Hybrid meetings, where some attendees are present in real life (IRL) whilst some attend virtually, are the norm these days, but they are easy to do badly and hard to do well! It's all too easy for remote participants voice to get lost in what is actually a tricky meeting to run in terms of both logistics and social dynamic.
Truth be told - an easier way to make meetings inclusive is if you opt for a meeting which is 100% virtual with everyone joining from their own desktop. But if you do find yourself running a hybrid meeting, here's a guide to nailing it...
Design with your attendees in mind
Before you even start booking meeting rooms or confirming facilities, spend some time putting yourself into the shoes of all the different groups of attendees.
Extra Essential Equipment
Take some time to consider the set-up of your room, and the equipment and technology available. A good rule of thumb here is to go for ‘equipment-overkill’!
Make sure you have enough screens/computers/devices to facilitate a totally inclusive session. If the room is on one wide angle camera this can make it really difficult for virtual attendees to see who is talking and follow the conversation. Big screens, extra screens, extra cameras – especially those that can zoom in to faces like the Owl Camera – and extra microphones all add considerable value to the virtual attendee, and also ensures that wherever you’re sitting in the room you can see and hear the speaker/presentation.
Probably the biggest piece of advice that we can offer is to TEST, TEST and TEST again the technology, and make sure that everything you are expecting to happen will happen – both in the room, and virtually. As the Meeting Chair, you will go into the session feeling much more confident and in control if you know that the technology is all going to run smoothly.
Top Ten Tips
To really ensure that your hybrid meetings go well, below are our top ten tips:
Finally, don’t forget that in the old days (!), it was fine for people not to attend meetings if they had a diary clash or different priority. The same still stands – if the meeting really should be in real life and a few people can’t attend, that’s fine and you don’t need to automatically default to a hybrid meeting. Conversely, if a virtual meeting proves the most efficient solution but a few people are in the office, keeping the playing field level by having office-based attendees dial in individually works really well.
Hybrid meetings are something that we’re all getting used to and our skills, systems and solutions will improve with practice – aiming for the ‘best of both’ is not a bad place to be.
This article was written by Natalie Forkin, Fearless Coach.