Moving forward, meeting and event professionals need to develop hybrid and virtual event strategies to complement their traditional in-person meeting and event strategy. It’s relatively new territory, but it doesn’t have to be a complex process. In fact, if you know the right questions to ask key meeting and event stakeholders, you can save you and your team time and money.
Encore Vice President of Product Management Matthew Johnsen suggests beginning with the big picture. “Assess the general needs of the event and the intended outcome,” he says. Ask your stakeholders the following questions:
What is the intended outcome of the meeting?
“So many people are comfortable with joining a meeting from the office, you don’t have to think about producing something that’s over the top,” Johnsen says.
Knowing if the event is transactional, tactical, or needs to be experiential and engaging will help you identify the added costs required to achieve those objectives.
What is the message you’re trying to deliver? And how do you want participants to interact with that message and each other?
“An education session doesn’t need a lot of the fanfare that you would need for a high-end product reveal,” Johnsen says. Knowing how you want to deliver the message will also help you focus your attention on different elements of the meeting or event’s creative, technical and production design.
Once you’ve identified the intended outcomes and the message you’re trying to deliver, that will help you identify the kind of platform you need. Something basic like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet is adequate for most educational and informational meetings. When using virtual meeting platforms like Zoom or Teams, you can combine with your event technology partner’s features to create a more seamless connection between the in-room physical event and virtual technology while keeping all attendees engaged.
If you need one-on-one appointments, virtual trade show booths or interactions like pop-up polling, you may need a platform with more intermediate or advanced features. If you’re unsure of how to sort through the options, this is where a trusted technology provider like Encore can help you make the right decisions.
Who are the people we need to have at this meeting in-person?
“A hybrid meeting can help you reach more people, and that makes your meeting more accessible,” Johnsen says. People who may not have been able to travel to your event before, or who are hesitant to attend in-person meetings now, can attend virtually.
“This is a very acceptable way for people to meet, and like it or dislike it, I don’t see it going away,” Johnsen says. Having fewer people on-site can be a good thing, too. “Smaller audiences mean lower in-person costs.”
Ask your stakeholders who really needs to be on-site versus part of your remote viewing audience. “The quantity of the people and the right people in attendance is more important than ever before.”
What do you intend to do with the recorded content?
“If you’re not planning to use it again, that might affect the level of production you’re going to apply to that event,” Johnsen says. But if you’re already streaming content and investing in all the cameras, lighting, and sound reinforcement you need to make it look and sound good, why not create a post-event content marketing strategy?
“Take advantage of the cost you’re already spending to record the event, and repackage and repurpose the content,” Johnsen says.
Can you host people in multiple locations?
Do you have to bring the in-person audience to one location? Or can you use a decentralized approach that connects multiple physical locations to the virtual group participating in the meeting or event? As, event organizers, taking a decentralized approach can offset travel costs and reduce your event’s carbon footprint.
Do you want the virtual experience to equal the in-person event experience?
Hybrid event production costs are scalable. But if you invest a lot in the in-person live event and skimp on the virtual component, you can create an uneven event experience. “If you’re going to have a high production value in the ballroom,” Johnsen says, “invest in the virtual experience as well by adding things like lower thirds.”
The best way to combine the virtual and in-person components into a seamless hybrid event experience is to find the right production partner.
“You want to work with a provider with a vast inventory, deep knowledge of platforms and years of experience,” Johnsen says. “Platform and production providers—if they’re not connected, then you can create a disconnect.”
The Encore team, leaders in the event industry, not only provides hybrid and virtual platforms, but they also provide on-site technology and production assistance as well as creative event solutions that can take you from initial planning to event execution and post-production content repackaging. Show us how and where you are showing up during your meetings and events by sharing your recent or upcoming event on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter) with the hashtag #BeingThere.