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Hybrid conferences: A view of the future?

By 3rd February 2023Blog, Virtual events
Business people in meeting | Axiom Communications

The rise of remote working and the increase in global teams now presents an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how we meet together.

Whilst it is generally acknowledged that face-to-face, especially for the first meeting, is best, it is not always possible or desirable to gather all team members in one meeting room. That might be for budget reasons, efficient use of time or to address environmental concerns.

These factors combine to drive up the need for hybrid meetings and conferences, potentially harnessing the best elements of face-to-face, or fully virtual.

Without doubt, whether it’s for interactive conferences, events, training, team meetings, or working in the office the need to connect remains essential.

In this blog, we’ll look at the benefits of hybrid conferences, and in the next one we’ll look at the things to consider when deciding on a format or planning virtual, face-to-face or hybrid conferences.

Could a hybrid conference be the best solution for your business?

Event organisers have been running high quality, successful hybrid events for many years; the effectiveness of the format has been proven many times. And as more businesses are now comfortable live streaming their events online, a hybrid event platform can provide the perfect solution for tomorrow’s world.

The fact that they are super flexible means that entire conferences can easily be moved online, if evolving circumstances dictate. And all that detailed planning you rightly undertook can simply be re-purposed.

The advantages of having a virtual component to your events

The hallmark of Axiom’s approach is, and always has been, highly interactive, action-oriented events, powered by collaborative techniques and technology. Whether a conference is held in-person or virtually, the aim is always to engage as many people as possible for the best outcome.

Our experience tells us that there are many advantages to hybrid and virtual conferences, including:

  • Higher attendance numbers, as people who can’t travel will be able to attend virtually, without the need to hire a concert hall.
  • Lower overall costs, driven by factors such as reduced travel time, accommodation and catering.
  • The carbon footprint of your event and organisation as a whole will be reduced through less travel, food and other resources being used.
  • Increased attendee engagement throughout the conference, due to both interactive technology and a greater feeling of psychological safety (we’ll discuss this more below) created by the virtual environment.
  • The ability to make a professional, though low-cost, engaging recording of the event that can be shared post event.
  • You will be able to share your event with people who couldn’t attend on the day, while attendees can re-watch or catch-up on any sections they might have missed, extending your return on investment and the consistency of your messages to all levels.
  • Reduction of the ‘Zoom-fatigue’ faced by so many, by differentiating your event from normal day-to-day meetings, so that they are still seen as ‘events’.

We’ve been successfully delivering virtual conferencing solutions for many years, making the most out of the technology available to increase engagement and make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible.

In addition, we have seen how psychological safety can be fostered in a virtual environment. Psychological safety is one of the most important elements in high performing teams – promoting creativity, risk-taking and the perfect conditions for innovative thinking. Employees’ behaviours can be very different at a virtual conference compared to when they are in a room full of colleagues and managers. Some virtual attendees feel more confident getting involved and contributing ideas.

Technology helps support this, through things like anonymous ‘real time’ questions and contributions and ‘like’ buttons similar to those on social media platforms. It’s possible to get far higher levels of engagement than you would at an in-person event, as the virtual environment lets you tap into the minds of introverts and employees who don’t like to speak out in public.

Of course, all this experience can be harnessed to get the most out of a hybrid conference.

Getting the most out of hybrid conferences with Axiom

When planning a hybrid conference, we know it’s important to consider the experience for both your remote participants and in-person attendees. It’s essential that both groups enjoy an equally brilliant experience, and that there is a sense of cohesiveness between both formats. We can help you deliver one event being experienced in two different ways, but with everyone feeling ‘I was there’.

We coach the performance of the speakers, so they can thrive in both worlds. We want them to have a great experience too. Technology enables us to make this happen. For example, the experience for both groups of attendees can be mirrored through the use of real world and virtual break-out rooms. We can also enable opportunities for virtual networking, for those that might miss the drink at the bar, and the evening meal.

And of course, we can share everything we’ve learned about presenting and facilitating in the old world and new, to really help everyone ‘on stage’ shine.

Do you think the hybrid approach to conferencing would work for your organisation?

In practice, the hybrid approach can give organisations the best of both worlds, with plenty of added benefits too. Compared to a fully virtual event, a hybrid format helps you engage people who prefer to meet face-to-face and maintain the social aspect that many crave, while still getting all the advantages that we’ve talked about above.

There will always be a place for in-person, fully virtual, and hybrid events – and we can help you deliver all three. But for the right occasion, a hybrid conference will tick a lot of boxes when executed with careful planning.

If you are looking to take the hybrid approach at your next conference, Axiom are here from planning to execution. If you’d like our support, contact us today for a free no obligation chat with a member of our expert team.