With the rise of COVID-19 came the rise of hybrid meetings. Although these may not seem challenging at the outset, they present unique situations and require extra thought. When conducted poorly, hybrid meetings can be a complete waste of time.
Here’s everything you need to know about hosting the most effective hybrid meetings possible.
What is a Hybrid Meeting?
Although they’ve been around since before the dawn of COVID-19, hybrid meetings became the new normal in 2020. Although a lot of us thought returning to office would happen by 2021, many people are still working from home (whether by choice or not).
Hybrid meetings are ones where a few participants, perhaps the host, are in the office, but the rest of the participants are at home. This presents unique challenges that need to be addressed to host the best virtual-in-person meetings possible.
Handling Hybrid Meetings the Right Way
Meeting participation and effectiveness remain vital in the wake of hybrid gatherings. Here’s how to host winning virtual-in-person meetings.
Tip 1: Rework Traditional Meetings
Ironically, while COVID-19 caused businesses to change almost every practice, many still run their meetings the same way. Hybrid meetings rely on fundamentally different protocols and executions to succeed, so you’ll want to rework those.
Here’s the truth: many times, emails can take the place of meetings. Figure out if the meeting is necessary; if it is, provide tools to employees. These include chat functions, virtual whiteboards, and other technology that allows everyone to collaborate as they would in person.
It’s up to leaders and meeting hosts to figure out ways to keep people engaged and thinking. It’s far easier to tune out of hybrid meetings, especially if you’re on the virtual meetings side. Technology is an excellent way to do this, keeping these meetings as concise as possible.
Tip 2: Collect Input Beforehand
Research by Slido indicates that 42% of workers leave meetings without sharing their thoughts. It’s particularly challenging to engage in virtual discussions, so you’ll want to do everything in your power to facilitate hybrid meetings that engage virtual attendees.
One powerful way to do this is to use surveys and polls to collect input in advance. This enables everyone to share their thoughts, and the meeting facilitator can use these points to generate discussion. That way, everyone’s ideas get talked about.
Sample questions to ask beforehand include:
- What questions do you have about X?
- What are you currently working on?
- What do you think we should be working on in the future?
- What’s something you want to work on that you aren’t?
Depending on the goal of your meeting, tailor your information gathering accordingly.
Tip 3: Take Vigilant Notes
When we were all together in the office, it was easy for one employee to download important info from a missed meeting from one of their colleagues. With hybrid meetings, some teammates don’t get that chance.
Although taking scrupulous meeting notes always mattered, it’s more vital now. Store these minutes in a software management tool for everyone to access when needed. Taking these thorough notes means nobody falls behind, even if they had to miss the gathering.
Tip 4: Do Your Prep Work
Hybrid meetings present many unique scenarios that in-person ones do not. This includes participants across different time zones, facilitating rapport when people aren’t all together, and handling technological challenges like downed software or WiFi.
To ensure these hybrid meetings have the best chance for success, do the following:
- Know all participants’ time zones and ensure the meeting is at a time everyone can feasibly make it.
- Test all technology and connectivity beforehand.
- Think through how you’ll establish and maintain rapport, whether by having introductions, utilizing breakout rooms, or collecting people’s thoughts beforehand.
- Use technology that allows for collaboration, including virtual whiteboards and chatting software.
Tip 5: Resist the Urge to Overstock Meetings
With hybrid meetings enabling participants to join virtually, it may be tempting to expand the invitee list. After all, there won’t be the confines of limited seating or room space!
However, according to the Wall Street Journal, 73% of virtual meetings are between two and four people. This indicates a preference for smaller meetings, and the same holds true for hybrid ones.
While adding participants may seem more inclusive, it presents a big problem. An abundance of virtual attendees means the entire gathering will be skewed toward a virtual meeting, and those function differently than their hybrid counterparts.
Further, a large pool of attendees means facilitating rapport and collaboration is more challenging; given their importance in successful meetings, you’ll want to avoid this problem.
Tip 6: Establish Your Rules
Like regular ol’ in-person meetings, hybrid meetings need to have ground rules to keep them running smoothly and effectively. Here are some rules to consider:
Turn cameras on. Although this can feel awkward for participants, it’s more awkward to have 85% of cameras turned off and a mere 15% on. Instead, you’ll want everyone to pay each other respect and leave cameras on.
Ditch the side conversations. It’s super easy for in-person attendees to start side conversations, but that’s disrespectful to virtual attendees. Keep all conversations where everyone can partake in them.
Turn mics off when you aren’t talking. Ever been presenting in hybrid meetings when someone you didn’t realize joined the call starts chewing something… loudly? Or when your dog starts barking during someone’s epiphany? To avoid this, it’s best to have non-speakers turn mics off.
Tip 7: Add an Extra Facilitator
To accompany virtual and in-person attendees equally, consider having one facilitator for each group. The virtual facilitator can alert the in-person one of any questions from remote attendees or other issues virtual participants face.
Lead meeting facilitators handle a lot as it is, so mitigating the challenge of accommodating hybrid meetings by dedicating an extra facilitator to remote attendees helps everyone get the most out of the meeting.
Time to Crush Those Hybrid Meetings
Now that you know the 7 best tips for hosting killer hybrid meetings, it’s time to get to work. By implementing the ideas above, you’ll be well on your way to hybrid meetings that are as productive as they are engaging.