How to go hybrid: Fun and engaging ideas for your next hybrid event.

There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding hybrid events. How much should be virtual? How much should be in person? Is it actually going to be more fun than planning, hosting, or watching a virtual event all from the couch? To answer these questions, we took some notes on all the fun and engaging things that planners, venues, and attendees are creating in the wide world of hybrid events.

The virtual audience at the WWE virtual smackdown made for the perfect hybrid event

WWE Virtual Smackdown

Nope, this is not an episode of Black Mirror, the WWE Virtual Smackdown actually has TVs in the bleachers displaying fans while wrestlers compete live, and in person. When the fans cheer or boo (it is wrestling after all) everyone watching the stream can see. More importantly, the wrestlers can see the fan reactions, just like in real life. For a sport like wrestling, where audience engagement is half the show, this kind of set-up can be very effective. There’s also something completely unique about being able to see yourself in the audience, and know that you can interact with the performers. It can make everything in the virtual world seem more real. Even wrestling.

Time-lapse of an event venue being set up and made ready to go.

Oslofjord Convention Center

The Oslofjord Convention Center recently created one of the most impressive venues we’ve seen for hybrid events. There’s multiple soundstages, wall-to-wall screens, and it’s all wired for live broadcasting. Basically, if you can dream it, they can stream it. The whole thing is also interactive. People can chat, message, or send video, and all the communications are displayed both in the venue, and on the livestream. Obviously, a lot of technology and equipment is required to create something like this, but we think the end result is worth it. Venues that add these kinds of technologies will become destinations for organizers that want a high quality, hybrid experience, that’s ready to broadcast around the world.

Startup arena montage "back to the arena"

Tech In Asia Conference 2020

This Tech in Asia Conference gives us a glimpse into what a hybrid event really looks like on event day. The first thing we noticed was the seamless combination of a high quality studio stream and various zoom feeds. Also, the studio stream, filmed on soundstage with a couch and microphones, helps anchor the event, and elevate the viewing experience at home. It’s an effective and straight forward approach, and we see this event as a very good hybrid event model. For organizers looking to replicate this style, focus on creating one high quality studio space, then use Zoom to bring everyone else into the event. A skilled AV team can piece it together on the spot.

GIF showcasing different COVID friendly procedures for an in person event like social distancing and mask distribution.

Fairmont Austin

The Fairmont Austin, which recently held a hybrid meeting for their staff, is fully prepared for their upcoming hybrid and in person events. They have cameras posted at multiple angles in the room (but in a way where the cameras are barely noticeable). The seats are spaced out nicely. And there is also the ability to project virtual participants on the two big screens next to a stage. We like this set-up a lot because it shows that you don’t need a wall of panoramic 4K flat screens in the background to create something that looks nice and works well. Another reason this is a good example is because it uses existing gear already on hand in many hotels (like projection screens), which makes set-up even easier.

The Virtual Emmys had a live stage as well as virtual participants which made it an epic hybrid event

Virtual Emmys

We wrote about the Emmys a little while back, which combined a live stage with groups of people at home, or in their respective pods to accept awards. Pictured above is Zendaya, accepting her Emmy with her family and friends (pod) in the background. Revisiting this concept for hybrid events, we think pods might be the key to getting groups of people together in the same place at the same time. People that live together, or work together, can all attend a hybrid event together. They can also be on a panel together. Or do any of the things we hope to get back to doing at person events. While pods were not on our 2021 wish list, they might be a stepping stone to more in-person events in the future. And we’re all for that.

Can a marathon be a hybrid event? You bet!

Richmond Marathon 

The Richmond Marathon, with the help of RunSignup, offered a once in a lifetime hybrid experience to over 5,000 runners. They achieved this by keeping the race course open for roughly two full weeks, and allowing people to run whenever they felt most comfortable. RunSignup also controlled the event timing with solar powered GPS trackers, and sent runners virtual cheering from family and friends, as well as audio updates from race directors as they progressed through the course. We especially like this idea of sending people information or content when they reach a certain GPS location. Imagine getting a piece of event content just by walking around a certain park or city even. It could be a fun, safe way to engage attendees, especially when the weather gets nicer 🙂

Think about the components that will make your event more fun and engaging.

Not every hybrid event needs a wall of TVs in the background. Maybe all you need is a stage, a good streaming camera, and a big room so people can be spaced out. Maybe something outdoors will set your event apart. The key to hybrid events is to only add the components that will make your audience connect, and have more fun. Because that’s what it’s all about. If you’re looking for an event technology solution for your next hybrid, virtual, or in person event, Expo Pass is here for you. We make all kinds of events, all kinds of easy.

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