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What is a Hybrid Event - A Technical Perspective

For corporates, businesses, government organizations, or educational institutions, events are the most crucial and important part of day-to-day activities. For internal or external communications purposes, hosting events bring so much value to the stakeholders whether they are physical, virtual, or hybrid events.

What is a Hybrid Event?

Now, most of the events are virtual, and if you are combing a physical event with virtual components as in virtual speakers or audience, it is simply a hybrid event. Let’s explore more on the technical perspective towards the hybrid events.

Physical, In-person Events

Before we talk about Hybrid Events, let’s recall how events used to be in the past especially before Covid-19.  Marketing Events, Corporate Events, Educational Conferences, Medical Symposium, Product Launch, Science Fair, the list goes on and they all want as many people as possible to show up at their events. It was a great opportunity to invite a renowned speaker from abroad to give a speech at the event which is now one of the most difficult tasks to do.

Engage the audience with activities such as Live Q&A sessions, Networking sessions, Live Polling or Live Quiz sessions, and so on. The audience would use a microphone or sometimes they are provided with pen and paper to write the question and pass it to the organizer. Event organizers would use physical voting pads for live polling sessions.

Virtual Events

A virtual event is when all the speakers, presenters, moderators, EMCEEs, and also the audience are virtual, connecting from their homes or offices through their own devices. Usually, these events are generally called webinars, webcasts, Live Streams, Virtual Meetings, etc. Applications such as Zoom, Webex, Bluejeans are excellent for both virtual and hybrid events. Check out our event technology services to know more about our expertise in this area.

There are hundreds of software or applications for such virtual event or meeting purposes and most of them come with all sorts of interactivities and engagement features

The audience is able to simply type in the question that they want to ask, or chat with other attendees. Live Polling is also as simple as clicking or pressing a few buttons on the screen. 

Hybrid Events

So it seems like virtual events are all you need for your events and why would we still host a hybrid event? There are unlimited reasons to do a hybrid event such as

  • To have a professional Audiovisual Setup
  • Minimize a physical event’s in-person attendees
  • Maximize virtual attendees of a physical event
  • Invite Speakers from Abroad 

So as you can see, while virtual events seem to solve quite a lot of problems, the need for hybrid events is also crucial for various reasons. Similarly, hybrid events also need virtual meeting tools together with a nicely arranged on-site audio-visual equipment setup.

Let’s go through a setup of a hybrid event with an example.

A Corporate Townhall as a Hybrid Event

Let’s say you are hosting a corporate townhall event in Singapore with a few speakers such as the Country Director, Sales Director, HR Director, etc, and a minimal in-person audience. A large majority of the audience in Singapore or across other global offices will join the townhall through a virtual meeting platform. The global CEO will give a speech and a few other directors will join the live Q&A session as panelists together with the local in-person directors.

Therefore the parties involved are

  • The Local In-Person Directors (Speakers)
  • The Remote or Virtual Directors (Remote Speakers)
  • The Local Audience (In-person Attendees)
  • The Virtual Audience (Remote Attendees)

We will just need to plan for the correct and professional on-site audio-visuals and use the suitable video communication tool for this townhall.

Live Video Communication Platform or Tool for a Hybrid Event

A live video communication platform or tool with a suitable authentication feature is crucial as this is a corporate event and you don’t want any random person to tune into your townhall event. Keep in mind the requirement for the Live Q&A, Polling, or Survey mechanism so you can engage the attendees and measure how satisfied they are with the setup. It is also best if you can control or filter the incoming questions from the attendees before the directors or all other attendees see them.

The remote speakers should be able to connect to the platform without any issues. The key is to do tests and rehearsals to make sure there is no technical problem.

The platform should also be able to record the whole event as well as the attendance accurately so you know who showed up and digest the analytics after the event.

On-Site Audio-Visual Arrangements for a Hybrid Event

Once you have identified the video communication platform that meets your requirement, next you’ll need to arrange the on-site audio-visuals such as Cameras, Microphones, Speakers, Screens, and so on.

For hybrid events like this, a powerful and efficient graphic switcher is extremely important. You may need to carefully select what you show on the screens locally in Singapore, and for attendees joining via the internet.

Especially during the Q&A session, you will need to show the remote presenters on the screen together with the local directors for a fruitful Q&A discussion. Look out for all kinds of video and audio disturbance during these sessions and be ready to actively or pro-actively smooth out the arisen technical issues.

Similarly, also for the on-site arrangements, the key is to do the rehearsals at event location (function room, meeting room etc) and make sure there is no oversights.

Take a look at the visual illustration of a simplified hybrid event setup for the townhall we discussed above.

Hybrid Event Setup
Hybrid Event Setup for A Corporate Townhall

As shown, for a hybrid event setup, there is an on-site live video production team with Video Camera(s), Audio System (Speakers and Microphones), Vision Mixer and Switcher, Screen and Projectors, Monitors, cables, and accessories.

The remote presenters are shown on screen as required, and the remote presenters are able to see the on-site presenters and audience through the on-site video camera. (Multi-camera setup is best if a dedicated camera is needed to just show the audience’s front view)

The on-site presenters simply view the remote directors through the preview monitor that is usually placed near to the stage as shown in the illustration.

The main screen will show different objects based on the current agenda of the event such as on-site presenter’s presentation slides, remote presenter speech or slides, remote presenters only, live questions, live polling questions, etc.

The setup is actually overly simplified and yet the technical details of each component’s arrangement could be endless to describe here in this article.

To conclude, as we have discussed in this article, there are quite a number of critical points to keep in mind when you are organizing a hybrid event. You will not need to dive deep into the detailed setups if you are an event owner or organizer but it should be fun to explore the technical side of it.

Check out our live video production services and live video communication solutions to know more about the hybrid events and what are the available services around it.

Webinar Best Practices

There are many reasons that webinars are becoming more and more popular nowadays. Even before the Covid-19, marketers and comms professionals have been using webinars to reach the audience. Because of the current pandemic, the use of webinars became a necessity. Therefore, it is important to know how to plan one that is successful.

These are a few tips and best practices to get you started.

Choose a strategic Date, Time and Duration

Data suggests that people tend to participate in webinars held on a Wednesday or Thursday much more than the other days in a week. Moreover, the best time for a webinar falls between 11 AM to 6 PM as per the statistics. Obviously, there are other factors that you should consider based on the type of webinar that you are hosting and the audience that you are reaching out to.

Marketers and communication professionals agree that the optimum duration for a webinar is between 1 to 2 hours. This is for a typical event with 1 or 2 speakers. You will definitely want to have a longer duration for the larger events.

You should also plan at least 3 weeks ahead of your event. Some will plan months ahead for a 1-hour event to avoid any last minute rushes.

Set the format of the webinar

You need to consider the format of the webinar based on below technical setup.

  • Is it an onsite webinar where your speakers are located at a venue/studio?
  • Is it a virtual webinar where your speakers will connect from their offices or homes?
  • Is it a hybrid webinar where you have an onsite team and speakers as well as virtual presenters?

Based on the above, you need to decide if you are opening the Q&A session, to let the virtual audience see each other’s presence or not, whether to publish the questions for everyone to see, who to screen the incoming questions before reaching the speakers and so on. At the same time set the programme rundown and share it with all the stakeholders.

This way, you’ll know what the actual event will be like and also the audience will have better understanding of what to expect from it.

Use the right webinar platform

There are literally hundreds of webinar or video conferencing platforms available today. It is important to know their strengths and weaknesses and utilize them according to your need.

Zoom

For instance, Zoom provides an excellent video conferencing platform that also has a webinar function. Although it is the same Zoom platform there are a few differences between Zoom Meeting and Zoom Webinar. Despite the obvious difference (meeting vs webinar), you need to choose the right one for your particular event as Zoom Meeting might still be more suitable for your event too.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is also a powerful tool to host webinars. As a matter of fact, there is a great chance that your organization is already using Microsoft Teams for internal communications. Microsoft Teams has a great feature called “Live Event” which is suitable for webinar purposes.

Webex

Another tool that is widely used is Webex from Cisco. Likewise, Webex also has a meeting application as well as a webinar application called Webex Event.

BlueJeans, Livestorm, Hopin, the list of platforms goes on and on. It is important that you know each of their advantages and disadvantages so you can choose the right platform for you.

Rehearsal and Practice

You should test, practice, and rehearse with the whole team at least once before the actual event. You should perform the following to ensure a smooth event experience.

  • Speaker Connectivity Test and Briefing: to ensure the virtual speaker’s connection is good enough, and his/her devices are functioning properly.
  • Moderator Connectivity Test and Briefing: to ensure the moderator knows the way around the platform as the moderator might be handling Q&A function etc.
  • Onsite Connection Test: for onsite or hybrid events, you should test the available internet bandwidth for both primary and secondary (backup) connections.
  • Do a mockup webinar with the audience: lastly, it is also beneficial to actually broadcast the webinar with some internal audience to check all the functions provided by the platform is working.

On the actual event day, request the speakers to connect at least 15 minutes in advance (virtual speaker) to go through final checks.

Finalize the webinar materials on time

Presentation slides, planned Q&A content, graphic designs & artworks, music and videos (if any), promo codes, QR codes, etc.., should be ready days before the actual event’s day. Speakers and other members should avoid making last-minute changes as well.

Materials being not ready and having many last-minute changes would affect negatively on the event.

Prepare for the post-webinar reports

Most likely, you would definitely like to have rich analytics of the event once it is finished. Depending on the platform, while some data and analytics are automatically recorded, some needs to be manually turned on. It is often easy to overlook such little details and end up missing crucial data. Therefore it is important to make a list of the data and analytics that you need and set up the platform accordingly.

There we have it!

Although there are so many things to consider while planning a webinar, we hope the above tips can help you organize one smoothly.

Connect Vision is a team of experts in virtual meeting and event platforms with years of experience. If you need professional support for your events, reach out to us for a free consultation and a quotation.

Webinar Vs Webcast

What’s the Difference between a webinar and a webcast?

People always wonder, what’s the difference between a webcast and a webinar. There are so many explanations based on the content or the technical point of view. We might need to give ourselves a break from overthinking things and just simply regard them as related terms. Are you more confused now? Let us further explain.

It’s clear that Webcast and Webinar terms came from “Broadcast” and “Seminar“. Broadcast is the practice of transmitting audio/video content through a medium that is available to a large audience. So the content of the broadcast can be anything such as a speech, conference or a seminar, a movie, you get the idea. A seminar is a discussion or a conference where a topic or topics are focused on with interested parties. Now, things have evolved and broadcasting is not only through cable TV anymore and so many things are broadcasted through the internet these days. So people call such broadcasts as “Webcast” as it is distributed on the web. Again, the content could be anything just like a traditional broadcast. If that’s a seminar that you are broadcasting through the internet, it will be a webinar.

There can be several interactive features for a webcast based on the type of meeting that you are hosting and the type of interactive engagement that you are looking for. Usual features are Q&A (Voice, or Text), Polling, Surveys, Quiz, Reactions, Lucky Draws and the list goes on.

If we think of a broadcast of a sports match over the internet, it’ll be only appropriate to call it a webcast rather than a webinar. It goes the same for an award ceremony, media briefing, news announcement, product launch, townhall and so on. On the other hand, if we are broadcasting a financial conference over the internet, it’ll be a webcast, and guess what, we could also call it a webinar, and we can expect interactivities such as Q&A, polling, etc.

Basically, webinars or webcasts are broadcasted over a live video communication platform on the internet. These platforms are generally known as “Webinar App” or “Webinar Software”, “Streaming App” or “Streaming Software” such as Zoom Video Webinar or Webex Events platforms. The platforms come together with live video delivery infrastructure and audience engagement tools such as Q&A, Chat, Polling, and so on.

So basically a webinar or live streaming platform provides 2 main things, live video delivery or distribution and interactivities or audience engagement tools.

Check out our Video Communication Solutions that provide ultra-low-latency video delivery together with excellent Audience Engagement Tools. Also, check out our webinar and webcast services.

In conclusion, Webinar and Webcast are just related terms instead of one opposing another since both broadcast content through the internet.