New social thinking, such as during the Corona pandemic, also requires a rethinking of event formats. The restriction of social contacts, but also tight budgets or active environmental protection therefore make alternative event formats, such as hybrid events, more in demand than ever. A hybrid event is a new, innovative event format that has proven to be very successful, especially in the last year. We spoke with the head of event technology at C 3 Chemnitz Event Centres, Dominic Knobloch, primarily about the technical implementation. He summarised in detail the technical do's and don'ts for a hybrid event. Because with detailed planning and the right technology, it is possible to hold meetings, congresses or seminars with high quality and a high level of knowledge exchange that are not solely dependent on physically present people or even take place purely virtually. In the following article we explain how such a hybrid event works, what advantages and disadvantages arise and what technical challenges have to be mastered.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events have of course been around longer than the pandemic has been, but the know-how has intensified considerably. The meticulous planning and execution of such events require attention to detail and many arrangements in advance. But in the end, many of these events are far more professional and better structured. Of course, everything stands and falls with sophisticated technology. Conventional elements, content, forms or entire formats of events are combined with modern technology, digital solutions and networking. In this way, you can open up a whole new world of events for your participants and visitors with enormous added value for you and their guests. For example, a hybrid event can take place physically in a meeting room of a convention centre. However, not all participants have to be physically present, but can follow the event online via tablet, smartphone, notebook or PC, including live interaction in real time with other participants and speakers. There are various providers of flexible event conferencing solutions for streaming such a hybrid event.
How does a hybrid event work?
The most important thing in a hybrid event is interaction. When you plan hybrid events, you need to give the audience and live participants the opportunity to communicate, to interact with each other and with the speakers. This means harnessing technology to bring a virtual event experience to life. Your guests can ask questions that will be answered, they can interact with the speaker or other participants. A hybrid event functions as a digital communication and discussion platform during a real event.
Good event management is necessary to ensure that a hybrid event is well structured and that participants follow the event to the end. The planning and implementation of the hybrid event must be carefully thought out and coordinated. While the participants themselves have to create a fast internet access and a suitable "event atmosphere" in the office or at home, the list is much longer for the organisers.
Therefore, here is a checklist for the most important facts:
The advantages and disadvantages of hybrid events
Hybrid events are very popular and are becoming more and more popular. Social acceptance for them has increased enormously due to current events and improved technologies. These events are great if you want to achieve a high reach. A hybrid event can be attended and interacted with online from virtually anywhere in the world. Congresses, seminars, conferences and workshops take on a whole new digital character. They meet the nerve of the time to hold events without restrictions.
But do hybrid events only have good sides? Which positive facts should you include when marketing your event? Here you will find an overview of the pros and cons of such an event.
How does the hybrid event become a success?
To make your hybrid event a success for you and your participants, there are a few things to consider. Be sure to follow a strategy that surprises your participants. Be especially creative and courageous, but by no means boring. Above all, make sure that your participants are always in the centre of attention with interactions such as live voting or feedback opportunities, and that you build your event to suit your target group. The possibilities for this in the digital world are almost limitless. You should also use the power of social media. Because you can use social media at every stage of the project.
- Enquiry about wishes and contents
- Instructions for the use of the platforms
- Create a detailed agenda
- Rehearsals with the technique
- Rehearsal of the speeches
- Use the Cityguides app for the venue
- Integrate games
- Voting with evaluation in real time
- Digital guestbook
- QR codes for additional information
- Q&A function
- Set up break-out sessions, if possible
- Use of feedback tools
- Video provision
Even if a hybrid event, such as a hybrid congress or a hybrid workshop, offers the audience and participants the possibility to participate only digitally, the communication and interaction should "feel" real. Make your target group aware of the hybrid event and get them excited about it. So create an emotional event that awakens ideas and takes interests as well as desires into account. The potential of the event will only unfold if your marketing strategy includes all media and takes the following components into account:
- Highlight the exclusivity and uniqueness of the event
- Build personal relationships, activate the participants.
- Create simple ways for participants to interact and get involved.
- Create a variety of impressions and perceptions.
- Work with symbolism, messages and effects.
- Offer added value with your event.
- Convey individuality.
Technical implementation of hybrid events
A successful event is not only about the factors already mentioned. One of the most important prerequisites for success is the technology. Dominic Knobloch, event technician at C 3 Chemnitzer Veranstaltungszentren, knows that without detailed preparation and many rehearsals in advance, there is often disappointment afterwards or during the event.
"Of course, what the customer is planning for an event is particularly important. Is it a congress or a staff meeting? What are the client's requirements and, above all, how many participants will take part in the event? These are the essential questions that have to be answered in advance.
The event technician draws special attention to details that you might not even think of at first.
"Of course, the equipment is important. Microphones, a stage on site, lighting equipment and so on. But it is much more important to brief the guests and speakers behind the screen and prepare them for the event in the best possible way. Giving a speech from home in front of the computer without the feedback of the audience is a big change. Therefore, speakers should rehearse especially often. But not only speaking is important. It also depends on how the speakers are dressed and what their background looks like. A checked shirt, for example, should be avoided at all costs. The same goes for a full background, as this only distracts the audience. It's hard enough to concentrate in front of a computer for more than an hour, our brains don't need any distractions.
The importance of interaction between participants on site and digitally, as well as between speakers, has already been highlighted. Modern technology offers some possibilities here. Here, the number of participants also plays a very important role.
"If an event of less than 75 participants is to be held, a communication platform such as Zoom, which is divided into different break-out sessions beforehand, is usually sufficient. Break-out sessions are virtual rooms in which people communicate in small groups. communicated in small groups. If there are more participants, a Q&A, i.e. a question and answer tool, is a good idea, through which the guests can chat or ask questions of the speakers. Each of the participants would have to have an enormously stable fibre-optic connection so that everything doesn't break down during break-out sessions. The "normal" live stream is simply better for that."
At this point it should be mentioned again that if you are holding a meeting via Zoom, you need to check the data protection guidelines before the event.
"When you send out invitation emails, don't just brief your guests in great detail about the event schedule, get confirmation that you can be filmed during the event, even if they are not there, and also that other attendees can read your name in the zoom."
However, Dominic Knobloch cites the preparation of the event as the most essential point.
"You can put on the greatest event in theory, but if it doesn't work out with the platforms, with the internet planning or you fall behind with the agenda, the event falls through. So it's incredibly important that they go through a detailed agenda with their technicians and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. It may be more effort, but it pays off and your event will be more professional than ever in its execution. And the guests notice that too."
Dominic's do's and don'ts
A successful practical example: The Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz Sustainability Awards ceremony
Hans Carl von Carlowitz is considered the founder of the concept of forestry sustainability. In his honour, the Hans Carl von Carlowitz Sustainability Awards were presented for the 9th time by the Sächsische Hans Carl von Carlowitz Gesellschaft e.V. on 6 November 2020 - the first time in our new Carlowitz Congress Centre. Originally planned as part of an official opening event of the Carlowitz Congresscenter, the award ceremony had to take place online in the form of a virtual congress due to corona. The evening was filled with exciting speeches by the top-class award winners and laudators: Nina Eichinger for Dr Jane Goodall, Dr Günther Bachmann for Edo Ronchi, Fritz Habekuß for Peter Maffay and Manfred Weber for Dr Ursula von der Leyen, as well as greetings from Dr Werner Schnappauf and Luisa Neubauer. More than 240 spectators followed the award ceremony in the livestream - which would have been in the lasting spirit of Hans Carl von Carlowitz.
Conclusion: Hybrid events are increasingly establishing themselves as a sustainable event format.
With the hybrid event, you use an enormous reach to connect people all over the world, across great distances, and unite them in one event. Through live interaction, everyone has a direct influence on the event and can share knowledge with each other. There are no regulations for the venue and the number of participants for the hybrid event, but it is usually limited to one day. Certainly, the digital technical effort is high and the planning is very time-consuming the first time. But as always and everywhere - practice makes perfect. And hybrid events will be a normal event format in the future: borderless and connecting.
I don't think it's more cost-effective. Because the associated technology outweighs the ancillary travel costs. I'm in the industry myself and I can say that.
With kind regards