If you’re worried that your upcoming business meetings will need to be canceled or postponed, you might want to learn about planning a hybrid meeting.
Today, it’s possible for businesses to hold meetings that are flexible and easy to adjust according to any changes in local restrictions. Hybrid meetings combine in-person attendance with an online counterpart, allowing you to have as many attendees or participants as possible while still allowing your attendees to feel safe and comfortable.
Make your meeting accessible for in-person and virtual audiences, with a video streaming service and the strategic planning techniques you’ll learn about here. Read on to discover:
- What is a hybrid meeting?
- Are hybrid events here to stay?
- How to transition from virtual to hybrid events
- Frequently asked questions
- Next steps to start hosting hybrid meetings today
What is a hybrid meeting?
What is a hybrid conference or hybrid meeting? A hybrid meeting is an event that’s available to both in-person and online attendees. While you may prefer to have all attendees in the same room as you’re conducting a class, seminar, group meeting, or other gathering, having a hybrid meeting allows attendees to watch remotely if they can’t show up in person.
Having the option for attendees to watch your meeting remotely is beneficial, as it expands your audience beyond just those who are available to attend in person. Offering online viewing options removes barriers for anyone who’s uncomfortable meeting in person, lives in a different area, or simply can’t make the in-person meeting.
Hybrid events aren’t just about tacking on a livestream to the main event — they’re about creating two concurrent experiences that are enriching for both your in-person and online audiences. When done correctly, hybrid meetings can expand your audience and help you learn more about the kind of content your customers engage with. Many creators, like Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo or Jenny Normand of Shaka Power Yoga in Houston, Texas, have built global audiences using hybrid and virtual events, so consider this an opportunity for expansion.
Eventbrite’s ticketing platform allows you to create multiple ticket types to offer to your attendees. Consider pricing your different ticket types in accordance with the experience your attendees are purchasing. For example, if food and drink will be provided to in-person attendees but not to online participants, a lower price point may be appropriate for the online tickets.
Are hybrid events here to stay?
Not all businesses are returning to their offices or brick-and-mortar storefronts as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifting. There are so many benefits to virtual events and the workforce has become accustomed to them, so there isn’t any reason to completely abandon them. Statistics show that virtual and hybrid meetings are sure to stick around even as offices, conference rooms, and event venues continue to open up:
- In 2021, 64% of businesses say they’re increasing their virtual events, and 58% say they’re planning for a mix of virtual and in-person events. (Harvard Business Review)
- 47% of event organizers say that hybrid events are a solution in connecting internationally dispersed audiences. (Markletic)
- Two-thirds of companies surveyed said they are moving ahead with in-person, virtual, and hybrid event planning for 2021. (Forbes)
2021 may be coming to a close, but hybrid events aren’t going away. A hybrid virtual meeting allows companies to adapt and remain flexible. Many attendees are hungry for in-person experiences, but some are still unsure about being around large groups of people, even with all appropriate safety precautions in place. Beyond offering your local attendees an option to stay where they’re most comfortable, a hybrid event is an opportunity to expand your audience exponentially. Unlike an in-person venue, where you are restricted by the capacity of physical space, a virtual event is only limited by the capacity of your virtual event technology. If you found out during the COVID-19 pandemic that you have potential customers or fans on the other side of the globe, you can give them the opportunity to be part of your next big event with a virtual element.
Planning a hybrid event
A well-conceived hybrid event takes a lot of planning due to its dual nature. Both aspects of your event should be well thought out and provide value to your attendees. You work hard to create a perfect in-person event, and the virtual aspect of a hybrid meeting requires the same level of care. Technology is a key part of any event, but it is especially true for virtual events.
If you’re planning on hosting multiple hybrid events, consider investing in these key parts of your hybrid meeting setup.
Meeting and media equipment
If recording panels and speakers is something you’re used to doing as a creator, you may already have most of the necessary equipment or contacts you need to livestream an event. Hybrid meeting equipment may have a higher cost upfront, but consider the return on investment you will receive, especially if you’re working on a hybrid conference model and you’re hoping to attract a large number of in-person and virtual attendees. All of the photos, video, and sound you record during your event are yours to use for branding purposes and to market future events. High-quality media will please your audience, make it more likely that they will attend your events in the future, and make your marketing campaigns more attractive to potential attendees.
A unique or VIP offering
Take into account what you are offering your in-person attendees and what you are offering your virtual attendees during your planning process. If your event is centered around food and drink, you’ll want to ensure that you’re delivering those things to your virtual attendees or giving them a designated location where they can pick those up.
Creating a hybrid event doesn’t mean sacrificing the excitement and intimacy of the in-person event — it means extending the opportunity for involvement to an even larger audience. Consider organizing some livestreamed panels or speakers who couldn’t make it to the in-person event, and make them exclusive for your online attendees to give them a VIP feel.
Merch and add-ons
Are you selling merch during your event? Offering add-ons during the ticket buying process is a way for you to increase revenue and allow your attendees to purchase merchandise before the day of the event. This option doesn’t have to just be for virtual attendees; consider allowing in-person attendees to pre-purchase their merchandise and pick it up on the day of the event so they can skip the long lines at the merch table. Allow virtual attendees to pre-order merch that can be shipped to their door in time for the event, and consider offering an online purchasing option during the event for anyone who regrets not grabbing one of your add-ons.
If you’re a creator who’s used to planning large, in-person conferences, it may be difficult to understand just how a hybrid conference model could work for you. Having all of your attendees in the same physical place was a major aspect of conferences in the past, but if that model is not adapted, you’ll alienate many loyal attendees, and new attendees you didn’t know you could reach.
How to transition from virtual to hybrid events
For the majority of 2020 and 2021, many businesses only held virtual meetings. Today, though, some businesses may demand a transition to in-person meetings as traditional offices open back up, and that can involve hybrid meetings in the interim. Converting your meetings from virtual to hybrid can come with some growing pain. With virtual events, you’re probably used to laying out guidelines that are easy for all your participants to follow, but with a hybrid meeting, you now have two types of participants to keep track of, and this can lead to possible challenges. Keep these challenges in mind as you plan your event.
Get the timing right
If some of your participants are working remotely from another part of the country, you’ll need to stress your event’s start time. Double check to see if the hybrid conference platform that you’re using shows the time zone along with the event’s start time, and consider including relevant local times on your event invitation. Be sure to specify to attendees living remotely that the time you are scheduling is from your local time zone. Failing to do so can confuse attendees and cause them to prepare for the wrong time.
Send specific instructions
Be sure that your remote viewers receive a link to the livestream for your meeting. The best hybrid meeting technology should be able to send an email to all participating viewers hours in advance of the meeting. You can set your Eventbrite invitation to remind participants about the event and send them instructions for accessing the virtual link on the day of the event.
Check your audio
Make sure that remote viewers have the chance to be heard during the meeting. Have an assistant monitoring the streaming platform’s chat box so that online attendees can ask questions, or speak up if they’re not able to hear or see. Ensure that your video technology allows your remote participants the opportunity to chat with one another or to unmute themselves and ask questions if a discussion is integral to your event. Conversely, make sure you have the ability, as the event organizer, to mute any and all remote participants in case of audio issues.
Don’t forget the basics
If you haven’t addressed more than one audience at a time, it’s never a bad idea to improve upon your “soft skills” — the skills necessary to perform day-to-day tasks well, which don’t necessarily cover the roles in your job description. To successfully conduct a professional, quality hybrid meeting, look into improving on your:
- Adaptability: The ability to come up with “Plan Bs” in the event of technical difficulties or other abrupt circumstances.
- Communication: The trait that allows you to exchange thoughts with others in a clear and sharp manner.
- Organization: The trait that keeps your meeting with clear objectives without straying off-topic and losing the viewers’ attention.
- Persuasion: The ability to explain thoughts in an easy way so your attendees can follow accordingly.
- Stress management: The ability to maintain composure in stressful or tense situations and keep your meeting under control.
- Time management: The ability to pace the meeting at a satisfying rate so you hit all your main talking points in your allotted time.
These skills ensure that your hybrid meetings are successful and productive.
Set smart prices
If you are putting a price on your meeting, Eventbrite makes it easy for both in-person and online attendees to pay for their experience. You can also set the price for both online and in-person tickets, so you can charge more for the in-person experience if you are offering bonuses or freebies. Discover more about other virtual event settings to consider and learn how to set up your Eventbrite virtual event.
If you’re not used to setting up a virtual event — let alone a hybrid event — it can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Eventbrite has a directory full of tips and tricks to help you prepare your hybrid meeting platforms and more.
Hybrid events technology for the workspace of tomorrow
The right technology is already important for in-person events, but the engagement level of all of your virtual attendees is dependent on the kind of experience you are giving them online. This means that you need strong internet and high-quality video and sound, and you need your virtual attendees to feel like they’re part of the event, no matter how physically far away they are. Here’s what to plan for from a technology perspective.
Good connectivity and software
First, be sure that you have a strong internet connection wherever you’re streaming your video from, otherwise, your virtual attendees may be left in the dark. Then, choose a virtual events platform that meets your needs, based on the size and purpose of your event, and allows online participants to get involved. If you’re hosting a small corporate meeting, Zoom may be the best choice, but if you’re planning to livestream a concert, consider options like Vimeo or Facebook Live.
An event with good visuals means great quality and resolution so that virtual attendees can see a crystal-clear picture that isn’t blurry or pixelated. One new solution on the market is Camo, an app that lets you use the camera on your phone as a webcam. The quality of most of today’s smartphone cameras is on par with high-level photography equipment, so there’s no need for a separate video setup. It works with Apple, Android, Windows, and Mac, and it’s been used everywhere from TV news to classrooms teaching brain and eye surgery.
If you’re hosting a large hybrid virtual conference or plan to host many hybrid and virtual events, it may be worth it to look into a hybrid meeting camera. A Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera, or PTZ, can be controlled remotely and allows you to capture different angles.
A good view
You don’t necessarily need appealing graphics for a hybrid meeting, but you need to make sure your viewers have a clear focus on all your subjects — not just presenters but screens and other points of interest. If a speaker at your event is using a presentation that is visible to all of the in-person attendees, offer a screen share of the same presentation for virtual attendees so that they can clearly read and see everything.
Lighting certainly complements the visuals of your meeting, but it can really make a difference to in-person and virtual events. If the room you’re holding your meeting in doesn’t have adequate lighting, production lighting, or spotlights for your speaker, this will impact your presentation quality. You can get a video camera with advanced gain settings so the picture appears brighter for your online audience. Consider also renting lighting and sound equipment that will help to enhance the event for your virtual attendees.
High sound quality
Microphones hanging from the ceiling around your in-person audience are one way to truly capture the ambiance of the event. If your event includes live music, your sound quality will be especially crucial. If your venue already has sound equipment, try to leverage that, and look into hiring a sound engineer who can help manage that aspect of the event. For more information on these elements of conference technology, explore our Hybrid Events Technology blog.
Eventbrite also allows you further customization options depending on how you communicate with your followers. You can use Eventbrite Boost on your smartphone to easily advertise your events to multiple social media platforms at once.
Frequently asked questions
If you have further questions on how to set up a hybrid event, we’ve got you covered. Find answers to commonly asked questions below.
How do you do a hybrid conference?
You can set up a hybrid conference by offering a virtual viewing option in addition to an in-person presentation. Those who buy tickets for the in-person experience will get tickets sent to their email address, and those who will attend online receive a link to the virtual video platform.
What equipment is needed for hybrid conferences?
Equipment needed for a hybrid conference includes a video camera to transfer your footage to your video platform and A/V equipment such as lighting, microphones, and speakers.
What are the benefits of a hybrid meeting?
A hybrid meeting allows more attendees to view your meeting as opposed to in-person-only meetings. These meetings allow your attendees an alternative way to catch your meeting and get in on all your exclusive and/or important info. Hybrid meetings also ensure that your events go on as planned in case of major inconveniences, such as a health crisis.
What hybrid events platforms are there?
Hybrid events platforms include services like Eventbrite for managing event details and invitations, and platforms like Facebook Live, Zoom, or Twitch for streaming your meeting.
Start hosting hybrid meetings today
Hybrid meetings have come to the forefront of the live event realm, and while they require a fair amount of careful planning, they can be excellent marketing tools for your company. Eventbrite has plenty of helpful resources for those planning hybrid conferences. Get started on this exciting new event type and learn how to conduct events like a pro.