While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted conferences, planners are thinking ahead to what events will look like next year and beyond. One solution that has been trending even before the worldwide shutdown is the hybrid conference model. Featuring both in-person and virtual components, hybrid events provide a way for participants to attend who are unable to travel, but also allows for face-to-face interaction, with adjustments for social distancing. Here are some best practices to keep in mind if you opt for a hybrid conference.
Here and There
While online attendees can watch a livestream of conference presentations, most participants are looking to be more than just passive audience members. Create an app for your conference using a platform like Eventbase, Socio, or EventMobi to build a bridge between your virtual and in-person participants. During presentations, be sure to have a designated facilitator who can monitor online questions as they come in and incorporate them into the session's Q&A time. Another way to encourage attendees to take a more active role is to create Twitter polls to get real-time engagement during presentations and throughout the conference in general.
Loud and Clear
For any conference, ensuring that all of your A/V needs are addressed is a crucial part of the planning process. With hybrid events, that is especially true as your presenters need to be seen and heard by attendees far and wide. High-speed internet is a must, but you also need to have video equipment and microphones with the proper capabilities to broadcast keynote sessions without technical glitches.
The Social Network
Making sure conference attendees stay engaged in between sessions can be a challenge even when everyone is in the same venue. Carving out time for networking is one solution, but how does that translate to the hybrid model? Incorporate social media into your planning by setting up a dedicated Facebook group for your conference, where all participants (in-person and virtual) can network and discuss important points from keynote speakers and sessions. Your conference app is another great place for all attendees to have group discussions, direct messaging, or participate in fun challenges.
Hybrid conferences are a good solution to keeping your event going during this time of social distancing. Of course, there's the added benefit of expanding your audience beyond your regular in-person attendees. Contact us today to find out how the experienced staff at The Otesaga can assist you in planning your conference.