What’s your organizational style? Type-A or type-B? Go with the flow or break out the color-coded binders? Do you find yourself in crisis during your events, or do you implode when your plan isn’t followed to a tee?
No matter which style you relate to, it’s important to find middle ground between rigid organization and loosey-goosey flexibility, especially in the new frontier of hybrid events. Between your in-person event, its virtual counterpart and seamlessly integrating the two, being as prepared as possible while anticipating day-of challenges ensures a (relatively) stress-free event.
Below, we give you a checklist to use while planning your next hybrid event. Broken up into five sections, this post covers the major bases of your event and asks important questions to prepare you for any outcome.
Section 1: Logistics
The very basics, like date, time, location and budget, should be established three to six months prior to the event. These are the gears that make the wheels turn – elements of your event that will influence everything from programming to tech needs to KPIs.
Event date and time:
This may seem obvious, but with such a wide variety of hybrid event formats, the timing of your event isn’t always a given. Consider these scheduling hurdles when choosing the timing of your event:
- Hybrid format: when will virtual and in-person overlap? Will your virtual content be livestreamed, pre-recorded or hosted as a separate event on a separate date?
- Conflicts: are there any holidays or major events happening around the same time as your event?
- Hybrid events can get expensive; when your work doubles, so does your cost. Your budget will inform the size and scope of your event, but be sure to leave wiggle room for contingencies and unexpected event costs. Check out our post on how to maximize your budget when planning a hybrid event.
- With both virtual and in-person components to your events, come up with a customizable ticket pricing model to best estimate your revenue stream and get butts in seats, no matter in-person or online.
Hybrid events necessitate an in-person team and a virtual team. Having designated staff members for each side of the event will keep you focused and your tasks specific, instead of trying to juggle two discrete events at once. Useful staff positions include:
- Tech support
- Virtual moderators for online sessions and livestreams
- Live event production teams/audiovisual companies
- Event coordinators, both virtual and IRL
You know where your livestreams and online networking sessions will take place, but what about the IRL portion of your event? Two major considerations when looking for a hybrid-equipped venue:
- Can the venue handle the technical demands of a hybrid event?
- What COVID safety protocols does the venue have in place?
Section 2: Hybrid Technology
Hybrid events present unique tech challenges. It’s no longer as simple as setting and forgetting a Zoom link; hybrid events call for the large-scale production of traditional on-site events paired with advanced streaming and management capabilities.
These checklist items are useful when touring venues and finding production teams to help execute your hybrid event, as well as choosing an event management platform.
Integrated technology requirements
- Internet speed. Will you have a designated hard-wired connection and enough bandwidth for live streaming, large virtual audiences tuning in and on-the-go posting?
- Camera requirements. How are you planning on recording and broadcasting your live sessions? Will your event need a specialty live-streaming camera for each session room? Do you plan to run your presentations like a technical broadcast for your at-home viewers, requiring a switcher?
- Audio requirements. How will you be micing your presenters? Lavaliers, handheld mics, headsets – there are tons of options.
- Encoder. Deliver a high-quality stream to your online audience.
- Video conferencing. Choose a platform with a high capacity capability so no one’s getting kicked out of the meeting.
Event management platform
Choosing a high-powered, all-in-one event management platform is crucial to running a seamless and fully integrated hybrid event. Look for these key features:
- A cross-platform control center. Look for a platform that runs both sides of your hybrid event out of one centralized hub. Instead of planning two separate events, your event management platform should optimize your in-person and online experiences to work in concert with one another.
- Video streaming. Pick a platform with native RTMP solutions for a crystal-clear livestream.
- Attendee engagement features. Live chat, polls, Q&A, video networking, social media integration, photo booths – a great platform will present you with tons of ways to engage your audiences in-person and at home.
- Customizability. Keep your company front and center with across-the-board branding features.
- Analytics. From sign-ups to lead capture to post-event analysis, go with a platform with robust reporting options.
- Sponsor experience. With the right event management platform, virtual-only sponsors won’t get the short end of the stick; your platform should allow sponsor customizability and drive leads.
Section 3: Programming
Make your hybrid event the talk of the town with killer programming. No matter if guests are attending from home or on-site, a great slate of speakers and exhibitors will get people interested. Here’s how to manage your programming.
- Get clear on what types of sessions, talks, panels, exhibitors and/or vendors you’ll have at your event. Do you need to plan for breakout rooms or physical session rooms? How will you handle audience Q&As?
- Which of your programming will be in-person or virtual? Will you livestream all events, or just some? Do you prefer physical vendors and exhibitors, or could your guests benefit from a virtual exhibition hall?
- Speaker management
- Who is your point person for communicating important event details with speakers, presenters or panelists? PheedLoop’s speaker management features make organization simple.
- When will you test your tech? “Dress rehearsals” and tech checks are vital for a smooth-running event.
- Collect supplemental materials, like speakers’ video clips or presentations, ahead of time.
Section 4: COVID Safety
Hybrid events are growing in popularity as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitates a comprehensive safety plan for the in-person side of your event. Here are the COVID safety bases to cover:
Requirements for entry
- What do your guests need to attend on-site – a recent negative COVID test? Proof of vaccination? A COVID self-attestation?
- How are you going to streamline the entry process? Consider having guests provide vaccination proof or negative test results through a secure online portal through your event management platform to eliminate lines and confusion.
Venue COVID precautions
As mentioned, a key part of the venue search is choosing an event equipped for COVID safety. Look for a space with:
- Ample outdoor space for distancing and de-masking, if necessary
- Enough square footage for distanced seating, especially for lounge and eating spaces
- Dedicated sanitization crews with regular cleaning schedules
- Indoor mask requirements
- Proper ventilation
Maximize touchless technology at your in-person venue to stay extra safe. Touchless options can look like:
- Mobile registration/check-in, instead of highly-trafficked check-in kiosks
- Virtual ticketing and badges for entry to sessions and keynotes
- Limited promotional swag (opt for creative virtual promos like giveaways or digital gift bags)
Section 5: Goal Setting
What do you want to accomplish with your event, and what value will it bring to your company or client? Instead of trying to make sense of the numbers after the fact, going in with specific goals will help you identify areas for growth and benchmarks for success.
These are indicators you’re able to measure with hard data. See quantitative success through KPIs like:
- Number of registrations converted to attendees (you can break this down by ticket type – virtual or in-person
- Social media interaction (likes, follows, reposts)
- Website traffic
- Attendee polling
- Cost to revenue ratio
- Lead generation
Set yourself up for hybrid event success. Be flexible, but come prepared; whether you’re prepping months out or the day before, stay calm and collected by going through this checklist. From the very basics like time and date to specific, measurable event goals, keep our list handy for peace of mind and an event that goes off without a hitch.
Need a powerful, all-in-one event management platform for your next hybrid event? Check out PheedLoop.