Five Must-Haves for Virtual and Hybrid Event Success
Virtual and hybrid events have matured and evolved a great deal over the last couple of years, and they will keep connecting us long after the pandemic is over. Even as businesses move into pandemic recovery, events and conferences—a more than trillion-dollar industry—will largely remain virtual or hybrid for some time. Professional event planners will need to find virtual event solutions that provide a great attendee experience and are highly customizable.
Additionally, in-person event attendees will expect more from conference apps than just being a prompt for the room where their next session will be held. They’ll want the event technology to help them give speakers real-time feedback, contribute to live polling, and even matchmake to pair them up with mentors and new contacts.
After supporting all sorts of virtual events—from major industry conferences to massive alumni events for universities and even weddings, Social hour has learned that improving the experience is based on five major elements:
- Limited number of participants based on size of room. A memorable conversation is always balanced and spirited, and to achieve this, the size of the group needs to be limited, allowing a conversation to flow naturally.
- An equitable talk-to-listen ratio to help avoid listening fatigue. You can make the talk-to-listen ratio better through smaller, more focused rooms and the use of analytics. It’s ideal to provide speaker stats, so that everyone in a room can see how long they’ve been speaking relative to their peers. This promotes social accountability and awareness for a more mutually engaging conversation.
- Attendee choice. Allowing attendees to choose how to navigate the virtual space and take breaks at their leisure gives them more energy and keeps them engaged.
- Metrics and analytics. Data should be used to make virtual events better and more engaging over time. This includes surveying attendees before, during and after your event.
- Engagement. When we think about what makes hybrid events successful, it’s essential for event planners to focus on the virtual aspect as much as the in-person experience. If you try to bolt a virtual event onto the in-person event, the virtual attendees will typically get the short end of the stick and suffer through a bad experience. If you are planning a virtual conference or trade show, consider how you can use technology to re-create the in-person experiences that attendees find the most valuable (i.e., meeting and engaging with other people). Be sure you enable virtual attendees to interact with speakers, network with industry vendors and engage with industry colleagues.
In the end, a virtual or hybrid event that is designed around human connection above all else will be the most successful. Rather than hours of video that attendees passively consume, it must be inspiring, thoughtfully designed and at least partially interactive for everyone involved. No one goes to in-person events just for the content. They go for the human connection.