It is evident that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are more permanent than previously anticipated. While aspects of the “new normal” are here to stay, there are also tremendous efforts to try returning to some pre-pandemic standards. Events are no exception, and there is a rise in events transitioning back to in-person settings. However, with new strains of the virus still emerging, there are many folks who are uneasy about attending large gatherings.
This makes hybrid events the perfect solution. By offering an in-person setting, you’re engaging part of your audience in a hands-on atmosphere, while also allowing an even wider audience to participate from the comfort of their home or office.
Logistically though, this proposes a new set of challenges for event planners. What is the difference between planning an in-person event versus a hybrid event? Are there special AV needs for hybrid events? This blog will answer these questions to help guide event planners through the hybrid events planning process.
How AV needs may affect venue choice
You may be familiar with what in-person events require for AV needs: staging, lighting, sound, screens, staff, etc. So how does that differ from a hybrid approach? Before discussing AV needs specifically, it’s important to note that your venue should be familiar with live streaming and hybrid events, since prior to COVID, it was not common to live stream an in-person event. An experienced venue will streamline your event planning and execution for an optimized experience.
Now, here are specific AV needs and best practices to a successful hybrid event.
When preparing for an in-person event, it’s necessary to consider the Wi-Fi speed and traffic capacity. This is typically to ensure that all attendees and exhibitors can maintain digital communication and support any dynamic content for speaker presentations.
However, for a hybrid event, the Wi-Fi capabilities are even more paramount since you’ll have virtual attendees counting on a smooth digital experience. Ideally, you shouldn’t have buffering, audio or visual issues keeping your content from being delivered properly.
Best practice tip: Speak to your venue about testing their Wi-Fi speeds, checking their traffic capacity, and past event sizes. Also consider checking for any “dead” Wi-Fi spots throughout the venue, so you’re aware of any limitations.
Staging for an in-person event is fairly straightforward in that you need room for the speaker and their content material. This could look like screens, physical demonstration materials, or space to move freely. Similarly, a hybrid event will still require those same standards. However, they will also require extra space for production equipment and the AV crew without interfering with the speaker.
Best practice tip: Ask your venue to see examples of a past hybrid event and what their AV stage set up looked like. Tour the space whenever possible and get a feel for how much room is left for your speaker and presentation when the crew’s space is accounted for.
Cameras and sound production
It wasn’t uncommon for at least a low level of camera and audio production to be utilized at in-person events pre-COVID. However, the purpose was not for streaming, it was for simply capturing the event. When planning the perfect hybrid event, remember to envision it from the digital viewer’s perspective. How engaging can the content be if it’s a static one-camera view? No one is signing up for an event that resembles a CSPAN live recording.
Instead, use multiple camera perspectives that can be switched between, and even include shots of the live audience. Equally important is the use of dynamic camera shots that can provide wide angle, close-up and medium shots. Audio goes hand-in-hand with camera equipment, and you need to ensure there is compatible equipment to match the cameras in use.
Also consider AV production of digital interactivity! Some equipment is geared for things like live social feeds, interactive screens, and more. These will enhance the experience for both your in-person and virtual attendees.
Best practice tip: Prevent “dead air” for your virtual audience! This is when a live stream ends and there is nothing on the screen. This screams of a missed opportunity! Prepare some kind of graphic or other visual content that will air at the beginning, end or in between sessions. This can be as simple as a logo or still graphic, but video or animations are better.
Stage lighting for the purpose of live streaming can look much different than in-person settings. This is due to the use of cameras. What may look good in person may not translate well over video. Proper lighting will require more knowledge of your venue or AV crew’s part. Turn to their expertise to determine if multiple spotlights, flood lights, filters or effects are needed to provide a clear translation of the event on camera.
Best practice tip: When touring the venue, do a simple lighting test of the stage with your phone and see what it looks like with someone on stage. This may help paint a picture of what is needed. Again, rely on AV expert suggestions, but testing the space yourself is a helpful step.
There are many overlapping aspects between strictly in-person and hybrid events, but there are also key differences that require extra preparation. If you address these differences early on, you can count on a much smoother event planning process. Remember that the best practice for any event is testing every aspect of production! Always do a run-through or dress rehearsal of the event’s agenda to avoid any surprises.
When choosing an event software that can easily handle your hybrid event needs, look for an all-in-one platform. Pathable offers the tools to plan, promote, and power your hybrid event, including comprehensive support for AV production. Enhance your next event with Pathable today.