How You Can Successfully Plan & Execute Hybrid Events

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6 tips for making the most of your hybrid volunteer and team building events

Hybrid! This is the current buzz word in the world of events and a trend that is here to stay for the long run. Hybrid events blend the in-person event experience with a fully remote virtual experience to reach participants that are attending in person and from home or any other location. When done correctly, this format can create more opportunities for higher attendance, lower costs, and increased engagement. While hybrid events can be incredibly powerful, there are a few key challenges to hybrid events. Hybrid events are challenging to execute and can impact the experience for remote participants which lowers engagement and future attendance. Our team has composed 6 tips to make the most of your hybrid corporate volunteer and team building experiences. Let’s dive in!

1. Technology and Web Conferencing Tools

Good technology is key for creating a great hybrid event. Technology is important in terms of not only the software you use but also the devices you’re capturing video and sound with. We often see companies running an in-person event and just using zoom from a laptop to capture the action for remote participants. While this is easy to do, it just doesn’t cut it for remote participants and will lead to lower engagement. Let’s talk about the gear.

For larger events, some companies will already be working with an audio-visual (AV) team that has the appropriate gear to maximize the remote experience. If that is not the case, we need to consider what devices we’re using to capture video and audio with. A big upgrade you can make for the video is to direct wire a DSLR camera into the web conferencing service you’re using. Here’s a great video that shows how to do that easily:

Next, let’s focus on setting up your audio. Bluetooth lavaleir mics are great for this because they allow the host to move around to engage the in-person participants and remote participants.  For smaller events held in smaller event spaces, a “shot-gun” mic on the DSLR camera can do a decent job of picking up the sound. Here are our recommendations for “lav” mics and “shot-gun” mics that we’d recommend.

None of this gear will make much of a difference if the web conferencing platform you’re using is not setup well or doesn’t work on the event day. Everyone has their personal favorites, but we continue to recommend and use Zoom for two key reasons:

a. Most participants are already very comfortable with the platform. No need to get something fancy for them to use.

b. Connectivity with Zoom is much stronger than other platforms.

Do your research because there are lots of platforms out there. While there are a lot of fancy event platforms out there, we highly recommend keeping it simple.

2. Ease of Access for Remote Participants

It’s important that you make it effortless for remote participants to join the event experience. There are already enough points of friction when it comes to having remote participants dial in to an in-person event. This is again where the web conferencing solution can be absolutely critical and again why we recommend Zoom. Zoom has a number of controls for making it very easy to access the event. Frequent reminders leading up to the event are also important in making sure your remote engagement numbers are as high as possible. We recommend sending event reminders weekly and then more frequently during the week of the event.

3. Shipping to Mimic In-person Experience

For in-person events that have a hands-on component, such as a volunteer event where participants are building water filters, we recommend shipping similar volunteer experiences to each remote participant. For hands-on events, shipping and logistics enables us to maintain the same experience for both in-person and remote volunteers. This is especially nice for remote participant that typically don’t have the opportunity to partake in the hands-on component. For questions on how to best execute these shipping challenges, please reach out to us here and we’ll be more than happy to help.

4. Check-in Regularly with Remote Participants

We witness a lot of hybrid events take place. One of the things our team has noticed lately is the host of the event, not making a conscious effort to check in directly with the remote participants throughout the event. This leaves the remote participants feeling isolated and results in disengaged participants.

What does a check-in look like? To keep it simple, we recommend the host of the event check-in directly with the remote participants every 5- 10 minutes throughout the event. This means the host looks into the camera, and addresses the remote participants directly, offering guidance, thoughts, and questions to engage with the remote audience.

The other option we’ve seen work quite well is having two hosts work together, with one host addressing the in-person audience, and another host addressing the remote audience directly for the entirety of the event. This ensures both audiences are engaged and eliminates any downtime with the participants.

5. Homework Assignments

Again, our goal in hybrid events is to try to keep the experience as similar as possible for both the in person and the remote participants. A great way to do this is to give participants “homework” before and/or after the event. In corporate volunteering, this can be employees gathering three bags of trash before the event or watching a documentary on natural disasters and engaging in a discussion board prior the event. The list of ways to consistently engage participants before and after events is endless and a huge opportunity for hybrid event planners.

6. Survey Participants and Iterate

We can’t control what we don’t measure. Hybrid experiences will continue to evolve as will the demands and expectations from event participants. Please survey your audiences as much as possible to make sure the changes you make are meaningful and make the experiences better.

Hybrid presents a huge opportunity to scale and bring amazing corporate volunteer and team building experiences to more people across the globe. We can’t wait to see how you all engage your teams in the future! Feel free to reach out to us here to learn more.

The Writers

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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