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How to Add Interactivity to Hybrid Events

Sage Event Management Creative Producer Blue Melnick explains his approach to enhancing the viewing and engagement experience for in-person and remote audiences at different types of hybrid events in this clip from Streaming Media West Connect 2021.

Learn more about hybrid event streaming at Streaming Media East 2022.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Blue Melnick: When you're thinking about hybrid and what format to choose, it really dependent on the outcome that you're trying to achieve. If it's a product announcement, you don't need interactivity. Apple has proven this time and again over the course of the last 18 months. You don't need interactivity with an in-person audience in order to create a really cool product announcement experience.

But if you're doing education and you do need to interact with your audience, then you really need to put a lot of time and effort into it. We recently did a hybrid event and essentially ran two stages virtually simultaneously. All of the interaction with the audience when it came to do an exercise or turn to the person next to you and have that conversation. We've all been in rooms where the host or the speaker says something along those lines, all of that stuff was managed for the virtual audience on a separate stage (actually just backstage).

In this particular case, the virtual audience got a better experience than the in-person audience, because we put so much of an emphasis on it. They had a different MC. That person introduced the room and introduced the event and essentially cut to the main stage for content. But anytime it went to--in some cases--Q & A, but also that interactivity component, it came back to the backstage area. And then speakers, as they came off stage, were pulled into the virtual area where they could interact with the virtual audience.

So again, they actually, in many ways, had a better experience than the in-person audience. Now the in-person audience could go down to the bar and have a cocktail with each other and get to know each other, but there's a lot of different things that you can do with virtual at that point. There's a lot there.

We really ran two events simultaneously and--talk about adding an extra layer of complexity. Now we're running two stages in the same ballroom. Audio became really, really important as did video, and making sure that the backstage video didn't go to the front stage people. There's a lot to manage there--way more staff, way more complexity, and so on.

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