If you take away just one thing from the recent study on hybrid events from Sonic Foundry and Meeting Professionals International Foundation, make it this:

While 50% of planners surveyed said cannibalization is a top concern in their organization, 88% of planners who have done hybrid meetings say there’s been NO negative impact on onsite attendance. In fact, many say it even boosts onsite attendance. That’s HUGE!

That’s just one piece of data from the research report, which is the result of 14 months of work surveying nearly 1,800 meeting planners, attendees, technology vendors and consultants, and conducting nearly 40 in-depth interviews. It’s the most comprehensive report on the topic. The research team of five people from the U.S. and Europe was led by Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC in Minneapolis.

Last week, Samuel J. Smith of Meeting Technology, LLC visited Sonic Foundry in Madison, Wis. to share insights from the study in a webinar, Insights From MPI’s First Hybrid Meetings Research (available on-demand for free).

In a nutshell, here are 10 tips to help you create a successful hybrid event.

1.)    Start with the end in mind. Organizations that proactively add hybrid elements early on generate stronger outcomes than those that add hybrid components later in the process.

2.)    Attendees at the main venue, in remote viewing locations and online experience the same content in different ways. Most meeting professionals are still trying to understand this concept.

3.)    While many people point to technology as a barrier to the success, people, process and format are equally important.

4.)    Of the four main hybrid formats – webcasts, connecting remote offices, remote speakers and connecting multiple sites to studio – 62% are currently broadcasts.

5.)    One size does not fit all. Advances in technology allow meeting professionals to be creative in how they configure an audience.

6.)    Most attendees would prefer that the online experience of a hybrid event resemble a talk show or other TV format. Using man-on-the-street interviews, talk show formats or news-desk formats are more engaging ways to deliver online content than lecture, which is what most currently are. 

7.)    Content is king. Remote attendees face tons of distractions, so content needs to be relevant and delivered in an engaging way.

8.)    Anecdotal data from the survey suggests that webcast sessions shouldn’t be longer than 20 minutes.

9.)    Acknowledging the remote audience, taking questions and even providing exclusive content are important engagement tools for remote attendees. Some events use virtual emcees and facilitators to help with this process.

10.) Speaker engagement online is different than face-to-face. Speakers need to look at the camera and acknowledge the remote audience during presentations.

For more info on the report, check out these links:

Also, check out Biz Bash’s great write-up about the webinar and report here.

You can also download the research report at http://mpiweb.org/hybrid. It’s free to MPI members and available for purchase for non-members.