Engaging tips

Dr Alexander F Young, founder and CEO of experiential training specialists Virti offers some engagement tips for your next hybrid event:


From workplaces to cars, the term ‘hybrid’ suggests a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to doing things.  

Hybrid events – whether that be conferences, expos or training courses – are those that can be accessed in person at a physical location, or remotely on an online platform. The beauty of hybrid events is that they are incredibly accessible, and they can transcend barriers of scale and geography while still offering opportunities for meaningful social connection. 

But, just as we had to learn new skills to master hybrid working, we must evolve our approach to event planning and execution for success in the hybrid era.  

Read on to learn how to really connect with your employees, clients and potential customers in the post-pandemic era. 


  1. Invest in good hardware

Producing your own video and audio content to stream or share with hybrid event attendees? You need to accept that there’s a pretty strong correlation between the quality of the equipment you use and the level of engagement with the finished content. 

So don’t pour your efforts into an excellent script only to neglect the production process. Your virtual content needs to look professional and be enjoyable to engage with. This means that you ought to invest in high-resolution cameras, high-sensitivity microphones and aesthetically-pleasing lighting. Can’t afford this purchase outright? Consider hiring or borrowing. 


  1. Put accessibility front and centre

Think carefully about how every attendee can be supported to get the most out of the event. This might involve adapting your physical venue for less mobile attendees, providing printed transcripts, or using the special features offered by your live-streaming software to build closed captions and audio description into your video content.  


  1. Make audience input easy and help them connect

If you want your event attendees to actively engage with your event, you need to provide channels that make this possible – at every juncture. 

During the registration process, ask people what they expect or want to get out of their attendance; allow audience members to submit questions to speakers in real-time using question boxes or chat functions; use feedback tools to capture audience input at various points during and after the event.  

Provide spaces and channels for formal and informal social interaction to flourish. In the physical event space, this could look like cafe areas, networking drinks receptions, or themed discussion zones. In the virtual space, this could involve XR avatars ‘meeting’ in virtual breakout rooms or communicating through a multi-participant instant messenger or video chat.  

Encourage attendees to share contact details or social media profiles during the event so that the connection and interaction can continue long after the hybrid event ends. 


  1. Present unique and thought-provoking content

Everyone likes to feel as if they are getting something out of attending an event, and providing attendees with bespoke or high-value content is one of the most effective ways to deliver this.

From ebooks to White Papers, video tutorials, training simulations or study guides, use your event platform to easily share accessible content that they’ll truly be excited by. 


  1. Steer clear of trying to replicate in-person events

There’s no reason why you should be trying to replicate the format and conventions of in-person events in a hybrid space – this will only box in your imagination and creativity. Instead, embrace the new opportunities that hybrid event-hosting provides. 

Allow virtual attendees to drop in and out of sessions at will; build beautiful virtual and physical spaces for people to enjoy; offer networking activities that are actually fun; mix up live and pre-recorded content; introduce interactive games and quizzes; make your attendees feel like they are the main characters driving the event creation and execution.


  1. Harness the power of social media and collaborate on co-creation

Events are all about building and celebrating community, and social media platforms are a natural complement to this. Begin by advertising your hybrid event via your social media platforms. Include tasters of the content that will be available and set up forums on which participants can start getting involved beforehand. 

During the event, share real-time updates and go ‘live’ on your social media channels for additional access points and to multiply real-time engagement. Participants will also be able to contribute on these platforms. Collaborating with other content creators in your space can not only introduce a different energy and improve the diversity of your offering, it will help you to engage with a new audience and widen your pool of event attendees.  


  1. Make post-event outreach a priority

The event isn’t over when the last person leaves the room (real or virtual).

Encourage or incentivise attendees to complete digital feedback forms so that you can iterate and improve the event for next time. Make recordings and transcripts of the sessions available to download and share. And follow up your event with a call-to-action; ask attendees to join an online group, follow you on social media, register for your net event or share their learnings online. And, don’t forget to have fun! The more creative you are with your event and the more uniquely you can tailor it to your audience, the higher the engagement it will elicit.