Six Key Steps to Engaging Your Hybrid Event Participants

May 17, 2021
Encore Research

Need help getting guests engaged at your next event? Here are six steps.

What started as a quick pivot to virtual events in the early stages of the pandemic has now shifted to hybrid events, and it’s now expected that hybrid events will remain a common format long after the pandemic is behind us. An Encore Planner Pulse study completed in April shows that ‘effectively engaging both in-person and remote attendees at hybrid events’ is the most important challenge facing meeting professionals.

When planning a hybrid event there are two distinct audiences to consider: in-person attendees and virtual participants. Therefore, as an event professional, you have to work harder to engage everyone. There’s an experiential gap; someone’s on site, someone isn’t. How can you ensure each participant group is involved and what does success look like? 

When we think about the hybrid audience, we map how to shift from pushing content at participants, to truly engaging them. If you simply provide them with information, they might listen or read, but it will be a passive experience and one they may not learn from.

There are six clear steps to help capture the attention of your participants wherever they are, and move them from informed to engaged, for hybrid event success.

Hybrid Engagement

Step One: Agenda

The first step towards achieving higher engagement is setting expectations. Having an event agenda available within your platform is an easy first step and lets everyone know what to expect and where they need to be at the right time.

Step Two: Content and Messaging

Provide contextual content around the agenda, such as presentations, auxiliary information and speaker biographies, to get participants into the right mindset for the content of each presentation. Messages can be sent to participant groups or individuals through the platform, to prepare them for, or nudge them to join a specific session.

Step Three: Chat and Forum

Then comes the networking piece. As a participant, I’m in the right place, I’ve got access to great content, but can I learn a bit more about a topic, by having conversations with others attending the event? While watching a presentation, participants can simultaneously network and interact through Chat and Forum features, expanding their knowledge and actively engaging with experts and cohorts.

Step Four: Questions, Feedback and Polling

These are engagement tools that allow presenters to reach out and connect with participants to encourage live conversation and interaction. While there may not be two-way audio and video running, virtual participants can contribute to the success of a hybrid event by providing in-the-moment feedback, add their opinions to polls and ask presenters live questions that other attendees may want to hear the answers to.

Step Five: Interactivity

Your hybrid event must be interactive to engage your participants. Many studies show that if a speaker talks through a 60-slide presentation, your audience will struggle to maintain focus (or fall asleep). Insights should be pulled from the minds in the room, or at home, via Chime Live’s interactive suite and used to perpetuate and/or segue to different topics, to keep participants involved and engaged.

Step Six: Live Stream

Lastly there is the live stream presentation. Your presenters should have energy and enthusiasm for their content. We recommend working with their existing personality traits to achieve the best results. If they are naturally humorous, then encourage the use of humor. Visuals and motion graphics including speaker bumpers and video recalls, borrow techniques used for TV and Netflix, to make for a richer broadcast environment.

To learn more about Creating Engagement at Hybrid Events, catch the recording of the ProEDge session with Chris Bryant, Director of Global Accounts with Concise.