During the COVID-19 outbreak, online conferences became more popular as that was the only way for conferences to happen, State of the Map Africa 2021 happened online as well, which made the conference more accessible to people than before, a record 597 participants joined through Hopin the conference platform which had features that allowed participants to actively engage and interact.

Post COVID-19, there is now interest in organizing hybrid events instead of going back to completely offline conferences, to take advantage of the benefits that come with an online event that makes a conference more accessible. During the State of the Map Tanzania 2023 conference we tried out the hybrid set up, with a view that it would also help us prepare for State of the Map Africa 2023, in Yaounde Cameroon, which is going to be a hybrid event. Below I share lessons learned that may be helpful for other conference organizers in setting up a hybrid event

To set up a hybrid conference, you need at least five basic things

  1. A conference platform for online and offline participants to engage and interact. The conference platform should have an option for embedding livestreams from YouTube or directly from a streaming software. The platform should also have chat, Q&A, polls, reply and comment features. Options for speed networking, booths for sponsors, etc. There are hundreds of conference platforms out there, below are some that have been used at State of the Map and related Conferences;
  • Venueless - used at State of the Map 2021 and State of the Map 2022
  • Hopin - used at the HOT Summit 2021 and State of the Map Africa 2021
  • Livefi - used at State of the Map Tanzania 2023
  • Airmeet - used at Wiki Indaba 2021
  1. A sound system that can capture speaker audio from the microphones and feed it into a mixer or streaming software.

  2. A video camera to capture the speaker. A low-cost option would be to use good smartphones to capture the videos, but if you have budget you can hire professional videographers that can capture high quality videos from different angles.

  3. A computer with access to the speaker slides or presentations. Capturing the slides on video does not provide good quality, instead pull in the slides from a computer. For the best quality in terms of transitioning, connect the speaker computer to your streaming software, so that the slides on the online stream transition at the same time as those of the speaker.

  4. Livestreaming software that can capture and mix video, audio and slides. Options to use here are OBS Studio + Video Ninja (For remotely connecting slides computer and online speakers) or else Streamyard.

For State of the Map Tanzania 2023, we did not have a big budget for the hybrid set up, and we were looking out for a simple solution. The conference platform used was LiveFi which allows you to embed a live stream from YouTube for the participants to follow. So we looked at options to stream the live sessions to YouTube. We had two streaming software options, plan A was to use OSB Studio + Video Ninja and Plan B was to use Streamyard.

Option 1 - OBS Studio + Video Ninja

For this option we used OBS studio a Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming to stream to YouTube, and then used Video Ninja a free web service that allows you to bring in the speakers video as well as the slides directly into OBS Studio from remote devices. We used this option on day one of the conference, but we had to change to plan B, the internet which kept on dropping made the streams from Video Ninja drop in and out which made it challenging. Also the video quality was that streaming was really low because of the slow internet.

Option 2 - Streamyard

Streamyard is a web-based streaming and recording studio, that allows you to multistream directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. In addition to that Streamyard also has built-in commenting for engaging audiences, with features where you can customize the logo, colours and overlays. And you can upload slides, images and videos to your live stream. It also offers a backstage that makes it easier for speakers to join the event without downloading any software. It has the same features as OBS studio but in a web-based environment.

Streamyard has a free plan, but for more options that would allow at least three multistream options and up to 10 on-screen participants, the basic plan for 20$ per month is affordable for a one-off conference event. We used Streamyard to bring in remote presenters and also to record the video and share the slides of the in-person event presenters.

We did test runs before the conference, where both options seemed to work, however, during the conference we faced some unforeseen challenges that as elaborated on below.

Internet connection

Both OBS Studion and Streamyard require a good strong dedicated internet connection for live-streaming. During State of the Map Tanzania 2023 we had two options for internet, the conference venue WiFi and Mobile Phone hotspots for backup, however, both options failed to provide a consistent connection for the best experience for online participants, whenever the connection would drop, the online stream would be cut off. Advice - have a dedicated high-speed internet that is not shared with other conference participants.


At State of the Map Tanzania 2023, there was a sound system in the conference room, however, we were not able to directly capture the sound from the mixer, as the service provider did not have a cable which could do that. We were left to capture audio directly from the speakers in the room, which always brought an echo and made the audio quality poor for the online participants. The advice here is to always hire a sound system service provider who can provide a clear sound output from the sound mixer to your computer and go into OBS Studio or Streamyard.


At State of the Map Tanzania 2023 we used a Google Pixel 7 Pro smartphone with a tripod stand to capture the video from the speakers. This worked out well, but the limitation was that it was not possible to zoom in on the speaker, while connected to either Streamyard or Video Ninja. A good DSLR camera would have provided better options for zooming in and different angles. And when streaming, the video quality really dropped because of the poor internet. Advice, get at least 2 DSLR cameras, one to focus on the speaker, and the other on the audience in case there are questions from the audience. If there are budget hire professional videographers. Then connect the video output to the OBS studio or steamyard.


At State of the Map Tanzania, we collected all the slides from the speakers in advance, which made it easier to have them on the main laptop that was used for presentations, we connected the slides to OBS Studio using OBS Ninja and to Streamyard as a participant, this made it easier to share slides on the live stream. Tip - make sure to collect all the slides from the speakers beforehand, and use the same laptop for all presentations, except for workshops where the speaker may want to use their own computers.

Remote Speakers

At State of the Map Tanzania 2023, the plan was initially to only livestream only speakers in the main conference room who were all expected to be there physically, however, some speakers were not able to travel and we had to bring them in remotely, for this we used streamyard which is easily set up for speakers, they were just provided with a link to join backstage 15 minutes before their talk. The challenging bit was to get their audio broadcasted for the offline participants.

Offline backup

Although the priority is to livestream, make sure you record the video and audio offline on your computer for backup in case the livestream goes down. The offline recording is better quality as it is not affected by the slow internet, this allows you to publish a better quality video in case the live one does not come out clearly. This option is available in OBS studio. Streamyard on the other hand provides you with an online backup of the video which is still better quality than the live stream.


For the best experience for a hybrid conference, make sure you plan in advance, and do a test run in different scenarios to try out everything. Do check out the different conference platforms and make a comparison in terms of features and pricing to make sure you get the best that will work best with your livestreaming solution. Do several test runs to check the quality of audio, video, and slides. Have a contingency plan, in scenarios where something that is unexpected happens, it may be the internet or power going off for example. As you do the live stream always have an offline backup.

What is your experience setting up a hybrid conference using, what works and what doesn’t? Share in the comment section.

See you at State of the Map Africa 2023!

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 7 March 2023 at 01:31

Thank you for documenting and sharing this! :)

Comment from JanetChapman on 12 March 2023 at 18:26

Thank you so much for all your work on this Geoffrey, and for documenting it so comprehensively. Another tip I’d add, it would have been great if we had also recorded the audio of the talks locally as a backup, to replace that in the YouTube videos where necessary.. Good luck for SOTM Africa! Janet

Comment from Iyan on 17 March 2023 at 03:40

Great tips, brother!

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