Anyone who is invited to a conference today can now attend from home. In “hybrid Events”, parts of the audience are spatially separated: a part is present at the Event, the virtual participants participate live via the Internet. This is possible thanks to video streaming. To participate means to be active from afar. Audience response tools such as teambits:interactive enable equal audience participation for all participants. For example, to ask questions on the podium or to realize a cooperation between all participants, as is also known from the facilitated group work. Participate in the browser of the participant – regardless of whether on the smartphone or the home PC.
Hybrid events are based on interactive concepts
Hybrid conferences are particularly suitable for widely distributed public, whose expenses for travel and accommodation otherwise exclude participation. This may be events within companies with multiple locations as well as association meetings or even community meetings.
If event and conference organizers decide on a hybrid concept, the ability to avoid losing the virtual participant’s attention is gaining importance. Unlike the “trapped” attendee, the virtual attendee is always tempted to turn his attention to other stimuli to which he is exposed at his location. The conceptual design of the interaction with the virtual participant is therefore the key, as any experienced online presenter knows from his own point of view.
The savings in travel and environmental costs of hybrid events is offset by a small additional technical effort, which remains controllable through the conception and planning of the Event. Powerful and experienced service providers such as teambits ensure in the background IT infrastructure, Internet bandwidth and data security.
Example civil conference
The participants of a citizen conference in Berlin should prepare recommendations for the “energy use of the future”. For this purpose, 170 people gather in the hall on site, others take part in the discussion via the Internet.
In this Hybrid-Event, nine citizens each sit in 20 table groups and work out the recommendations together. In addition there is the “21st table”: Only the facility-duo is sitting here. The virtual participants from different parts of Germany take part from home. The connected participants follow the presentations and main facilitation with sound and picture on their home screen. The virtual participants form a “table” gather together and discuss with each other. The results of all panel discussions – both on-site and on the virtual “table” – will be recorded on the computer and evaluated by all participants in the course of the Event. The outside participants are connected to Web-Conferencing-Software so that they are in a virtual space. In addition to a voice connection via the Internet, they can – without interrupting the speaker – also communicate via the teambits:interactive text chat.
Result: Virtual participants become full participants of the event thanks to the virtual environment. In feedback, they say they feel part of the whole group, despite their physical distance and physical absence.
Advantages of a hybrid Event at a glance:
- enables the data-safe participation of people all over the world
- opens up the possibility for direct dialogue with the target group
- In the course of the event, participants develop information that can be evaluated in real time
- interactive: All participants (on site and virtually) can communicate with each other in writing and work together in terms of content
- Enables intensive personal exchange in subgroups
- Travel and environmental costs are saved
- Through an online archive, the information compiled by the participants remain accessible for a longer period of time, even retrospectively
Photo: Katja Machill, Initiative Science in Dialogue (WiD), on the occasion of a citizens’ conference within the framework of the research project “Science debating!” of the Initiative Wissenschaft im Dialog and the University of Stuttgart, project group ZIRN