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How to Produce Successful Hybrid Events

What are the best practices for delivering effective hybrid and virtual events using streaming technology? Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Chair, Streaming Media Conferences, and CMO, id3as, talks with Andy Beach, CTO, Media & Entertainment, Worldwide, Microsoft, and Corey Behnke, Producer & Co-Founder, LiveX, about their methods for delivering impactful hybrid events.

Beach notes that there are two key pieces that Microsoft has developed over time to ensure a streamlined hybrid event. The first major aspect is working to include remote participants fully and continuously throughout the event. “So making sure that folks in the room [are] continually…looking for questions in chats or calling that out,” Beach says. “Making sure there's a proctor that can act as a voice for that remote audience that's in the room.”

Microsoft has also begun incorporating what they have developed with interactive gaming technology into hybrid events. “Online gameplay is really just about community building,” Beach says. “It's often in multiple locations, sometimes in a hybrid environment, so bringing in technologies that help users stay connected to events remotely through that lens has been an interesting area. And we're looking at adapting more of that as we move forward in next-gen engagement for viewing, whether in person or remote.”

Corey Behnke emphasizes that the number one element for a good hybrid event is an experienced audio engineer. “Almost every event that I've ever had that came close to failing was because an audio engineer didn't understand the concept of mix-minus,” he says. “When an audio engineer first does comms for the first time or does a clear com, or four-wire to two-wire or two wire to anything else, and they go, well, what's mixed? Minus, what's null? And you're like, okay, a telephone, and you just start getting into this whole conversation about technology. That's probably the number one thing.”

Behnke says that the second most important aspect is ensuring that a remote participant feels attention is being properly paid to them, especially if they are a speaker. “So much of what happened -- especially in the last two years -- for people that were just getting into it, they didn't realize that [they] need to give that person a really good experience because they are alone, right?” he says. “And there is this loneliness that comes from it. “It's little things, right? It's communicating with them effectively. It's things that, maybe people here are going to laugh at, but…how you do your tech checks, the vibe you have your tech check, those things all contribute to your experience going really well.”

“I totally agree,” Beach says. “Even back to my editing days, 90% of video is audio. Audio drives video. Even when we have conferences like this where you're going to have people in an audience asking questions – making sure that nobody's speaking that's not on camera so that the [remote] people aren't getting lost in where the conversation's coming from, what the context for a piece is. And yes, to your point, the audio is continually the hard part…if it fails, it doesn't matter. Like, you've lost.”

Learn more about producing successful hybrid events at Streaming Media East 2023.

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