Hybrid meetings and hybrid events, are all the rage. According to a recent vFairs poll, 41% of  planners expect to rely on hybrid events as their main event type post-COVID. One key aspect of hybrid events are presentations and meetings. And incorporating elements that cater to both live and virtual audiences will undoubtedly post a unique new challenge to event hosts and speakers.

vFairs poll showing what events planners will use post-COVID 19

Why Host Hybrid Meetings?

Hybrid meetings, or presentations within hybrid events, are beneficial for a variety of reasons. Firstly, your live presentation can offer some relief from the effects of social isolation that COVID-19 has had on many. However, the virtual aspect of the event also expands your reach from a local audience to a global audience. Hybrid meetings offer a safer way for more people to learn and gain value from the presentation, while still following restricted capacity limits as the world slowly opens back up.

Of course, each of these audiences have specific requirements that must be addressed to create a seamless and engaging event experience. Let’s look at those now.

In-Person Audience Needs

Interactivity

From now on, audiences are going to require interactivity even when watching a live presentation. Even before COVID-19 forced companies to get creative with their online presentations, companies like Slido offered ways to engage live audiences. Popularity of such platforms signals that presenters want to deliver more for their audiences. Likewise, audiences naturally expect more interactive presentations. Gone are the days when a speaker simply runs through a presentation deck, hits all their talking points, and ends the presentation without engaging the audience.

Interactivity is a great way to get your audience engaged and make them feel more connected to the event. This rings true for virtual audiences as well, making it a win-win for your presenter. Bonus: the more ways you can encourage participation through mobile devices (such as polling, trivia or question submission for Q&A’s), the more data you collect during your event!

Digestible Takeaways

Sharing information with your audience following the event is key, especially when your audience is live. Chances are many of your attendees showed up prepared with a notebook and pen, but that doesn’t mean they internalized all the points you were making. Sharing materials with your audience after the event is crucial. Not only does this give them a refresher on your subject matter, it also keeps you top of mind as they consider their upcoming business needs.

If you’ve incorporated interactive elements into your presentation, there’s a strong chance you can track exactly who attended your event. Use this list as an audience segment and send a follow-up email to them with supporting documents and additional information.

Virtual Audience Needs

A Feeling of Connectedness

Virtual audiences notoriously feel disconnected during virtual presentations. Use your hybrid meetings to mitigate that. Allow your audience to submit questions, which you in turn can answer live. Additionally, incorporate a live social feed featuring tweets and posts from attendees, and keep it running throughout your presentation. Additions like this may feel small, but they have a powerful impact on your audience. Not only will your virtual audience want to participate, your live audience will jump in too!

Immersive Environments

Making sure your virtual audience feels connected includes offering them an immersive environment, for which they feel like they could actually be at the live presentation. Create a stunning 3D virtual auditorium modelled after your own venue so that your virtual attendees are right there with you, envisioning you on that stage. vFairs creates custom auditoriums that look just like your actual venue.

On-Demand Viewing

Let’s face it: your virtual audience might not be available at the same time that you’re presenting. For that reason, it’s a great idea to offer a recording of the presentation once it’s wrapped. This way, your virtual audience can watch it on their own time. In fact, your live audience may even want to watch the recording afterward! Allow access to all your attendees so that they can revisit, make notes and share with their colleagues as needed.

Bridging the Gap for Hybrid Meetings

Here’s a recap about how best to engage both audiences during your next hybrid meetings:

  • Plan interactive elements that both in-person and virtual audiences can participate in, thus creating a feeling of connectedness for all participants.
  • Share digestible takeaways following the event. Send a follow-up email to all attendees that engaged with your presentation.
  • Host a Q&A or live social wall at your hybrid meetings. Allow virtual and in-person attendees to submit questions or tag you on social media to be added to your live feed.
  • Allow your virtual and in-person audiences to review your presentation by offering it on-demand.

Bonus tip: Both in-person and online audiences can build a personalized agenda through the virtual event platform. Even when you’re hosting multiple presentation tracks, a simple “Add to My Calendar” button will allow your attendees to choose exactly which hybrid meetings are most interesting and relevant to them.  Giving attendees the option to create their own agenda enhances their feeling of connectedness and overall engagement with the presentations.

There are many ways to engage your audience during a hybrid meeting. Of course these are only a few of them. Adding in small features here and there can make a huge difference in fostering connectedness and engagement across both audiences. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the more content you offer after your presentation, the more likely people will remember you as the thought leader you are!

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