In the post-pandemic world, one thing that has changed forever – in a good way – is the migration toward Hybrid Events. In terms of inclusivity, this is great news. In addition to being more accessible for a broader range of people, hybrid events can help your business grow.
Research has already shown us that businesses that incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) into their organisation tend to be more profitable than those that don’t. As businesses adjust to the Next Normal—incorporating the lessons learned from running more inclusive, hybrid events simply make good business sense.
If you haven’t yet considered how the benefits of hybrid events could improve your business, here are the top reasons why they should be (and always should have been) in the future. But first, let’s find out exactly what makes an event hybrid.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are designed to incorporate the best of both virtual and in-person events. They usually include some of the following aspects:
- Live components
- Breakout rooms
- Networking opportunities
- Virtual platform
- Physical venue
- Q&A sessions
Hybrid events are more than just a live stream of an in-person event, though. Virtual attendees must be given an equal chance to interact, ask questions, and benefit from networking opportunities. How that’s facilitated can vary depending on the event, but it’s an essential hallmark. Some options include live chat, polls, breakout rooms, questionnaires, or gamification.
Why hybrid events are the future
Incorporating a virtual element to in-person events has the potential to revolutionise the way we communicate and how inclusive those communications are. Here are some of the main ways hybrid events can achieve those goals.
Adding a virtual aspect to your event means far more people can attend. From health to finances to time away from home, there are often many reasons why people can’t attend in-person conferences. The contribution of these attendees has the potential to add a huge amount of value to your event, but without a hybrid option, all that potential is lost.
Integrating virtual elements helps to increase the diversity of your attendees. You may also find that more presenters or guest speakers can attend if you remove the barriers presented by in-person events. If you’re committed to creating a genuinely inclusive hybrid event (and you should be!), remember to ask attendees if they have any specific requirements when they register. Then, make sure you meet those for every individual.
You should consider integrating sign language interpreters, screen-reader compatibility, offering transcripts (after the event), and adding live captions. Make sure all event photography also includes accurate alt-text descriptions too.
Remote workers can sometimes feel isolated, and hybrid events are a great way to foster a stronger sense of belonging. Hybrid conversations can also improve all kinds of internal business communications.
Routines like weekly update meetings with a hybrid format can help create a greater connection between remote and in-person employees, especially when there’s an interactive element built-in for remote workers. Some offices have even started hosting informal business breakfasts or after-work socialisation opportunities using hybrid event principles.
Whatever type of hybrid communication or event you’re using, be sure to ask for feedback. It’s important to find out if the format is working or if there’s anything you could do to improve things.
Connecting global employees
Hybrid events aren’t just for conferences—they’re a great way to connect remote and in-office workers within the same business. Your company culture is intrinsically linked to employee productivity and happiness, so if you have a global workforce, it’s vital to consider how cultural differences can affect your team if you have a global workforce.
Hybrid events can help employees in different locations understand each other’s working styles better. For example, in one culture, it might be quite normal to interrupt someone when they’re giving a presentation, while in another, that would be seen as incredibly rude. Hybrid events can be used to allow employees to discover and understand cultural differences and see that these can be used as a source of strength.
Boosting your reach
There may be many people interested in attending an in-person event, but they simply can’t make it. The addition of a virtual element means your event reach is effectively unlimited. Even if your in-person tickets are limited by a small venue, offering online attendance means you can now reach a global audience, with no travel required.
Offering different price points for in-person and virtual attendees can also help you reach different audience demographics. For example, someone may not be able to attend a fixed-price five-day conference, but they may decide to purchase a virtual day ticket at a lower price.
Hosting a hybrid event also gives you a valuable opportunity to record your material. After the event, this can be analysed to find out if improvements can be made. You could also turn some of it into promotional marketing campaigns, webinars, and more.
Don’t get left behind
Hybrid events have transformed communication—and if you’re not taking advantage of this innovative experience, you’ll soon find your business getting left behind. Start small, integrate some hybrid components into your internal communications, and get comfortable with the transition. Then when you’re ready, begin planning a larger, external hybrid event.
If you’re unsure how to go about this, some companies can manage the technology side of things with platforms that offer a full service, including everything you need. The future of events can be more inclusive than ever before—and transitioning to a hybrid model is the answer.