YOUR IDEA OF HYBRID MAY NOT BE THE SAME AS MY IDEA OF HYBRID.

Bill Callison - President, Big Rock Productions

Many industry people still don’t agree on what a hybrid event means, what it covers, or how to successfully implement one. For this discussion, let’s agree on the definition of hybrid being: “a tradeshow, conference, seminar, workshop or any other meeting that combining a "live" in-person event with a "virtual" online component”.

As presentation technology has rapidly improved, so has the way people watch broadcasts and as a result, their expectations are much higher than they were just two years ago. The typical look and feel of a bland Zoom Meeting is just not going to be good enough for an important conference with multiple audiences and goals. Improving technology and these advancements need to be a part of the solution.

Smart and experienced planners are realizing that producing a hybrid event means hosting two events simultaneously, not just one. All indications are that the most successful production teams these days are making great decisions in planning and execution of hybrid events. These teams look deeper into what they are trying to accomplish with their budget, time, and resources.

Great hybrid events produce both sides of the production with separate crews. There will be some overlap, but for the most part the importance of the messaging dictates the need for two competent and practiced crews running two separate shows with distinctly different audiences.

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Successful producers realize and understand the in-person and online audience will intake messaging and content in different manners. The online audience doesn’t want to simply watch a video of the stage presentation alone, they want context, background, engagement, and insight. While the live, in-person audience wants to network and share the experience face to face. Maybe even have content on a second screen on one of their devices like a phone or tablet.

Successful hybrid production teams don’t underestimate the online audience. A beautiful stage design for the in-person audience will also look good onscreen if the creative and technical teams design the production together. Nothing looks worse than LED moire on a broadcast of an important presentation because the two design teams, technical and creative, didn’t sync well enough during pre-production.

Crisp, clear audio is critical to the success of the project. Adding “comms” to allow for the ability to talk privately with upcoming remote presenters before they go live creates comfort and confidence as they prepare to address the audiences, both live and online. This requires a dedicated audio team who can test and ensure all audio is working. Avoiding the dreaded “your mic is muted” should be the highest priority.

Online audiences often benefit from the inclusion of closed captioning. Offering multiple languages is also a great way to acknowledge your larger and more diverse audience and make a typically local event accessible to international viewership

 

A successful hybrid production requires rehearsals for all primary speakers. It is so easy to forget as an onstage presenter, the online audience is seeing different camera angles and graphics, as well as other elements that affect their view of the production. Don’t forget, presenters not only need to connect with those people in the room, but they also need to connect with those who have taken the time to watch online. Let’s rehearse it and get it right!

All this means there are going to be elements of production you won’t be as familiar with, but you’ll need to plan for regardless. The client needs to know their budget is going increase to account for this new dynamic in presentations. Your production team should help you get this right and be your partner as the scope on these projects grows and the finish line feels like it is constantly moving forward.

If your production partner isn’t helping you navigate these new waters but is simply saying “tell us what you want” and then waiting for your direction, you should find a new production partner. Doing these right takes practice and know-how and the right production partner is more than worth the time and investment. This is an opportunity to reach vast audiences and engage with your viewers in new and exciting ways. The right production partner can help define the scope and the scale of these projects and put best practices into action to create a successful outcome for your audience and you, the client.

If you have any questions or thoughts about any information here, please reach out to me directly. I would love to talk with you.

Thanks so much! Go out and produce great shows!

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