Scaling the summit of your next hybrid event is a case of following these simple principles.
Climbing a mountain is simple in principle. Starting at the bottom, you've just got to keep putting one foot in front of another until you reach the summit. Simple. The thing is, like so many things in life, losing weight, staying calm, hell, even writing a blog, 'simple' doesn't mean easy.
It's a metaphor that suits our hybrid world. Once you've got your mind around the principles, hybrid events are simple things. Still, their simplicity betrays the mountain of work that goes into their creation. For all of you taking your first tentative steps up the incline, keeping these three factors in mind should help you along the way.
Plot your route.
The first thing you need is a route. You need to know where you're going and the loops and twists that will take. Your route comes from knowing your audience. I've looked through a galaxy of data from thousands of events. The most important thing I've learned is that no two audiences are the same, and no audience acts as one. Some of your delegates may crave physical contact; others may want nothing more than to watch from the comfort of their TV. Some are hybrid delegates, attending in the morning before catching a critical talk on their phone on the train home. Their desires matter, and you need to build an approach around audience preferences. Otherwise, simply, they won't come.
Select your guide.
Your platform is your Sherpa. The right one will support you every step of the way. The wrong one is apt to leave you lost, wondering how on earth you get back on track. Unfortunately, the event tech industry is biased towards functionality, selling the idea that you can measure a platform's value by the number of things it can do. That’s not the case.
Success on a platform comes from focus. Trying to sell delegates on tools they're not interested in is a waste of your time and theirs. Maybe your audience doesn't want to awkwardly video-chat to each other. Perhaps networking is their idea of hell. To develop focus, create a list of what's important to you and your audience, and find a platform that does those things well.
Reach the summit together.
Finally, we come to the easiest-sounding factor of them all, yet the one that trips up nearly everybody in the hybrid world: removing location bias. It's one of those things that slips into every planning meeting, thinking of the physical delegates over those attending digitally. After all, they can seem more 'real' somehow, more deserving of time and attention.
Assessing your bias is your safety check. When thinking of a session, a keynote, a workshop, ask yourself how all delegate types will experience it. If somebody's getting a sub-par experience, change it. Equally, you must balance the scales of experience. If physical delegates get an exclusive moment, what are the digital ones getting?
Audience. Platform. Bias. Three things, simple in principle, fiendishly hard to get right. However, the challenge is worth it. As much as some may preach a return to the old ways, the simple fact remains that the pandemic has forever changed the world, and audiences have changed with it. The payoff for your effort is a hybrid event that'll not only achieve your aims but do so in a way your delegates want.
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