Hybrid formats – the new freedom for events

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Everyone is talking about hybrid events these days. But many still have a rather blurred picture of what a hybrid event actually is. This creates unnecessary misunderstandings. Before a wrong or inadequate picture gets stuck in people’s heads, we answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about this exciting and versatile format here.

What is a hybrid event?

In purely formal terms, one speaks of a hybrid event when the real event on site is extended by a virtual part. A hybrid event is therefore a hybrid of a real and a virtual event. In principle, people who are not present live on site can also participate.
We also speak of a hybrid event when an event on site is extended by a virtual part. For example, even before the actual congress, participants can make contact with each other in a virtual forum or offer additional content such as best-practice presentations or discussion rounds after the event. Networking, which is so important, is also very possible at hybrid events, e.g. via social media and messenger services or via special event apps.

As a creative event agency, however, we do not want to describe hybrid events solely in terms of their formal characteristics. We are primarily concerned with their quality. In our view, an event becomes a hybrid event when participants or guests have the freedom to decide whether they want to take part in the event live or virtually. The most important prerequisite for this is that virtual participation is not perceived as less valuable per se.

We understand that the real challenge in the realisation of hybrid events is not just to create the necessary technical conditions or to offer content virtually. The real challenge lies in a specific dramaturgy, staging and interaction that explicitly and specifically involves online participants. A real and virtual space becomes an emotional event space that involves people and is fun.

How can hybrid formats be implemented?

Hybrid formats can be carried out in various ways:

  • Via specialised platforms for virtual trade fairs and conferences
  • Via WebCasting and Webinar solutions
  • Via live streaming tools

What are the advantages of a hybrid event compared to a purely online event?

This question cannot be answered in principle. If an event is exclusively about an exchange of information, i.e. the occasion is purely pragmatic, an online event with all participants sitting in front of their screens is certainly a good solution.
However, if the purpose is to convey a corporate, brand or product message, a purely pragmatic approach is of little help. For these purposes, an event format is needed that appeals to as many, if not all, of the senses as possible in order to anchor messages in long-term memory. Here, the core of the event will certainly always be the real space, which needs to be staged and virtually expanded or extended.

What are the advantages of a hybrid event compared to a pure offline event?

In a hybrid event, participants can decide whether they want to be present on site or virtually. In principle, a hybrid event can reach a much larger audience than, for example, the location alone would allow. This has many advantages for the location search, the organisation and the budget. The same applies to CO2 and other resource consumption.
With a purely offline event, it can also happen that important guests cannot attend for personal or time reasons or due to travel restrictions. This can be particularly annoying for large, important events such as customer retention formats, e.g. as part of a company anniversary. The possibility of virtual participation prevents disappointment and ensures that the goal of the event measure is achieved.

Are there any disadvantages?

If hybrid events can be staged in such a way that virtual participation is perceived as equal, the answer is no. Hybrid events mean more: more freedom for the organisers and more (decision-making) freedom for the guests.

What are the advantages of a hybrid event in Corona time?

Specifically related to the risk of infection and spread at events, the advantages are obvious: the hygiene measures and concepts are less extensive and the distance rules do not necessarily require larger premises than would actually be necessary for the event. However, one should consider the advantages against a larger background. Hybrid events have more flexibility in their design due to their virtual components. This means that they can adapt better and faster to external circumstances if necessary. Hybrid events therefore contribute to making the economically crucial interpersonal communication more resilient.

What are the challenges of running a hybrid event?

For hybrid events, professional technical framework conditions must be created. For live streaming, this means above all a well-equipped studio. At many venues – including, of course, the company’s own premises – powerful mobile or temporary studios can be set up without any problems. The prerequisite for this is a good infrastructure and a sufficient data network (at least 15 mbit/s). Another key is to design a hybrid event as one event for one audience. Here, the staging and dramaturgy of the event play a decisive role. There are elements such as live performances that cannot be transformed one-to-one into the digital space. This requires a lot of experience and a specific staging method that proactively responds to the special features: e.g. playing with camera perspectives and close-ups or incorporating moments of surprise and cool media interludes.
Since the mood on site cannot be transferred one-to-one to the audience at home or in the office, the audience at the screens of PC, laptop and tablet requires special attention. Experienced moderation and regular interactions, e.g. in the form of chats, panel queries and assessments or even artistic highlights are particularly important and valuable here.

Are hybrid events cheaper than conventional events?

This question is difficult to answer in a generalised way. A less extensive live audience does cause lower costs on site (hall rental, catering, etc.). However, the total costs depend on the staging and the technology used. Basically, cost savings alone should not be the motivation for a hybrid event.

Are hybrid events the future of live experience communication?

The real, physical encounter will never lose its importance. But if we understand how to professionally stage the digital space as a valuable and meaningful experience space for brand and corporate messages and thus integrate hybrid events into corporate communication, they become a very powerful, value-generating and sustainable communication tool that can achieve and even exceed strategic corporate goals!

Do you have any further questions? Contact us!

Reinhard B. Pommerel

#Diesen Song hätte ich schreiben können:
„Nur noch kurz die Welt retten“ von Tim Bendzko

­Yes, I want to …

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