Hybrid Events Insight from CMI

The bad news: We’re entering another chapter of pandemic-era event restructuring and there’s going to be a slight learning curve.

The good news: We’ve already made it through the toughest part, when we first pivoted from in-person to fully virtual events in 2020. Now, as we enter the hybrid events scene in 2021, we’re more prepared than ever for what lies ahead.

The Centrifuge team came up with a list of things we want our clients and meeting planners to know as we adjust to a semi-live, semi-remote landscape. As premiere consultants for all facets of events, we’re happy to provide you expert guidance for the hybrid landscape.

Through collaboration with your team, we’ll conceptualize, strategize, produce and execute a successful and memorable hybrid experience.


By Tanner Highland

When choosing a platform for a hybrid event, you’ll need to account for flexibility, virtual/in-person user experience and price.

Pre-COVID, there were only a few viable platforms for virtual attendees. Now there are dozens, all with unique pros and cons. When we are consulting clients on platforms, a major factor we consider is the flexibility to make changes as the agenda ebbs and flows. Some platforms are designed for this, where others are designed for hands-off management – meaning changes take a lot more time to implement.

We strive to connect the virtual and in-person attendees or presenters at hybrid events. Again, some platforms are set up for this, making it easy to provide a familiar virtual platform while also offering an in-person event app (see more in Attendee Engagement below). This kind of platform allows for all attendees to interact and have personalized experiences no matter how they are participating.

Every platform has different pricing structures, and it’s key to understand if pricing is based off of the number of users per event, as well as what is included on the base platform fee and what is considered an add on.

Production Experience

By Jack McDonald

Embrace the differences in experiences.

A common mistake early in the move to virtual events was the instinct to apply the solutions we had all grown accustomed to in traditional face-to-face meetings, to this new format. The industry quickly learned that it was an entirely different experience that required new tools and approaches. We all had to accept this reality and quickly shift our thinking to how remote attendees were best served.

Now it’s time to shift again – to a hybrid meeting model and similarly accept that the experience for in-person attendees will not be the same as the remote experience, but that’s ok! It is important to acknowledge this from the outset and create solutions that give both groups the best experience possible, while using tools and technology (like platforms, apps and visuals) to unify them where it makes sense.

Attendee Engagement

By Lauren Dearmore

Engagement is crucial and comes in many forms.

Encourage and track event engagement by using a mobile app to connect in-person and remote attendees. Event apps not only increase team interconnectedness, they also reinforce key takeaways to ensure message retention post-event.

Other popular engagement solutions for hybrid events include: tasting events, guided fitness classes, cocktail demos, and philanthropic activities. Remote attendees can be included in the fun by mailing out meeting kits with items to support the live streamed activities.

Project Management

By Fausto Turro

When thinking of budget, know that a hybrid event likely means increased equipment needs you didn’t have for pre-pandemic meetings.

If you helped plan a virtual meeting in the last year, you may recognize some of the gear we’re referring to. These additions ensure that each room, stage or set has the capability to connect remote attendees and presenters to in-person attendees and presenters.

There are multiple approaches Centrifuge can take based on the level of interaction and other specific session needs. Ultimately, our main goal is to create cohesive sessions, allowing all parties to focus on meeting content, rather than worrying about how to navigate the virtual aspect.

Presentation Visuals

By Olivia Smith

Create a consistent experience for all through your visuals.

Previously, location was key to infuse an event with unity and a consistent attendee experience. Now that audiences members and presenters may join from different places, whether individually or in hybrid groups, visual consistency is key to make up for this deficit, running through every detail – from first event touchpoint to platform branding, through presentation graphics and the very final ‘thank you’ email.

Specifically in presentations, consistent graphics allow presenters to feel connected despite presenting from different locations. Consistency in presentations also keeps the main message in focus without visual distractions.

COVID Safety

By Chris Dahnke

Establishing best safety protocols for your event is paramount. This could largely depend on venue protocols and state mandates, i.e. rules for distancing, max capacities, masking, etc. Once these guidelines are established, Centrifuge will ensure all planning teams are on the same page through our Safety Technician.

Similar to extra tech equipment required for a hybrid event, you’ll want to account for the extra safety gear, too. This may look like temperature check stations, gloves, exposure surveys, daily rapid tests, KN95 masks and assigned lavaliere mics and slide advancers by presenter – disinfected after each use. It may also include partitions, floor arrows and additional signage to maintain distance and help control traffic flow.

The CMI Safety Technician will ensure protocols are followed, including appropriate distancing and entrance and egress.

Emcee or Host

By Madeline David

Consider utilizing a designated team member or outside professional host/emcee to help the event flow, keep everything on track and minimize disruptions.

Hybrid implies a range of potential combinations of in-person and remote audience and presenters. A host/emcee takes on the burden of transitioning, making announcements and time-filling (like when a remote presenter’s home internet goes wonky). Just like the virtual events landscape, the emcee seamlessly takes the event from start to finish, acting as a ‘home base’ throughout the experience.

If you’re not sold on an emcee, another great option is to use pre-recorded voice overs to announce the next presenter, introduce a video or shuffle everyone off to workshops or a break.

If you are seeking strategic event communications solutions, contact us at hello@thecmiagency.com