As we enter a new year full of potential for planning exciting and meaningful events, event success is attainable by choosing one of four high-impact hybrid events: simultaneous, live studio audience, on-demand, or hub-and-spoke.
Hybrid events have been around long enough now that their power is clear. Defined by the combination of in-person and virtual elements, hybrid helps you reach a wider audience that can engage and connect from anywhere.
In a survey of B2B marketers, 58% of respondents agreed that all flagship B2B marketing events will be hybrid in two years — and for good reason. Hybrid events are in a class all their own because they expand reach, offer unique connection opportunities, and extend the life of an event.
But what type of hybrid event will serve your audience and business outcomes best? Let’s dig in.
The Four Types of Hybrid Events
There are four types of hybrid events that can serve as a foundation for your next event, and each is adaptable for events of all sizes and themes.
1. Simultaneous Events
This is what many refer to as the “true hybrid event.” It comprises live and virtual audiences attending the event concurrently as well as the ability for audiences to interact with ease.
Simultaneous Event Example
The simultaneous hybrid format works well for an internal sales kick-off (SKO) at companies with global offices or multiple locations. The beauty of the simultaneous event is that everyone gets access to the same information at the same time, as well as the ability to interact with speakers and other attendees from any location. An SKO in the simultaneous format helps foster alignment around internal knowledge while still enabling collaboration and connection between team members.
2. Live Studio Audience Events
This event takes its cues from a talk show set-up: Speakers perform to a smaller studio audience while broadcasting the event to a wider virtual audience.
Live Studio Audience Event Example
The live studio audience format is perfect for a product launch. Think about Apple Events, for example. The energy of the live audience hearing the presentation in person transmits to the virtual audience, bridging the gap between attendee locations. Production quality is of high importance here because, with the right camera work, the digital experience can feel as intimate as the in-person one.
3. On-demand Events
This event is originally experienced by a live audience, but captured with the intent of wider distribution, either immediately or over time. The on-demand hybrid event type is the clearest example of how hybrid events can turn your event into an entire ecosystem of marketing and content.
On-demand Event Examples
On-demand events are well-suited for establishing thought leadership or demonstrating expertise in a specific area. If you have an event stacked with high-profile speakers or one that explores a hot industry topic, this format offers a prime opportunity to extend your reach and capture the widest audience possible while putting your expertise on blast. The more evergreen and watchable the content, the longer the shelf life and the greater the overall engagement.
4. Hub-and-Spoke Events
This hybrid event type focuses on capturing broadcast-ready content by co-locating speakers in a studio and sending the live capture out to a remote audience.
Hub-and-Spoke Event Example
Hub-and-spoke events are a great format for a team meeting, training seminar, Q&A session with an expert, and other similar events. You might choose this hybrid event format if you want to share a more professional-looking message from your company’s founder or if you have a product expert on-site to answer questions or give a demonstration.
Remote spokes can also form breakout sessions to discuss the content, enhancing the experience. No matter where your team or audience is located, they’ll receive the same high-quality, high-impact experience.
Quick Tips for Going Hybrid
It’s safe to say audiences have become as familiar with virtual events over the past few years as they were with in-person events before the pandemic. But hybrid events are a different experience altogether.
An Impact XM survey found that the number one lost business opportunity of canceled or altered events was a lack of business leads (54%), followed by an inability to build customer relationships (21%). By choosing the right hybrid event type for your needs, those losses can become gains once more. Here are some tips for going hybrid:
Provide Opportunities for Engagement
A hybrid event is not the same as a webinar — from the planning stage, focus your energy on creating experiences, encouraging connection, and enabling interaction. Although your virtual audience might be used to tuning out after years of video meetings, you can’t let them check out.
The right event platform can make a big difference here by providing features that more easily meld the two audiences together: Q&As, polls, live chat, emoji responses, and more.
Treat Your Audiences as Equals
Although many event professionals try to replicate the in-person and virtual audience experiences, the truth is that a hybrid event has two distinct audiences. You have to put as much effort into crafting your virtual audience’s journey as your in-person audience’s journey.
Focus on Production
The importance of high-quality video content and live streams cannot be overstated. To treat your virtual audience members as equals, your broadcast needs to put them in the space as much as possible. A single camera at the back of the room simply won’t cut it for a hybrid event. Find a partner who brings technical know-how and capabilities if you want to compete in this space.
Get Inspired with These Rockstar Hybrid Events
Many organizations are already planning or producing exciting, top-tier hybrid events across the four types listed here. Look to competitors in your space to see how they’re using the technology to their advantage to get their business leads, customer engagement, and more, back on track.
- OurCrowd Global Investor Summit (May 2022): This summit will take place for in-person attendees in Jerusalem and online for virtual attendees worldwide. With special content, interactive chat and networking, virtual booths, online-only tech demos, special programming, and much more, this summit balances the experience of global attendees to offer access to the fastest-growing tech ecosystem with insider access to accelerators, labs, startups, and more. Note: As of February 2022, this summit has been postponed.
- DIGIN 2022 (June 2022): This hybrid event focuses on two audiences equally by hosting in-person and virtual versions of the event on separate days. They also market the hybrid event for two different needs: in-person is for growing networks and having face-to-face meetings, whereas the online experience is marketed toward attendees who want professional development and training.
- UK FTWeekend Festival (September 2022): This event is a follow-up to the Financial Times’ successful 2021 weekend festival, which featured more than 100 leading speakers across industries.
- Deep Learning Summit London (September 2022): The Deep Learning Summit explores the latest breakthroughs in developing and deploying deep neural networks. This year, the summit has gone hybrid and will feature deep-dive sessions, in-depth interviews, networking, and more.