Running a hybrid event can seem daunting, but with careful planning and execution, it can be a fantastic experience for both you and your attendees.
This step-by-step will cover everything from having a clear vision to seeking profitable sponsorship to help your business make the most of what hybrid events have to offer.
So, whether you’re just starting out or are already in the thick of things, read on for your complete guide on how to run your next hybrid event.
How to Plan Your Hybrid Event
1. Define your vision
It’s vital to have a clear vision for your hybrid event. What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? What kind of experience do you want your attendees to have? Keep these things in mind when planning your event so that you can stay on track.
Some key questions to ask yourself include;
- Who is your event for?
- What are you trying to share with them?
- What kind of engagement are they interested in?
- Where will you host the event, and when?
Without having a clear vision, you won’t know what you’re aiming for. Think about how crucial a hybrid event can be for your business to give you a firm idea of how you want to use them.
It’s like wanting to travel to your favorite beach, but instead, you jump in the car and tell your SatNav to take you to the coast. It’s too vague and undefined, and while you’re bound to end up somewhere, it’s probably not where you want to be.
Get as clear and as specific as possible, and everything else will be able to fall in place.
Remember, this is a hybrid event, so you need to make it engaging. That’s the key to a successful event.
So, at this stage, you need to think about how to blend the physical and virtual worlds to bring engagement and value to both audiences. For example, perhaps virtual viewers can vote in real time to affect certain things that are happening at the physical venue.
If you have a panel of speakers running a Q&A, will virtual audience members also have a way to ask questions or comment on what’s being said? Can you offer virtual reality experiences?
Get creative. The more engaging you can be, your event will be more attractive.
2. Creating Your Plan
Now you have a clear idea of your final destination; it’s time to plot your route. This is where you’ll start getting into the nitty-gritty of event planning.
Some key things to consider when creating your plan include;
- Your budget
- Your timeline
- Your marketing strategy
- Your speakers/panelists/entertainment
- Your venue
- How will you engage your remote attendees
- What technology will you need
The chances are you will want to invest in some kind of organizational strategy. You could use a text document or have a folder with links. Maybe even a specific notebook would work for you, but this doesn’t seem very functional.
Instead, I recommend embracing technology and using some kind of event planning management platform. I personally like to use EventEngage as it’s an end-to-end event experience organization tool that handles everything and keeps everything in one place, but it’s really up to you.
When it comes to actually hosting the virtual aspect of your hybrid event, you need to think about how you’re going to host it. The simplest way would broadcast your event to your social media channels, or a live streaming platform like Twitch or YouTube.
In that case, you could watch the live chat or read comments to make things a little more interactive. However, you’re going to have a much more immersive experience if you integrate a dedicated hybrid event hosting platform that can offer all the features you need to make the event the best it can be.
At this stage in the game, it’s also time to start thinking about sponsorship. Sponsorship can be a great way to offset some of the costs associated with running your event. It can also help you to attract bigger and better speakers/panelists/entertainment.
Seeking out sponsors can seem daunting, but there’s a simple step-by-step process the professionals use to make this simple.
- Create a list of potential sponsors that align with your event’s goals.
- Reach out to them and send them your sponsorship deck. This is a document that outlines the benefits of sponsoring your event.
- Follow up with them after they’ve had a chance to review your proposal.
3. Get Your Event Team Together
Simply put, you can’t organize and host a successful hybrid event alone. There’s simply too much to do and manage, so that you will need a team behind you.
Thus, building your event team is one of the most important steps in event planning.
You need to make sure you have the right people in place to help you execute your vision, and you’re all going to need to be on the same page and of the same mindset. You don’t want a problem person in your team that will create issues at times that matter most.
Therefore, take your time building your team and ensure everything shares the same values and ideals of what the event will be.
Of course, what roles you have within your team is up to you and will depend on the budget, scale, and vision behind your event.
To make things simple, start with some basic roles, including;
- Event Manager
- Creative Director
- Marketing Manager
- Speaker Coordinator
- Sponsorship Manager
- Volunteer Coordinator
Even from the planning stages, start to delegate tasks and put together a more detailed plan. This will help to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day.
Delegation really is the key here because, as the event manager, you won’t be able to do everything yourself. And that’s okay! Part of being a good leader is knowing when to delegate tasks.
4. Consider Your Promotion Strategy
Now that your event is starting to come together and you should start to see everything being organized and booked, you need to start thinking about promoting it. In other words, spreading the word that your event will take place and creating enough buzz or hype will get people interested in what you’re offering.
Your promotion strategy is vital to the success of your event. After all, what’s the point in putting on a fantastic event if no one knows about it?
All kinds of promotion could be valid here, but the trick to successful event promotion is understanding who your target audience is and how best to reach them. After all, you should spend thousands on targeted Instagram ads, but what’s the point if your target audience isn’t on Instagram?
There are several ways to market your hybrid event, including:
- Social media
- Promote influencers
- Let your sponsors advertise
- Post local banners
- Create a website or landing page
- Publish a press release
- Email marketing
- Run targeted ads
- Write blog posts
- Write in forums
Get creative and think outside the box. Again, and I say this because it’s so important, consider the key elements of your event to choose the right channels for promotion:
- Your target audience
- Which channels do they use
- What kind of content do they engage with
- When is the best time to reach them
- What’s your call to action?
How to Host Your Hybrid Event
Now into the core of your event; hosting it.
This is where all your hard work comes together, and you get to see the fruits of your labor. Of course, a lot goes into hosting a successful hybrid event, and still a lot to do.
Start with your venue
The physical venue is where the core of your event will take place, where all the speakers and activities and engaging, fun things you plan to do. This means you have to set up your event in the way you would a traditional event and then add in the virtual elements where necessary.
Your tech setup is vital to the success of your hybrid event. After all, if your attendees can’t see or hear what’s going on, they will not stick around for long.
To avoid any technical difficulties, make sure you test your setup well in advance of the event. This will help to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day.
Focus on the content
At the end of the day, the success of your hybrid event rests on one very important element, and no, it’s just engagement.
Your event needs to bring value to the lives of the audience. Whether that’s the value of entertainment or education, that’s up to you, but you must focus on the content and how you deliver it.
For example, you could be providing content like;
- Panel discussions
- Breakout sessions
Whatever industry you’re in, you have to provide value in these areas and ensure the content is delivered in the best possible way. Your venue, tech, and setup need to ensure this is the case.
Imagine a football game, but the microphones on the commentators are set too low, so nobody can hear what’s being said, and the cameras are so zoomed out that nobody can see what’s going on.
The event is, quite frankly, going to suck, and you must avoid this at all costs. Quality is absolutely everything at a hybrid event, and for many of your audience members, it will be their first impression of what you have to offer, so make it count.
Don’t waste your opportunity!
The Big Day
Sooner or later, the big day will roll around, but having taken everything into account in this guide, you should be well organized and have everything in the bag. Sure, there are going to be problems before and on the day, but the more on top of everything you are, the faster you can react, and the more you can focus on what really matters;
Provide your audience with a valuable and engaging experience that they will love and never forget!
There’s no doubt that hybrid events are the future (internal link to the other article I wrote here), and there’s never been a better time to have them work for you.
Hosting a hybrid event is a great way to reach a wider audience and engage with them in new and exciting ways. There’s no doubt it will take some work, but it’s definitely worth it when you see just how engaged your audience is in what your business has to offer.