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How to Organize a Hybrid Event on a Short Timeline

June 21, 2022

Over the past two years, event organizers and planners have become very familiar with hybrid events and the logistics behind them.

But…

Just because hybrid events have entered the mainstream doesn’t mean they’ve come equipped with the same level of high-quality, engaging content found in a traditional in-person event, and that’s especially true when an event needs to be planned or adjusted to virtual on short notice. Organizing a hybrid event on a tight schedule can be an enormous challenge – even for event pros – which makes choosing the right team a critical component of the planning process.

That’s where Sonic Foundry’s Video Solutions team steps in. With over 15 years of experience capturing, managing, and broadcasting video content for events, conferences, and on-demand distribution channels, we’re used to planning and delivering easily accessible, high-quality video content on the turn of a dime.

Our Video Solutions team manages over 600 streaming events in an average year, earning us the trust of leading organizations in sectors from higher education to healthcare to financial services. We pioneered engaging, on-demand and live video for organizations long before most of the world had ever heard of a “hybrid event” and we know the ins, outs and challenges of planning and executing a successful event from start to finish.

To help kickstart your next hybrid event planning session (especially if you’re working on a tight timeline), take a look at the following strategies and tips from battle-tested members of the Video Solutions team at Sonic Foundry.

1. Get everyone in the same room right away.

When you’re orchestrating something as complex as a large-scale hybrid conference or event on a short timeline, there is no time for mixed signals or other miscommunications. This is why it’s important to gather all of the relevant stakeholders for an initial meeting to establish clear expectations and ownership of key deliverables.

Along the same lines, it’s always a good idea for event planners to involve your video or hybrid partner as early as possible. Meeting planners have a lot on their plate and are rightly focused on the live event, the physical space or facility, the attendees, travel logistics, etc. But there are major benefits to treating the video or hybrid elements of your event as a forethought rather than an afterthought. Getting your video and/or hybrid team on board early will save time, money, and stress – and it will expand the universe of realistic deliverables.

2. Establish realistic expectations.

Once you have everyone in the same room, it’s important to be realistic and set the bar in the right place.

Some hybrid and video solutions teams will claim they can deliver everything an event organizer wants, no matter the timeline. The reality is they probably can’t, and a good event organizer will appreciate a blunt assessment of what is realistic and what is not so that they can manage expectations on their side (with sponsors, presenters, planning partners, etc.).

You can think in terms of “trade-offs” or in terms of “quantity vs. quality” or in terms of “must haves vs. nice to haves”. Our team has found that “Tell me what success looks like” is often an effective way to begin the discussion.

But whatever language you use, it’s important to structure the discussion so that everyone is focused on the highest-level goals of the event, which usually include (1) the quality and accessibility of the content and (2) the level of audience engagement with that content.


3. Identify hard deadlines and develop a schedule accordingly.

Some aspects of an event can be accomplished on an accelerated timeline, but there are also logistical elements that involve fixed deadlines.

For instance, if your hybrid team needs to ship equipment to the event location, there are time-based variables that cannot be controlled or altered – equipment availability, packing and shipping lead time, receiving logistics, setup procedures, etc. If the team needs to source local technicians for additional on-site support, there is (or should be) a process for identifying the right partner and booking services – and that process can be difficult to expedite.

On a tight schedule, one of the best ways to structure a hybrid event plan is to identify hard deadlines first – and build the rest of the preparation schedule around them.


4. Be flexible and understand that you are in the people business, NOT the tech business.

In the hybrid events business, it’s no longer feasible to be technology or platform-specific. A good hybrid team needs to be prepared to work with any platform and/or offer their own. Clients will not remember the video platform or other technological infrastructure from a hybrid event; they will remember the people, the content, and feedback from the audience.

This is another reason why it’s important to establish a “straight shooter” reputation when it comes to setting expectations. Event planners will remember which partners were realistic and delivered what they promised, and which partners promised them the world but fell short when it came time to deliver.

We hope these strategies and insights can help inform your next hybrid event planning session. If you have questions or need additional guidance, reach out to us at video.solutions@sonicfoundry.com. We’ve been doing this for years and we can help make sure you have the tools and resources you need to create a high-quality, interactive event on even the tightest of timelines.


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