You’re planning an event and you select your venue. What’s next? In a venue, a floor plan provides limits to stay within the physical boundaries of the building itself. What happens when you introduce the digital environment of a hybrid event? How does that impact your participant experience?
I’ve put together three easy-to-remember environmental cues that provide the excitement of a live event experience, with considerations specific to hybrid events. Without knowing your event type or participant size, these tips aren’t meant to cover everything you’ll need. Think of them as a basic foundation you can build upon:
1. Create a backdrop that works on-site and on screen
Start simple with graphics and other design elements from your on-site signage by replicating the same look and feel on your event platform. Event platforms that have engagement tools or uploadable resources typically allow for some flexibility in customizing colors and adding in branding elements. Take that same approach with slide content. Add transitional slides or motion graphics that appear between presenters or during breaks.
In your venue environment, keep everyone’s attention focused on your content. Place cameras strategically to capture different recording angles, audience reactions, and close-ups of the stage. Then, display them on screen at your venue. This gives your on-site participants the ability to see what your remote users view – another way to bridge the two experiences. Don’t forget to test your lighting on camera to make sure it’s bright enough to capture well for a broadcast.
Take it a step further:
- If a presenter is broadcasting or pre-recording from home, here are some tips to enhance your attendees’ experience and give your presenter more confidence.
- Be open to production solutions that have been designed to be cost-effective. For example, a stage set like Encore’s Backdrop Pro gives you professional polish while still allowing for some customization at tiered pricing. Depending on your needs, pre-built studios like a Presentation Stage™ are another great option to consider. These solutions are cost-effective in that they’re set and ready for use or they’re mobile (can be brought to your venue or office), with efficient processes in place to reduce setup time.
2. Be intentional about seating
Before the pandemic, traditional event seating never took social distancing into account. These days, it’s front and center in its influence of room and seating design. Depending on your event or meeting type, seating and tables can be positioned to observe, present, or placed in a specific area to appear on camera for other attendees.
For a conference room-style meeting with multiple presenters, consider each participant’s viewpoint and how you might integrate them. A low-profile 360° camera, like a Meeting OWL, positioned in the center of your room or table shows all participants at once or focuses solely on whoever is speaking. You might also consider a device like ClickShare that allows attendees to share their laptop screen with a click of a button. By staying seated, presentation content can be viewed quickly without any unnecessary foot traffic.
Take it a step further:
- Curious about Meeting OWL and ClickShare? See these and more small meeting solutions here.
- In the “Hybrid Event Handbook,” we use three examples of tiered meeting styles to show you different seating, room layout, and camera capture options to consider
- Check out CORT Furniture Rental’s list of “15 Unique Event Design & Décor Trends for 2021“
- Looking for more creative, out-of-the-box ideas? Check out this Forbes article, “10 Creative Customer Experience Ideas for Social Distancing“
3. Don’t forget lighting and music
Besides making sure you have adequate lighting to appear on camera, lighting influences the mood in your event space. Try dimming the room lights and using LED uplights in different colors to frame a stage or to separate your overall event agenda into segments. A little variation goes a long way for your online viewers.
Another great mood enhancer for hybrid events is music. Music can motivate, calm, and serve as a bridge or buffer between sessions and presenters. For example, you could use the same ‘waiting room’ music in your event platform as you do on-site as one more method of joining the two experiences.
Take it a step further:
- Create your own playlist or try one of ours. Encore music is a catalog of already-licensed tracks that includes popular music from well-known artists as well as mood-lifting and relaxed instrumentals. Pre-built playlists and custom playlists available.
- Watch the on-demand webinar, “When Science and Events Combine: Adult Learning and Technology,” which talks about color theory and using technology to enhance cognition and mood.
Creating a versatile hybrid event environment
Creative, production, and technology event solutions have been mainstays for in-person events because of their ability to inspire people, facilitate education, and provide engagement.
With hybrid events, you can deliver the excitement of a live event experience for your in-person guests with the same physical elements, graphics, and sounds shared by your remote participants. In this post, I’ve touched on a couple of considerations for your hybrid event environment. I hope they prove helpful and that you feel more confident by having a foundation to start with.
Visit our virtual and hybrid events page or fill out the contact form below if you’re interested in learning more.
In November of 2020, we surveyed 2,000 of our customers and asked various questions about hybrid events. When we asked them to give a general forecast of their 2021 events, our survey respondents shared that they plan to allocate nearly 80% of their total spend on virtual and hybrid solutions. To maximize your total spend, create a plan that prioritizes the experience of each participant type. In the design phase, you can measure each experience against your event objectives and make adjustments as you go. To help, here’s a framework for designing a hybrid event based on traditional planning strategies and methods, with updated considerations for hybrid.
Hybrid events allow people to choose their experience based on how they want to take in information and engage with one another. As a result, planning is more experience-driven and customer-led than ever before. This consumer-led strategy will set the future for events, innovating how we deliver and how we engage in these experiences.
The transitions within the events industry have designated hybrid events not just as of-the-moment alternatives to in-person events but instead as key pieces within an integrated portfolio of event offerings. While the shift to a virtual and hybrid focus feels abrupt, the planning of these experiences is still deeply rooted within the familiar elements of event design.
Hybrid events offer highly-scalable experiences with dynamic design possibilities, removing the barriers to allow for community growth and connection. With options for live, recorded, and on-demand content, global attendees, can join experiences that may have previously been limited. This geographic flexibility minimizes financial, time zone, and physical location blockers. The increased reach and personalization of these events lead to improved ROI and MTV (Money and Time Value.) The success of hybrid experiences directly correlates to the strategic framework behind designing an experience that speaks to all audiences, whether physically present or virtually engaged.
Strategic Framework of Hybrid Event Design
To create a strategy for your hybrid event, start by establishing experience goals based on each participant type and their unique journey. As with in-person events, it is critical to set benchmarks, objectives and define KPIs. Setting these KPIs and objectives positions you to create a content and engagement strategy that’s built to meet them.
Human-centered design principles provide the insights necessary to develop creative that inspires and engages, no matter where your audience is. The creative content is directly informed by these insights, equally personalizing experiences for virtual and in-person audiences. The personalization of engagement methods drives the collaboration between virtual, in-person, or dual attendees. How will the experiences intersect, and how can participants engage with one another? Selecting a platform that supports these levels of customization has proven to be a key driver in customer decision making. While Encore utilizes the Chime Live platform, we remain solution agnostic. Our ultimate goal is to provide creative, production, and technology solutions best suited to each event.
Platforms and Content for Hybrid
Event platforms should scale for audience size, the number of hosted events, and the live component’s eventual expansion into other forms of content and delivery. With the time and resources you spend to create your live event, your technology and produced content should serve current and future experience needs.
Creating content with intention allows it to serve its present purpose and audience while also having the longevity to be relevant beyond the principal event. Core content should be concise, engaging, and accessible, with a tiered strategy that clearly distinguishes and connects to all attendees. Delivering a quality hybrid event involves all the care and planning of live events, with some specific nuances to ensure a seamless and high impact experience for all. Rehearsal time should be utilized to acknowledge the particulars of live and virtual audience interactions, while branded content and custom graphics can help to achieve a professional and polished look. This high level of personalization will make for a transformative and impactful event experience for audiences near and far.
Everything and Nothing has Changed
With live, virtual, and hybrid events, the central tenets of event design still stand. It will always be critical to know the audience, set benchmarks, and determine which experience will best resonate with those objectives. While there are two experiences with hybrid, the core elements remain the same. Leverage the commonality but be mindful of the unique audience perspectives. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, the event design’s strategic framework keeps attendee engagement front and center, actualizing the intended objectives through inspired creative and intentional content. Hybrid experiences are not a 1:1 comparison to in-person, but the design process and considerations are analogous.
Event framework, creative, engagement methods, content, and delivery quality remain the key elements when designing a successful hybrid experience that connects and captivates all audiences.