Choose Your Own Adventure: Creating Equality & Inclusion for Hybrid Event Audiences

Hong Kong Economic Trade_2018

Everyone loves options, especially when those options help to create inclusivity. Hybrid events do just that. They allow attendees to choose their own adventure.

Let Guests Choose Their Event Experience

A hybrid event allows for different ticketing levels and experiences creating a more inclusive event that allows a wider range of attendees. Design your event so attendees can participate in a way that matches their lifestyle and well-being.

  • In-Person or VIP Experience: This is for the person who enjoys being in the room and whose schedule, resources, and geographical location enables them to attend the event in person.
  • Virtual with Benefits:  This is for the person who needs to attend virtually but is looking for a higher level of interaction.  Offer meal, gift, or swag boxes to step up their experience.
  • Strictly Virtual: Offer a no-or-low cost option for the person who is only interested in the event content and prefers to tune in from home.
  • Watch the Recording Later: Leverage the recording of the event for attendees who couldn’t attend in real-time.  This option is valuable if your attendees have availability that changes quickly like physicians, first responders, and small business owners.

The possibilities are endless, and there’s more opportunity with a hybrid event to meet everyone’s needs. 

When planning a hybrid event, it’s important to remember that different audiences will be having different experiences and you’ll want to optimize it for each type of attendee. The in-person audience will be present and experiencing the event in 3D while the virtual audience will only be experiencing the event in 2D. In order to create a thoughtful and complete experience, you will have to add the extra “D” for the virtual audience. Adding in some adjustments to the tech aspect of your event is a great way to add the additional dimension for your virtual audience. 

How to create a great inclusive experience for your virtual audience:

  • Use closed captioning features on Zoom and Youtube. This isn’t just a nice-to-have but important for people with hearing impairments, language processing difficulties, or non-native speakers who are attending your event. 
  • Acknowledge and interact with the virtual audience by including these interactions in your script and show flow. Keep in mind that you will still need a detailed script or run-of-show, so the live stream operator knows when to cue media for the room and when to cue media for the virtual audience.
  • Ensure proper acknowledgment of the presenters and communicate information to the virtual audience by using “lower third” graphics. These are the “titles” that run across the bottom of the screen, often used in TV news programs or sports broadcasts.
  • When incorporating presentations, use a side-by-side view showing both the presenter and their media to avoid what we call “Disembodied Voice Syndrome.”
  • Add an extra camera that captures the in-room audience to capture all the action. The live stream tech can move to this when someone in the audience is asking a question, when there’s a bidding war, or when a host asks for audience participation.

How to create interactions between your virtual and in-person audiences: 

  • Increase inclusion and interactivity for your virtual audience by having a dedicated screen or monitor showing their comments to the in-person audience.
  • During Q & A, have the host repeat questions that are being asked in the room so that the virtual audience hears them. 
  • Have a dedicated “chat wrangler” who can feed questions and information to the host from the virtual audience. 
  • Create an interactive experience where the in-person audience and the virtual audience are on opposing sides of a game or contest. For fundraisers, this could be done in a bidding war, as long as you are mindful of potential broadcast delays.

How to prepare for the technical aspects of your hybrid event: 

  • Ensure you have a hard-line internet connection! We recommend having a dedicated ethernet connection because Wifi can be unpredictable especially with attendees using the same system. 
  • Plan the layout of the room. There will be more technical equipment so it’s important to know what needs to go where.
  • Schedule a technical rehearsal. This is where the tech crew learns much of the valuable information about how to improve the overall experience and execution of the event. 
  •  Leave time on the day of the event to troubleshoot. This will minimize any technical difficulties during the event. Even better, set up and rehearse the day before. 
  • Prepare extra media for the virtual event as the cameras may not be active the entire time. For example, consider what to show for the virtual attendees while people are mingling at the event. 
  • Be mindful of music copyrights when you are streaming.  It is common to have a slightly different playlist for the virtual event to stay compliant with copyright laws. 
  • Invest in a technical team you trust. That way you can focus on other aspects of the event knowing the technical component is covered. 

We live in a world that is constantly changing and adaptation is crucial to the success of any business. We believe that hybrid events are the future and a great way to create a more inclusive and equal experience for attendees. With some extra planning and preparation and a great tech team, your next event will be a sure success. 

If you’re planning your first hybrid event or are curious to learn more, download our FREE Tech Tips for Hybrid Events

Are you interested in learning more about how we can create a hybrid event for you? Reach out to get a conversation started. 


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