“Hybrid events” 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” Many events have an audience in a room and potentially a large one on line so by that definition they running a Hybrid Event! But I don’t think most of them are hybrid events and here’s why.
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
Many events will be engaging a virtual audience but we have to be clear: most of them will not be Hybrid Events; their priority will be the physical audience. A lot of these events will have a live stream where the virtual audience can listen, watch and engage through Twitter but they are not really, certainly in this event organisers mind, attending the event. Virtual attendees have the “event” light option.
So deciding to stream or hybrid is a big decisions. Most of these events hope that they still have enough fizz to keep everyone involved but they can’t hide it’s not the experience they have planned for the physical attendees. Running Hybrid Events turns your event inside out; literally!
Live streaming your event vs. hybrid
So here’s why many events will decide to add a live stream but not go the full route of a hybrid event:
1. Logistically the standard physical events will not be an easy event to organise. Adding a live steam adds another layer. Adding a proper hybrid element will add a several layers to an already big challenge.
2. Timing won’t be on their side. Many event companies try to turn round the event in 12 weeks! Adding a Hybrid to the mix adds too many potentially explosive ingredients.
3. Hybrid events are still relatively new and it might be that the organisers has never had the level of ‘virtual’ engagement with just live streaming. The planner will be pragmatic.
4. They don’t have a big budget. You have to limit risks right? And hybrid events have to be done properly.
5. The organiser wants to concentrate on the physical experience. See point 3 and 4! It is invariable that one could take ones eye of the ball with a Hybrid element to worry about it.
6. The objectives they 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’.
You might find one or more of these reasons are behind the decision to stay streamed but I wanted to list those reasons. I hope they are a really practical view of the type of thing event planners have to consider when facing the question: “Should we run hybrid events?”