After seeing all the benefits of virtual meetings in 2020, hybrid meetings are the future of in-person meetings. But how do we engage with both in-person and virtual attendees at the same time without one group feeling neglected?
According to Markletic Event Research, “71.1% of event organizers say that connecting the in-person and virtual audience is their biggest challenge” (2021). Even though attendee engagement is one of the biggest challenges, it is also one of the biggest determining factors of a successful meeting.
Higher engagement leads to greater satisfaction, which will build trust with your attendees. Then, attendees will be more likely to attend your future meetings and events. This is why we’re providing you 5 tips and tools to help you and your business engage both in-person and virtual attendees at your future hybrid meetings.
5 Tips and Tools to Engage Both In-Person and Virtual Attendees at Hybrid Meetings
1. Swag Bag vs. Swag Box
Having Swag Bags for in-person attendees and sending Swag Boxes to virtual attendees helps all connect and engage with sponsors and exhibitors throughout your hybrid meeting! In-person attendees can walk to each booth and gather the items that your sponsors and exhibitors want to give, while for virtual attendees you can place the same items in a branded box to send. Items can include something happening during the event that they will need or just a fun item for attending. Whether the attendee is In-person or virtual, attendees like to have something tangible to take away from your hybrid meeting, and this way both will have the benefit of receiving swag.
2. Make the Presentation Conversational
Polling, Chatting, and having a Q & A segment are all ways to engage in-person and virtual attendees throughout your hybrid meeting. It gives your attendees the chance to provide their thoughts about a topic and contribute to the conversation. When proposing a topic or question, be sure to encourage the ones attending virtually to use the chat feature on their virtual platform. Then, be sure to answer both in-person and virtual attendees on what they had to say about your proposed topic or question. This makes sure no one feels neglected and keeps everyone engaged.
3. Networking Opportunities
One thing that attendees missed with virtual meetings was the opportunity to connect and network with other attendees. With hybrid meetings, in-person attendees automatically have the opportunity to network once again. For the ones who choose to attend virtually, networking can be more of a challenge, but it is not impossible. You just have to think outside the box! Here are a few ideas to get your in-person and your virtual attendees networking:
Gamification – The incorporation of game-style incentives to your meeting. This may include earning points, competing with others, rules to play, and prizes. This strategy creates an environment to inspire attendees (in-person or virtual) to collaborate, share, and interact in a fun way.
Hashtags – Creating a specific hashtag for your meeting can boost attendee engagement on social media platforms. Attendees can like, follow, and share each other’s posts regarding your meeting. This strategy can be used pre-event, during the live event, and post-event.
Networking Function – Some networking function ideas are e-business cards, mobile app, categorizing attendees to help find similar-minded people, etc.
4. Emcee / Moderators
An emcee or moderator can help bridge the gap between attendees that are in-person with the ones attending virtually. Having an emcee/moderator can make your meeting go smoothly and encourage audience engagement. A good emcee has good energy, always addresses the audience, and is prepared for anything to happen.
5. Planned Activities and Sessions
Having planned activities and sessions that are fun for the attendees at your hybrid meeting can help connect everyone and keep them engaged. We have provided a list of the 7 Best Activities to Have at Your Next Virtual Meeting in one of our blog posts that we encourage you to check out. This list could apply to your hybrid meeting as well.
Engaging both in-person and virtual attendees during your hybrid meeting may be challenging, but it is not impossible. Hybrid meetings will continue to become more popular as there are many benefits of in-person and virtual meetings. Check out our latest blog post about The Future of In-Person Meetings: Going Hybrid to learn more about all the benefits and why you should consider it as an option for your upcoming meetings.