As our “new normal” continues to shift, providing employees with flexible work is no longer optional. Hybrid meetings, where some are together in a conference room and others join remotely, are here to stay.
It’s not enough to place a speakerphone in the middle of the table, leaving remote attendees feeling isolated and unheard. Running successful hybrid meetings demands planning, preparation and practice. Sorry, but just showing up to run your meeting and have an open discussion does not work anymore! Do you treat it like a face-to-face meeting or an online meeting? Surprise! You’ll lean more towards managing it like an online meeting.
These four tips will help you reduce stress and start off on the right path.
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1. Considerations Before You Begin
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a high-tech room with built-in audio and video, you’re off to a great start! Most of us are going into a regular conference room with or without a speakerphone. If this is the case, all attendees need to bring their laptops to join your hybrid meeting and their phone. This allows all meeting attendees to:
- Hear and be heard
- See and be seen on their own webcam
- Share their own documents via the virtual meeting platform when needed
- Participate in activities, including breakout rooms and access drawing tools to create more engagement
2. Content: Develop for Online
The most common mistake I see is that people plan for hybrid meetings as if it’s a standard face-to-face meeting. Instead, you must flip your thought process and think about your virtual attendees first. What do they need to feel included?
- Send the agenda and relevant documents in advance.
- Verbal Discussion: Call on your virtual attendees by name to invite their input. Control the chaos by stating who should speak first, second, and so on.
- Assign someone to monitor chat and empower them to speak up. Not everyone is comfortable interrupting or speaking up during a meeting. Allowing attendees to contribute via chat is a great way to include all attendees.
- Plan for interaction: It’s easy to derail on a topic or conversation in the main room. Reach out to your virtual attendees every 3-5 minutes.
3. Audio: Know Your Tech
Getting the audio right can be a real challenge. If it’s a small group, use the speakerphone to have only one open mic in the room, reducing the risk of echo. If you don’t have a speaker phone or are meeting with a large group (6+) then we recommend dialing into the meeting audio via individual cell phones, then muting and unmuting the audio on your phone when you need to speak. If you’re the main speaker, consider using earbuds for your phone, which provides more freedom to move around the room. While we admit this can be clunky, the audio quality is much better than having multiple voip connections in the same room.
Read more about our “Duct Tape” approach to hybrid meeting audio.
4. Don’t do it Alone
Running successful hybrid meetings requires a team effort. It’s simply impossible to monitor chat, answer technical questions, direct conversations to eliminate over-talk, take notes, stick to the agenda, stay on time and present content simultaneously. Enlist the help of colleagues and assign them tasks throughout the meeting to ensure you stay on track, on topic and on time.
Assign colleagues to:
- Monitor chat and give them permission to interrupt
- Keep an eye on the clock and ensure you’re engaging virtual attendees at least every 5 minutes
- Open specific documents to share to create more engagement
- Open and share a blank document to capture notes during an open discussion so all can see
- Select the next person to speak to avoid over-talk and encourage more participation
Need help with hybrid meetings? Let’s talk!
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Want to learn more?
Download this in-depth guide featuring ten communication resources covering content development, tech & trends, physical skills, managing tough questions, and executive presence.
- 16 educational videos
- Two content development worksheets
- Whitepapers and articles