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Crowdcast's Guide to Hybrid Events
Crowdcast's Guide to Hybrid Events

Planning a hybrid event? Not sure what a hybrid event even is? Check out our guide here to learn more!

Updated over a week ago

What is a hybrid event anyway?

Hybrid events integrate technology with traditional in-person event spaces to create multidimensional opportunities for human connection. In more practical terms, a hybrid event is an in-person event that’s simultaneously live-streamed to a virtual audience. For the virtual audience, attendance might mean more than simply watching a stream. The very best hybrid events offer unique experiences and opportunities for engagement for both virtual and in-person audiences.

Why should I host a hybrid event?

1. You'll create a more inclusive event and expand your community’s access to your content.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of hybrid events is flexibility. As an organizer, you get the best of both worlds – opportunities for in-person connection and the scalability of hosting an event online. You also create opportunities for others to attend who couldn't or wouldn't be able to otherwise. It’s not just about personal preference. There may be those who are unable to travel due to disabilities, health/safety concerns, event capacity limitations, financial barriers, or who are simply too busy to participate in person. Hybrid models are more inclusive.

2. You'll leverage technology to offer distinctive experiences.

As with any event with a virtual component, the sky's the limit when it comes to delivering creative and interactive content. With the right tools and techniques, your virtual audience will be just as engaged as those onsite.

Hybrid models also allow you to connect events that occur concurrently across different locations, meaning digital audiences can actually be in “more than one place at once.” This is especially true for international conferences and meetings as well as events like art and music festivals with multiple venues or stages.

3. You'll increase opportunities for sponsorship...

Hybrid events are attractive to sponsors because they provide numerous avenues to showcase their brand. In addition to the traditional onsite possibilities, organizations can sponsor virtual sessions, host a digital booth or networking event, and have their content displayed across digital event spaces.

4. ...and for incredible guest speakers.

Top-tier speakers, artists, and influencers are busy people! They might be too busy to join in person, but they may be willing to dedicate an hour to a virtual appearance. This also allows you to offer virtual attendees a custom experience that boosts their commitment and engagement.

5. You'll enhance your relationship with your participants.

When your hybrid event is over, you'll have digital content that you can use to develop your relationship with your audience. You can repurpose this content for continued conversation, engagement, and marketing long after the event’s conclusion.

6. You could decrease your organization's carbon footprint.

Think of all the resources required to host in-person gatherings: travel and the associated carbon emissions, venue electricity, printed and plastic materials, meals and refreshments, promotional swag, packing and shipping materials...The list goes on and on. When you offer a hybrid model, you reduce your overall waste production and consumption by redistributing your resources in a more sustainable way.

Sustainable event agency MeetGreen provides a breakdown of the environmental footprint of an event, and the impact is huge! Air travel alone contributes to between 70% and 80% of your event's carbon emissions. Show the earth kindness by offering a hybrid model which focuses physical resources on the subset of people who need in-person participation and allows others to participate remotely.

How can Crowdcast help me host a successful hybrid event?

Now let’s get down to the details on why Crowdcast should be your go-to for hybrid events.

One of the biggest challenges to a hybrid or virtual event is digital engagement, but with the right tools, the offsite experience can be one of the most rewarding. Crowdcast’s built-in engagement features and flexibility make this possible. With Crowdcast, your virtual audience will feel like active participants rather than passive observers. Here are some of the ways Crowdcast makes digital engagement easy:

Crowdcast makes virtual attendance effortless.

Your registration page, live event and any associated sessions, and replay can all be found within a single URL. Everything is browser-based, so there’s no complicated software to download.

Making a great first impression is easy with a built-in registration page.

At Crowdcast, engagement begins before the event is live, starting with a customizable registration page. Though the main event is the highlight, don’t brush off the registration page’s importance! A strong registration page will help market your event to the virtual audience, generate excitement, provide clear direction on what to expect, and encourage participation before the event even begins.

Generate hype with a cover photo and video, and keep your attendees in-the-know by including the event’s schedule and a description. Drop in backlinks to your website, your sponsors’ websites, and other promotional content like clips from a previous event.

💡Pro Tip: Create high-quality, downloadable programs for virtual attendees that you can link to your registration page. Or, if you have the resources, consider mailing swag and a printed program to your virtual registrants. Either way, details like this elevate your event and help offsite attendees feel recognized and included.

You can get the support you need from background moderators.

Enlist members of your team or hired help to support you by silently managing the virtual logistics. You can focus on delivering amazing content while they focus on moderating the chat and the Ask a Question section, helping attendees navigate sessions, and onboarding your guest speakers.

Crowdcast is built for active participation.

There’s nothing that will lose your virtual audience’s attention faster than not providing opportunities to interact. Kick things off in the chat by dropping in some conversation starters before the event begins. Use our attendee resources to demonstrate how people can interact within Crowdcast and to help prevent technical mishaps. Create polls and custom registration fields to learn more about your registrants, and use that information to steer the conversation.

Our Ask a Question feature alone is a highly interactive feature. Attendees can upvote their favorite questions, so speakers can focus on what matters most. Every question is timestamped, so if someone watches the replay, they can jump to the exact moment when a question was answered. When a host starts answering a question, the question is displayed on stage for the audience’s benefit.

The built-in Studio allows you to upgrade the professional look and feel of your event with custom elements and media-sharing tools. Virtual attendees stay engaged when sharing your content is easy and looks clean.

RTMP Mode offers flexible options for streaming an in-person setting.

Connect your gear to Crowdcast using RTMP Mode to offer a high-resolution stream incorporating multiple camera angles and crispy audio. If you require a high-production setup, RTMP Mode makes it possible. You can mix RTMP sessions with native, in-browser sessions as needed.

Create virtual breakout rooms with multi-session events.

Whether you’re planning a conference or festival, every separate session can take place within a single URL as a multi-session event. Not only will your sessions be easy for your audience to find, but you can use the Call Audience to Session button to teleport your audience exactly where you need them to be. Sessions can be concurrent, back-to-back, or span several hours or days.

💡Pro Tip: Want to offer unique value to your virtual attendees? Host special discussions and Q&As with top-tier speakers exclusively for your offsite audience!

Create custom calls-to-action to drive traffic to your website.

Our CTA button helps increase post-event engagement, can be used to redirect to a product, or can be used during the event to point to another space such as a gaming site or team-building activity.

Easily record your content.

It’s easy to record your session when you go live. Or, if you want to get some housekeeping out of the way up front, you can opt to start the recording at any point afterward. Want to hide your replays from your audience? Simply archive them!

Get to know your audience with analytics.

Crowdcast’s built-in analytics give you invaluable data about your virtual audience. Get to know who’s joining your events, where they’re tuning in from, how they found you, and where they were the most engaged.

Need technical support? Crowdcast has you covered.

Our support team is ready to help you learn best practices with Crowdcast and prepare for an incredible event. Need more hands-on, day-of tech support? Hire one of our third-party specialists!

Anything else I should keep in mind?

  1. Make sure you have a strong internal support system. If possible, assign separate teams to the virtual aspects of the event vs. the onsite logistics.

  2. Look for an onsite venue that can support your hybrid model. Internet bandwidth support is crucial. Be sure to know whether video conference facilities are available. If your event spans multiple venues, look for centralized audiovisual technology ordering and support. Ask if your conference venue provides AV tech and IT support if you don't have your own team or the support of an outside company.

  3. Market your event. If it’s in the budget, hire a marketing team to hype your event.

  4. Provide clear direction to your speakers. Make sure their content is engaging and their presentation harmonizes within your hybrid spaces. Complete tech checks and practice runs with virtual speakers before they go live whenever possible.

  5. Make it fun! With a little creativity, you can make virtual attendance incredibly fun. Create awards and badges for your attendees. Gamify your virtual sessions and host leaderboards. Create small group networking and team-building activities.

  6. Bring in-person elements to virtual attendees. If you have the budget to do so, consider sending event mailers and swag to your virtual registrants.

  7. Consider both audiences at all times. You may have a perfect setup for your in-person attendees, but how will it appear to your virtual audience? Can they hear everything they need to hear? Can they see the appropriate speakers? Let’s use a live-streamed, in-person Q&A session as an example. How will your virtual audience hear both the question being asked by the live audience and the answers given? You may need to have an emcee facilitate repeating questions, pass around a connected mic, or instruct your speaker to repeat questions back for the virtual audience.

What kind of equipment do I need?

It depends on the type of event. Concerts, for example, will have different needs from conferences. Here are the basics:

  1. A strong connection. A hardwired connection is the most reliable if this is available to you. If you must use wifi, make sure the connection is stable. If you’re streaming from a dedicated, in-person event venue, AV teams should be available to assist with your connection and setup.

  2. High-quality camera(s). It’s important to have a camera that supports HD and can offer a great visual experience for your audience. A high-quality stream will ensure your virtual attendees feel like they’re in the room and engaged. Depending on the type of event you’re planning, you may consider multiple cameras for different angles which provide even more visual interest. Be sure to consider the display size of your audiences' devices along with any devices onsite. You may need a camera that supports multiple ratios. And don't forget the angle and positioning of your cameras! Higher-up and stable cameras are best for providing a clear view of the event and avoiding people walking through the shot.

    On a budget or hosting a small event? Many phones have high-quality cameras and can be a great option for folks who want to cut costs.

  3. High-quality mic(s). If you’re hosting a larger hybrid event, the mic built into your camera or computer won’t cut it. You’ll need to provide your speakers with mics that provide your virtual attendees with clear, crisp audio. Consider lapel mics which are discreetly positioned on the speaker’s person to pick up their voice.

  4. Good lighting. Lighting is important for all participants whether attending virtually or in-person. You want your audience to be able to see your speakers as well as the rest of the audience! Ensure you have quality lighting that fully illuminates the speaker. If your event is large enough, you may also consider stage lighting, spotlighting, and special effects.

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