9 Keys To Event Production In A Hybrid World
Event production has never been easy. Juggling the demands of sponsors, the needs of team members, and complications with audio-visual technology can make any event a challenge. And if that wasn’t enough, in the wake of COVID-19, many event producers are now expected to operate in hybrid environments that blend both live and virtual elements.
In these increasingly complex conditions, event production requires more planning and creativity than ever before. To make the most of hybrid events, event producers must consider a variety of factors including audience engagement, logistics, and technology. This article will cover the 9 most important factors in creating a successful hybrid event experience.
What is event production?
Event production is the process of bringing an event to life with audiovisual effects, lighting, staging, sound systems, and other performance elements. Event producers create events that are memorable, entertaining, and engaging.
In a hybrid world, event production must now be tailored to both in-person and virtual attendees. Event producers must consider how their event will translate digitally to ensure a great experience for both audiences.
This undertaking requires careful planning and execution, which is why the terms event planning and event management are often used interchangeably with event production. However, there are a few subtle differences between them that are worth highlighting.
Event planning vs. event management vs. event production
Event planning is about organizing, preparing, and delegating tasks in advance of the event. This role often includes determining the type of event, selecting an appropriate venue, managing the budget, hiring vendors and contractors, and ensuring that all necessary permits are obtained. Event planners may also use business tools to market the event, accept payments for ticket sales, and create event websites.
Event management is the natural extension of event planning. Event managers are responsible for ensuring the event runs smoothly once it is underway. They may coordinate with vendors and contractors, manage any last-minute changes that need to be made, and keep track of timelines. Event managers can even hire a contractor to ensure that the event runs smoothly and efficiently.
To accommodate virtual attendees, event managers also need to be familiar with the technology platform being used for the event. Executing all of these tasks simultaneously requires a good deal of multitasking and problem-solving skills.
Event production is more focused on the creative side of events. Event producers strive to develop immersive and unique experiences for their audiences. They are tasked with designing the stage and lighting setup, putting together shows or performances, crafting any special effects, and more.
9 Keys To Hybrid Event Production
To nail event production in a hybrid world, there are 9 important steps to work through. Here is the blueprint for creating engaging hybrid events:
1) Form a clear vision
Event production is all about creating memorable experiences. To accomplish this, event producers need to start by forming a clear vision of how that experience will look and feel. They must consider the type of event, the desired atmosphere, and any potential challenges or limitations.
This is especially difficult when catering to both in-person and virtual attendees. Event producers must develop a strategy for how they will incorporate both audiences and immerse those who are not physically present.
2) Assemble a coordinated team
To make this vision a reality, event producers need a team of professionals with skills in audio engineering, lighting design, stage management, and creative direction. These individuals can help develop innovative ideas, point out potential challenges, and ensure that everything is properly executed.
After all, event production is a collaborative process, and event producers cannot do it all alone. They need a complete team that works together to plan, practice, and perfect the event.
3) Build realistic floor plans
Once the team is assembled, event producers need to start mapping out the event. Developing a realistic mockup of the venue can help them visualize the stage, seating arrangements, and other critical details. This process requires intricate planning and consideration of how people will move around, where to place equipment, and how various displays will be interacted with. Using a mockup generator tool can help event producers save time and create a more accurate and detailed representation of the event venue, allowing them to make adjustments and plan accordingly before the actual event takes place.
Event producers must also consider how the layout will work for both in-person and virtual attendees. At a minimum, lighting, internet connection, and camera placement must be taken into account to ensure virtual attendees can enjoy the event. And if possible, additional features such as video walls, VR experiences, and interactive touchscreens can further enhance the event.
4) Choose the right tech solutions
Technology plays a big role in hybrid event production. To support both remote and on-site attendees, event producers should work with a leading software house and lean on innovative solutions. For example, they could use InEvent’s Virtual and Hybrid platform. This solution includes features that facilitate dynamic and engaging events, including:
- Breakout rooms: Launch virtual booths or experience zones where attendees can explore the agenda, interact with sponsors, or participate in Q&A sessions.
- Live streaming: Stream the event directly to your remote audience and include interactive tools such as polls and surveys. Integrate videos, presentations, audio files, and more into the virtual event experience.
- Remote networking: Allow virtual attendees to discover new contacts with powerful filters, or use the speed networking tool to find matches on autopilot.
- Free navigation: With the click of a button, attendees can freely join live rooms or participate in group chats — just as they would in person!
5) Draw up show flows
To seamlessly transition from one activity to the next, event producers need to plan out a show flow or rundown. This includes all of the planned activities, from the opening remarks to the final closing statements.
Each activity should be well-defined, with a clear duration, timeline, and location. These details will empower the event production team to coordinate accompanying lighting, music, visuals, and transitions. The show flow will also help event producers build in breaks for networking and interactive activities, so attendees can connect with each other regardless of location.
6) Prepare pre-recorded clips
Event producers can further enhance the experience by incorporating pre-recorded segments. This involves creating videos or animations to introduce speakers, highlight sponsors, or build suspense.
These clips can be used to transition from one activity to the next, provide a break for event management staff, and create some extra excitement. Oftentimes, the added production value will result in more memorable experiences and help virtual attendees feel the emotion of the event. Plus, these moments can be incorporated into the post-event marketing and content strategy.
7) Plan out the lower third
Attending an event remotely doesn’t have to be a compromise — elevate the virtual experience by overlaying text and graphical elements to give your audience additional context. But this information shouldn’t occupy the entire lower third of the screen. It should be easy to read and provide supplemental details like speaker names, company affiliations, or fun facts.
Event producers can also use the lower third to link out to sponsors’ websites and include their logos and other branding elements. This will increase brand awareness, help build relationships with partners, and further engage the remote audience.
8) Create contingency plans
Event producers can’t plan for every possible scenario, but they can be prepared for common issues like system outages, technical difficulties, or unforeseen delays. To address these problems with minimal disruption, event producers should put backup plans in place.
This involves creating a detailed emergency plan, identifying the team members involved, and having alternative communication strategies available — such as hand signals, announcements, and personal contact information.
Event producers can often buy time to troubleshoot issues by leaning on pre-recorded elements, networking activities, or giveaways. However, it is important to remember to have both in-person and virtual stalling tactics, which may require multiple hosts.
9) Review the essential elements
With both Plan A and Plan B ready, event producers should review all essential elements through pre-event rehearsals. This includes testing onsite logistics, audio setup, visual displays, and crew members on all of their various responsibilities.
When conducting a rehearsal, event producers should take note of any necessary adjustments and run through their contingency plans at least once. This final preparation will help identify any potential challenges and ensure smooth sailing on the day of the event.
Producing hybrid events requires a lot of preparation, planning, and resilience. Event producers need to be flexible and creative when it comes to adapting their vision for both in-person and virtual attendees.
Pre-recorded content, lower thirds, and thoughtfully placed equipment will help bridge the gap between physical and virtual environments. And by layering in interactive networking activities, event producers can ensure that all attendees feel connected. With the right strategies and technology, event producers can create compelling experiences for their audiences, regardless of location.
Daniel Anderson is a marketing expert who writes about entrepreneurship, business, and personal finance. Learn how to launch an ecommerce business, scale through digital marketing, and plan for financial freedom with step-by-step guides at TheMoneyManiac.com.