Hybrid events

A hybrid event is a meeting, event, conference or trade show that offers both an in-person experience and a virtual experience for event attendees. The virtual experience can range from watching a webinar to a fully virtual conference session.

In-person events have different needs from virtual events. There is a need for a twofold plan, one for the in-person event and one for the virtual event.

Things to consider before planning a hybrid event:

  • Define the type of engagement you want at your event. For example, a webinar format with multiple presenters and no interactions from those attending or an interactive discussion with both in-person attendees and those participating virtually.
  • Set goals and have a clear vision: where and when will the event be held, who will attend, and what do you want to accomplish with the event?
  • Know the audience demographic so you can provide presenters and content that appeal to and resonate with the audience.
  • Produce a plan that helps provide an engaging experience for both virtual attendees and in-person attendees.
  • Designate a person who is exclusively responsible for managing virtual attendees. Communicate with attendees that this person is there for them and if they have any issues they can reach out.
  • Assign a moderator who facilitates discussions between the virtual audience and in-person attendees or presenters.


The cost of food, beverages, rental and other expenses associated with events have increased tremendously in the last few years. There has also been an increase in event technology budget to be able to provide a consistent virtual experience.

The cost of staffing will also increase as there is a need to hire additional people to monitor the virtual event. Keeping all this in mind, it is critical to know what the budget is before planning an event.

If there is a cost to attend the event, consider improving event registrations by selling a virtual ticket at a reduced price.

Evaluate event needs, including but not limited to the items listed on the sample budget estimate.

When creating a budget, be sure to include tax, service fees and delivery charges. Always include miscellaneous costs for unexpected expenses.


Keep in mind when selecting a location:

  • Does it already have the technology setup for hybrid events including, but not limited to: cameras, microphones, strong high-speed internet access, etc.
  • If the technology is already in the room, does the venue provide a technician to run and troubleshoot the equipment?
    • If no technician, is there someone on the team who can do this and is familiar with the equipment?
  • If not, is the space large enough to accommodate the technical equipment needed for the virtual event?
  • How long does the setup of the equipment take?
  • Include setup and take-down time when booking the venue.
  • Design the room layout with the digital attendees in mind so it maximizes their experience.
  • If the space does not have good access to outlets (in the floor of the room), provide charging stations or power strips for attendees to be able to charge laptops.

Virtual Platform

Many ASU locations are equipped for Zoom webinars (ASU Sync) that include microphones and cameras. Venues outside ASU may not be as well equipped. After decisions on the program and the format of the event have been determined, you can investigate the best location. Make sure the location is equipped with what you need. ASU has a contract with Zoom and most of our events can be run through that platform at no extra cost.

The ASU Enterprise Technology can guide you through selecting the correct platform and in some instances if available, they can help run the virtual part of the event.

Certain events may require an additional platform. The Engineering Dean’s Office has worked with both FanFX and Merestone for the virtual platform of larger events.

When choosing the platform, investigate one that offers live streaming, participation by all parties, close captioning, recording features, high-quality audio and video, and tech support.

Schedule a test run and a demonstration before finalizing the virtual platform.


Create a program that is interactive and concise enough that virtual participants remain focused and engaged. Make sure to also meet the needs of your in-person audience with unique and meaningful engagement.

The attention span for virtual attendees is different than for in-person attendees. Breaks for virtual attendees are recommended. Provide them with shorter content if possible.

If you have in-person exhibitors at the event, make sure to provide opportunities to showcase the exhibits to virtual attendees and an opportunity for them to communicate with exhibitors.

Open the event with a powerful message that sets the tone for the experience to come and close the event in a memorable manner that guarantees the attendees will remember the event message.

When selecting the time for each of the sessions, consider the audience and where they are located. Record the sessions and make them available on demand for those who were unable to attend. You can set it up so that people need to register their name and e-mail address to keep track of who is watching the sessions offered and this can help determine future programs.

To break up the event for virtual attendees offer music or games during breaks to engage them. Including live polls and raffles during the sessions is also an idea to consider.

Ideas for virtual engagement:

  • Games.
  • Networking.
  • Live chat.
  • Social feed.
  • Q & A.
  • Survey or polling.
  • Showing videos.

Here are ideas for engaging your virtual attendees:

  • Switching between multiple video cameras.
  • Designate a virtual facilitator.
  • Feature chat rooms and Q & A moderators.
  • Hold a special Q & A for virtual presenters only.
  • Provide digital breakout rooms.
  • Host leader boards and gaming.
  • Enable photo and video sharing from virtual attendees.
  • Create an award category for virtual attendees.
  • Provide activities.

Production Schedule (run of show)

Create a comprehensive run of show that includes every detail of the event for both platforms, including but not limited to:

  • Load in and load out.
  • Setup of each session.
  • Order of the presenters.
  • Time of each presentation.
  • Cues for speakers and technical crew.
  • Opening and completion of the virtual part of the event.
  • Who the lights and cameras are highlighting.
  • When microphones are turned on and off.
  • Any other technology that will be utilized, etc.
  • Links to the event platform and any documents that are needed to produce the event.
  • Contact information for all vendors and staff.
  • Assign duties and responsibilities to the team members and make sure everyone is familiar with their roles.
  • A great way to organize this is by utilizing a spreadsheet.


Have a facilitator or an emcee to introduce the presenters and keep the meeting/event on schedule. Also, include a virtual emcee in the room that is online and sees the same presentation as the virtual attendees. The virtual emcee should engage in conversations among virtual attendees and monitor the platform.

Presenters need to be skilled at engaging both virtual and in-person attendees. Make sure the list of presenters reflects the attendees so they can relate to the speaker and the topics.

Make sure that the video streaming service is working correctly and that the presenters are prepared to be recorded and to speak in front of a camera.

If possible, have all presenters present in person at the event to make for a more engaging experience for all attendees.

Establish equipment needs for each presenter and make sure these needs are met in the current technology setup. Check the setup so that it is ready before the event starts. This will avoid last-minute delays to fix accommodations needed by the presenters.

Tips on How to Prepare Your Speakers for Hybrid Success

The Role of a Virtual Emcee


Follow ASU regulations and register the event in the Special Event Registry (sign in to access the form).

Create event registration in Stova or your preferred platform. If it is a paid event, you must use Stova as it is the only platform that is allowed to accept payments on behalf of ASU. Create a registration site that includes the option of attending in-person or virtually so that you can keep track of how many attendees will be in each format. Allow attendees to adjust their registration in case their plans change. Allow attendees to submit questions or suggestions on topics in the registration process.

If in-person attendees are provided a giveaway item at the event, consider mailing it to those attending virtually and ask for their mailing address in the registration. Registrations can be customized so only those who are online attendees can see that question.

Keep track of the registration list and make sure to know who is in attendance for record keeping. If serving food, make sure to include questions about dietary needs in the registration for in-person attendees.



Know the audience and what their needs are. For example, if you are only offering ticketing on smartphones, make sure there is a backup system in case some of the attendees do not carry one.

Communicating expectations with attendees is important. It guarantees that they have the information needed to attend the event both in-person and virtually and can download necessary software if needed before the event starts. Include information on what, where, when, how, safety procedures, parking, a link to the virtual platform and contact the day of the event for both attendance platforms. Make sure the virtual attendees know how to log in. Provide a designated person who is familiar with the system to troubleshoot and assist anyone having issues joining the event virtually.

Provide a shared experience by offering the virtual attendees the opportunity to interact with those who are attending in person. Give them a platform where they can ask questions of the presenters and meet exhibitors. Encourage real-time interaction or feedback from the virtual attendees as well as in-person attendees to create a unified experience.

When hosting a meal, consider offering virtual attendees a networking breakout room to allow them to network, or start the virtual part of the event after the meal. Likeminded virtual attendees can be connected by using event apps or by gathering information on their interests on the registration page. Assign topics for breakout rooms and allow virtual attendees to select the topic in which they are interested.

Have someone monitor the chat, making sure that only registered attendees are present. Give the monitors the authority to remove anyone who is disrupting the meeting or behaving inappropriately.

If the event includes entertainment for the on-site event, live-stream it to virtual attendees as well.

Promotion and Marketing

Just like with any event, hybrid events can be promoted through the Engineering newsletter; In the Loop (for faculty and staff) or Inner Circle (for students). Events can be promoted at the ASU Events website. See directions on how to add an event to the site.  If the event is open to the public, consider leveraging social media to promote the event. To increase attendance, make sure to promote the event in advance as well as the week before the event takes place as some people do not make plans for attending events until they know their schedule the week of the event. Use and promote events with your own hashtag or #ASUEngineering.


Ask the venue contact what their safety protocols are so you know if they are up to par or if some form of safety measures need to be added. Set a clear policy on safety protocols ahead of time. Communicate safety policy on the event’s registration website as well as in the confirmation message for in-person attendees.  Keep records of on-site safety measures after the event.

Things to keep in mind are:

  • Have masks available for those who do not bring their own.
  • Provide hand sanitizer at registration desks as well as meal tables.
  • Have up-to-date information on the public health guidelines at the event’s location.
  • Walk through the venue and think about ways to avoid backup lines at registration and food and beverage stations.
  • If possible, use one room to enter and another to exit for better egress.
  • For a larger event consider staggering arrival times for different groups.


Each school has an IT department. Get to know these people as they can help make the event a success. The ASU Enterprise Technology can guide you in finding the most appropriate tech solution to integrate the hybrid event platform. If available, they can help run the virtual part of the event.

Test the bandwidth in the building where the event is taking place to ensure that it can accommodate virtual attendees as well as the videos and sound provided at the event.

Rehearsals are essential for hybrid events, and they need to include testing the virtual platform by having team members attend as event attendees. This is for the presenters to become familiar with the platform as well as to ensure that the production team and technology is working as planned. Make sure the microphone is configured correctly, the sound is at the right volume for both the audience in the back of the room and those listening online. Test videos so that they are not glitching for virtual attendees and that their sound works as well. Video content at the event should be played directly to virtual attendees through the streaming platform rather than via a camera aimed at a video screen.

Open the virtual platform early and have a break slide and add music in the waiting room. Start on time so that you do not lose virtual attendees. If the live stream is starting at a different time than the in-person event make sure to communicate the different time to virtual attendees.

Record these sessions and have them available after the event for those who were unable to attend. Make sure to save the chat as well before closing out the session.

Food and Beverages

Served buffets, where servers are plating for guests, are preferred to open buffets. Consider having touchless beverage dispensers or individually served drink portions.  Virtual attendees can be included in meals through Grubhub credit. Contact Corporate Admin Support to set up your account.

Other Event Resources

Engineering Events Guide:


Engineering Events Inventory


Asana – project management tool: