Prepare for the Future of Hybrid Events with Mind Map

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Hybrid events that cater to both live and online audiences have exploded in popularity over the last few years, and this trend is set to continue. 62% of event organizers say they plan to continue virtual events in addition to returning to live events in the future.

If a hybrid approach to events is here to stay, how can event organizers prepare for this future?


What Is a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events are events that have both a live audience and a virtual audience. At the moment, the live audience is usually much smaller than the online audience because of travel and other restrictions, leading to a greater focus on the streaming component of the event. This necessitates some important changes to running events to provide the best experience in the new format.

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Why Are Hybrid Events the Future?

The rapid adoption of virtual event formats happened out of necessity, but hybrid events will be here to stay even when things return to normal. The technologies used for things like virtual events and remote working have become everyday tools that everyone knows how to use as a result. This removes a barrier to entry and has made many people more open to attending events virtually.

Now that audiences are accustomed to virtual events, the time and expense of travel and accommodation to attend events in-person are optional inconveniences. For anyone attending national or international events, this is a major benefit of hybrid events.

Following these five tips will help you deliver the best experience at hybrid events:

1. Changing Your Approach to Audience Interaction

Although the virtual audience will often outnumber the live audience, they don’t have a physical presence in the room. As a result, they can’t get the speaker’s attention or interact with the same ease that the live audience can. Events need to take this into consideration to ensure all audience members feel involved, which can require a few changes.

For example, common audience interaction techniques like asking for suggestions, voting, or answering impromptu questions are still possible, with a few changes. Instead of voting with a show of hands or asking the audience to speak up with suggestions, use digital tools like SMS polling to get their response. This gives virtual attendees the same priority as the live audience and has the added benefit of enabling you to display and visualize answers and results during presentations.

Businesses have a lot to learn from the world of e-sports here, where hybrid events are often the most important and lucrative dates of the year. For example, competitions like The International deliver presenters a moderated feed of the online discussion to comment on and respond to in real-time, as well as voting, polls, and simulated betting systems, to spark debate on the outcome of upcoming matches. While not all of these techniques are useful in a business event context, it is a great demonstration of using streaming tools to engage both audiences.

2. Introducing Digital Q & A

The change in approach to interaction is needed most during Q&A sessions. Besides the issue of in-person attendees potentially dominating the conversation, the live audience may not be easily audible for the virtual audience. This can create a poor experience where the virtual audience may not hear the question is being answered.

By having attendees submit their questions via the streaming service during presentations instead of opening the floor at the end, moderators can present speakers with a list of questions to address taken equally from live and virtual attendees. All questions can be displayed on-screen, so you don’t need to worry about getting clear audio from the audience.

Use mind maps to categorize the questions, so that when display or answer the questions, each category and audience can be well covered.

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The upcoming Agents of Hybrid event combines the best of both worlds. All attendees can submit their Q&A questions via the streaming service, and virtual attendees can choose to take part in limited-capacity video calls for direct interaction.

3. Consider Time Zones

Opening your events up to virtual attendees means that your audience could be spread across multiple locations and time zones.

If you are expecting to have a widely distributed or international audience at your event, running the same session at several different times throughout the event can help ensure everyone who wants to catch a presentation live can do so, regardless of their location. The ability to attend distant events with minimal hassle is a key advantage of virtual events, and accommodating different time zones gets the most out of that benefit.

Use mind maps to mark the speaker’s location and list the time, so that you can find the right time for both the speaker and the audience.

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For example, long-running hybrid event MozCon schedules regular informal discussion groups and networking opportunities throughout the day for attendees to get involved in debates via text and voice chat. Scheduling short sessions throughout the day ensures that attendees won’t miss out regardless of where they are connecting from. Additionally, providing the tools and time to do this ensures that interaction and networking are not exclusively benefits for the in-person audience.

4. Visualize Discussions

When speakers can’t discuss ideas back and forth with the audience in the same way as at a live-only event, visualizing them can help audience members follow ideas. For example, speakers and moderators can use a mind mapping app as a teaching aid to show ideas and suggestions, and their relationships, by adding and developing the mind map throughout the session.

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XMind Pitch Mode allows speakers to turn these maps into interactive presentation slides with a single button press, enabling speakers to easily navigate both slides and mind maps to give visual aids to their answers in discussions. This can also be used to develop ideas over the course of a session and summarize them with a final presentation.

5. Expect Tech Problems

Running a hybrid event means you need to manage the technical side of streaming as well as all of the usual technical issues, PA problems, and late scheduling that can crop up at a live event. Even the biggest and longest-running streaming events experience issues with losing audio or video quality, network issues, and more.

Almost 40% of virtual and hybrid events experience at least one technical fault. As a result, a tech team with experience running streaming events is vital to ensure that when a problem does occur, it can be resolved with minimal disruption to the event. Scheduling enough time to fully test the streaming set up before the event goes live can avoid a rocky start to the event as you scramble to fix problems.

Hybrid Events Are Here to Stay

Now is the perfect time for businesses to become well-practiced at running hybrid events. Gaining the tools and knowledge needed to run a successful hybrid event now will pay off in the years to come as they continue to grow in popularity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with formatting and trying out new tools and methods, as hybrid events are new territory for everyone.

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