What The Heck Do We Really Mean By A Hybrid Event?
The term Hybrid is not a new one. Do you remember high school biology class? In that class we learned:
Hybrid (biology), an offspring resulting from crossbreeding
Then the term referred to electric power generation, then electricity, computers, games and sport, music, literature and automobiles, education and finally events and meetings.
A hybrid event is not the recording of an event and then putting it on a DVD or online a few days later for others to view. It’s not a Twitter feed or Twitter hashtag discussion. It’s not a chat room. It’s also not broadcasting an event live on the Internet. It’s much more than that.
My definition of a hybrid event is a compilation of all those elements, the live broadcast and the Twitter hashtag discussion, plus participants online being able to be part of the event and react to what the various speakers are saying. The virtual audience is engaged in the event. They also should be able to communicate amongst themselves, thus adding to the engagement and making them feel more like they are truly part of what is happening.
Sometimes the virtual audience is participating in a “pod”. This is when a group of people, anywhere from 2 or 3 to a couple of dozen, meet in an office or conference room to view the meeting together. They, can, then, participate virtually as a group or individually. When “pods” are part of the picture, even more participation can happen.
However, this takes a good deal of preparation and collaboration on the part of the planner, the content provider and the broadcast or webcast provider. Another point to be taken is that the planning for the virtual audience must never diminish the needs of the live audience. All this must be taken into consideration. A really good team of specialists must be formed.
Conversations, between both the face to face and the virtual can begin in advance of the actual event and can extend beyond the event. The live event that would end at a certain time can be extended with online only conversations. The participants at the live event can join these conversations with the virtual audience.
Clearly every planner, planning a meeting, conference or event wants to meet or exceed his or her goals. A hybrid event can do just that.