In 2022, there are more options on the table than ever before when it comes to making event attendees feel included and knocking your event experience out of the park. Hybrid events in particular — events with both in-person and virtual components — have become a popular format, which isn’t surprising. From boosting an event’s reach to maximizing engagement and even providing new sponsorship opportunities, Team SEQ hasn’t been shy about promoting the benefits of hybrid events.
It’s no wonder we get excited about the potential of hybrid events — we’ve organized a quite a few of our own and have cracked the code for getting the most out of the format. Below are a few of our main tips for taking attendee engagement at hybrid events to the next level:
- Aim for one concept, and two unique experiences. A great hybrid event should have a clear thread that unites the in-person and virtual aspects, while also providing specialized experiences for both types of attendees. Creating unique content for your virtual attendees — maybe a special speaker or panel — is a great idea that can create a sense of balance and prevent people from feeling like they’re missing out. It can also be a great idea to create arcs for both event experiences that meet in a stunning conclusion. When Sequence produced the finale drive-in event for The Wall Street Journal’s annual Future of Everything Festival, a largely virtual event, we went out of our way to make it special. With welcome baskets that brought the concessions experience right to each car and an exclusive pre-movie interview with the show’s stars, the in-person phase of the event provided a perfect capstone to an awesome three-day virtual event.
- Set up a point person for virtual attendees. For your in-person event, you’ll likely have an emcee who introduces speakers or helps keep the program moving. Replicating that experience for virtual attendees can be a great way to guarantee they feel included and are getting the most of the event’s joint programming. They would introduce virtual-only experiences and speakers, or simply ensure that virtual attendees know what’s going on in the main space with custom commentary geared towards the virtual experience. Either way, it’s a great strategy for creating a tailored experience for virtual attendees.
- Use live polls and other interactive features. One crucial joint experience that can connect your two audiences is live polling and other interactive opportunities. If you’re hosting a panel, for instance, you can encourage both virtual and on-site attendees to submit questions or respond to polls via social media, or even an event-specific app. And while this strategy is a fun way of creating a unified virtual event, it’s also a great practice no matter your event format! Giving attendees a say in the shape your event takes naturally increases their investment and engagement.
- Make it visual. At Sequence, we love hybrid events, and we brought that passion to the Center for Reproductive Rights’ 2021 New York Gala. As we’d done for the 2020 Gala, Team SEQ helped coordinate a live stream of the event, complete with custom graphics and transitions, that made the event accessible to virtual attendees. We made sure not to skimp on the interactive aspect of virtual attendance, setting up both a live chat feature for virtual attendees, and a virtual photo booth that gave home viewers another way to replicate the experience of attending in-person.
- Take advantage of the latest tech. Playing around with new technologies opens up exciting new vistas for creating balanced hybrid events that feel authentic, no matter how you’re attending. Virtual spaces, for instance, seem almost tailor-made for hybrid events — especially when it comes to collapsing the boundaries between in-person and virtual experiences. You might choose to expand the in-person experience, setting up a station for attendees to experience an immersive and branded virtual space, or create a replica of the in-person event’s break space for virtual attendees to network in.
At Sequence, we’re always excited about the chance to expand our vision of how engaging events can take shape — maybe that’s why we’ve got such a sweet spot for hybrid events. Combining the benefits of virtual with the experiential richness of in-person events, hybrid events are a fascinating frontier that we’ll never miss a chance to explore.
Let Team SEQ take the guesswork out of planning a stellar hybrid event. Sign up for our free 30-minute consultation today for answers to your burning event questions. We can’t wait to connect with you!