Should Your Next Event be In-Person, Virtual or Hybrid?

HINT – Hybrid is the wrong answer! 

Now that things are getting back to normal, leaders are working hard to reconnect their team by rescheduling training, events, and conferences. The problem is, with people’s openness to technology and an increase in remote work, they need to decide if these events should be in-person, virtual, or a hybrid option of both?

Let’s start on what should be your very last choice…HYBRID. Delivering an event both virtually and in-person sounds like a win/win due to its flexibility, but most of the time, it results in a lose/lose. The in-person group feels annoyed by the lack of focus on them due to the presence and pressure of cameras, screens, and interruptions. The virtual group feels like 2nd class citizens and that they are missing out on the real quality experience. And both groups feel more divided that ever from each other.

I have only seen a hybrid event succeed once in the last two years, and it was because both the in-person and virtual groups had their own facilitators, tech team, and event planners. It was twice as expensive twice as much work.

So, the real question is, “Should this event be virtual or in-person?”

Start by clarifying the highest value for the meeting or event. If it is around connection and relationship building, then an in-person experience will probably give you the most bang for your buck.

Just remember, now that people know what can be accomplished virtually, they will expect that giving up their time and productivity to travel will accomplish other things. And you had better deliver on those expectations!

If your values are more around sharing information, training, or updates, then a virtual event is probably the most efficient and effective way to make this happen. And by leveraging breakout rooms, chats, and polls, and integrating icebreakers and activities, virtual events can still be fun and interactive. It just takes time and planning on your end.

When you’re planning your next event, you have more options than ever. Be clear on your values, weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of virtual vs. in-person, and remember that hybrid is the wrong answer!

Tim Arnold

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