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The Basics of Producing Virtual and Hybrid Events: A Beginner’s Guide

a group of people attending a successful event, virtual and hybrid

In the wake of the digital revolution, virtual and hybrid events have become cornerstones for connecting and engaging with audiences worldwide. Whether you're planning a webinar, conference, or social gathering, understanding the essentials of virtual and hybrid event production is key.

Let’s break down the basics, including the necessary technologies and personnel required to make your hybrid/virtual event a success.

Understanding Virtual and Hybrid Events

Virtual events are entirely online, allowing participants to join from anywhere via the internet. Hybrid events, on the other hand, blend in-person experiences with virtual components, enabling both physical and online attendance.

Essential Technologies

  • Event Platform: Choose a robust platform that supports virtual gatherings, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Hopin. For hybrid events, ensure the platform can seamlessly integrate live streams from in-person activities.

  • Streaming Tools: For live broadcasts, reliable streaming software is crucial. OBS Studio or Wirecast can offer high-quality streaming capabilities.

  • Engagement Tools: Incorporate interactive features such as Q&A, polls, and chat functions to keep your virtual audience engaged. Platforms like Slido or Mentimeter can be integrated with your main event software.  Don’t forget about captions to serve a broader audience that may include persons with disabilities.

  • Registration and Ticketing System: Your virtual platform will include these features, but you can also use platforms like Eventbrite or Cvent to manage online registrations, ticket sales, and attendee communications.

  • Technical Equipment: For high-quality audio and video, invest in good microphones, cameras, and lighting. Ensure your in-person venue is equipped with a strong, hard-wired internet connection for smooth streaming.

virtual component of live events with people on a computer screen using high-quality video conferencing software

Key Personnel Needed

  • Event Planner/Producer: Coordinates all aspects of the event, from conceptualization to execution. They ensure both the virtual and physical elements are seamlessly integrated.

  • Technical Director: Oversees the technical setup, including software, streaming, and equipment. They troubleshoot any issues that arise during the event.

  • Content Creators: Develop engaging material for the event, such as presentations, videos, and interactive sessions.

  • AV Technicians: Handle audio and visual needs for the in-person component, ensuring high-quality production values are maintained.

  • IT Support: Provides real-time technical assistance to speakers, staff, and attendees, addressing any technical glitches promptly.

  • Moderators/Hosts: Engage with the audience, facilitate discussions, and keep the event flowing smoothly. They play a crucial role in hybrid events by bridging the gap between in-person and virtual participants.

Steps to Produce Your Event

  • Choose your event style/format. Will you host your event entirely online, or include an in-person component?

  • Plan Your Content. Determine what you want to achieve and plan your content accordingly. Mix presentations, interactive sessions, and networking opportunities to keep the audience engaged.

  • Select Your Tech Stack. Based on your event needs, choose the appropriate technologies and ensure they integrate well.

  • Prepare Your Team. Assemble a team with the necessary skills and assign roles clearly. Conduct rehearsals to ensure everyone is comfortable with the technology.

  • Promote Your Event. Use email marketing, social media, and other channels to attract attendees. Clearly communicate the value and uniqueness of your event.

  • Run a Technical Rehearsal. Test all technical equipment, stream connections, and software functionalities to minimize hiccups during the actual event.

  • Engage Your Audience. During the event, use interactive elements to keep the virtual audience involved and ensure the in-person experience is equally engaging.

  • Follow Up. After the event, gather feedback from participants and analyze what worked well and what could be improved for future events.

Producing virtual and hybrid events might seem daunting at first, but with the right preparation and team, it can be a rewarding experience. By leveraging technology and focusing on engagement, and service you can create memorable events that resonate with your audience, regardless of their location.