We're five days out from our very own hybrid event, UNLEASH 2012, the Mediasite User Conference. Having streamed live every session since 2008, we've learned a couple things about helping our remote attendees make the most of the online experience. Here's three:
1. Build your schedule, before you go. It's easy to leave building your schedule to the end - until you are either physically onsite as a traditional face to face event attendee, or actually on the website, if you are attending online. But if you want to really max your experience during a hybrid event, it's smart to understand what is being live streamed (in our case, everything) and what may only be available to watch on-demand. That way you can prioritize the live sessions, get your questions asked of the presenter in real-time and leverage the networking with other attendees. Use the conference website or even better, check to see if there's a mobile app. Just because you aren't onsite doesn't mean you can't take advantage of a mobile conference app to schedule your day.
Bonus tip: keep in mind your time zones, particularly if you are attending out of country. Here's a handy time zone converter.
2. Find out who else is attending online. Attending an online event doesn't have to be lonely business - not with all the social networking and community portals available to most conference attendees. Networking both during sessions and in between keeps your head in the game, and makes it less desirable to take that phone call or clean up your inbox. We've employed a bunch to give both UNLEASH Onsite and UNLEASH Online attendees multiple options to engage, on the platforms that they find the most common and comfortable. For next week, we'll be all over Facebook, Twitter (hashtag #mediasite) and our Mediasite User Group website (and the mobile app too).
Bonus tip: ask if the event you're attending has a hybrid concierge, someone who may be attending onsite but is dedicated to the experience of the online attendees. That way if you run into any issues, or are looking to connect with other hybrid event attendees on a particular topic, you know who to ask. Ours is our very own Hershel Miller, and he'll be with us at the Monona Terrace here in Madison, but will be watching online and networking with UNLEASH Online attendees throughout the event.
3. Let your co-workers/co-habitants know you are “at a conference.” Just because you are in the office (work or home), doesn't mean you want to be engaged as you would normally be on a traditional work day. We took a page out of the EDUCAUSE notebook (they have tons of great ideas) and created our own snazzy door hanger for our UNLEASH online attendees (it can double as a cube poster too!). That plus standard out of office messages on your phone and email should help earn you some mind space to really focus during the live streaming events.
Bonus tip: if you normally head into the office, consider working from home during all or part of the hybrid event. It will help reduce your distractions and boost your chance to max your return on investment. Plus, it's just fun to say you went to a conference in your PJs.
So there you have it - three easy ways to help make the most of your hybrid event attendee experience. See you online!