Skip to main content

Hypothesis: Hybrid Events Are Currently No Good

Hypothesis: Hybrid events, those run both in real life (IRL) AND online, have not met the needs of both audiences successfully.

We've all attended fully online conferences especially in the year 2020 and very likely there's more in our future. With the COVID catalyst accelerating the use of online for many organisations and the subsequent remote working* the technical hurdles for attending an online event have been lowered considerably.

For many countries online only events are still the only option. However here in Aotearoa New Zealand, alongside a handful of others, we are in the well earned position of being able to hold events in real life, like the olden days.

Fully online events are now starting to find their feet, they are becoming more human centred and less "sage on(line) stage", recognising that events are about people connecting to other people as well as to information. My favourite online conference this year was the Virtual Impact Unconference. The team focused heavily on the How and Why they're were running the event over and above the content, a facet of all unconferences/barcamps.

My favourite IRL event was the All Blacks v Australia rugby game at the Sky Stadium here in Wellington. Why? Because the people were all in one place and we experienced what "live" truly means. Of course there has always been a much large 'online' audience for sporting events going back to huddling around the radio in the wee hours.

Now we come to hybrid events, and tbh I have NOT experienced a successful one. We always feel like that one side, mostly the online audience, is getting a second hand event experience. If one focuses down on just the content then some have come close, they have connected the speaker/information to both audiences, some interaction between those in the room and those online happens, however no-one can say this replicates the feeling of "actually being there".

No-one is fully satisfied with their experience. I'm not referring to the content or the quality of the speakers, that's for event organisers to manage but I am referring to the framework we currently working within. There seems to be no example of a satisfactory experience for both audiences. And that's the key, BOTH audiences.

Is my hypothesis correct, do you examples of hybrid events that have truly delivered the feeling you got from the best of IRL conference you ever attended? If so, how? If not, what was the number one missing element?

Of course, I have a potential framework, but let's see if I'm even close before I start down that track - is there a real pain to be resolved?

* "working from home" is a phrase that will fade from use as more realise it's not about use of the home as the place for work. Even "remote working" is a misnomer, remote from where?