Hybrid Meeting Audio: When resources are tight and demand is high, here’s how to make it work
You’ve been tasked with running hybrid meetings and will use rooms that typically have a projection unit but no audio options. What do you do? How do you ensure that the 3 people online can engage with the five people in the room? Here’s a “duct tape” process to get the job done:
Step 1: Everyone attending needs to join an online meeting
You need to run an online meeting (Teams, Zoom, WebEx or similar) and have everyone join the meeting. Even the people in your face-to-face room should bring their laptops and join the meeting (bandwidth permitting).
Step 2: Hybrid Meeting Audio (ensure everyone can hear and be heard)
- Guidelines for virtual attendees: Your virtual attendees can join audio via computer or phone.
- Guidelines for face-to-face attendees:
- Speakerphone: The simplest solution is the tried-and-true high-quality speakerphone. This works for small groups. Note: When using the speakerphone, no one in the room should join the meeting audio via their computer. If they do, they must mute it to avoid that dreaded echo. The challenge with the speakerphone is unbalanced audio. Those who are farther away can be difficult to hear. Also, when people in the room talk over each other, the audio gets too distorted for virtual attendees to decipher what’s being said.
- Individuals dial in: If your speakerphone doesn’t cut it, we’ve got your “duct tape” plan B. Every attendee can call into the meeting independently using their cell phone (not computer audio) paired with a headset or earbuds (we recommend wireless so you’re free to move). This option requires vigilance with muting and unmuting. Only the person speaking should unmute their line. Everyone else should remain muted. This will leave you, the meeting facilitator, feeling like air traffic control. You’ll need to direct who speaks and in what order. Remember these are “duct tape” solutions. It’s not perfect, but all your meeting attendees will be able to communicate with each other.
Step 3: Video (ensure everyone can see and be seen)
- Guidelines for virtual attendees: In a perfect world, virtual attendees stay on webcam for the entire meeting. At a minimum, they should turn on their camera when speaking.
- Guidelines for face-to-face attendees: You have several video options in the room (bandwidth permitting).
If someone is standing and presenting: Set up the presenter’s laptop in the back of the room and turn on the webcam so the presenter is within view.
Seated meetings: If your face-to-face attendees have joined the meeting via their laptops, they can turn on their individual webcams.
That’s it! It may not be flashy, but it gets the job done. We recently used a similar approach during our face-to-face training! An attendee got Covid (luckily symptom-free!). She joined online for the entire training, got to see the other participants presenting and even delivered her presentation via webcam and received coaching just like everybody else.
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