Event organizations will only be viable for another 7.5 months.
That shocking claim comes from a study released January 2021 by The Meetings Industry Association (mia). Due to COVID-19, the event planning business is seeing a steep decline in business, with many venues having to host events at reduced capacity (if they’re able to at all) and not offering certain amenities. However, the news isn’t all doom and gloom.
Many businesses are finding they’re able to go virtual with their events, and event planners are finding a brand new niche for themselves. Digital events are here to stay, likely due to their ability to have more attendees, even when people aren’t facing a pandemic due to almost no extra cost.
But in order to “go hybrid,” planners must develop a brand-new skillset. Below, we’ve come up with 6 essential skills any event organizer should have in their toolbox:
- Tech skills & platform knowledge
- Virtual event production skills
- Customer success skills
- Time management skills
- Marketing skills
- Sales skills
Remember that you’ll be transitioning to a whole new model that requires a different mindset and skillset, so it’s important to invest in upskilling as much as possible to give your events the greatest chance at success.
Learn how Investment News rapidly pivoted their business to weather the COVID-19 crisis.
Tech skills & platform knowledge
When hosting a hybrid event, you’ll need a host of new skills, like:
- setting up a digital event on the platform of your choice
- creating digital ads that reach your target audience
- formating slides, videos and documents so they’re viewable on your audience’s screens
- understanding livestream best practices
And we cannot emphasize how important it is to truly understand the ins-and-outs of the platform you choose to use, and what it's capable of.
Platforms are just like venues; none are one size fits all. But to find the best one for you, consider how you want your attendees to participate and engage with each other at your event. Is it through...
- Live chat during the livestream?
- Interactive question and answer sessions?
- 1:1 matchmaking & networking?
- Breakout rooms?
- All of the above?
Depending on the platform you use, these options may be easy or complicated to implement (or unavailable at all), so a deep understanding of what your platform is capable of will help you make the most of it.
If you're looking for a hybrid event platform that can provide easy solutions for all of these engagement avenues, take a look at what our platform provides for your hybrid event.
Virtual event production skills
All the experience you've gained this past year will be incredibly useful as you pivot to hybrid. Think of yourself as a television producer; you’re the glue that’s holding the event together. This means that you’ll continue to wear a lot of hats, from tech expert to directing, to make sure the event runs smoothly.
Think of your favorite live television shows and what goes on behind the scenes to keep at home viewers just as enthralled as those who are attending in person. These television shows tend to be remarkably high energy with charismatic speakers.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have an introvert on stage, but for more low-energy speakers, it can be helpful to include interactive elements for at-home viewers like polls or live Q&A sessions to make everyone feel included.
This brings up our next point: have interactive or downloadable content. Think of what attendees receive in person: brochures, demo videos, information booths, etc. There’s no reason virtual attendees cannot have these resources available to them as well.
By uploading these items, you’re showing that you put thought into all attendees’ experience by allowing them to have a near-identical level of involvement as in-person attendees.
Again, this is when you should take a look at what platforms are able to provide your attendees. Far too many platforms have an upload limit or are way too cumbersome for event attendees to access resources.
Customer success skills
Think of what goes into planning an in-person event. You’ll book sponsors and speakers, make sure attendees have the resources they need to make the most of the event and coach speakers on how they can best present their ideas. All of these skills are just as needed when hosting hybrid events.
Sponsors and speakers are continuously booked with hybrid events, but in slightly different ways. Some sponsors are a little more adverse to participating in hybrid events, so you’ll need to point out the upside to participating. Explain how they’ll be exposed to a larger audience than before, and that their sponsorship dollars will go further than in strictly in-person events.
For speakers, point out how their ideas can be greatly aided by presentations that appear directly on dozens, hundreds or thousands of personal screens simultaneously. This can take a lot of pressure off speakers because they no longer need to worry about whether all the audience can see their presentations.
We talked about making sure attendees receive the resources they need above, but think about how much work you need to do to ensure this for in-person events with goodie bags, brochures, etc. With digital events, you simply need to make sure you upload documents or videos in the correct folders and share them at the right time. Sharing resources has never been easier!
And if you’ve hosted an in-person event, you’ve definitely had to coach speakers before. The same concepts you’ve used to train presenters in the past are used with hybrid events as well. Help your speakers by emphasizing where cameras are, where they should look, the volume level they need to speak at and where their presentation will be played. Speakers will need to make sure they’re speaking directly to both in-person and digital attendees, and their success hinges on your coaching abilities.
Watch as Debbie Holton delves into the importance of customer success skills in their own pivot to virtual.
Time management skills
One of the keys to hosting a successful hybrid event is time management skills. You might be thinking that the skills you’ve utilized in the past for in-person events will seamlessly transfer over to hybrid events, but it’s safe to say you’ll find yourself on a tight schedule.
People have much shorter attention spans when it comes to digitally attending events, whether due to the amount of time they spend looking at screens or outside distractions like kids, pets, partners, etc. This doesn’t mean your events need to be planned down to the last second, but you should make sure that you stick to your time frames as closely as possible to ensure your audience is getting the most out of your event.
The best way to make sure your events stick to the scheduled times is by emphasizing to your speakers that their talks need to stay in a designated time frame.
We’ve found that it can be helpful to tell someone who needs to fill a 20-minute spot that they have 15-17 minutes to talk followed by an optional brief Q&A session. This allows direct interaction if speakers end early or for them to take up all of their time speaking.
Marketing your event for a digital event can feel time consuming and daunting if you don’t know how to properly use digital platforms. You really need to understand what your audience wants from the event and how you can best provide it.
One of the best ways to do this is by looking at your event’s demographic and what appeals to your audience. Social media platforms provide analytical tools that will tell you your audiences’ age, gender and location, and allow you to create successful marketing campaigns around your audience.
Most of the time you’ll know who your audience is, but digital marketing campaigns can help you find out that you are appealing to another audience in addition to who you had originally planned for.
Because so much of your audience will be reached digitally, you’ll need to make sure you have graphics and intriguing content that will catch your target audience’s attention in a matter of seconds. You’re going to find you’re facing a lot of competition in the digital world, with other promoters and companies vying for your target audience’s attention.
Sales in the digital world is completely different than what you have used for in-person events. In person, you can talk to someone, answer their questions, etc. In the digital sphere, you need to complete all of this without ever seeing the person face-to-face.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone is having to make adjustments to how they attend events and generate revenue from events, and you need to show them why your event is worth their time and money by focusing on how it benefits them.
For your sponsors, that can come down to really earning their trust and coaching them through the essentials of a strong digital presence. We have a list of questions you should be prepared for here, but as mentioned earlier, you will benefit most by taking a hands-on approach with them.
And for attendees, you need to make the ticket buying process as simple as possible. It may be worth evaluating your current registration and ticketing software if you haven't already to ensure you are maximizing conversions.
Need some inspiration on how to sell your sponsorships more effectively? Bo Brustkern from Lendit Fintech has you covered in his session from Virtual Shake-Up 2.0.
Congratulations! You’ve just learned the top 6 skills you need to become an expert on creating, marketing and selling hybrid events in 2021.
If you would like to learn more about how Brella can help you with your hybrid events, check out our virtual event platform page for more information on how we might be the perfect host for your next hybrid event.
Remember that Brella is the leading event platform for virtual, physical and hybrid events. The world’s leading conferences and exhibitions trust us to power their events because we offer relevant content, quality networking and multiple revenue generating opportunities based on over 5 years of virtual event experience.
The future of event planning is here, and Brella is leading the way.
Take a look at what our virtual event platform has to offer here.
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