16 Ideas for Designing Innovative Virtual and Hybrid Events

As the event industry appears closer to resuming more to normal in the second half of 2021, virtual and hybrid events are poised to stay an important component in an overall event portfolio.

However, after a year and a half of online events, the bar is higher – both from engagement and production perspectives. Audiences have higher expectations for what a virtual event should be. And as their personal and professional lives start to return to busier schedules, time and attention are at a premium.

We’ve put together sixteen ideas for designing innovative virtual or hybrid events – organized by four of the most popular event goals. As always, a successful event starts with a clear plan. In both hybrid and virtual events, it’s easy for online attendees to disengage—so any innovative opportunities will need to be carefully thought through and tailored to specific audience demographics.

Read on for ideas to make your next event a great experience for attendees, a worthwhile investment for sponsors or exhibitors, and a relationship-building experience for sales and marketing teams. 

Facilitating Networking/Connections

1. Pre-event chat groups

Encourage attendees to make connections before the event begins with pre-event chat groups. These can be simple exclusive groups on LinkedIn or Clubhouse for event attendees or livestream sessions on your virtual event platform. Another idea: invite speakers to participate and start an early discussion about their presentation topic.

2. Speed networking

Just like the idea of speed dating where participants switch seats every few minutes to make multiple connections in a short time, help event attendees connect with others in fast speed sessions. Keeping sessions to five to seven minutes introduces attendees to others they may not have met otherwise and expands their network.

3. Birds of a feather session

Set up a series of multiple sessions – each with its host, topic, live feed, and poll – organized around different topics, job titles, or hobbies. Invite attendees to join the group that best matches their background and connect with those sharing similar interests, fostering effective peer-to-peer engagement and learning.

Fostering Engagement

1. Live games & competition

Friendly competition is always a smart way to unite a group. From Q&As to a wide array of polling, there are plenty of game and competition options to engage your audience easily while gathering insightful information at the same time. ConnexMe is integrated with Zoom and Webex, and directly within Microsoft Teams to make it easy to add engagement to any virtual or hybrid event.

2. Cocktail/mocktail class

Send attendees a gift box with the ingredients to make a unique cocktail or mocktail, and then livestream a bartender or mixologist to demonstrate to everyone how to make the signature drink.

3. Trivia or test your knowledge

Another way to foster engagement is by using a contest to see who knows the most about a particular subject or general trivia. Add more engagement by assigning teams to work together to answer questions, live collaborating in a group document to add their answers – another unique feature of ConnexMe.

4. Charitable activities

It feels good to do good for others, including when it’s done in a virtual format. Increase engagement with remote audiences by asking them to create cards, draw art or write letters that are shared with charitable organizations.

5. Virtual dance party

Adding a few surprise and delight moments, like a time to turn up the sound and dance it out to a song, creates unpredictable and spontaneous moments for attendees – and more engagement.

Generating Business/Leads

1. Multi-channel tracks

Divide content sessions into tracks, running concurrently and catering to different audiences’ needs or specific topics. Use attendance data to see which areas attendees are most interested in, and develop additional future content or specific sales follow-up based on those trends.

2. Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Give subject matter experts (SMEs), key thought leaders, or other knowledgeable team members opportunities to answer attendees’ top questions in AMA sessions. These kinds of sessions work well after both general and breakout sessions to answer specific audience questions.

3. Replays

Your content shouldn’t expire once the event is over. Generate business or lead opportunities by allowing participants access to the event replay. ConnexMe streamlines the process of finding relevant content even further through transcript search. Participants can easily search the transcript to find instances of specific keywords they’re looking for.

Building a Community

1. Virtual concert

Providing your audience with an exclusive virtual concert is a surefire way to make a memorable experience and create community. Find ways to make it more than just a streamed video feed to up-level the experience. For example, offer your community a chance to interact with the artist before or after the performance or access an online store for limited edition merchandise.

2. Health and wellbeing activities

Don’t forget about attendees’ physical and mental wellbeing too. Promote healthy habits – and a much-needed mental break – through instructor-led stretches, meditation, or even desk yoga.

3. Skill-building workshop

Help your community learn a new skill through a group skill-building workshop. Tackling a new subject or skill with others makes it more fun while fostering a sense of community. Depending on your audience and their interests, options can include creative workshops, new computer skills, or even something that extends into other facets of their development, like photography.

4. TV watch party

Is there a new “must-see” TV show debuting during your event? If so, turn the broadcast into a group watch party, complete with a snack box of special treats delivered to their home or office to enjoy during the event. The group can even meet up after the show to dish on the episode and what might happen next.

5. Virtual craft night

Tap into your audience’s inner artistic and creative side by incorporating a virtual craft night. Project possibilities are endless, ranging from simple origami folding lessons with paper found at home to more complex projects with supplied kits for instructor-led painting projects.

With any of these sixteen innovative virtual or hybrid event ideas, you’re sure to pull off a successful, engaging event. Interested in learning more about the ConnexMe platform and how it helps you easily host interactive and collaborative experiences? Contact us for a demo!