Investing in Hybrid Event Technology? Four Factors to Consider.
Many companies had to adapt quickly to a remote working set-up in the pandemic in order to stay open. Importantly this shift to remote work stuck. Even as we’re coming out of the pandemic, remote working has remained central to our way of working with 77% of UK employees saying they wanted a hybrid working model. This shift has created a new need for, not just remote working technology, but hybrid event technology that brings in-office and remote attendees together for successful immersive and engaging experiences.
Now with this established new way of working, businesses are starting to consider how best to serve their new hybrid workforce. But where to start? Investing in any new technology can be daunting and hybrid technology is no exception. This article aims to help by offering 4 key considerations to think about when planning to invest in a piece of technology for hybrid working and events.
1. What kind of hybrid event do you want to host?
There are a few different kinds of hybrid events out there, each with a different level of in-person and remote attendee collaboration and integration. Deciding the level of integration your company needs is paramount when selecting a hybrid event technology provider.
The kinds of hybrid events you can choose from are…
Simultaneous Hybrid Events – in many ways this is the purest form of a hybrid event, this is where your in-person and virtual attendees can experience and engage in the event in real time via a live stream. Cross-collaboration between audiences is fostered through live Q&A polling, instant chat, raising hands and more. This unity of experience can help encourage greater working relationships between remote and in-office workers, and helps remote attendees feel fully integrated into the event.
Largely, this is the newest and most in-demand form of hybrid event. This kind of event would be great for a sales kick-off meeting, town hall session or training sessions where it’s important for everyone to engage with the information in unison.
- On-Demand Events – dissimilarly to a simultaneous event, on-demand events are produced for an in-person audience and made available after the event for remote attendees. Whilst helpful for those who can’t make the event live, this hinders cross-audience collaboration with 66% of hybrid event hosts reporting higher audience engagement where events were live for all attendees.
- Hub-and-Spoke Events – an engaging style of event where one central meeting/ event is held whilst other smaller groups (or pods) can join remotely. These events can either be hosted fully online, in-person or as a mix. Positively, this style of event allows people to break off intermittently and have discussions which keep attendees engaged. However, this tends to be dependent on how you attend an event, limiting cross-collaboration between in-person and remote attendees.
- Live Studio Audience Events – lastly, for larger events like a product launch a live studio audience event can be used. Taking its inspiration from talk shows a presenter will have a small studio audience whilst broadcasting to a large virtual one. This style allows for the speaker to feed off audience reaction, whilst still reaching a large virtual audience, but this doesn’t allow for very much audience participation.
2. What ways do you want your audience to engage in your hybrid event?
Once you’ve established the kind of event you want to host, you’ll have an idea on how much your in-person and virtual audience should participate and collaborate. But it’s important to understand what audience engagement you want to see, and what the technology you’ll need to enable this:
- Live Q&A and Chat – a great way to engage and foster discussions on a topic between remote and in-person attendees, this is a popular feature which is often included in hybrid event technology via an integrated chat function.
- Some vendors do go a step further by enabling anonymous questions and for questions to be voted up and down by other attendees. This is great for enabling complete honesty and audience engagement when asking for feedback in an event.
- Polling – see results from attendees instantly with integrated polling features. Videowall platforms, such as Hybridium, will dynamically shift to visually represent the results as they come in. This is great for training, and large-scale brainstorming sessions. What’s great as well is the ability to look back at results like this with session analytics after the event has ended.
- Breakout spaces – get the benefit of a hub-and-spoke type of event in any session by splitting sessions up with breakout spaces. The benefit of splitting into smaller sub-teams during an event is so people can re-engage and discuss on a 1-1 basis. This can be good when facilitating seminar groups within a wider lecture session.
- Hologram remote presenters – it’s often cheaper and easier to allow external or remote speakers to join from home. Integrated holograms are great in this instance as it really helps to bring these important people front of stage despite not being there in-person. This can often be helpful for multinational organisations that have senior leaders spread across the globe.
- Gamification – less of necessity but a lovely bonus is a technology that can bring games into the fold as it keeps people engaged and will make a session more fun. This often means it’s important that your event technology to either have in-built gaming functions or can support 3rd party gaming apps.
3. What size of hybrid event are you hosting?
Now that you’ve got the basics decided, the size of your hybrid event should be quite clear. The size of your event will help you narrow down the options when it comes to choosing a provider.
Largely you have three camps of hybrid event solution providers:
- Meeting-size – the likes of Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are good if you want to engage a small amount of people at a low cost. Investing in meeting room technology on top of the meeting platform can further help integrate in-room and online attendees e.g. a room-wide camera, high quality speakers. However, these hybrid event platforms become limited when you get above 10 or so remote attendees. This is largely because their share of the screen becomes smaller or non-existent if you’re also using features like screensharing, which can often foster proximity bias and disengagement. Additionally, these platforms do hold a certain amount of lag, making it hard for people to chip in naturally throughout the session which can further cause disengagement and poor user experience.
- Auditorium-size – when your event is between 50-200 people it becomes more important to invest in the right provider which has an output with no lag and features that keep the whole audience engaged and promotes collaboration. Having one single provider that you can trust with the production of your event is often seen as the key to a successful hybrid event of this size. Hybridium specialises in this space; creating a dynamic life-size video wall with ultra-low latency and high resolution Hybridium enables all attendees to be aptly represented and engaged throughout an event. The use-cases are endless for this size of event from management onsites, capital market days, focus groups and more.
- Tradeshow-size – Big marker or Hopin are well-known names in this space and specialise in hosting large-scale events for well over 200 people. These events often take the form of tradeshows with online webinars and virtual booths. These events warrant a lot of event planning and need dedicated resources.
4. How frequently do you plan to host a hybrid event?
In terms of working out how much you want to invest in a piece of hybrid event technology, working out the frequency in which you intend to host them is vital.
If you’re planning to do quarterly hybrid event sales kick off, or quarterly investment meeting for example, maybe you don’t need to buy the technology but rent it as a service for the day?
Alternatively, if you know you want to consistently integrate hybrid events into your future of working strategy, then it might be important to invest in the technology yourself. If that’s the case, remember to check if the selected provider fulfils every element of your hybrid event needs.
When investing in any technology, understanding exactly why you want it and what problem it aims to solve is vital. Hopefully through considering these four factors in this article you’ve come to understand what your goal is in delivering hybrid events and practically which kind of hybrid event technology is most likely to fulfil your goal.
If you have any questions on this article, or are interested in Hybridium’s event technology, get in touch with one of our product specialists who are on hand to help you host your most successful hybrid event.