Hybrid events are not new. Producing them can be a challenge. But we can learn from the pioneering event professionals of years gone by.
Let’s go back in time and see what we can take away to increase our hybrid event ROI today.
In 2012 I was asked to guest moderate a Tweet chat for my good friend Jenise Fryatt. The subject she wanted to investigate was Hybrid events. At that stage they were new to event professionals, and it was important to find out how they were perceived.
What our contributors said
This was a tweet chat that had lots of contributors and interesting thoughts.
Looking back on these tips (below) it is interesting to review what some of the thinking was then and how that compares to now. Interestingly, each of the tips have stood the test of time. It’s worth remembering that back in 2012 Twitter had a 240-character limit for a single tweet. That’s another example of how times change.
I have added in some commentary to each of the tips. This adds further insights with the benefit of the passage of time.
Here are 5 top comments that are worth looking at. They help with hybrid event planning today and give you an insight into what was top of mind all those years ago.
1. “Don’t do hybrid events just because they are cool, they have to make sense to the audience.”
This was absolutely right. at the time there was a lot of experimentation taking place by some eventprofs who sought to push the boundaries of events. This led to a number of Event Camps that took place across the globe from 2009 – 2014. It was the Event Camps that enabled planners and others to realise what the challenges and opportunities were.
Whilst hybrid events were cutting edge cool it was important to understand whether they made sense for an organisations’ strategic objectives.
2. “Keep it simple, technology within all participants reach, don’t impress the experts at the expense of the regular folk.”
How true this is today as it was then. With the growing number of tech companies all seeking to impress with their ability to change the world, the user can become forgotten. If the technology is too hard for your delegates, speakers, or other stakeholders then everything suffers. And usually that means a less than positive experience for people.
People are always under constant time pressure and the last thing they want is to fight with the technology. In designing your hybrid event take time to go through what the tech journeys are like for each of your stakeholders.
3. “Change from bad to good hybrid requires less emphasis on technology and more emphasis on strategy and engagement.”
Emilie Barta has always been at the leading edge of hybrid events. She was and is a superb virtual host for hybrid events and more besides. Her comment is as relevant today as it was then. It can be so easy for event planners to become lost in the world of tech features. The savvy professional understands that there can be no success unless a clear strategy and engagement approach is defined long before the event takes place. It is the same approach that you would take for an in-person or virtual event.
4. “If you have PODs you can add local content.”
Adrian is right on the money. A pod or a local cluster of in-person delegates participating in a hybrid event opens even more opportunities. The delegates travel to a local hub, enjoy the programme and if they want to add a speaker or entertainment just for them, they can easily do so.
One example of this was when we produced Event Camp Europe. There were several local PODs and one of them was in Sweden. They made their presence known by branding in their national colours. And we know that at the lunch break they had their own local speaker that gave a lecture for them.
5. “Hybrids will be the norm. Proving the need to meet F2F will increase. There will be more targeted local and regional events vs large international events. The need and frequency to meet F2F will decrease.”
I find Susan’s comments to be even more relevant today than they were back in 2012. In my opinion proving the need to meet in-person will become a bigger issue than it is right now. It’s coming fast. And this in large part can be attributed to a number of factors. But let’s look at three. The impact of Covid-19, supply chain disruption and the adverse impacts of climate change surely mean that individuals and organisations must look at what they are doing in a much more critical light. If events carry on as they did before, I think we are in for tough times ahead.
Conclusion – Looking back helps take us forward
Looking at past comments helps take us forward. Some of the issues may have passed. Some may be even more critical today. The comments help inform our thinking today. Hybrid events have not emerged because of Covid-19, they have been with us much longer. If you ever needed evidence of that then you have it right here in this blog post.
But what has happened is that a global pandemic has challenged event professionals to think about how they can produce events and hybrid is one such option. It’s a great option if it makes strategic sense for your organisation.
Use these comments to help your critical thinking before you act. The hard work of hybrid events needs to be done long before you start allocating tasks for event delivery.
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