There is a general agreement that nothing can compensate face-to-face interactions when it comes to effective communication. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, companies and organisations worldwide rapidly transitioned to a virtual environment for their interactions, however limited.
But what if we can bridge the gap that has sprouted up as a result of limited physical interactions, event hostings, etc. with advanced and innovative technology?
The million dollar question is – How can you transform a live/physical conference with educational sessions and enriched with multiple networking opportunities into a virtual session?
Hosting a virtual or a hybrid event requires careful planning and execution of various factors. In reality, it requires the same care and effort (or more) to organise as a live physical event.
Carefully planned and executed virtual events can provide an effective means to increase revenue and expand your audience.
Although several positive reports are available on the internet regarding the effectiveness of hybrid/virtual events, several planners don’t know how to add the virtual element to in-person events.
What are virtual events?
In a simple sense, virtual events are events that happen online. These events are fully hosted and run with the possibility of allowing the attendees to participate or view from any corner of the globe.
Virtual events help to replicate a physical location-based event in the virtual world. It empowers you to host virtual events from the comfort of your chosen location by using a laptop/mobile and internet connection.
These include events like exhibitions and roadshows, global conferences, recruitment fairs, fashion shows, special events, sports events, award distributions, concerts and live performances, even product launches, etc.
The great thing about virtual events is the changing landscape of digitalisation and critical developments in the event management world. This is going to revolutionise the entire event industry.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are a unique blend of in-person and virtual events.
Along with your live event, you can include the unique element of a virtual event so that your audience can participate and engage, irrespective of their location. Along with this, hybrid events offer endless possibilities for the organisers, attendees, speakers, and sponsors.
They offer the flexibility of participation for a more widespread audience who is not able to make it to the physical location.
Benefits of virtual/hybrid events
Here are some of the benefits of virtual and hybrid events:
- Helps to increase attendance.
- Minimises carbon footprint.
- Increased value of sponsorship.
- Better engagement with your audience.
- Reduced cost of travel.
- Greater flexibility.
- Improved ROI.
- Helps to cope with the changing needs of the audience.
- Helps to gain a more comprehensive reach.
Key elements of Virtual and Hybrid events
A study done by Forbes states that an event should have a mix of live as well as pre-recorded content. Considering this, we’ve summarised a list of key elements of virtual and hybrid events.
- Event website
- Choosing the platform
- Engaging content
- Recorded content
- Question and answers
- Live polling
- Interactive video conferencing
- Navigating different time zones
- Include participation through gamification
- Event feedback
Technical points to consider when planning a virtual or hybrid event
1. Quality of the LED
LED screens are one of the most indispensable items that are needed in a hybrid event. From product launches to conference based events, LED screens serve as the medium to showcase to the live audience what is happening at the event.
Some of the things that you should consider while buying an LED screen are :
- Pixel patch
This refers to the physical distance between the LED’s placed on the screen. This is one of the most important things you need to consider while purchasing a LED video screen.
The lower the distance between the pixels, the better will be the screen resolution. Make sure that you buy an LED screen with a suitable pixel patch.
The brightness of LED screens varies depending on usage. Some are intended for indoor use, while others are exclusively for outdoor usage.
LED screens designed for outdoor usage have better brightness than the ones designed for indoor purposes. The great thing about LED screens is that even the ones with lower brightness can resist much higher ambient lighting environments than typical projector setups.
Ensure that the screen’s brightness is in the range of 5000+ units if you are planning to use it for the outdoors.
- Refresh rates
This refers to the number of times the internal hardware draws the data in a second. Higher refresh rates produce less flickering, thereby reducing eye strain to a reasonable extent.
The organisers should ensure to include an LED screen for a hybrid/virtual event that includes its backdrop.
The main reason is that LED screens with low refresh rates cause flickering or wave-like feeling when captured through a digital camera.
- Uniformity in colour
To ensure colour uniformity, use LED screens made in batches. If you have an LED screen made from multiple panels, the uniformity of colours might not be consistent.
- Aspect Ratio
This refers to the width to the height of the screen surface. The aspect ratio is a critical factor to consider while designing the content to be played. Unlike projectors, LED screens don’t restrict a particular standard such as 4:3 or 16:9.
- Transparent or solid panels
LED panels can be designed in numerous creative ways. The panels can be designed as semi-transparent, allowing the wind to pass through the panels. This will help to cut down on the weight of the panels to a reasonable extent.
For a presentation that requires critical viewing, a solid panel will be more helpful to ensure that there are no distractions caused by light bleeding through the background.
The weight of the LED screen depends on varying factors such as screen size, the material used for construction etc.
The weight also varies due to the type of product it is made from such as ultra-light carbon fibre to those with heavy steel frames. If the weight of the LED screen is too heavy, you could use additional support by using supporting steel frames.
2. Internet speed
Internet speed is one of the most important factors for virtual events that connect you to your audience’s experience. While many organisers choose to have live streaming on platforms, it is a method of sending or receiving audio and video data in a continuous flow that is more important.
Availability of the right technological infrastructure is also a factor, as is the task of keeping attendees uniformly engaged with the event.
For this, we need to consider the upload and download speeds as well.
This is the process of sending data from your device to the internet. Live to stream, uploading a blog, sending an email etc., are examples of uploading content.
This is the process of receiving information from the internet. Unlike most people who think downloading is not limited to grabbing files from the world wide web, the process starts when your device connects to the web.
For hybrid events, when there is live interaction of audiences with the presenter, equal importance must be given to both – the upload and download speeds.
This refers to the capacity of the network in uploading and downloading the data. It can be roughly referred to as a pipeline through which information travels between your local network and the internet.
An individual’s bandwidth connection speed to the internet is probably the single most important variable in defining a successful attendee experience on an online event.
For extensive information transfers, the bandwidth should be high to ensure that no stoppages happen during the process.
- Upload and Download speeds(Mbps)
Usually measured as megabits per second, it refers to the pace of data transfer between the internet and your network(Mbps).
- What internet speed do you need for Virtual/Hybrid events?
For Virtual/hybrid events, the video size is mainly dependent on the quality of the content.
|Video resolution||Recommended upload speed||Minimum upload speed|
3. Digital Video Equipment
To capture the live/hybrid event, you need digital video equipment. It could be a remote performance on stage, capturing the panel discussion of the conference hall, remote performance on stage, etc.
Here is a list of equipment that is a must-have for a hybrid/virtual event:
- PC that can run editing software
- Digital Video Camera (Professional Digital Camera or High Spec Smartphone)
- Stabiliser OR Tripod
- Lighting System/ Equipment (Minimum 2)
- Sound system
- Audio-visual (AV) system
- Staging structure
4. Lack of technical expertise
Studies have shown that one out of every five event planners avoid organising virtual events mainly because they don’t have the technical infrastructure or technical know-how required for the job.
Although virtual/hybrid events have become the new trend during the pandemic, there are not many event experts able to adapt to the new technology set-up for the new norm of event organization.
An organizer who is working for his or her very first virtual event is not likely to find everything intuitive, and it’s not the best person to answer the technical questions from the clients. Worst case scenario, it may turn out to be a bad experience and bad publicity for your client as well as the organizer.
If you plan to organise a virtual/hybrid event for the first time, make sure that you discuss it with chosen industry experts.
This article has mentioned some essential tips to make your virtual/hybrid events entertaining and attractive.
You can start by adding a virtual element to the hybrid events and considering the virtual component to be complementary to the event.
Testing your virtual/hybrid event is one of the crucial steps in ensuring a robust environment for streaming. Try to simulate the conditions that you anticipate to ensure that there are no last-minute faults and you have a proper backup plan in place.
If you are looking for event production professionals who know the workables of any virtual and hybrid event, DOREMi is the right partner for you. We are extremely capable and bring our expertise to every project we undertake. If you want to discuss any of your future virtual or hybrid event plans with us, do drop us a call at 1300 88 3983.