Many of us are participating in meetings. Some of us participate hybrid meetings now – some of the participants are virtual, some are in person. And some of us lead these types of meetings now. Leading meetings or workshops is tough in one format, hybrid events are even tougher. Here are few things to consider to make the experience better for everyone.
1. Audio – if you can upgrade your audio in the meeting room. If you can’t, test the audio with someone virtual before the meeting starts. And when testing it, remember there will be others in the room creating noise, it won’t just be yourself and the room won’t be 100% quiet. Also, think about how the audio will work throughout the room – if Rachel is sitting at the back of the room asks a question, will the virtual participants be able to hear?
2. Video – will you project the screen of virtual participants? Test the projector before the meeting starts. Think about what you will do if there will be presentations – will you only show the presentations or also show the participants. Whatever your choice, what will you do with the ‘chat’ function – how will you see that? Ideally, bring in additionally screens so participants can be seen on different screens (and of course, test this all out before the meeting starts), but if you can’t have a separate computer for video feed (and have someone dedicated to monitoring it).
3. Ground Rules – whether it is your first meeting or 1,000th state the ground rules at the beginning of the meeting. Ideally display them throughout the meeting on a screen so everyone can see. Specifically state how people can participate – raising hands, chat, free for all? If you are not monitoring the chat function, tell people that regularly.
4. Show the room AND person speaking – Virtual participants do not only want to see the room or just the person speaking, we want to see both. If you are leading a session you want to be able to ‘see the room’ – in hybrid meetings this includes both the virtual and physical space.
5. Camera Angles and Backgrounds – this should be obvious, but isn’t. Everyone needs to be keenly aware of where their camera is pointing. We want to see faces not too much else.
6. Start Discussions Virtually – when there is a point for discussion, comments, or questions, always start with your virtual colleagues as it is the good way to remind everyone that they are there and it respects as equal participants, not forgotten extras.
7. Use virtual brainstorming tools – in meetings that you need to vote, brainstorm, or gather input, use online tools rather than a whiteboard. There are hundreds of tools available (for free and paid) enabling this type of interaction. Choose a method that works for everyone not just those in the room
8. Never just wing it – As with all meetings, workshops, and events – Design and Plan ahead – have a plan, a strong facilitator, design the event with all participants in mind, and all the good things any meeting should have.
Hosting hybrid meetings doesn’t have to be scary or overly difficult. It, just like hosting any meeting, requires a bit of forethought and plannning. Hopefully the 8 tips above help you – there are many other great tips online too.
What tips would you add to the above list?