Advancements in technology and format changes sparked by the pandemic have changed the conference landscape. Today, hybrid events have emerged as the new standard, combining the best of both worlds by incorporating digital elements into in-person gatherings. This shift towards digital-forward in-person events marks a significant transition in the conference industry, offering enhanced scalability, customization, and budget-friendliness.

According to a report by Skift Meetings, the popularity of hybrid events has skyrocketed since the pandemic, with 70% of events now falling into this category. This trend empowers attendees to choose between in-person or online participation, eliminating the previous limitations associated with traditional conferences.

Hosting a successful hybrid event, however, presents its own set of challenges. It requires strategic planning and technical insight to ensure a seamless experience for all participants. To help you navigate this new conference landscape, here is a guide to hosting a successful hybrid conference.

What is a hybrid conference?

A hybrid conference is an event that accommodates both in-person and virtual attendees. However, it’s important to note that not all attendees need to have the same experience. Advanced tech customizes events for diverse audiences, with unique features for in-person and virtual participants, enhancing engagement.

For example, while onsite attendees engage in conversations over refreshments and enjoy keynote speaker highlights, the virtual audience can participate in interactive Q&A breakout sessions or networking forums through a dedicated hybrid event platform.

Embracing technology and collaboration

Virtual Video Conference Meeting Chat On Hybrid Laptop

Embracing new technology is crucial for hosting successful hybrid conferences. While approximately 70% of event organizers express concerns about technological know-how, it’s important to approach it as an opportunity for growth rather than an obstacle. With the right information, guidance, and collaboration, event organizers can set themselves up for success.

The rise of digital-forward in-person events

The concept of digital-forward in-person events has emerged as a dominant force in the conference industry. Now, any in-person event that incorporates digital elements can be considered a hybrid event. This new approach allows organizers to leverage the benefits of both in-person and virtual experiences, creating a more inclusive and engaging environment for attendees.

Why not host separate in-person and virtual conferences?

The decision of whether to host an event virtually, in person, or in a hybrid format depends on your needs.

For instance, a hands-on session may lend itself better to an in-person format. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include digital components like a mobile agenda or event app to offer a hybrid experience. Learn more about the benefits of hybrid events:

Increased reach

The scalability of hybrid conferences knows few bounds. For example, gaining access to your favorite keynote speaker requires only a stable internet connection. Events are no longer geographically bound, providing access to people from all corners of the globe.

Optimized sponsorship opportunities

Virtual events entice corporate sponsors with data tracking and interaction opportunities, fueling interest. Incorporating sponsorships into your event helps generate revenue, boost your ROI, and provide targeted marketing for your sponsors.

Modern event management systems offer sponsorship tools that can be optimized to enhance user experience while catering to the needs of sponsors.


Catering for large in-person groups quickly adds up when you consider insurance and liability expenses, plus the cost of food and beverages.
Scaling down in-person elements of hybrid events trims expenses on insurance, liability, rentals, food, and beverages. Freed resources can be allocated to the scalable virtual aspect, maximizing ROI potential.

Additionally, conference speakers can participate in the event remotely, rendering expenses such as flights, hotels, and other hosting costs unnecessary.

Creating an engaging hybrid experience

A successful hybrid conference requires a delicate balance of advanced technology, meticulous planning, and a proficient team. One of the main challenges is ensuring equal engagement for virtual attendees compared to in-person participants. Event planners must consider the virtual attendees’ experience while not neglecting the needs of those attending in person.

It is ultimately a balancing act, and leveraging event management technology to deliver a seamless experience, while relying on a competent team to operate it, is key to striking the right balance.

To create an engaging experience for virtual participants, tailor the event to their needs. Offer virtual conference rooms, online networking opportunities, and interactive engagement tools such as gamification. This ensures that remote attendees are active participants rather than passive observers.

Striking the right balance

To ensure a successful hybrid conference, it is crucial to strike the right balance between in-person and virtual participation. Event organizers should identify points in the event where concurrence between the two may not be possible and establish structures to compensate for the discrepancy.

To create an engaging experience for virtual participants, a successful hybrid conference tailors its approach to their needs, offering virtual conference rooms, online networking opportunities, and interactive engagement tools such as gamification. For example, during a panel discussion at a hybrid event focused on digital marketing, in-person attendees may have the opportunity for valuable breakout sessions to discuss the topics presented. This ensures that remote attendees are active participants rather than passive observers.

Hybrid conferences need to work for everyone

Hybrid business conference

In event planning, in-person and virtual elements usually align. But to make a hybrid conference inclusive, organizers should address points where alignment is not possible.

For example, imagine a hybrid event about digital marketing with a panel discussion on Google’s search algorithm updates. After the panel, there are breakout sessions for teams to explore how the updates apply to their work.

To engage online attendees and enable valuable discussions, organizers must provide virtual breakout sessions. By assigning virtual attendees to their own online rooms, they can discuss simultaneously with in-person participants, ensuring everyone benefits from the panel.

Balancing in-person and virtual participation ensures a conference that accommodates all attendees, no matter where they are.

Best practices for hosting a hybrid conference

While the specific best practices may vary depending on the nature of your event, audience, and desired outcomes, the following guidelines are essential for any successful hybrid conference.

Test the connection and equipment

During a keynote presentation, there are few things that event organizers dread more than seeing a comment in the chat saying, “I can’t hear them.” Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Whether it’s remote work, online church, or hybrid events, technical glitches have become an accepted part of the “new normal.” However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution: Test. Allocate sufficient time before the event to conduct tests on each area where technical glitches may occur. Here are a few AV elements to consider:

Microphone volume

To ensure all attendees, both in-person and online, can hear clearly, it’s essential to optimize microphone volume. Work with speakers to ensure their microphones are located in the correct spot and work properly.

Camera placement

Position the camera in a location where those viewing virtually can see the gestures, facial expressions, and body language of the speaker. Ensure the positioning of the camera is not too low nor too high.

Presentation resources

To ensure a smooth presentation, conduct run testing to verify that a keynote speaker’s PowerPoint is displayed simultaneously on both the big screen and the screens of virtual attendees and that it runs seamlessly with proper synchronization.

Ensure that the venue’s lighting is ideal for virtual viewers and that the audio production is tailored to each speaker. This refers to making modifications to the bass or treble settings in accordance with a speaker’s voice. For instance, if a speaker has a deeper voice, it’s recommended to make slight reductions to the audio-bass levels to enhance the clarity of their voice. Similarly, audio production settings need to be adjusted to reduce reverberation.

It’s necessary to have a capable team overseeing each aspect of audiovisual operations and putting contingency plans in place for unforeseen circumstances. Particularly in the unfortunate occurrence of virtual attendees experiencing sudden connectivity issues, it’s important to have protocols in place to promptly identify and resolve the problem to minimize further disruptions.

Utilizing innovative event management technology

Hosting a seamless, interactive event has never been easier than it is today. With advanced event management software, event organizers can enhance branding, personalization, and in turn, the attendee experience.

The use of event management technology streamlines the entire event process, from a user-friendly registration procedure to a seamlessly navigable virtual event platform, and culminates in data-driven post-event follow-up. It has become widely acknowledged that these technologies are producing a smooth, accessible event experience.

In addition to its other advantages, certain event management technologies can take on a significant portion of the audiovisual workload, potentially leading to reduced staffing and production expenses. By using features like video conference rooms, moderated Q&A sessions, and gamification, organizers can foster audience engagement and seamlessly integrate the event’s hybrid elements.

While adopting new technology can be challenging, Webex Events can simplify the process and help create a seamless and interactive hybrid event experience.