Thursday, 13 June 2013

3 Tips - Planning Your Online Programme

You have decided to hold your hybrid event and are now busy working on your programme designs. Yes no longer can you develop a programme for your face to face delegates and promote the same for your online delegates.

Now you have a second programme (unless your hybrid event is on a tiny timescale) to develop which is for your online delegates.

A face to face audience at a conference has made a decision to be there and be totally immersed in the event experience. Apart from checking in with their work and family on occasion they have no other distractions.

Your online delegates have also made a decision to be immersed in your event but they have many more distractions whether they are taking part from their office or their home.

In my experience, the online delegates require their own programme which of course can be worked around the face to face programme but the planning needs to be carefully considered.

3 Key Considerations 

When will your online audience be able to devote the biggest part of their time to your programme?

This question will ensure that you understand where the majority of your online delegates will be joining from.

You could argue that as your event is global it’s difficult to know but as with all events you will have a target audience that you are catering for so be sure to look after them as your primary consideration.

Are you giving your online delegates enough time for eating, drinking, comfort breaks and time to reflect on sessions?

Some online programmes can become even busier than the face to face programme as there can be a desire by some event planners to add in studio interviews following presentations from speakers.

There is nothing wrong with this of course but please ensure that you have allowed your online delegates enough time for them to be comfortable throughout the programme in the same way that you will have considered the needs of your face to face delegates.

How does the online delegate interact with the programme?

How do they send in their comments or questions? Have you ‘walked them through’ all the things they need to know to be able to make the most of the event?

The easier you make it for your online delegates to become involved the better results you will have.

Related Posts and Resources 

Hybrid Event Centre 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Choose Your Words with Care it’s a Hybrid Event

What’s in a name? Really why do some words strike fear in the heart of many before anything else is said?

Let’s take insurance as an example. Mention the word insurance and in my experience many people will run for the hills. It either sounds complicated, boring or too much trouble. Again this is my experience but believe me I have spoken to a number of people over the years and I am yet to have an ‘insurance – brilliant’ reaction.

Mention the word creative or inspiring and I believe we have a different set of emotions being triggered. Again in my experience, I have known people become excited by these words.

So if the power of words has such an impact are we in the events industry in danger of putting the wrong words in front of our clients/audience members etc when we describe our hybrid events? Does the expression ‘hybrid event’ mean pain or pleasure for people hearing the term?

For people inside the ‘events industry’ the term ‘hybrid event’ may be completely common and known to all. But outside of the ‘events industry’ does it have a meaning which really demonstrates what a hybrid event can help achieve for a business?  Could the term actually be preventing event planners from obtaining more work from clients?

Even in the ‘events industry’ there are differences between event professionals as to what a ‘hybrid event’ is and we could spend a huge amount of time debating the definition (for someone to come along later and change it all again anyway).

But I think as long as you (the event planner) are clear on what your ‘hybrid’ event will deliver to your  particular client and the subsequent business benefits that will result then that is effort better spent than spending lots of time and energy arguing about the actual definition.

At the moment, my experience is that many people are still cautious when it comes to hybrid events so we all have some work to do to ensure that the term ‘hybrid events’ sets the excitement racing in the heart of our clients, as they immediately are able to see the business benefits that will follow.

Related Posts and Resources 

Hybrid Event Centre 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Scheduling Your Hybrid Event Success

The timing and scheduling of your event is always an important consideration when planning any event but producing a hybrid event makes those considerations even more crucial to your success.

If one of your objectives of your hybrid event is to connect people in different locations in the same country then the timing and scheduling choices may not be too much of an issue. Having said that, with countries that are vast in size e.g. the USA/Russia then there are still factors you will need to address.

Let’s take as our example, the USA where there are different time zones and where people on the East Coast (New York) will be awake and working, hours before the folks in Los Angeles (West Coast) are even thinking of having breakfast.  Deciding where to schedule your speakers to provide the best experience for your audiences provides your first set of decisions in your programme planning.

And if your hybrid event is going to cover different countries across various parts of the globe then the issue of programme planning has just become that much more complex.

Yes, it is more complex but ultimately you will make your decision(s) according to the objectives of the event. In the end, every decision you make as an event planner always returns the basic question of the event objectives.

Understanding who your audiences (onsite and online) are and where they will be in the world to listen and participate will start to lead you to making those decisions on the scheduling of your programme.

If your hybrid event is being driven from the UK to a largely European audience then the time challenge is really not that big an issue as contrasted to perhaps having an event from Australia involving remote speakers and audience from the UK (as usually there is a 12 hour difference between these two areas). You can of course with some careful planning produce a very successful hybrid event between the UK and Australia if that is your goal.

Scheduling will always remain a crucial factor in the success of your hybrid event and keeping to time is more important than ever especially as you have two audiences to consider.

Related Posts and Resources

Hybrid Event Centre 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Priority Choices and Attendee Connectivity

In a previous post – (Lack of Connectivity means fail) I put forward the argument that event planners have to consider whether their delegates will be able to be connected to their various devices whilst at the event? Many event planners will confirm that they have arranged sufficient bandwidth to allow their delegates to be connected but I wonder if that goes far enough?

Mike Clanton of My Meeting Professional is a man on a mission regarding what he terms ‘network design’ at events. Having worked with Mike on a number of occasions I know that he has a great message. Simply put, having enough bandwidth at your event for your ‘attendee’s connectivity’ is not enough.  Event planners should now be considering how their network is designed to make the most of the bandwidth at their disposal.

Let’s start by exploring the idea of the network design with a simple thought of who is to be served first? Yes, you (the event planner) have arranged the bandwidth that will take account of all your attendees and their devices and that is a great start but how will you determine who is more important to be connected?

You could say that everyone is important and of course they are but I think you have to make priority choices.

For example, if you have the press at your event, and VIPs, a set of key speakers and major contributing sponsors, do you put them in the same category as everyone else when it comes to accessing the bandwidth? Well you could but it could lead to issues for you. For example, if a press reporter wasn’t able to make a connection (because other attendees were using the bandwidth) to send their report out on line swiftly and easily that could be a problem. This is where the issue of ‘network design’ comes in as it enables you to arrange your attendee connectivity in whatever priority order of attendees you like to suit your event.

As the event planner, it’s important that you have sufficient bandwidth for your ‘attendee/delegate connectivity’ and then your next consideration is who will you serve first? Begin making your priority choices to create your network design.

Related Posts and Resources 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Hybrid Event Centre 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Lack of Connectivity means Fail

For many delegates at events there is one issue above all that is now (and has been growing steadily for a while) of prime consideration and that is simply for a delegate to be connected to their device(s). It is expected, a ‘norm’ for many (regardless of how young or old they may be).

Look around an average conference room and you will doubtless see delegates bring at least a device if not more with them. For example, they could easily have a lap top and a smart phone. They arrive at the venue and will seek connection to the internet to take care of their emails and other business.

The office has become very portable and there are no signs of it stopping and the power that the portable devices need is on the increase so if anything you (the event planner) will require more bandwidth for delegate connectivity than before.

Discovering the wi fi is free at a venue can be a good thing but it’s not the whole answer. Some free wi fi is so slow that I have attended a two day conference and still my device hasn’t connected. Or maybe that was how it felt!  I think that the cry for free wif-fi misses the point at various levels.

Having free wi fi only goes so far. It doesn’t guarantee any of the things that I seek with my connection (and I don’t believe I am alone in my requirements). Namely; I want a reasonable speed to connect to the internet, I want the connection to be secure and I also want to know that the connection is stable. If the connection keeps falling in and out on a regular basis that becomes tiresome and there is only so much that I have in terms of patience before giving up on it completely.

I believe that lack of connectivity is a big issue and encourage you (the event planner) to make sure you include this key item in your event planning checklist.

Also, do not forget to factor in the need for additional charging points in the venue. You might have your delegates connected to the internet but if their device(s) runs out of power that could be a problem.

As the event planner, it’s important that you have sufficient bandwidth for your ‘delegate connectivity’ and that is your first consideration. In the next post we will have a look at making priority choices when it comes to your network design to establish how to make the most of your connectivity.

Related Posts and Resources 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Hybrid Event Centre

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Talking Hybrid Events with EIBTM

Hybrid events have been steadily gaining in importance in the events landscape over recent years and this is set to continue.

In talking to event planners, supplier and academics I have discovered one key message that comes time and again which is the confusion that arises when it comes to hybrid events. What are hybrid events? What can they do for us? Why should I care?

Love Them or Loathe Them
Some people love hybrid events whilst other people are more critical and of course everyone has their own view. In this one hour tweet chat hosted by EIBTM as part of their Online Education Week we will look at your questions on hybrid events.

In this tweet chat we will discuss hybrid events and see what they mean to you in terms of both the challenges and opportunities that they present.

International Conference in your Home Office
For the purpose of this tweet chat let’s imagine that our hybrid event is one where we connect people across different geographical locations for an experience in real time.One way I have of describing a hybrid event is “a conference bought to you (the online delegate) in the comfort of your own home/office” and I’ll use this as a means of starting our discussion and we can move on from there.

There are differences in how active or passive hybrid events can be and this is something that we will no doubt explore as we race through our hour. A tweet chat hour goes really quickly.

Join In
Come and join in the chat with me, Paul Cook on 23 April 2013 at 14.00 GMT +1. Just make sure you use the hashtag #EIBTM13 and let us have your questions. Your experiences will add to the discussion so please feel free to share with us.

I anticipate that the conversation will continue long after our hour so just keep using the hashtag #EIBTM13 and share our collective experiences and wisdom so that we can all benefit from understanding more on the exciting subject of hybrid events.

Related Posts and Resources

Hybrid Event Centre 

Hybrid Event Planning on Planet Planit 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Hybrid Event Tweet Chat with EIBTM

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in the Hybrid Event tweet chat as part of the EIBTM Online Education Week.

Here is the information that you need from EIBTM:

This education week is back by popular demand and is set to take place from 22 – 26 April 2013. It is your opportunity to access over 40 thought provoking discussions, blogs, webinars and presentations based around the key themes of Technology, Hybrid Events, Sustainability and Global Industry Research as well as other key professional education sessions from EIBTM 2012, all of which can be accessed at any time via

Key Sessions include:

• Making Digital Events Happen – your how to guide for virtual events with speakers

• Stories of Great Leadership in Times of Challenge and Change

• The Implications of Mobile on the Meetings Industry, Ewan MacLeod, Founder and Editor, Mobile Industry Review

• The IBTM Global Research Findings:

• Introduction to Sustainability and ISO 20121

We also look forward to welcoming Hybrid Event expert Paul Cook who will be leading a live Tweet Chat on Hybrid Events via the EIBTM Twitter profile (@eibtmevent). Make sure that you tune in at 14:00 (GMT+1) on 23 April to ask questions and join discussions around this hot industry topic using #EIBTM13.

Plus, on 25 April at 14:00 (GMT+1), Charlie Banks, from Sustainable Events Ltd will be leading a live Tweet Chat on Sustainability in the Meetings Industry via Twitter (@eibtmevent). This is your opportunity to find out more about Sustainability and the new ISO 20121 which is taking sustainability in the industry to new heights!

Make sure you join the EIBTM community and comment or share your views on LinkedIn, Twitter ( using #EIBTM13 and Facebook (

We look forward to welcoming you to EIBTM Online Education Week!

Off now to prepare for the Guest spot tomorrow. Please come and say hello on 23 April 2013 and let me have your questions. I am looking forward to a great chat. 

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