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Hybrid Meetings: How to make yours great

December 15, 2021
Written by Michelle Kuly

Hybrid meetings are getting a revamp in our post-pandemic world. In this Zoom era, we’ve come a long way from dialing into that clunky box on the conference table. But despite our best efforts, it’s still too easy for the in-person participants to take over the conversation.

As organizations emerge from Covid restrictions, McKinsey suggests that 90% will adopt some combination of on-site and remote work in a recent survey. While organizations navigate this balance, you can hone your skills to run better meetings that blend in-person and virtual attendees.

Use these 5 tips to leverage meeting design, utilize technology and strengthen facilitation at your next hybrid meeting. So each participant feels included, engaged and heard whether they’re in the room or across the ocean.

1. Focus on facilitation. 

Utilize a facilitator, who can help draw in remote participants, ensuring their voices are heard and not being talked over or interrupted by the people in the room. When needed, a facilitator can call on virtual and physical attendees to ensure everyone feels included.

2. Prioritize the tech check.

Waiting to fix audio or video glitches kills your meeting’s momentum and wastes time. Test your set-up both in the room and for remote attendees. Schedule 15 minutes to go through a dry run with each virtual participant individually so they can review the software and get comfortable with what they see before the meeting.

3. Boost your audio + video. 

Consider the remote perspective when setting up. It’s infuriating not to be able to hear everyone, so equip the room with high-quality microphones. If multiple mics aren’t an option, consider having your in-person attendees pass around a hand-held microphone.

Mount webcams on tripods so in-room attendees’ faces are in view. Join the Zoom meeting and open laptops in front of necessary flip charts and whiteboards. Before the meeting, prepare remote participants by emailing them any physical documents you hand out.

Create an experience where your remote participants feel like an essential part of the meeting instead of far-away observers.

4. Create a buddy system.

Team your remote crew up with staff or a fellow participant, so they have a physical connection to the room. If they need to stick a post-it on a wall, they can communicate with their buddy through text, chat or phone to participate. They also have support if they need someone to ask Tina to speak up or Frank to stop having side conversations.

5. Design meetings for all attendees.

Run through your meeting and review how remote participants will engage with each activity of exercise. Think about what techniques and tools can help maximize their interaction with the participants in the room.

Use phone-based survey tools to poll attendees and a webcam to allow remote participants to review peer answers before placing their dot on the wall chart. If you have breakout sessions, put in-person and remote attendees into the same group instead of segregating virtual participants. The extra effort will show all participants that you’ve done the work to create a hybrid meeting that welcomes everyone.

Extra resources

What It Takes to Run a Great Hybrid Meeting
Reimagining the postpandemic workforce
8 Tips for Facilitating Nonprofit Hybrid Meetings


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