Dbpixelhouse reveals why hybrid works, and what benefits it brings to events.
We have worked on multiple hybrid conferences over the past year, and it’s been interesting to watch the evolution of these events in the wake of the pandemic. The hybrid environment has seen success from a technical, customer, and delegate point of view. The main takeaways are that hybrid conferences really do work, possibly even more so than physical conferences.
Hybrid is still an event format that is met with some hesitation due to the relative novelty it comes with, so we don’t expect you to just take our word for it. We wanted to share a recent event we took on that proved to be successful and highlights the rewards of hybrid conferencing.
Confronted with the uncertain nature of Covid-19, a global top 10 law practice was keen to maintain momentum within its busy sector by stepping into the hybrid arena for its practice group conference. This event would traditionally have taken place in a face-to-face environment, but the firm was keen to keep it in the diary, despite the limitations presented by Covid-19. The decision to go hybrid placed emphasis on creating more value for attendees who would be viewing the event from a remote location. The hybrid layout served as a solution for the client, enabling a wider audience of remote viewers with access to on-demand viewing.
Working with a creative agency, a complex logistical package was to be developed, comprising multiple days of content broadcast from multiple countries. This event was to celebrate the successful performance of the global firm, in both a physical and digital environment.
We worked alongside said agency tasked with managing a multi-location conference event for the law firm. The customer wanted to run four days of content, combining both pre-recorded and live audio-visual content, across seven locations throughout the UK and Europe. For physical attendants, six of the firm’s UK and European offices were utilised, with a hotel venue making up the additional seventh location. The feed was also streamed and made accessible to an audience of remote attendees who were unable to attend in person.
The London office served as the main studio and hosted the largest number of attendees, approximately 75 people. Across other locations, numbers ranged between 20 and 50 people per venue, accumulating to around 300 live attendees with up to a further 1,000 attendees tuning in remotely. The hybrid component of the event was implemented for a remote audience, consisting of employees working from home along with a remainder of employees watching from their office monitors. It also enabled the entire firm to participate, rather than a select few.
Each venue comprised staging, backdrop, lights, PA systems and cameras which were utilised to create a continual studio set-up across the seven locations. We were able to broadcast from each location into the central London production hub and then feed the output to an online platform where delegates could log in and watch.
From a production perspective, this format felt like a TV broadcast event, rather than a traditional in-person conference, but this showed real benefits. The first three days consisted of a two-hour session from 10am to noon each day covering its own topic, with the final day being a full day of coverage. The benefit to this was that only a small portion of the working day was dedicated to the event, therefore the event did not impact productivity nor interest. The major challenge with the production was to adhere to the strict time schedule. This required discipline and was successfully achieved by tightly scripted rehearsals and running the event cue-to-cue. A professional show caller introduced a mix of live presentations, animations, video strings, and up to 10 hours of pre-recorded content.
The lectern-based presentations and the more relaxed couch-based discussions provided a contrast of dialogue. Interaction was achieved among both remote and live audiences using Slido polls and questions. The relaxed couch conversations provided a more inclusive feel on account of the more natural and easier-to-digest nature that they came with. Moreover, a recording of the event was also made available for on-demand viewing.
Why hybrid worked
With live audio mixing, we were able to swiftly cut to different people, locations, and mediums with ease, continually maintaining the dynamic feel of the event. This is where the hybrid nature of the event worked better than the traditional physical format. Numerous people were able to contribute to the conversation without it seeming like an endless stream of counterparts jumping up and down from the stage. Instead, a streamlined transition of seamless conversation was assembled, with the show-caller’s communications running in real time over the internet to technicians at each of the various locations across Europe.
From an observer’s point of view, you could see that everyone was engaged. The content was kept short, with no one individual speaking for much more than five to 10 minutes at a time. In a physical environment, this short, sharp delivery is significantly more difficult to execute due to various factors such as transition times on and off stage and natural human factors.
Consequently, having a rolling turnover of speakers presenting for as little as two minutes becomes too fast for a physical set-up and results in a clunky and disjointed event. In addition to this, the hybrid format meant that the production was able to cut people in efficiently and effectively across multiple locations.
The end result: two hours of content that flowed effortlessly.