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What if we treated Hybrid audiences more like football fans??

Hybrid has got the events industry a bit ruffled. It should be a nirvana event solution providing the best of both worlds, with the opportunity to tap into a far wider audience, but what we’re hearing from event organisers is that the combo of live and virtual has presented its own unique challenges.

3% of event organisers used hybrid in 2021. Only 12% expecting to use it in 2022.

In a recent Open Audience survey only 3% of event organisers used a hybrid event solution in 2021, with only 12% expecting to use of hybrid in 2022. Concerns centred around delivering a comparative experience for both virtual and live audiences, juggling two different delivery models, using different techniques to engage both live and virtual audiences and the cost of running what many see as two separate events. There is also the question around defining what constitutes ‘Hybrid’? How it is it technically configured and what format works best to deliver the greatest impact for your delegates?

Synchronous vs asynchronous

One of the conversations we often have is around synchronous versus asynchronous events. The former has a tendency to simply involve a camera/s in the back of the room of your live event so your external audience can watch. It is cheaper and simpler, but does it really take into account the needs of virtual delegates? Now we’re all back at work who has the time to sit for three or four hours to watch a live event virtually?

I believe true engagement and flexibility lies with asynchronous events, which allows us to specifically adjust or edit content to make it more digestible, accessible and appropriate for virtual audiences. We can align and tailor speaker content, presentations, video, even run surveys, top and tail with local live intros or presentations etc. We can also be more accessible for different global time zones and so ultimately deliver a more inclusive, user friendly and manageable experience for your virtual delegates.

Personalise the experience

As with live, hybrid events are multi-faceted and can be adapted to your audience depending on time, motivation, knowledge, skills and experience. Your virtual delegates won’t have exactly the same experience as a live audience, but the information you share and the experience can still be exciting, engaging and personalised.

Smart TV technology allows football fans to be more ‘in the game’ when they view a match.

A good analogy would be a football match, or any live sporting event. Nothing beats being in the stands to watch a match – the sounds, the smells, the atmosphere. But the next best thing is to watch a live match on TV – perhaps with a group of local friends?  The TV channels have enabled smart technology to allow the audience to be more ‘in the game’.  You can watch in ultra-high definition - selecting views of the game - behind the goals, at the side, home end, away end, aerial view and so on, and if you can’t watch the match live you can still access or purchase a quality highlights package, where the content has been repurposed to the needs and interests of the audience.

I wonder how different the average events delegate is to a football fan looking for a personalised post-event football highlights experience? I think at Open Audience we’d like event organisers to consider this and how the definition of hybrid events maybe broader and more exciting than they think; coming in different formats, styles and media to give their audience, or delegates, that all important relevant and personalised experience.

Our industry is always moving and involving, but in the past two years it has shape-shifted at a rapid rate, and so I love to share thoughts and ideas with people from all areas of the industry about the future of events. If you’d like a chat please don’t hesitate to give myself, Leslie Robertson, a call on 01296 294136, or visit www.openaudience.com for more information.