You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade to a more recent browser for a better experience.

Going Hybrid: Adding Virtual to Your Physical Event

By Freeman®

Physical events will be coming back — hopefully sooner rather than later — and according to our research, attendees are starting to get excited. Even though it may be some months yet until everyone across the event ecosystem is comfortable with a return to face-to-face, it's a good idea to start planning for the event of the future, and what attendee expectations will be forever changed.

The fact of the matter is that virtual events are not going away. And that's actually a great thing. Not only are virtual events a valuable event strategy on their onw, but hybrid events that combine the best of on-site and virtual offer so much potential for increased reach and revenue on a potentially global scale. Not only can you connect with interested audiences who are unable to physically attend your event, you provide a completely new way for people to engage with your brand. Virtual attendance opens up new avenues for social sharing of content, new sponsorship opportunities, and new ways to build powerful online communities.

Being prepared as our industry continues to evolve is extremely important so that we can all hit the ground running when things return to some kind of normal. So, here are our key tips to make your first — or next — hybrid event an overwhelming success in the future of live.

Deliver High Production Value

There’s more to a great virtual event than just training a camera on a speaker. Your audience has big expectations, and the rules of high-quality production still apply.

  • Use the right tools and platforms to make sure that you're set up for success from the get-go. It isn't enough to just have a streaming video on your YouTube channel or set up a quick Zoom meeting. Determine the needs of your virtual event, and then find the right partner and providers to help you make it happen.
  • The internet is your biggest potential obstacle to smooth streaming. Make sure your broadcast connection is wired ethernet (not wireless) and dedicated (not shared with any other user). You don’t want things to hiccup because someone in another room is downloading a 20GB email.
  • Use more than one camera — high-definition, preferably — for both wide and close-up shots as well as audience footage. Place cameras on risers so they’re eye level with the speakers, and raise the stage enough to keep heads out of the shot.
  • Meeting rooms are often dark, so proper lighting is crucial. Point directional lighting at the speaker from both the right and left, with smaller lights angled down toward the speaker’s back shoulders for backlight. For the best look, make sure the stage has a backdrop.
  • Wireless microphones eliminate snaking cords and look better on screen. An audio engineer can manage lapel mic placement, ambient noise, and other issues that might arise.
Give Virtual Guests a Real Experience

They may be lounging on their couch, but your virtual audience still wants to feel included. Help them by giving them a sense that they are there in the session room.

Shoot from a range of angles so viewers can see the whole space, and mix applause and audience reaction along with the stage noise. You can also drive engagement with online chat, discussion forums, social media hashtags, second screen apps, and much more to help your virtual audience feel like they're in the room, and to give virtual and physical attendees a chance to mingle.

Before You Hit Record…

Prepare as you would for any other session. Provide scripts for everyone, so that everyone knows the order of events. Do a rehearsal just like you would for a physical event. Take the time to perform a complete dry run to catch potential technical issues. Better to blow an electrical breaker during a test than at go time.

And, work with a provider who makes sure to test the other components of the virtual event both before and during the event. You've got the same kind of staff on-site at the physical event ensuring that things run smoothly, so don't neglect the needs of a virtual event and the testing that ensures a smooth experience for your online audiences.

And finally, begin with the end in mind. Stay focused on the goals you want to achieve; everything else will fall into place.

Ready to go virtual?
See how we can make planning easy!
Contact us today

Read next

Virtual Event Lessons for Healthcare and All Industries Best Practices

Seven can-do cures for effective engagement

Unplanned Obsolescence: Essentials of Growth For the New Year Inspiration

Relevance is the outcome of choices and actions

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Insight 2 - Microsoft [Exploring the digital transformation] Video

How Microsoft has experimented its way to digital event evolution

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Insight 1 - Microsoft: The Digital Core of the Future Video

Why Microsoft believes digital will continue to be at the center of events

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Full Video - Microsoft: Mastering Events in the Digital World Video

Our 2020 Year-End Special! How the team at Microsoft has transformed its digital events

4 Ideas From MPI WEC for a Stand-Out Hybrid Event Best Practices

Apply these takeaways to your next event

Back to Top