Has your organization scheduled a Hybrid Meeting sometime in the near future? If so, what guidance are you providing to your speaker (s) to prepare them for this style of event? This is an important issue that must be addressed to ensure success with your program.
For those of you not familiar with Hybrid Meetings please read this article I published back in August for more information. The term “Hybrid” refers to an event containing both “Live” and “virtual” components working together.
In the last two weeks alone I have read three separate blog articles, written by professional speakers, expressing frustration with their experiences presenting at a Hybrid meeting. Unfortunately much of the criticism is being directed at Twitter as a back channel conversation tool, which really is not fair. Reality is technology is only as good as the people that use it. In my mind’s eye the real issue is threefold:
- Lack of Speaker Training — The speaker has not been provided with guidance and information on the vision of the event and what the best practices are for communicating with virtual attendees.
- Poor Communication — In some cases the speaker is not even aware Twitter will be used until they arrive on the day of the meeting.
- Event Logistics Error — Event Organizer has not completely thought through all the logistical details.
So, for this relatively new genre of events here are some tips that will assist you in creating a positive experience for all concerned:
Tip #1: Utilize technology wisely — Don’t engage technology just for the sake of having it at your event. Spend some time upfront thinking about how it will fit into your program profile. Does the technology add value or not? Does it fit the presentation dynamics? If a Twitter stream is being used, does it make sense to broadcast it on the main screen behind the speaker or on monitors to each side of the room? There is a major distinction in the impact on the speaker with those two options.
Tip #2: Communicate Clearly with Speaker(s) — understand who your audience will be. If you will have online attendees it is important to brief the speaker, especially if they have not addressed a virtual audience before. Midori Connolly of Pulse Staging & Events created a great “speaker tips” document which you should review in preparation for your speaker discussions. If you plan to utilize a “Twitter Back Channel” for the event you must make sure your speaker is comfortable with that scenario.
Tip #3: Designate a Moderator — If your event has a virtual component then it will be really helpful to provide a moderator to act as a communication channel between the online attendees and the speaker. This is especially helpful if there will be a Twitter stream broadcast in the room. It is very difficult for speakers to focus on their presentations and also monitor what is being said in the Twitter channel.
Tip #4: Hire a Professional Technical Producer — If you are planning to provide a webcast of your meeting I strongly recommend hiring someone with experience in producing these types of events. While the technology for creating a webcast is not complicated, there are many subtleties that make a huge difference in the bottom-line quality of the event. A Professional producer will also be able to provide quality support to your speaker(s).
Tip #5: Confidence Monitor (Teleprompter) — Providing this technology on the stage, for speakers, adds a comfort level to their presentation. If a speaker wants to engage with the virtual audience directly, the twitter stream can be broadcast on there at strategic moments, in addition to their slides, videos, etc.
Investing time and energy into planning carefully the technical components of a virtual event will pay off in huge dividends, as measured by audience satisfaction. A couple of excellent articles for acquiring more detailed information on Virtual technology and logistics are available and were written By Samuel J. Smith:
- 18 Tips To Make Your Event Webcast Rock!
- 8 Tips For Managing The Twitter Backchannel During Your Presentation
Have you developed some best practices for managing your virtual or hybrid events that work well for you? Please share them with us!