Leveraging tech for hybrid gatherings in the new normal
As the world slowly opens up and adapts to the new normal, hybrid gatherings are becoming the trend. Similar to hybrid learning, guests can choose between two options—being physically present in the venue or remotely connected through gadgets and tools. This brings everyone closer together while providing flexibility and convenience.
Why choose to go hybrid?
There are several factors why hybrid gatherings are preferred by most people, especially in the corporate setting. According to an article by Forbes, going hybrid allows companies to enjoy the perks of in-person and virtual events. It reduces the overall cost, provides an alternative solution for unstable travel and health restrictions, attracts more attendees, and upscales social gatherings by being more engaging to both types of audiences. This also applies to more intimate occasions such as reunions, Christmas and birthday parties, and weddings.
How to start?
To execute a successful hybrid event, you must know which platforms to use, which tools to operate, and who your audience is. This helps determine the channels where you stream the event and the software to access it. Knowing the attendees is also important to set the theme and other essential details of your planned event.
Tools and software that make hybrid events special
Streaming is the heart of every hybrid gathering. A stable Internet connection and equipment are a must to make the most out of it. Full high-definition web and DSLR cameras, beginner-friendly audio mixers, mobile lapel microphones, green screens, and portable lighting are good investments for DIY live streams. Live streaming is ideal for Christmas gatherings and casual get-togethers since interactions are real-time. On the other hand, businesses usually pre-record their product launches and award ceremonies for seamless post-production.
Because of online learning, a plethora of live-streaming software and applications are made available through a paid subscription or for free public consumption. For formal events, there are Microsft Teams and Zoom, which you can use for broadcasting live holiday parties, corporate events, press conferences, and gatherings. Its premium subscription allows more audience and encrypted live conferences that are more secure.
Should you want to catch up with your loved ones, you should access Discord. Apart from lesser data bandwidth and free download for its mobile and desktop versions, it is good for live movie streaming, audio calls, and online gaming. The only caveat is that video streaming in voice channels is limited to 50 users.
An all-in-one software eliminates the hassle of live production and post-production of online special events. Vimeo Studio 6, a subscription live streaming service, doesn’t miss all the moments. It color-corrects videos, mixes sound on the fly, and provides a multi-camera setup for users that’s very convenient for live stream events. You can then host live videos directly from Vimeo and customize the room access for security. Streamlabs, on the other hand, is for beginners who value a user-friendly interface. It is more customizable, offers multistream to more social media platforms, and claims to stream with little to no delay. Most importantly, it is free!
When partnered with live streaming software, interactive tools such as Kahoot, AhaSlides, Brightful, and Slido offers a more exciting hybrid party icebreaker. These game-based learning tools have unique animations that attract more feedback for a topic or question from your online and face-to-face audience.
During the pandemic, the spotlight was also on online multiplayer mobile and video games for smaller groups. The former is more popular due to its accessibility, while bigger groups prefer the latter. Like the quiz apps previously mentioned, multiplayer games motivate camaraderie to accomplish missions and tasks for the audience. It allows them to take the shoes of the in-game characters and connects people even if they are apart. All you need is a stable wi-fi connection and a laptop with decent specifications for casual gaming or a mobile smartphone with at least 256GB of memory for larger storage capacity. Notable multiplayer PC games are The Jackbox Party Pack franchise, Dead by Daylight, Don’t Start franchise, and Prop and Seek.
Hybrid events in a nutshell
The new normal pushed us beyond our boundaries, making people wiser and tech more innovative through the years. This only shows that globally, society continues to adapt and improve to meet complex needs. However, one must consider the schedule and timezone before mounting a hybrid event. It is also essential to recognize the presence of breakout sessions for the remote audience, the right environment of venue, sensitivity to communication approach for virtual and in-person guests, the type of content to produce for a particular platform, and the kind of program flow that works best for the target market. When not realized, these factors can either make or break the hybrid gathering you are planning.
Words by Jewel Sta. Ana
Also published in Gadgets Magazine November-December 2022 Issue