Last year, the pandemic disrupted our way of working. Organizations were required to shift to a work-from-home setup due to the lockdowns of different areas and strict safety protocols. But as the lockdowns have declined and more people are getting vaccinated, some employees have returned onsite. However, the work-from-home setup will continue to be offered to some, thus the birth of hybrid meetings.
What is a hybrid meeting?
A hybrid meeting is a conference or discussion wherein some participants are gathered together while others are remote. For example, the participants who join in-person may be together in an office conference room, while those who are remote may be at home, in a coffee shop, a satellite office, or even another country.
The Challenges of a hybrid meeting
Hybrid meetings make it more efficient for people to discuss things that are crucial for the business operations. However, technology can limit those on remote, especially if the place has no stable internet connection. Remote participants may also be limited in participating in the meeting, especially during brainstorms or whiteboard sessions. In addition, those in the office may forget to include the remote employees in the activities.
Since hybrid meetings can be pretty challenging, make sure that there is indeed a need for this. Can the topic on-hand be discussed via email or the company chat group? If the meeting is about updates, is it possible to submit the updates first then call for an appointment if there are any clarifications? If yes, then it is time to plan for the meeting.
Here are some tips to make your hybrid meetings effective and successful:
Plan and prepare well
For any meeting to be successful, it needs to be planned well. Therefore, make sure to prepare the following logistics:
- A clear and detailed meeting agenda
- The targeted attendees of the meeting
- The intended outcome of the meeting
- Strong wifi connection
- Proper lighting and audio (it is better to prepare microphones so that the remote participants can hear those who are onsite)
- Meeting invite with the video call information
- Other devices like cameras and laptops. Ensure there are backup devices available as well
- Proper room layout so that everyone can be seen
- Pre-work materials (optional but can help make all participants be grounded)
Keep in mind the experience for all attendees
When planning what will happen in the meeting, design it so that everyone can participate and engage. Set up the platform so that all remote participants can be seen on the screen and in-person participants can catch their non-verbal cues. If there are activities or groupings, use different applications or platforms to ensure that remote participants are not left behind.
An excellent way to keep everyone on the same page and actively participate in the meeting is through maximizing technology. For example, use a digital whiteboard tool during structured learning activities or brainstorming sessions instead of the traditional whiteboard and post-its. This way, all participants can easily see what was written and suggested.
You can also use a shared digital notepad or workspace to take minutes of the meeting. Through this, you help remote participants catch up if they missed out on something.
You need the help of others to make sure that the meeting will go on smoothly! First, assign a facilitator with strong facilitation skills to engage both the in-person and remote participants. You may also ask someone to monitor the chats so that any inquiry or concern from remote participants will not go unnoticed. Give someone the role of a producer too. He should be tech-savvy and familiar with the platform used and the physical hardware like cameras and laptops.
Ask everyone for feedback after the meeting
After the meeting, survey all participants for their experience. Get their feedback on how to improve the hybrid meeting moving forward. Through this, you get to learn what worked, the pain points, and what to do better next time.
Embrace hybrid meetings
Having hybrid meetings is now the new normal. It will surely be the new way of doing things and is here to stay. Stay committed to learn, unlearn, and relearn things and techniques on how to do this. Ask colleagues and other professionals on how they conduct hybrid meetings. Get and apply the best practices of others.