Maximize your hybrid event impact with a powerful virtual program

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During the pandemic, we all developed virtual event programs and deliveries on the fly and now face the next crossroads. Are we going back to the in-person model, or do we move forward to a hybrid model, where both the in-person and the virtual component need to be tuned to maximize the impact of a hybrid event? In this blog post, you will learn about three options for the virtual elements in a hybrid event to pursue individually or together.

Live broadcast stream during an event 

The first option, to live stream an in-person event, was already mature during the pandemic. In this model, professional camera and audio crews captured large events’ main stage action and break-out sessions. The characteristic of this option was that we hid cameras in the back, and speakers focused on the audience in the room. This classic approach needs reinvention to engage virtual audiences that easily zoom out if the virtual element is not attractive enough. 

An attractive live stream from a hybrid event needs more exciting footage. The primary camera in the back can remain an anchor but needs one or two additional cameras to complement it. A second camera on stage close to speakers forces speakers to engage with the virtual audience throughout their delivery. Footage from the camera in the back and the camera on stage provide two attractive angles for frequent transitions between the two for the live feed. The third camera option is a roaming camera, moving between different positions in the room. 

The additional camera needs for expensive live productions might limit the live element to the main stage or a subset of the break-out stages. But it is realistic to plan for a high-quality ambition to attract the virtual audience and to keep them engaged. 

Highlights before, on, or after the stage performance 

A notoriously impatient virtual audience and the cost/risk with live productions drive the second option, where you produce a highlight show with the best parts of a comprehensive event. A session type where you can take inspiration from sports studio productions. 

Your highlight show features one or two moderators that keep it all together. The meaty sessions can be a mix of exciting points covered on stage and interviews with speakers before or after their performances. Crucial to the success are short, straight-to-the-point sessions and moderators keeping the audience engaged through the session. 

The options here are if moderation should be live or pre-recorded and if the sessions should include a Q&A session where the audience participates. All meaty sessions are captured in advance and edited down to suitable lengths. The limitations of a single camera set up at each stage are less pronounced as each snippet is short. Post-production capabilities define when you can air the highlights after switching off the last camera. 

On-demand sessions available after the event for event participants or a broader audience 

The final option is to offer on-demand sessions after the event. Sessions are made available to registered event participants or an even wider audience. 

These sessions rely on the complete sessions captured on stage, with post-production limited to intros and outros for stand-alone viewing. Format variety between sessions is less critical as your audience will likely cherry-pick sessions. You can spend additional post-production efforts on the best-attended live session to secure you maximize their virtual potential. 

The strategic choices here are when these sessions will be available for viewing and how long they will be accessible. Some might be available for everyone, and others just for registered event participants. Regarding business models, both paid and free on-demand sessions are viable for high-quality content. 

Questions for you and your team 

  1. Which virtual option/s should we target as part of our hybrid event? 
  2. Can we secure a budget for multi-camera production on all stages, or which constraint do we have to work around? 
  3. What must be live, and what is best when recorded? 
  4. What is a good mix of internal and external talent for the moderation jobs? 
  5. How long sessions do we target in the highlight show without losing momentum? 
  6. Do we want a combination of stage material and speaker interviews, and how does it affect camera needs? 
  7. Which timing windows and publication policy do we aim for in the on-demand program?

Additional reading suggestions 

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