event.

 

Hybrid event technical production.

Our involvement is very similar to a live event. We are the technical production and delivery team behind the event.

One key difference with a hybrid event vs live event is the requirement for technical rehearsals. During the event planning process, we organise technical rehearsals with remote speakers to ensure they and their equipment are ready for the live broadcast.

As we discussed earlier, a hybrid event could be made up of a mix of live, pre-recorded or remote sessions. There may be a single live host or a full 5-person panel. To facilitate this we set up and manage an on-site production gallery. In addition to technical support, we provide all professional equipment to make the live broadcast happen. This can range from cameras and green screens to microphones and streaming software.

Hybrid event graphic and content production.

To enhance the visual impact of an event we can design a unique stage set using the event branding. The set can be physical at the studio or venue, virtual backgrounds for remote presenters, or even a real-time 3D studio environment.

Here’s an example of a recent 3D virtual studio that we created for our client’s annual Summit. Using innovative technologies, we filmed live presenters in front of a green screen at a central London venue and broadcasted them into the branded 3D studio. Attendees were wowed with the high level of production and had the impression that presenters were in a real TV-style studio.

 

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Two live presenters interacted with two remote panellists during this hybrid event. The live presenters were sat within a green screen event studio and livestreamed to a unique 3D environment for remote audience viewing.

 

Additionally, we have good experience producing high-quality content and can create branded assets for your event. Content production can include opening videos, slideshows, presentations, speaker namestraps, animated backgrounds, transitions, and sponsor break ads.

 

We are excited to be receiving enquiries from clients and new organisations who are looking to go hybrid with their conferences and award ceremonies in 2021. Are you ready to Go Live with your hybrid event?