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
In a perfect world, all attendees will join your hybrid meeting via a virtual meeting platform such as Teams, Zoom or WebEx. Yes, everyone needs to bring their laptop to the face-to-face meeting! All meeting attendees should be able to:
- Hear and be heard: Virtual attendees must ensure their audio works well, which means they should have a reliable headset for computer audio or dial in on their phone. For the face-to-face attendees, you will need a good speaker phone in the middle of the room or microphones in the ceiling. If this does not exist, the best backup is to have all face-to-face attendees use a headset for their computers or dial in on their phones, allowing them to mute and unmute when speaking.
- See and be seen: Everyone needs to be on a webcam. You need a webcam in the room, either one camera with everyone in view, or have each individual join the meeting from individual devices. Virtual attendees should be required to be on webcam.
- Share documents via the virtual meeting platform: Any documentation you are discussing in the main room needs to be shared via the meeting platform so everyone can see the same thing.
- Participate in activities: Get creative! Use breakout rooms and drawing tools.
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 when facilitating hybrid meetings. When you’re new to hybrid meetings, having only one open mic in your conference room is typically easiest (such as a speaker phone). One audio connection eliminates the need to mute and reduces the chance of an echo. However, this only works if you have a small group
Determining what works best will likely take trial and error. Practice, be patient and give yourself plenty of time to test. Most importantly, always have backup plans in place. If you are running the meeting, determine two ways to transmit the audio. If one fails, prepare to make the necessary changes. 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.
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- 16 educational videos
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- Whitepapers and articles