A recently published study by EventMB found an overwhelming majority of event organizers (81 per cent) believe they have to design and execute separate, dedicated experiences for in-person and remote audiences when hosting a hybrid event. Fortunately, with the right production technology and expertise, you don’t have to plan two separate events when going hybrid. Here’s how.
Focus on Content
Hybrid formats allow you to produce one event with two outputs. Take Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The five-day event broadcasts its most sought-after content (big product reveals and keynotes), while in-person attendees enjoy gatherings on-site with other developers. When creating that content plan, their team is meticulous about what will and will not be broadcast. The big thing to remember is that the content of CEO Tim Cook’s speech, visuals and staging don’t change. It’s just framed differently for attendees in the room and the remote audience. Year after year, the global broadcast of the launch event and day-three keynote drives more engagement and ticket sales for proceeding years.
Frame your Content Right
A year of social restrictions has left the events industry in a very different place than it was pre-pandemic. There is growing clarity the ‘new normal’ in the production world is that hybrid events are here to stay. Online and remote audiences are going to demand more and stakeholders will want to leverage the opportunity to reach that massive audience in a meaningful way.
The best way to integrate broadcast into your event is to add a simple flypack — a portable system that includes all the necessary gear to monitor, switch and record audio and video at any location using available power. This will allow you and your team to seamlessly manage cameras and video mixing to the virtual channel of your event without disrupting the flow of the live experience.
Design Content Around the Target Audience
Your live event audience is there to interact, while your virtual audience wants to see rich content. With this in mind, consider adding a secondary space that can be used as a remote interview location. Imagine your keynote finishing their 45-minute presentation on stage to a live audience, which is also broadcast to virtual attendees. Once the session is over, the live audience will want to walk the trade show floor and network. During this time, you can treat your remote audience to an exclusive one-on-one interview with the keynote from a breakout room that has been set up as a broadcast centre. This offers added value that’s aligned with their content focus.
Find Good People
Your team will need to expand and focus on their respective audiences. Just as you have a producer for your live event, you’ll need one whose sole purpose is to supervise and coordinate what the remote audience sees on broadcast. This role is essential to making your broadcast as compelling as possible. Luckily, after almost 18 months of working on remote broadcasts due to the pandemic, this is no longer a foreign skillset for many event production companies.
You should also bring on a team member with television and film experience as they best understand what the frame can tell an audience.
Purposeful Content Planning
Adding a little infrastructure to record sessions and content in the form of camera equipment and recording decks is something you can leverage for a long time. Your live event can then become a content factory that allows you to engage your online audience for another planning cycle throughout the year. Not all conference sessions need to be broadcast live each day. Some breakout sessions, round tables and panels can be recorded, edited and used for further promotional and audience growth up to the next event.
Remember, your event is not the format. Your event is the content and audience that consumes it; the format should be what supports and frames that content, and how your audience wants it to be delivered. When you think of a hybrid event in this way, it allows you to leverage your content and messaging, and package it to two separate outputs at the same time, allowing for some great possibilities.
Matthew Byrne is founder and president of Byrne Production Services, which provides production services for hybrid, virtual and live events. Matthew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.