Many teams are preparing to return to the office at least part-time. This means more face-to-face collaboration and communication. But with some teammates still distant or geographically scattered, hybrid in-person/remote meetings are becoming more common, potentially for longer periods.
Each meeting style has its own benefits and unique challenges. Hybrid meetings are a natural result of a more flexible working model, but there are a few considerations to take to ensure that these meetings are productive, run smoothly, and encourage effective participation.
Based on the lessons learned from virtual meetings, we would like to give you tips for a successful transition to a hybrid meeting room. With this checklist in place, you're ready to start planning.
1. Set Your Meeting Preferences
Is it your priority to gather as many people as possible in person? To have an engaged discussion with participants from across the room and from afar? Giving presentations or updates to team members from different locations? If you can't achieve 100% of your ideal outcome, what are the "must-have" details and which are "nice to have" to move the meeting forward?
By setting your priorities early, you can plan an effective meeting layout to achieve your goals. Hybrid meetings can take many forms, and this strategy will help you find the best format, technology, and location for your meeting needs.
2. When Planning Your Format, Consider the Distant Participants First
Groups that meet together in a room naturally garner more attention—it is easier for participants to share ideas, interrupt, and provide non-verbal input. On the other hand, virtual attendees may not be able to participate so easily and may not be able to read body language, raise a hand to interrupt, and so on. Create a structure that suits virtual attendees.
Virtual meetings tend to be shorter than in-person meetings, and if you're hosting a hybrid meeting, you should schedule it to play out for the virtual attendee (in-person attendees probably won't mind the smaller meeting).
3. Consider Hiring a Meeting Moderator
If your meeting is heavily attended, consider hiring someone to act as a proxy for remote attendees and to facilitate the meeting flow. This role can also help in getting answers from remote participants; If everyone except a few distant participants is in the same room together, they may not feel confident speaking up and contributing. The meeting moderator can act as a delegate for remote participants, giving everyone a place to contribute.
4. Choose a Transfer Software
Choose a platform that works well for you. Do you use Virtual Whiteboard? Start a poll? Streaming an all-hands meeting with your global team? Make sure your software choice supports the priorities you set when planning your hybrid meeting.
5. Test your technique in the room you are using before the meeting begins.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? However, hybrid meetings require you to test both the hardware (the technology you use to connect, such as cameras, microphones, etc.) and the software (your broadcast platform, such as Zoom).
Often different software programs have their own input/output settings, so you may need to change some settings in the software to get the technical setup that works for you. And it's ideal for testing out the technology in your broadcast room – you can discover details about the room in which you choose to influence the setup or technology.