One of the legacies of the pandemic has been hybrid or remote working. Most people and businesses continue to review and refine their approach to hybrid working, which has led to a mix of meeting formats being used – the return to some in-person, continuation of all virtual, and also the rise in popularity of the hybrid meeting (with some participants in-person and some virtual).
But how do you get the most out of hybrid meetings? Having experienced many of these meetings over recent months, we are sharing some of the lessons and tips we’ve learned so far below. We expect ideas and technology will continue to develop in this area (for example, we are making use of the new 360-degree cameras), so please do share your own ideas and experiences with us.
What is the main challenge of hybrid meetings?
One particular issue with hybrid meetings is what has become known as ‘presence disparity’ – those attending virtually feeling slightly less involved than those attending in-person. For hybrid meetings to be effective, we need to ensure equal participation and engagement from virtual participants, which requires effective meeting management and chairing.
We would strongly recommend thinking about the below questions to ensure the visual and audio experience of virtual participants is equal to that of in-person participants:
- Can the virtual attendees see everyone clearly (not just a table that is too small to make anyone out)?
- Can the microphones being used pick up those in the room without echo? Would asking in-person participants to turn off individual laptop microphones/speakers help with this?
- With more participants bringing laptops/tablets into the room, is everyone avoiding distractions by closing emails/chats?
- Are virtual participants similarly avoiding distraction by not having a second screen open with other work or emails?
It might be worth considering having a social chair alongside a content chair, whose role is to focus on the engagement of all participants and actively seeks views of the virtual attendees.
Is hybrid right?
The type of meeting determines the importance of the key characteristics of hybrid meetings. For example, is it a seminar, a formal meeting with detailed content, or an informal catch up? Be discerning about whether a hybrid meeting is appropriate. Encourage a change if necessary.
Hybrid works for:
- Provision of information with the opportunity for questions and answers.
- General updates (e.g. progress status, reviewing actions, information exchange).
- Team catch-ups / quick decision-making.
- When travel to in-person meetings is inefficient.
Hybrid doesn’t work as well for:
- Detailed discussions, debates or in-depth collaboration.
- Creative or idea-generation meetings.
- Long, detailed meetings with multi-media.
What other top tips have we gathered?
- Plan your meetings upfront, and set agendas according to the type of meeting (in-person, virtual, hybrid), ensuring suitable allowance is made for breaks.
- Check the tech. For example Wi-Fi, camera availability, audio set up, meeting-room layout and presentation options.
- How should people ask questions? Consider using a hands-up function for virtual participants
- Signpost content for remote participants (it can also benefit in-person attendees!) – page numbering, highlighting key aspects of graphs, etc..
- Get feedback at the end of the meetings – have this as an agenda item.
The demand for hybrid meetings will likely become permanent – and therefore making hybrid meetings effective will help improve decision-making and participant engagement.
Hybrid meeting guide
Download our PDF on hybrid meetings, and discover the steps you can take to make them work for you and your organisation.Download now
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