As restrictions on in-person events are being lifted in certain communities, live events are becoming a possibility again — but not everyone will be ready to return to in-person gatherings just yet. Accommodating both the eager-to-socialize and the more cautious attendees can be key to leveling up your event creation game. Hybrid events, which can be enjoyed either in-person or virtually, do just that.

While one benefit of hybrid and virtual events is expanding your potential audience, it’s important to get the tech right. You want your virtual audience to focus on the entertainment, not on glitches and disconnections. Make sure you have all the right technology to make your hybrid event run as smoothly and as professionally as possible.

1. Visuals

For livestreamed and hybrid events, it’s critical to have top-notch visuals. Whether your event is a seminar, a workshop, or just a simple meeting, be sure you know what your best video options are. Video platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Live and Vimeo all have different strengths, so consider the nature of your event and how you want your attendees to experience it.

As for the video camera, look for one with 1080p resolution or better. However, since many people stream on their mobile devices, a 4K camera is likely going overboard for a simple webinar or workshop. If you’re hosting on Facebook Live, consider a device made for this type of streaming, like the Mevo.

Along with technical capabilities, it’s important for the user experience to be uncomplicated. Be sure to seamlessly blend your virtual and live experiences for your attendees. Test your tech before your event starts, so your in-person audience can enjoy your event, rather than having to wait for AV equipment to be fine-tuned. Don’t forget that if your event is going to last longer than your camera’s limited battery life, you’ll need an electrical hookup.

2. Lighting

Good lighting is an often-neglected subset of visuals, but it can elevate the experience by providing a professional gloss to make your visuals pop. Be sure the visual focus of your event — like the speaker, performer, or host — is lit appropriately.

Hollywood cinematographers have long understood how lighting can focus the eye, so take lessons from the best and use a mix of fill lights, key lights, and back lights. Consider using colored filters for even more visual variety. You’ll be amazed by the difference it can make.

3. Sound

If you want your audience to hear your message loud and clear, you’d better be sure your sound tech is solid. No one wants to hear screeches and feedback, so securing equipment and technology that can deliver your event sound smoothly and clearly is key. Microphones, wiring, and speakers are all important parts of your sound setup and should all be double-checked before the event. Choosing the right technology will let your virtual audience get closer to the in-person experience.

One technique for helping your virtual audience get a sense of a live event is to place microphones in the audience, either hanging from the ceiling or placed surreptitiously around the venue. This can help those joining remotely better feel like a part of the crowd. And if you have live music, a separate audio console for your livestreaming will help separate the various audio streams for a clean mix. Hiring a professional sound engineer, if one isn’t provided by the venue, will take the quality to the next level.

4. Interaction

Live events allow for more interaction between your entertainer and your audience, whether that’s a Q&A segment or a standing ovation after a live music performance. This interaction creates a bond between the audience and the performer for a more meaningful experience all around. In both hybrid events and live virtual events, providing the opportunity for your online audience to engage is key, but can be tricky.

Consider incorporating a chat feature into the online stream, or include a projector screen for audience questions. For larger events, offer an interactive event app that gives attendees customized information about your event, such as a map, program schedule, and bios. Polls can be another great way to let your audience participate in your event while giving you more information about your audience.

Check out these hybrid and virtual event examples as you plan your next event. Offering an event with a mix of live and streaming entertainment is a more inclusive way to re-engage with your audience as live events resume. Mastering the visuals, lighting, sound, and interaction makes your event more professional and shows that you value your audience’s experience. Make your event hybrid, and watch your audience expand.

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