If you’re an expert, you know public speaking is a powerful marketing tool to build your brand, boost your reputation, and drive leads. Whether you consider yourself a speaker or have been giving it some thought, one thing is for sure. The speaking landscape has shifted over the last two years from all virtual, to ‘maybe’ in-person, to hybrid events.
How Do Hybrid Events Work?
If you haven’t hosted or attended a hybrid event, here’s what it looks like. Some of your audience attends in-person, and others virtually. Hybrid events can be internal (within your company, with employees and staff) or external (with prospects, clients and supporters). It might seem easy, but it can be a challenge to connect with an in-person and virtual audience at the same time.
5 Marketing Tips to Nail Your Hybrid Event
1. Engage both audiences. When you’re in front of a live audience, it’s easy to forget about the camera. Don’t. Your virtual audience will most likely be larger than your in-person audience, so ignoring them doesn’t help. When you arrive at the event, warm up the ‘live’ audience, but greet your virtual audience, too. Make sure your online community can speak to you or send messages, and create a conversational space where they feel welcome and included. As you deliver your presentation, don’t forget to address the camera, and engage and interact with both audiences, so no one feels left out.
2. Give both audiences opportunities to participate. Online platforms provide plenty of tools to get virtual attendees involved, like polls, chats, and breakout rooms. If you ask your in-person attendees to do something, like complete a survey, vote, or brainstorm ideas, prepare for your virtual audience to do the same. During Q&As, let people submit questions through text or an online chat, and give those questions the same attention you give your live audience.
3. Be strategic with presentation tools. Some things work better in front of a live audience, others work better virtually. Think strategically about the tools and media you’ll include in your presentation. If you share a video or slideshow, make sure your virtual audience also has access to it. It may be a challenge to flip through slides on multiple screens and sound issues may pop up, especially with videos playing on a big screen, then filtered through Zoom. Choose presentation tools that will work well for both audiences.
4. Anticipate technical difficulties. With Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Dolan’s Law states that Murphy was an optimist! Expect the unexpected. Don’t get caught off-guard by unforeseen challenges and scramble frantically to fix them while you’re speaking.
What if your wi-fi goes out or the internet is disconnected in the middle of your presentation? Or the batteries die on your only remote control? And yikes, what happens if your signature video buffers on and on – with no end in sight? Although there are no guarantees, make friends (and generously tip) the A/V person to lessen technical stress. Another idea is to plan a simple and risk-free workaround in case there’s a problem.
5. Be an engaging storyteller. This tip is helpful for all public speakers. If you think it’s hard to keep the attention of a room that you’re in, it’s even harder when half or more of your audience is at home sitting on the couch. Tell stories that capture the human element, put people in situations they can relate to, grab their emotions, and make them laugh. An easy way to do this is by talking about your mistakes (like your phone ringing on stage, or the wrong presentation showing up on screen in a crowded room) and how you got through it.
Create the narrative and tell stories from your perspective, in a way that fits your brand personality, and tie it into your services. What can you share that will help your viewers solve their challenges, and at the same time increase your like, know, trust and believability as an expert? This is often set up as a problem, solution and best practices, and eventually leads to you.
Why Should You Speak at Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events satisfy people who want the in-person experience, but also honor health and safety, accommodating those more comfortable attending online. Plus, hybrid events create an opportunity for an even larger reach – people who live out of state, in different time zones, or can’t make the in-person event because of a conflict.
What does that mean as far as ROI? A bigger audience means more leads and prospects, so spruce up your conversion skills. Hybrid events also increase sponsorship dollars with more to offer, and double the exposure. And finally, hybrid events mean less travel and a smaller carbon footprint making them more cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Will things ever return to “normal”? What is normal anyway? Change is a constant. For now, hybrid events give you an opportunity to share your expertise in front of your target market who want to know more. Speaking also happens to be one of the greatest (and most effective) no-cost ways to market your business. Who doesn’t want that?