Hosting hybrid events that provide attendee value to both audiences can be challenging – especially for associations with small staffs.
Here are some easy, yet effective, ideas for building great hybrid event content.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
Are you ready to create great hybrid events at your association? Recent association industry research from Community Brands suggests you should be. In the 2021 Association Trends Study, 72 percent of current and lapsed members of professional membership organizations who responded to the study’s survey say they expect their organization to offer all or most events in a hybrid format.
But hybrid events, which bring together in-person and virtual events, can be challenging – especially for associations with small staffs. How can you ensure that attendees get value from the event, no matter if they attend in person or online?
In addition to incorporating ways to engage both audiences, a thoughtful content plan can make a big difference.
Here are four ideas for creating effective content for your hybrid events:
Consider offering a variety of content delivery options.
When you think about a hybrid event scenario, you might envision live in-person sessions being simultaneously live streamed to an online audience. Live streams might make sense for some events, but they’re not the only option.
For example, you can offer some pre-recorded sessions for your virtual audience that have live Q&A with the presenter in combination with select sessions live streamed. If you have some virtual speakers, you can broadcast their presentations to both audiences at the same time so that everyone has a similar experience.
Choose the right content.
Whether you’re determining which of your sessions are best to live stream, or which sessions you want to offer on-demand, focus on content that will appeal to both audiences, including topics that are:
- Most popular, based on past in-person or virtual event attendance and ratings
- Hot, timely topics in your industry
- Popular in your association’s online member community
- Presented by well-known and/or highly rated speakers
- Track-based, or grouped together by theme
Think about session length and format.
Be sure to think about session length and format for both audiences. For example, shorter, more focused sessions can help to keep virtual attendees’ attention better. Also, varying the format of the sessions — presentations, panels, fireside chats, breakout discussions, informal groups, sponsored sessions, networking events/rooms, and so on — keeps things more interesting for everyone.
Provide training for your speakers.
A key part of creating appropriate content for hybrid events is to prepare speakers to present to both audiences. The loss of physical connection requires in-person speakers to develop new skills to engage with the online audience. For example, in-person speakers for live streamed events must acknowledge remote attendees and look at the camera frequently.
Also, make sure your speakers are comfortable with the technology they’ll be using to present their content. It will help them deliver a better attendee experience. Some ideas:
- Set up a prep call to make sure speakers understand how your in-person technology and online event platform work.
- Make sure speakers are aware of the technology features they can use, such as Q&A, polling, surveys, etc., to make their sessions more engaging for both audiences.
- Give virtual speakers the option to record their sessions without an audience. Speakers may feel more comfortable and can take time to pause and re-start if needed. You can then broadcast the sessions at the scheduled time.
TIP: YourMembership association management software integrates with Pathable, an event platform that helps you plan, promote, and power your hybrid events with one tool.
Even with a small staff, your association can create highly successful hybrid events. Learn more tips for creating great hybrid events: Read The Small Association’s Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Events.