It might not yet be the old kind of normal, but the world does seem to be moving to new normalcy where in-person events, if carefully planned, can happen and are happening. Many companies are figuring out ways to plan and execute events that have physical and virtual components working in tandem. Known as “hybrid” events, these events enjoy both the camaraderie of an old-school event as well as the accessibility it allows for those who cannot participate in person.
As the pandemic raged on most of last year, most companies that host events had to pivot to virtual-only events, which took some learning and readjusting for most people. Necessitated by this need for the world to unlearn some behaviors and learn new ones, virtual event companies developed tools and features to make virtual events possible. You will likely have heard of at least one WebEx or Google Meet, or Zoom session in the last few weeks. Despite this unforeseen hurdle, most companies were successfully able to shift to convening virtually, for the most part.
And as companies navigate the new normal of hybrid events, event planners are looking to merge the best of both worlds. For your benefit, below, a few tips on how you can transition from virtual-only events to hybrid events and how you can make your hybrid event successful.
What Makes a Good Hybrid Event?
In all hybrid events, attendees can participate in both (or rather, we should say either) in-person sessions and online webinars. The physical event is live-streamed onto a virtual events platform, so participants do not have to miss out owing to time or travel, or health constraints. For such participants, the hosting organization can parallelly host the event on an online platform such as Zoom, thereby creating an inclusive experience for all participants. This seamless merging of the virtual and the physical makes up the hybrid event.
But what makes a hybrid event excellent or successful? To host a successful hybrid event, companies have to think beyond just the physical and the virtual component. If the content or features of the virtual components are dull and dry, chances are you will merely get participation for the sake of checking the participation box only. Choosing an events platform with features that allow for online engagement is critical. Still, other elements to consider are: what makes the event accessible and inclusive for the audience that cannot be present physically? Does the platform have captioning capabilities for a hearing-impaired audience, for example? Or can the captions be translated into different languages that cater to your remote audience? Is the platform mobile-adaptive in terms of look and feel? Is it device-agnostic? That is to say, can it be cast to a larger screen like the TV? Are the accessibility features like captions visible on a small mobile screen? Does it have a playback option or a toggle feature to move from one session to another seamlessly? Can it be easily shared on social media? The right platform should be able to accommodate all or, at least, most of these.
Planning a Hybrid Event
When planning a hybrid event, prepare for success from the get-go. Let’s put together a quick dossier on the boxes you need to check for this.
- Time: Will it be a one-day event? How many sessions? Will some of the sessions happen in parallel? If multiple parallel sessions are part of the event itinerary, you will need a virtual events platform with breakout rooms, like Zoom.
- Platform: When researching the platform, here are the features they should offer.
- Personalized widgets for branding purposes
- Engagement features like Polls and Social shares
- Live/On-Demand Content
- Chat boxes for virtual Q&A sessions
- Breakout rooms, as mentioned above.
- Captioning: Research the captioning service beforehand to check the range of solutions they offer. Do they do live captioning with human captioners? Is captioning provided round the clock, so participants in other time zones are not impacted? Do they offer live, technical support during the course of the event? What about automatic machine translations for the captions?
- Budget: Budget constraints can sometimes lead to bad decision-making. If on a short leash, consider a captioning and translation solution that works for live and pre-recorded events. Machine translations that are part of a captioning service can save you on cost and planning, as it’s a one-stop solution for the virtual component of your hybrid event.
- Audience: Let’s say you are hosting the event in English, but the targeted audience for this event, live, in three different countries, all of whom will attend the event virtually. What are the languages spoken in those countries, apart from English? Cross-check if the machine translation caters to those countries. Does the captioning service that is integrated into the event platform have those three languages in its offerings? Choose a platform whose captioning partner offers real-time translation in the highest number of languages.
SyncWords is one of the world’s leading live captioning and translation services that rely on a combination of human services and machine learning and artificial intelligence to simplify captioning solutions for clients and customers. We aim to bring the world closer, one language/word at a time. SyncWords is leading the charge in captioning and subtitling automation for both real-time and pre-recorded content. Our captioning and translation solutions are bundled into a package offering for customers. What’s more, we offer translation capabilities to over 100 languages, with more language expansion in the pipeline. When you plan your hybrid event, insist on SyncWords as your chosen caption provider. You’re getting the best of both captioning and translation when you choose SyncWords.