hybrid event - Person on-stage speaking in front of graphics at an event.

Presenting at a hybrid event? Read these tips.

What is a hybrid event?

The hybrid event is another way organizations have responded to life during a pandemic.

Some people are now comfortable traveling. Others aren’t. To reach the most people, many event planners offer the option to attend events live or virtually.

But hybrid events present new challenges for speakers. How do you engage your audience when some of them are live stream, and some of them are virtual?

To ensure success when you speak at a hybrid event, follow these 4 tips:

  • Make a Message Map to keep your presentation on track.
  • Vary where you look during your presentation.
  • Check-in with the audience during your hybrid event.
  • Take questions from both virtual and in-person audience members.

Make a message map

When you have both in-person and virtual audience members, it’s more important than ever to ensure your presentation is clear, concise, and delivers what’s in it for your audience.

Why? Because in-person audience members may be nervous about being in the same room with others, and virtual members get distracted easily by their surroundings.

If you don’t quickly get and hold their attention, you risk not getting your story heard.

To make sure your presentation meets the needs of your audience, create a Message Map, and use it as the basis for your presentation.

Vary where you look

Audience members want to feel the presenter is engaging with them one on one. That’s why great speakers always look directly at audience members.

Hybrid events can make looking your audience in the eye a challenge. Live speakers may forget to look into the camera enough. Virtual speakers may not know how to appear that they are looking at all of their audience members.

If you’re speaking live, arrive at the venue early so you can examine the room where you’ll be presenting.

Before presenting, find out where the camera is in relation to the stage and live audience. Conduct a dry run to make sure you can look frequently at both types of audiences.

If you’re speaking virtually, it’s best to have an external camera hooked up to your computer. Instead of looking straight into the camera during your entire presentation, occasionally glance left and right, so it appears you’re looking at different audience members.

Hybrid Event - Smiling audience members clapping.
Looking directly at various audience members can help your entire audience feel engaged at a hybrid event.

I find it difficult to engage with a camera for long periods of time, so I tape pictures of people I like on both sides of my camera. It helps me stay engaged and remember to look at my audience.

Check-in with your audience during a live event or hybrid event

When you can’t see all or part of your audience, it’s harder to know if they’re staying engaged with your presentation.

To better keep them engaged, create audience check-ins throughout your presentation that both types of audiences can answer, such as poll questions or quizzes.

Make sure it’s easy for both types of audiences to respond, and that you know which answers come from your live versus your virtual audience. If you’re getting more participation from one audience versus another, you may need to adjust to better engage them.

Try looking at the less engaged audience a little more, asking more questions, and varying your tone or pace.

Take questions from both types of audiences during a hybrid event

Before you agree to speak at hybrid meetings or events, ask the event planner if you’ll be able to take questions from both types of audiences. This ensures the virtual attendees don’t feel left out, which can give them a reason to engage less.

Also make sure your contact information, in addition to your key message, is on your last slide. Since virtual audiences can’t come up to you after your presentation at a hybrid event, they appreciate having a way to contact you as a thought leader with any follow-up questions or comments.

It can be challenging to keep attendees engaged when speaking at a hybrid event. Varying where you look, face to face, and creating check-ins during your presentation can help you keep both types of audiences engaged.

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