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Monique Johnson on the pros and cons of mixed events

What is a hybrid event and what are the pros and cons of using it at your next business summit? Join us for Small Business Trends: 15 episodes as Monique Johnson, founder of the Live Video Lab and MOVE Experience, answers these questions and offers some tips for making your next virtual event a success. Monique sat down with us before to discuss how virtual events can help build your business, and we’re excited to have her back on our show!

What is a hybrid event?

Shawn Hessinger: Let’s talk Mix events because you are not their supporter. Maybe you can talk about why people are doing this, trying to implement a good idea or a bad idea, depending on your resources.

Monique Johnson: If we’re strictly talking about virtual meetings or virtual events, Hybrid is trying to bring face-to-face combined with virtual. Hybrid did exist before, but before the pandemic, it was mostly a passive experience. In other words, it was more or less like, “Let’s stream it live” or, “Okay, we’ll get a virtual crowd.” But they didn’t really get the attention. Without audience participation, participants watching on the virtual side can enter chat content. And many don’t have chat rooms or moderators.

I don’t support hybrids because of four things:

    • During a pandemic, this is a passive experience. A lot of times today people think it’s still okay. But, that’s not going to work, people need to get involved. Since we’ve been inundated with Zoom, Zoho meetings, and all types of virtual platforms, people are used to being talked to, even if they’re tired of answering Zoom calls all day. So, if you’re going to do a hybrid experience, you can’t just do stuff anymore, we’re just going to put a camera in and let it go into the virtual platform and that’s it. You can’t do that, you need at least a chat moderator.
    • When you do a hybrid experience, you have two listeners. You have in-person and virtual people. So you have to figure out how to fully engage both audiences at the same time.
    • If you’re really going to mix things up, consider that just because you’re doing something in person doesn’t necessarily need to happen in virtual at the same time. Let’s say you’re going to have people do an actual exercise or something like that in person. Of course, in practice these people cannot participate. So, at that time, if you could appoint another co-host, or you could do an exercise when they were in person backstage, and then you virtually tune them to do something else or something like that.
    • Finally, depending on the type of activity you’re doing…let’s say you’re doing a registration activity Or a sales event, where you plan to sell something or offer an offer, a program, etc., what we’ve seen at least for the past year or so is that those who do it virtually have a much higher conversion rate than the in-person. So it’s one thing.

    • As you know, hybrids are much more complicated. But if you really want to serve your people and mix appropriately, intentionally, and strategically, these are just some of the initial things you need to consider, because otherwise, it will be a failure.

      So, decide, whether you want to do it virtually or in person. But combining the two is a challenge. As the host, you must involve both audience members.

      How to start your blending campaign

      Shawn Hessinger: So, I Decided to do a virtual event. How do I get started?

      Monique Johnson: For what we do at the Live Video Lab, we really focus on experience. When we say experience, we mean what do you want your attendees to feel? Whether or not they decide to work with you, you still want them to feel a certain way. You want to make sure they walk away with something. Make sure you ask them what they can walk away from when listing and brainstorming at any time of your event.

      So, me, the biggest or most important first step is to experience how they feel, will they see just using all five The senses, because frankly we’re dealing with a lot of virtual events and when you have an event, it’s all about energy management. We’re dealing with small boxes, and that’s one thing. I take up most of this little box you see on this camera frame. A lot of times people don’t even think about it. Because if I’m going to back off, it’s not as engaging. Or if I like, here it is different. So even something as simple as this can leverage the experience.

      Another thing is because of virtual events, we can spy on people’s environment. For example, you can see objects in my home office even though the camera is slightly lower. The photo behind me is by Bob Marley, and you’d be surprised how many times it’s the opening line of a conversation. People love Bob Marley!

      Which platform is best for virtual events?

      Shawn Hessinger: Let me ask a technical question. In terms of platforms, if you’re going to decide when to do a virtual event, how do you decide on the platform what technology to use to do the virtual event?

      Monique Johnson: There are many different types of virtual platforms, especially virtual events. Divide it into two categories, there are conference-type platforms, and then there are platforms that they say are strictly for virtual events. So they tried to mimic as much as possible what would happen in person in virtual reality.

      I mean buy a ticket, and check in. There are specific platforms. So, the second one I just mentioned, let’s get this out of the way quickly because frankly, I’m not a huge fan of them. Many times they are for enterprise-scale companies or conference types if you will. For me, it’s just glitter sprinkled on webinars. With them, there’s not as much interaction.

      Now let’s talk about virtual meeting type platforms. As such, virtual meeting-type platforms are not new. And then with the pandemic, people were like, “What Zoom is this? I’ve never seen that before!” These virtual meeting-type platforms, yes, allow for two-way streets. I’m talking about two-way streets – I can see you – and you can see me too.

      Now, of course, you can add different things. You can even bring some of the things they did at the enterprise level to a Zoom meeting type platform. You’ll be surprised how, as a host and host, you can see who you’re talking to. You can peek inside and people allow you to see where they are.

      If you have the right equipment, you can create your audience grids and you can still see them as if you were there. You can call my name. Hey Sean, “How are you!” People are like…wait…oh yeah, they can see me, right? ! Compared to other more enterprise grades where you don’t see them. To me, it’s just a big missing piece, just adding a layer of stuff that isn’t related or connected. Because we’re virtual, of course, face-to-face is important in connecting parts, physical parts, and energies. If you can’t see them, honestly, to me, what’s the point? Meaningless. So, take these things into consideration when choosing a specific platform.

      If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about virtual event ideas and tips, be sure to check out Small Biz Trend’s article: 40 Virtual Event Ideas.

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