If we could place an early bet on 2022’s Word of The Year, our money would be going on the adjective ‘hybrid’. From workplaces to cars, the term suggests a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to doing things, one that’s exploded in popularity since the start of the pandemic.
Hybrid events - whether that be live webinars, teaching sessions, conferences, expos or training courses - are those that can be accessed in person at a physical location, or remotely on an online platform. The beauty of hybrid teaching and coaching sessions is that they are incredibly accessible, and they can transcend barriers of scale and geography whilst still offering opportunities for meaningful social connection.
But, just as we had to learn new skills to master hybrid working, we must evolve our approach to teaching planning and execution for success in the hybrid era.
To give you a head start, we’re sharing our top ten tips for fine-tuning your hybrid teaching event and maximising attendee engagement at all stages. Read on to uncover the secrets to really connecting employees, clients and potential customers - but watch out, number six might surprise you!
1. Put accessibility front and centre
One of the key benefits of hybrid learning sessions is that they can be made accessible to everyone. But achieving full inclusivity requires extra (but worthwhile) efforts.
Think carefully about how every attendee can be supported to get the most out of the session. This might involve adapting your physical venue for less mobile attendees, or using the special features offered by your live-streaming software to build closed captions and audio description into your video content.
2. Invest in good hardware
Producing your own video and audio content to stream or share with hybrid coaching session attendees? You need to accept that there’s a pretty strong correlation between the quality of the equipment you use and the level of engagement with the finished content.
So don’t pour your efforts into an excellent script only to neglect the production process! Your virtual content needs to look professional and be enjoyable to engage with. This means that you ought to invest in high-resolution cameras, high-sensitivity microphones and aesthetically-pleasing lighting. Can’t afford this purchase outright? Consider hiring or borrowing.
3. Make audience input easy
If you want your teaching event attendees to actively engage with your session, you need to provide channels that make this possible - at every juncture.
During the registration process, ask people what they expect or want to get out of their attendance; allow audience members to submit questions to speakers in real-time using question boxes or chat functions; use feedback tools to capture audience input at various points during and after the teaching or coaching session.
4. Support participants to connect with one another
From two-person meetings to two thousand-person expos, bringing people together is a key part of any event. And with the right approach, the power and energy of social connection can be injected into your hybrid learning event too.
The secret to achieving this is to provide spaces and channels for formal and informal social interaction to flourish. In the physical event space, this could look like cafe areas, networking drinks receptions, or themed discussion zones. In the virtual space, this could involve XR avatars ‘meeting’ in virtual breakout rooms or communicating through a multi-participant instant messenger or video chat.
Encourage attendees to share contact details or social media profiles during the session so that the connection and interaction can continue long after the hybrid session ends.
5. Present unique and thought-provoking content
Everyone likes to feel as if they are getting something out of attending an event, and providing attendees with bespoke or high-value content is one of the most effective ways to deliver this. From ebooks to white papers, video tutorials, training simulations or study guides: consider the wants and needs of your audience, and use your event platform to easily share accessible content that they’ll truly be excited by.
6. Steer clear of trying to replicate in-person events
Newsflash: if you want to run a truly great hybrid teaching session, throw out the old rulebook. There’s no reason why you should be trying to replicate the format and conventions of in-person events in a hybrid space - this will only box in your imagination and creativity. Instead, embrace the new opportunities that hybrid event-hosting provides.
Allow virtual attendees to drop in and out of sessions at will; build beautiful virtual and physical spaces for people to enjoy; offer networking activities that are actually fun; mix up live and pre-recorded content; introduce interactive games and quizzes; make your attendees feel like they are the main characters driving the session creation and execution.
7. Harness the power of social media at every stage
Events are all about building and celebrating community, and social media platforms are a natural complement to this. Make sure you’re using them to their full potential! Begin by pushing your hybrid teaching event via your social media platforms. Include tasters of the content that will be available and set up forums on which participants can start getting involved beforehand.
During the session, multistream live on all your social media channels for additional access points and multiply real-time engagement. Participants will also be able to communicate and contribute on these platforms, helping remote attendees feel more engaged and a part of the event itself.
8. Collaborate with other content creators
Making the most of the content on offer at your hybrid teaching session requires you to push the boundaries of what’s ‘expected’ and present your audience with something fresh, exciting and new.
Collaborating with other content creators in your space is an excellent way to do this. Not only will co-creation introduce a different energy and improve the diversity of your offering, it will help you to engage with a new audience and widen your pool of attendees.
9. Make post-teaching event outreach a priority
The event isn’t over when the last person leaves the room (real or virtual). Post-event is one of your most important points of engagement with your audience.
Encourage or incentivise attendees to complete digital feedback forms so that you can iterate and improve the session for next time. Make recordings and transcripts of the sessions available to download and share. And follow up your hybrid teaching session with a call-to-action; ask attendees to join an online group, follow you on social media, register for your next hybrid teaching event or share their learnings online.
10. Have fun with it!
Last, and most certainly not least, don’t forget to have fun! The more creative you are with your coaching session and the more uniquely you can tailor the learning to your audience, the higher the engagement it will elicit. Ask yourself: would you want to attend the session? Is this event really going to add value for attendees? What can you add that might enrich the offering for your different targets?
With these tips under your belt, you’ll be well prepared to make your next hybrid teaching event a huge success. And if you’d like more support and advice on acing your hybrid teaching event or webinar planning, check out Studio for a powerful live streaming and webinar solution with all the tools you need to start a conversation.
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