Hybrid or not: you decide
With just under a week to go until Tech-Fest and considering our technological theme I thought it would be interesting to explain why Tech-Fest isn’t, in my eyes, a ‘Hybrid’ Event. I’ve put ‘Hybrid’ because Hybrid can mean different things to different people. However there is growing agreement that the definition of a Hybrid involves a physical and a virtual audience. Paul Cook of Planetplanit recently defined it, in a Twitter friendly way for Tech-Fest, as “Any event that has two audiences a physical and a virtual one” Tech-Fest has an audience of over 100 organisers in a room and potentially a much larger one on line so by that definition we are running a Hybrid Event! But I don’t think Tech-Fest is a Hybrid Event and we are certainly not telling anyone it is!
For me a Hybrid is more than the location of the audience; it’s about the approach and more importantly the attitude of all those involved. To sum that up at a Hybrid Event there is no ‘premier’ audience: each audience is treated the same by the organisers and the performers.
A live stream and online engagement doesn’t make your event a Hybrid one
Tech-Fest will be engaging our virtual audience but we have to be clear: this is not a Hybrid Event; our priority is on the physical audience. We have a live stream where our virtual audience can listen, watch and engage through Twitter but they are not really, in our eyes, attending the event. Virtual attendees have Tech-Fest light! We will still have enough fizz to keep everyone involved but we can’t hide it’s not the experience we’ve planned for the physical attendees.
Why we went for live stream and not Hybrid
So here’s why we decided to add a live stream and not go the full route of a Hybrid event:
1. Logistically this is not an easy event to organise. With a curator and lead organiser based in Barcelona and an Event Manager based in the North of England running an event in London is not a walk in the park.
2. Timing isn’t on our side. We set the challenging target of turning round the event in 12 weeks! Adding a Hybrid to the mix adds too many potentially explosive ingredients.
3. I’ve organised over 500 events but I’ve never had the level of ‘virtual’ engagement we are planning at Tech-Fest just with a live streaming, so I want to be pragmatic.
4. We don’t have a big budget. Tech-Fest is in its’ first year. You have to limit risks right?
5. We want to focus and be able to concentrate on the physical experience of Tech-Fest. See point 4! We have a small team (a fantastic one) but it is invariable that one could take ones eye of the ball with a Hybrid to worry about it.
6. The objectives we set didn’t include the need for a Hybrid Event (they did for a live stream). So we were never going to include one ‘just for the sake of it’.
These six reasons are of course very particular to Tech-Fest but I hope they are a really practical view of the type of thing you have to consider when facing the question: “Should we run a Hybrid Event?”
So are we right?
Maybe we are doing a disservice to the Hybrid concept. Maybe we are even offering the service we can or should to our virtual audience. Or maybe we actually go too far with what we’ve got planned for the virtual audience and we sully the experience of the physical audience. The good thing is that we just don’t know. The even better thing is that we are so keen to hear what attendees and the wider events community think of our approach. We are trying to have as ‘open source’ an event as we can. And we want to help the learning through discussion last beyond the physical event. So Hybrid or not to Hybrid? You decide.