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Event Strategy, Trends, Event Technology

How to Structure Hybrid Event Sessions to Maximize Audience Engagement

by Erin Chesterton
on April 27, 2022
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Zoom fatigue is real. When mapping out the structure for your hybrid event, it’s critical to put a lot of forethought into your content and be mindful of the attendee experience. In this section we’ll review:

  • How to create hybrid event content that attendees crave
  • How to manage and organize your content effectively for your event speakers
  • How to deliver your hybrid event content to maximize engagement

A major benefit is the access to the digital assets slide decks, demos, videos—that you can give your audience and use in your post event strategy (more to come on that later.) 

How to create your hybrid event content

If you’re executing a hybrid event for the first time, this process can feel like the most daunting step. Given the two distinct audiences you’re serving, the content you create must serve their needs and solve their problems in an instant.

Here are a few tips to help you as you approach your hybrid event’s sessions:

  • Rethink Your Event's Timing—Given the mobility of your audiences today, try experimenting with times outside of the norm. Move beyond the traditional morning or afternoon sessions and see how it impacts your attendance rates—try evening events or sessions that accommodate a work from home schedule. 
  • Know Your Audience—Be very intentional with the structure based on who you’re trying to provide value to, what they care about and how familiar they are with the technology.
  • Use Themes—If your event is across several days, give each day a unique theme that you can center the content and discussion around. Have the content tracks throughout the day build upon one another to maintain the theme and keep attendees engaged.
  • Guide Attendees Through the Virtual Venue—Invest time into developing your virtual venue as this will be the main hub from which virtual attendees will consume content - the user experience is everything here. You can also use this as a means to help guide onsite attendees and enhance their experience by giving access to the key information they need in one place.
  • Mix Up the Content Delivery—Find a platform that gives you different ways to interact with attendees. From roundtables, to panel discussions and 1:1 networking—give attendees options to actively participate in the discussion and at their level of comfort.

    "Attendees got so much value from the event based on how we structured it. It was a 5-day conference so every day has a different theme and we had unique activations on each of these days. For example day 2 was about talent incubation so we had a panel discussion and then leveraged smaller breakout rooms to facilitate group mentorship with the audience." - Alexa-Rae Navarro, StartUp San Diego

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PRO TIP: Always have a virtual MC. No matter how large or small your virtual event may be, an absolute must-have for success is a virtual MC. For your attendees, navigating a new virtual platform can be daunting and it is so incredibly important to have a guidepost to walk through the experience.

How to manage & organize your hybrid event content

Another major component beyond the creation of your content is the management and organization of it. You need to ensure your speakers are prepped, know where to go and are comfortable navigating the hybrid technology.

When it comes to managing the content from a technical standpoint, communication and access for speakers iskey. When managing complex events hosting various sessions and speakers, your platform’s backend experience is key. You need to ensure that the correct people have access at the right time, which can be a challenge. 

Provide presentations ahead of time and keep them hosted in a shared hub that is accessible for everyone who needs it. Often referred to as a "speaker resource center" this keeps everything your event speakers need under one roof. Off-loading time-consuming admin work on your end, and giving your speakers an easy-to-follow experience. 

How to deliver your hybrid event content

Variety is key here! (And again, clear communication). 

A common thought when it comes to delivering hybrid or virtual content is the shorter the better. However, this isn’t always true. In fact, you don’t have to skimp when it comes to length. Some event producers note that long form sessions drive long term engagement virtually. Take Startup San Diego as an example. They hosted a 5-day virtual conference with 34 sessions, which were structured as hour-long sessions with 15 minutes built in for Q&A—despite the longer format the event saw 70% attendance rate across virtual sessions.

"We experimented with this quite a bit. Initially we thought folks had minimal time to participate online. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so we kept everything under an hour—30 minutes of content and presentations with 15 minutes of networking. But we actually saw better engagement with longer sessions and how we structured Convergence. We did hour-long programming, with 15 minutes built in for Q&A." - Alexa-Rae Navarro, StartUp San Diego

The takeaway: focus less on making your sessions shorter and more on making them dynamic and engaging. Have more than one speaker in the session, try a roundtable discussion or fireside chat. Build in components like polls and Q&A and use the responses to guide the discussion. Refer to your favorite podcasts or TV shows, pick out what you enjoy about the format of the content and weave in elements into your event.

For your onsite attendees ensure your live stream is working and everyone has access to the digital and physical agenda so they don’t miss a beat. For backup, dedicated one team member to act as an attendee and test the experience out to mitigate any potential challenges.

Secure Top Notch Sponsors for Your Next Hybrid Event

Keeping attendees happy is crucial for the success of your event, but your sponsors are equally as important. In our next blog, we give quick tips to help you maximize sponsorship gains in a hybrid setting.

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ABOUT LENND

Lennd is a technology company that builds infrastructure to help bring events of every size to life. From small music festivals to major conferences, sports gatherings and everything in between—event leaders across the globe trust our software to manage their event operations and provide their people with one streamlined experience.

 


 

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