Conference Design

To Hybrid or Not To Hybrid: That Is The Question

26th November 2021

If there is anything these unexpectedly challenging times have shown us is that, in our industry, we always have choices. Government restrictions in face-to-face events led to digital ones; but soon the need to meet in person again despite the difficulties led to the elaborate world of hybrid events. The European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) tried to shed light on the matter using – what else? – a hybrid event.

Words Vicky Koffa

Last month 70 participants from various associations and organizations attended both in-person and online the meeting hosted by ESAE, under the topic ‘The H Word – Hybrid Uncovered’. The event was divided in three parts, namely two case studies, tool suggestions and opinion exchange, in an effort to dig deeper into what a successful hybrid event looks like and whether it is the right choice for every occasion.

The first two speakers, Fanny Senez, Events Manager at the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) and Eralda Azizaj, Programme Manager of the European Society Radiation Oncology (ESTRO), both agreed on the fact that having a well-trained technical team is key. Based on experience, Azizaj shared that choosing the right platform and having a plan B is essential when the project is facing a glitch. Senez admitted that a capable online moderator will keep both audiences in the game.

These experiences were followed by Avinash Chandarana’s, Global Learning and Development Director at MCI, views on how hybrid events bring two worlds together. In fact, their success is connected to our social, emotional, and cognitive engagement, which represents a challenge for the organizer. The moderator or the speaker needs to be prepared to keep the dialogue going, to trigger emotions and to produce clear and short (preferably consisting of 3 parts) content.

Milo Vergucht, International Association Expert at VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau, reassured the audience that destinations are getting ready for this new reality. CVB’s support venues to become more digitally savvy and come up with modular solutions for all needs, as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

Both speakers and participants left with a more positive, and definitely clearer, idea about hybrid events. “Hybrid events offer the opportunity to reach audiences which you would otherwise not be able to reach,”concluded Vergucht, whereas Azizaj said: “When considering a hybrid event, make sure you think it through according to your needs.”

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