Hybrid Events

The tasks of a facilitator are mostly very rewarding but also at times challenging to say the least. Now, when companies are shifting from remote work to hybrid model, the hybrid events and new kinds of challenges are here.

Facilitating Hybrid Events

To many it seems that at the moment setting up the events and preparing for them takes twice as much time. This comes as no surprise, since in hybrid events there are actually two different events or workshops happening at the same time. Unfortunately, this can be stressful for both the facilitator and participants.

According to our latest discussions with professional facilitators, many of them feel that to have the hybrid event run smoothly it actually needs two separate facilitators: one for the online participants and one for the ones that are on venue.

One of the key points that arise in discussions with facilitators (and organizations that use them in their events) is to evaluate what kind of added value a hybrid model in events is actually bringing. Some even say that it’s best to have the entire event as a remote one: this way every participant is equal. A remote event is also much easier to handle

What Is A Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event is simply a combination of different ways to participate. In hybrid events the participants and the speakers are partly present on location and others remotely. In other words, hybrid events are combining in-person and virtual event experiences. This means that there’s basically two events in one – or at least two different kinds of experiences for the participants. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

Hybrid events can be live ones or recordings. The way you want to organize the event depends on your goals for it. To make the hybrid event a success, you need to find a way for the physical component to integrate well with your online audience. Each participant should hear the speakers well and participate in all activities as planned. (Chapa 2021)

Hybrid events plan

One thing to keep in mind is that a live stream does not yet make an event a hybrid event. When we are talking about real hybrid events they need to include the best parts of both worlds. These events are expected to create an interactive and engaging experience from all locations. (Chapa 2021)

Benefits of Hybrid Events

  • You can grow your audience with offering a chance to participate also virtually
  • You can reach the attendance numbers you are hoping for
  • Your sponsorship value also increases
  • Offers flexibility
  • Reduces costs

Three Examples Of Hybrid Events

Hybrid events can be formed in three parts that are as follows:

  1. Speaker(s) and part of the participants are present and part of them are present remotely.
  2. Speaker(s) are present and all participants are participating remotely.
  3. Speaker(s) and a part of participants are present and some of the participants are joining from remote offices together. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

In our experience the majority of all hybrid events are the ones where speaker or speakers and part of the participants are present at the venue and part of them present online.

Different Roles In Hybrid Events

Hybrid events require more planning than you might think. In many cases they also need more people than just one person trying to conduct the entire show.

If you really want your hybrid event to succeed, you should think about setting up people for each of these positions:

  • The facilitator / host
  • An expert / presenter
  • Technical support
  • Moderator for the chat
  • Note taker
  • Graphic facilitators

It’s understandable that not all have the possibility to have all of those positions filled. The most important parts that should, however, be always covered, are the facilitator and someone taking care of the technical matters. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

Hybrid events must always have at least someone leading it. This does not automatically mean a facilitator, but it can also be a speaker or the organizator. For the hybrid event to run as smoothly as possible it is essential to have a separate person in charge of the technical things – especially during the event. This person can also be in charge of moderating the chat, if you don’t have anyone in particular assigned to that. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

Note! Participants are of course an important part of the event. They should be informed about all the possible aspects of the event well before it. One thing to note is that participants are responsible for themselves, too. This means that they should get to know the event beforehand and to make sure that they know all the technical requirements to attend it.

In our experience the more roles you have covered during a hybrid event the more pleasant it is for the attendees. Having attended various hybrid events over the past few years it’s also good to point out that no matter what you as an organizer do, there will always be those attending that have not read your or listened to your instructions. These people are not your responsibility or your fault, and all other participants do understand that.

How To Facilitate a Successful Hybrid Event

  1. Double plan
  2. Set up a clear schedule
  3. “Over-instruct”

To facilitate a successful hybrid event there are certain steps you should take. First of all, make the goal of the event as clear as possible. Once it’s done, double plan. This means that you really need to plan two events simultaneously. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

The next step is to make sure that there are no technical issues. The only way to do this is to test the software and gadgets that you are using. Make sure to test the speed of your internet connection, too. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021) Participants usually understand that sometimes there are issues with software and internet connections but if the entire event starts with problems, it sets a certain, not-wanted tune for the rest of the event.

Remember that it is always better to “over-instruct” the attendees, not only before but during and after the hybrid event. And last but not least, to be prepared to react. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021) From a participant-point-of-view it’s better that everything is explained in detail. This makes the participants feel safe and calm, even without that much prior experience in attending hybrid events.

For you to deliver a successful hybrid event, you must also have a deeper understanding of different profiles and roles. This means that you should consider the participants’ objectives for participating in your events and what kind of content they would most likely like to see and experience. One key factor here is also choosing the right type of digital environment and a venue. (Fletcher 2021)

Sometimes facilitators are sending questionnaires before the actual event to find out about these. In our opinion that can make the participants feel like they need to come up with the content of the hybrid event, which is not always the best feeling.

Something to think about is also that in a hybrid event environment most participants are usually there online. It is still important that all the speakers are actually speaking to both audiences, not just the ones there in the venue or online. (Fletcher 2021) This might be clear for you already but in reality, in many hybrid events that we have participated in, the other audience has been forgotten or at least not taken into consideration that well.

  • Make sure that the agenda is well balanced.
  • Have host-speakers
  • Make sure that the in-person audience and online audience can connect easily.
  • The better you are prepared the better chances you have to succeed

Basically, when you are planning a hybrid business event, it means that you need to plan two events at the same time. If you think this is too much work, you shouldn’t try to organize a hybrid event in the first place. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

If that’s really the case, we recommend that you plan a virtual event only, or an on location event only. You can also test the hybrid event with a smaller audience first and see how it feels.

Before the Hybrid Event

It’s not only what happens during the event that requires two different ways to plan and instruct it. You need to inform the participants twice: one set of instructions for the ones that are arriving at the location and one set for the ones that are participating remotely. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

Hybrid event planning

Instructions For The Remote Participant

Let the participants know when and how they can access the event. Also inform them about all the additional technical requirements or recommendations for instance for the best browser. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021) The browser point is surprisingly important – not all understand what types of affects it has.

You can also recommend a headset microphone etc. If someone wants to test the platform before the event, tell them how this can be done. Also share the contact information of the technical support, if you happen to have one. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

Instructions For The Ones At Location

Let the participants know where to arrive (the address, parking lots etc). You can also add a link to a map. Also, if the event requires laptops or other tools and gadgets, ask them to bring them. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

As said before, there can always be those participants that have not read your instructions. This can be disappointing and stressful, but you are probably already used to that. Remember also, that on most events someone is always late. Tips on how to deal with that – read more here!

During The Hybrid Event

If there are a lot of technical newbies participating remotely, it’s best to use the first fifteen minutes or so to be reserved for them to test the software. Introduce the participants to all tools used in the event. Instruct people with microphones also. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

For people that are used to participating in hybrid events and are familiar with various digital facilitation tools, these instructional parts are usually easy and sometimes tiresome to follow. Could you come up with something that would make the beginning of the instructional part slightly different from the usual ways of doing it?

If you are going to record the event, tell the participants about that. Instruct them on how to make their voices heard during the event. You can also share information about the breaks, rules etc. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

From a participators’ point of view it’s very important to hear why and when the event is recorded. This is important especially when the participant has little or no prior experience in attending remote or hybrid events. If the reason for recording the event is not presented, it might cause uneasiness in the participant. So the better everyone really is informed the safer they feel and the more likely they are also active participants during the entire event.

After the Event

It’s important that after the hybrid event you as a facilitator/organizer have a short feedback discussion. Here you can all go through the event: what went well, what should be improved for the next time and how you go forward. (Lakkaneva & Tirronen 2021)

In our experience it’s also nice to have a feedback questionnaire as a participant. Of course not everyone likes to give feedback, no matter if it’s a short questionnaire or a larger poll. But as long as the feedback asked is voluntary, it’s better to send out those for all participants and preferably right after the hybrid event is over. You can also ask about the tools for remote work that you used in the event: this way you’ll know if some remote project management tools need to be replaced.


Chapa, K. 2021. How to Host a Hybrid Event: A Hybrid Event Checklist. Delta Marketing. Accessed 7 December 2021. https://www.godelta.com/blog/how-to-host-a-hybrid-event

Fletcher, M. 2021. Four Pillars for Planning Virtual and Hybrid Events. Cvent. Accessed 7 December 2021. https://www.cvent.com/uk/blog/events/four-pillars-planning-virtual-and-hybrid-events.

Lakkaneva, T., Tirronen, U. 2021. Hybridiopas Käytännön vinkit hybriditilaisuuden järjestämiseen ja fasilitointiin. Bluescreen404. Accessed 7 December 2021. https://f.hubspotusercontent10.net/hubfs/5844313/Hybridiopas.pdf.

Being a facilitator is rewarding but challenging. Now when organizing and facilitating hybrid events is becoming the new normal, we are interested to learn more about facilitators’ experiences about the challenges they are facing. If you are a facilitator and would like to share your thoughts, drop as a note at contact@digitalcollaborationtool.com!