8 Conference Session Ideas for Virtual & Hybrid Events

One of the main tasks of virtual and hybrid event planning is creating conference sessions that will effectively captivate and engage attendees. If you want to do something different from what attendees are already used to, be more creative and open to new ideas.

This article considers some event session ideas you can implement to create unique, engaging, and remarkable event experiences. Here are the ideas we’ll cover:

  1. Interactive Presentations
  2. Video Wall for Hybrid Experiences
  3. Solution Breakout Rooms
  4. Lightning Talks Session
  5. Soapbox
  6. Fireside Chats
  7. Dedicated Q&A Session
  8. Fun Elements

Let’s dive in to explore these ideas!

1. Interactive Presentations

Make “wow” presentations by creating interactive slides with animations, videos, and other design elements. You can use interactive tools like Keynote, Google Slides, Canva, Prezi, Flowvella, and others. Some of these tools allow you to interact with your visuals while on-screen, making both you and your presentation visible to attendees in new and exciting ways.

2. Video Wall for Hybrid Experiences

Nothing comes close to creating connected experiences between onsite and online attendees at your hybrid event. You can achieve this by mounting a video wall showing the facial expression of virtual attendees during conference sessions. This helps the speakers interact with both audiences more effectively.

3. Solution Breakout Rooms

Make your sessions more enticing for individuals by creating special breakout rooms that are focused on solving real problems. Divide attendees into small groups or rooms of 6 – 8 participants. In each room, participants take turns presenting a problem so others can brainstorm and suggest solutions. Each round of problem brainstorming should be about 8 minutes so that everything can be done within an hour.

4. Lightning Talks Session

Schedule some speakers to deliver lighting talks so attendees can listen to diverse thoughts. In this arrangement, each speaker is allotted only about 5 – 10 minutes to make their presentation, which can be with or without slides. To stay on schedule, automate slide presentations so the slides can move forward according to the time allotted for the presentation. That way, you can line up about 10 speakers for a lightning talks session that will last an hour.

5. Soapbox

Allow selected attendees to make short presentations during your event. They can present a story about anything relating to the event theme. Ask attendees to submit proposals to make such presentations so you can prequalify and shortlist presenters. The duration of the soapbox session should be around 30 minutes. That means you will have to share this time with the shortlisted soapbox presenters.

6. Fireside Chats

You can reduce your webinar-style speaking sessions by introducing one or two fireside chats in your event. In this setting, a moderator engages a guest in a conversation, asking both preselected and spontaneous questions that will allow the guest to share tremendous information based on their personal expertise and experience. Because this kind of conversation is fairly relaxed, it can open up more discussions than a regular presentation would do.

7. Dedicated Q&A Session

Most event speaking sessions end with Q&A which usually last only about 5 – 10 minutes. However, this means only a few questions can be entertained during such a short time. As a result, many will leave the event with questions still in their mind. Apart from the Q&A taken during each session, dedicate an hour or more for a general Q&A. Organizers and speakers can also use this opportunity to take feedback and sample opinions.

8. Fun Elements

Another way to spice up your event session is by adding fun elements such as games, live music, a magic show, a painting session, or even a live band performance.  You can also include game elements in your mobile event app so both live and in-person attendees can participate.

Let’s walk through some of these ideas further.

Magic Show

For a virtual magic show, the magician can be on live cam while using your virtual event platform’s spotlight feature. This allows them to invite or spotlight attendees to participate in the show.

Virtual Painting

For a virtual painting session, get a local artist who can give attendees quick step-by-step instructions on painting before assigning a fun artwork to replicate. Interested attendees can paint, photograph, and post their work to the event platform. Incentivize this by giving prizes to the top three paintings. To get more attendees to participate, inform them ahead of time so they can get painting supplies at their local stores.

To know what event session ideas will resonate with attendees, you can send out some options in a pre-event poll and ask them what they think about them. You will also need to determine whether your venue and/or technology partners can provide the means to implement the ideas.

Guest Author: Christina Tomlinson

Christina Tomlinson is the VP of Marketing & Events at Pathable. With over 8 years of experience in the event industry, Christina prides herself on her creativity, passion for people, and ability to create memorable experiences. Before joining the Pathable team, some of Christina’s experience includes directing a team as the Associate Director of Events for a DMC in Austin, TX and marketing, planning, and executing brand events as the Regional Event Manager at a corporate experiential agency. Through her years of experience, Christina strives to remain a thought leader in her industry, and places a high value on evolution and growth in the events space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *