We don’t get a second chance to make a first impression when it comes to hybrid events. And we must remember that hybrid events are events, and that events must cater to their audience. But there are two audiences at a hybrid event: the audience in front of you and the one at the computer, tablet or smartphone. If your virtual audience doesn’t feel welcomed, appreciated and involved, it will walk away and rarely return.
Three people must keep the virtual audience at the top of their minds during hybrid events — the conference organizer, the speaker and the virtual emcee. Let’s look at do’s and don’ts for each.
- Do design the hybrid event as one event with two unique audiences that are united to form one collective audience. Don’t design it as two separate events or as a physical event with a virtual component thrown in as an afterthought.
- Do work with technology and production vendors who provide the level of quality, attention to detail, sense of urgency and ease of use that your audience demands.
- Do make registration, communication and the log-in process quick and simple. Do proactively enable your audience to test their system, share the information and know where to go and what to do before the event starts.
- Do use audience engagement tools that are comfortable and natural for your audience and educate them on proper usage before the event begins.
- Do remember time zones when designing your virtual agenda, and make sure you start on time.
- Do design your session in smaller sections that are interspersed with audience interaction, group activities and/or Q&A sessions.
- Do add the conference hashtag and your Twitter handle to every slide to ensure that your virtual audience can easily share and discuss your knowledge and/or ask questions and provide comments.
- Do continually make eye contact with the camera as if it were another set of eyes in the room.
- Do look directly into the camera when soliciting questions or feedback. Do pose your question to your virtual audience and ask them to communicate their responses to the virtual emcee via the appropriate audience engagement tool. Do turn to the physical audience for their responses and end by asking your virtual emcee if there are any responses from your virtual audience.
- Do remember to provide the same handouts to your virtual audience that you do to your physical audience and do so at the same time.
- Do provide a platform tour for your virtual audience, so it knows where to go, what to do and how to participate.
- Do ensure that your virtual audience’s voice gets heard and questions get answered. Do this by never leaving their side and by attending to their every need.
- Do provide dedicated content for your virtual audience that lets them have a unique experience. Don’t forget to design breaks within the agenda so they can attend to personal needs.
- Do be yourself and be conversational. Be organized and stay on-point with messaging, but don’t be scripted.
- Do be a conduit for your virtual audience and enable them to get the most out of the experience through constant information, explanation, moderation, conversation and reiteration.