October 14, 2021

Top 3 Pitfalls of Hybrid Kickoff Events

Matt Compton

Co-Founder & CEO

If 2020 were the year of virtual events, 2021 would be the year of hybrid. Yet, it has been proven that hybrid events, particularly internal hybrid events, are challenging to pull off successfully.

Hybrid Kickoff Challenges

'Worst of Both Worlds'

Hybrid events can often result in the worst of both worlds. In-person audiences end up sitting around together and watching live streams, have less ability to participate in the chat and other virtual items, and are limited in team members they can engage with and get feedback in real-time.

Despite best efforts, virtual attendees typically have a sub-par experience. Their content consumption experience is much worse, it becomes harder to ask questions and it is almost impossible for them to engage with audiences in person.

Alienating Remote Attendees

It is tough, if not impossible, not to alienate remote attendees. What often ends up happening is the in-person component of the kickoff event gets priority treatment, and little care or attention is given to the virtual attendee experience. That leaves virtual attendees feeling like they are watching an in-person event happen without them. 

This has two significant negative business impacts. First, for virtual attendees, it can be a big hit to morale. It leaves them less motivated and less part of the team than they were before. Second, it obstructs the goal of the kickoff in the first place: to bring people together. Collaboration and alignment get hindered because not all the voices are in the room and participating equally.

Harder to Pull Off

Successfully pulling off in-person and virtual experiences simultaneously can be much more work for organizers to ensure both experiences are high-quality and engaging. We often see organizers trying to set up two separate event experiences -- one for in-person and one for virtual. In the end, the workload is doubled.

Alternative Ways to Facilitate Hybrid Kickoffs

At Filo, we recommend separating the virtual experience and in-person. This gives the best options to design the best experience for both sets of audiences.

Virtual Kickoff Components

The virtual experience allows the focus to be on global content and sessions. Not all of the components in this list are necessary and the list is not exhaustive.

  • Mainstage executive presentations and keynote speakers
  • Breakout sessions (focused on messaging, product roadmap, updated product demos, pricing and packaging, new goals and compensation plan changes, etc).
  • Storytelling sessions (peer-led sessions to share real-world stories of big wins, customer expansions, key renewals, or even critical losses throughout the year).
  • Certification and/or practice sessions
  • Celebration and awards
  • Individual team kickoffs (can be virtual or in-person on a team by team basis)

In-Person Kickoff Components

The in-person experience is focused on team building and personal connection.

  • Town halls
  • Team building
  • Dinner and mixers
  • Individual team kickoffs (can be virtual or in-person on a team by team basis)

All of this goes to say; we understand that each company's kickoff and needs are different. But I hope this sparks some conversation and ideas as you begin to plan for your next kickoff event. Our team would love to be part of your virtual aspect. Reach out to us today!