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Digital Event: Hybrid Events — Combining In-Person & Virtual Experiences

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the events industry with ever-changing local guidelines about the numbers of people who can gather in one place. Both event professionals and event hosts have been searching for novel ways to gather; virtual and hybrid events have been on the rise as a solution that allows for large-scale galas and corporate meetings to continue, as well as for families and friends to gather to celebrate nuptials, birthdays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and more.

There’s no one better poised to speak about this quickly-evolving event type than Tom Kehoe, Founder of Kehoe Designs and BlackOak Technical Productions (a full-service design and production team, experts in virtual and hybrid events). On Thursday, June 25, PartySlate CEO and Co-Founder Julie Roth Novack spoke with Tom about key roles and steps for producing hybrid events and shared virtual and hybrid event resources on PartySlate.

The definition of “hybrid events” vary, but for this webinar, we are hard-focused on events that combine virtual components with live, in-person experiences. For example, a wedding with ten close friends and family present, while a hundred more join virtually for the vows and celebration. Or a fundraising gala, with an in-studio team working together to share the nonprofit’s mission and stories, while thousands of guests join remotely, enjoying the same meal catered to their homes.

When asked what types of events readily lend themselves to a hybrid format, Tom says, “A corporate event is perfect. We’ve done an executive board meeting with the chairman filming in-studio [at The Geraghty] with an important message for many remote attendees. Then there are the fun ones, like social events. We did a birthday party with seven in-person attendees and 70 more joining to offer wishes an enjoy a live music feed.”

Producing a hybrid event — just like an in-person event — requires a clear vision, goals, and budget range. Once you’ve made those initial decisions, identify your target audience and guest list, and line up your team. Next comes concepting, then choosing the right platform for your message and desired levels of interaction. Note that the platform selection is later in the process, once you’ve already made all of the other important decisions — your platform is the vehicle, not the driver of your event. For all events, it’s imperative to have a run of show and contingency plans in place, and then to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. With hybrid events, in addition to having the potential issues you might have at an in-person event, you’re adding a layer of technology, which comes with its own host of possible problems. Be ready for sounds issues, attendees with limited technical knowledge, lagging wi-fi, and more.

Next, Julie and Tom discussed how professionally-produced hybrid events lie at the intersection of lighting, audio, and video — with each area requiring a high-level of expertise. Lighting for the individuals speaking is necessary, as are microphones, speakers, and audio-playback capabilities. Add in multiple cameras, a switcher unit for asset routing, streaming control, and encoding services, and you’ve got a complex event that must look seamless to everyone joining. The duo reviewed all of the potential roles necessary for such an experience and explored when it’s necessary to involve a professional technical team, versus producing the event more modestly.

Lastly, Julie shared PartySlate’s virtual event resources, including the company’s newly-launched virtual events landing page and The Ultimate Virtual Events Checklist: 10 Steps to Ensure a Memorable Experience. PartySlate has also added a “virtual events” designation for event professionals to add to their experience on their profile to help consumers find them more readily.

If you’re interested in receiving the presentation slides, adding virtual events to your profile, or setting up a new PartySlate profile, please email us. 

You can watch the full digital event recording below, or open the recording with YouTube.