Hybrid sessions at conferences demonstrate how technology is re-shaping the meetings landscape. Live and remote attendees have access to the same sessions. Through virtual conference rooms, remote participants are able to interact with each other receive immediate answers to questions in special one-on-one or small group interaction with some of the speakers.
This week, I had the pleasure of delivering a virtual presentation called Building and Growing LinkedIn Groups to The Fresh Conference, which was a hybrid conference - the live part of which was taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. I delivered my presentation from Toronto, and was invited to stay on and attend the rest of the conference remotely.
Today I will share some tips that I picked up about smooth execution of virtual and hybrid meetings at Fresh:
Have more than one virtual platform.
Technical issues are inevitable when running hybrid meetings. The Fresh Conference had 2 platforms for virtual conference rooms, video access to live sessions through their website, and a monitored Twitter feed.
Create and monitor a Twitter hashtag.
Keep an eye on it for questions and feedback from the live audience and virtual participants. For The Fresh Conference it was #fresh13
- If your budget allows it, have 2 video cameras, one to provide the feed for the virtual conference rooms and the other to meet the needs of the live audience.
If your budget allows it, have a dedicated host for your remote conference rooms as well technical support.
Communication is key so the host can monitor the virtual meetings rooms and keep remote participants informed while technical support addresses any issues that crop up. The Fresh Conference had a Twitter handle & phone number for technical support and hosts monitored developments in the virtual conference rooms.
Do a technical rehearsal with each virtual speaker a few days before the conference.
I was surprised and delighted when Maarten Vanneste conducted the session personally.
Ask virtual speakers to check in 45 minutes before their presentation.
This will allow you to do a final check to ensure that they can be heard, their visuals can be seen and they can hear the audience.
- Make sure that only one person is speaking at a time or it gets confusing for the remote audience.
- Ask the live speakers to address the virtual audience and answer questions from them during the presentation.
- Invite live and virtual speakers to join the virtual conference room after their sessions to answer questions.
- Offer a few short breakout sessions for the remote participants.
Other online presentations included Changing Attitudes Towards Change and Innovation by Wendy Hand in Australia, Visualizing content digitally by Heidi Forbes Oste in Sweden, and You shape FRESH14 by Joanne Celens in Belgium.
Photo Credits: Adrian Segar