4 Benefits of Hybrid Conferencing for Corporate Events
A hybrid conference combines the benefits of a live audience at a live event, with the power of the internet and remotely accessed content and collaboration.
Hybrid as it can be delivered now is likely to be a glimpse of the future of conferences.
Managers attend a national conference. They are usually fairly passive - they watch and listen to presentations, maybe visit breakout groups and get to vote on something - and there might be a Q&A. All tried and tested and successful if delivered well. But very passive. These are
1 - Pre-event - Community
Involve the audience in the content, provide them with the mean to communicate with each other around the conference topics. Allow them to contribute to menu selection, to discussion topics, to vote and decide on some aspects of the conference - ahead of the conference. Encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas with each other - share best practice about their jobs. The conference is just a catalyst, but the existing comms channels often become stale or underused - a dedicated conference community adds to the success of the conference through engagement with the audience, but also has secondary benefits in the wider business.
2 - Missed the Event
There are always delegates who can't make it. Some because of holidays or illness but many for simple things - they don't like to travel, they can't get a 'pass' from home, they have childcare problems or there is no business cover for them. These delegates still need to be engaged and informed and if they miss the conference they become barren and lost until the next event or meeting. Streaming video of the conference over the web has been possible for a long time but because of the limitations of local internet speeds it has been rarely taken up.
With faster broadband everywhere and new technology in the way we process cameras at an event, streaming the conference live to a remote audience has never been better. Add to that the ability to continue the 'conversation' from the community through the forums or social networking tools such as Twitter, means that the remote delegate can feel involved and take part in the event from afar.
3 - A Second Audience
With Live video streaming so accessible, the possibility of adding additional audiences is very real. For example, in an ideal world you would invite the Deputy Manager to the conference so that there was an additional person to enthuse about the conference messages - or you might like key head office people to see the conference but don't want to provide the additional facilities and budget needed for that many attendees.
By opening an event TV channel for remote viewers to log in to, we can switch between live presentations from the live video feed, Presentation slides, pre-recorded video inserts or messages and a live host who could talk directly to the remote audience while other activities are going on at the conference - so effectively you end up with a second conference tailored to the remote audience via a live TV channel. It's not expensive to deliver.
4 - Outside-in
The final consideration with our remote audience and conference community is using social networking, like Twitter and Facebook, as well as on-site tools like SpotMe, to involve everyone at the conference and remotely viewing the conference, to talk, share, engage and collaborate. This could be through dedicated discussion sessions or through 'back channel' style Twitter feeds displayed at the venue and simultaneously on the Live feed.
These are just some of the applications of Hybrid conferencing for corporate events, without doubt the adoption of some or all of these new techniques will bring a totally new dimension to conferencing.