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Hybrid Event Survival Guide Series – Meeting your Staffing Needs

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Michael Doyle
, VP of Customer Service, Engagez 

Once you have chosen your hybrid event format – and other various factors such as types of interactivity – you’ll need to determine what additional staff will need to be hired. Though there will be some staffing overlap between the live and virtual portions of the event, there are some critical roles that will need to be filled to fully integrate the virtual side of things. Equipping yourselves with a team of staff that makes your event successful does not have to be overwhelming.

Here’s a list of the functions you may want to have available, whether provided by your event platform hired for the event (like Engagez offers), or a couple of staff members and or attendee volunteers. You can often offer volunteer opportunities to people in exchange for registration discounts and help people that otherwise may not be able to attend in person.

Moderator

Virtual events have made the role of a moderator more important than ever. The moderator connects your real-world audience with your digital audience, and works to ensure that all participants get the most out of the virtual event experience. He or she can help transition between sessions; introduce speakers; keep everything on schedule; and moderate Q&A sessions and panel discussions.

Moderating a panel discussion requires the moderator to work with panel members to ensure that they understand the schedule; the amount of time allocated to their initial comments and to Q&A sessions; how and when you will intervene; and how they should signal when they want to answer a question or add to the discussion. Participants will often submit questions through text chat – which the moderator can insert into the presentation – or invite the audience member to deliver the question themselves. A good moderator keeps the audience engaged and the panelists focussed by introducing an audience question, poll, or anecdote every 10 minutes or so.

Chat Moderator

Depending on the size of your hybrid event, a separate role as chat moderator may be required. A skilled chat moderator can facilitate attendee engagement by monitoring the chat, encouraging discussion, and troubleshooting. They can encourage participation in a number of ways: by periodically adding prompts into the chat to spark discussions; asking questions; using polls; and inviting attendees to ask speakers and panelists questions. They can help set the tone of the chat by inviting all to participate, explaining the conference’s code of conduct, and deleting inappropriate comments. The chat moderator will also be able to use private chat to reach out to someone directly if they are having technical difficulties, or need to be spoken with privately due to breaking the chat room rules. When a private chat doesn’t work, the chat moderator should have the ability to remove problem participants, in order to maintain a productive and enjoyable experience for all participants.

Social Media Moderator

A social media moderator links your event to your social media audience. They are responsible for managing the social media live streams for your virtual event and managing the question and answer sessions that arise from that platform. If you are going to live-tweet the event, stream a segment from a keynote speaker, or share panelist discussions, you need a social media moderator. This role is similar to that of the event moderator’s – he or she will monitor online chats and comments and relay the information back to the moderator. Like the event moderator, they can also improve audience engagement by asking leading questions or posting polls.

Participant Tech Support

It’s important that attendees can easily get tech support when required – whether through a virtual help desk or chat – at any point during the conference. Having a good tech support team will enhance the quality of the event by reducing the number of questions about the virtual interface and it can help to reduce the number of drop-outs due to frustration with the technology.

Virtual Event Manager

A virtual event manager will handle everything on the digital side so that your real-world staff can stay focused on being physically present. This person will be responsible for handling the set-up of the event and ensuring that all is running smoothly throughout the event duration. Their role may include assisting in the design of the login page for your event’s website, with instructions for navigating and participating in the event. They will be responsible for making sure all set up and testing has been performed in advance of the event; create an event checklist; and ensure that all has been completed. This role may be combined with that of a…

Virtual Producer

The virtual producer is responsible for the actual production of the event, has experience with the audio and video equipment, and can help create high-quality live or prerecorded presentations. He or she will ensure that your presenters understand the equipment and are familiar with the event platform being used. The virtual producer directs camera placement, lighting, the optimal audio set up, performs sound and visual checks before the event, and works to create smooth, seamless, professional-looking sessions.

Event Technical Support

Event technical support may include a number of roles, depending on what types of presentations are included. This team may include:

  • Video & Encoder Operators – If using remote controlled cameras, your technical operator will usually be able to do both video operations and run the encoder – a tool that codes the video, adds graphics, and uploads it to the streaming servers. With other equipment you may need a two person crew;
  • A/V Tech Specialists – Audio/visual technology specialists have always been critical to the smooth running of physical events, and are equally important for virtual ones. For a hybrid event, they’ll be required to work with the video & encoder operators to ensure the production is seamless; and,
  • Server Specialists – A strong internet connection is imperative for a virtual or hybrid event, which means server specialists should be onsite to diagnose any connection issues that may arise.

Speaker Wranglers

While event organizers are accustomed to “wrangling” speakers, the hybrid event will give them some new responsibilities. Speakers will need to know where the cameras are located throughout the room to ensure that they are not only presenting to the physical audience, but to the digital audience as well. They’ll also need to be comfortable with handling live Q&A sessions – for example, will a moderator present the questions to them, or will they be responding directly to virtual attendees by videoconference? Having these discussions ahead of time will allow them to prepare and adjust their presentation for the dual audiences.

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