Our Top 5 Tips for Hosting a Hybrid Meeting
Because most meetings will now be hybrid to some degree, workplaces every need to know the keys to a successful hybrid meeting.
While remote working was already on the rise in recent years, there’s a whole lot more of it happening these days. But it’s also not an all-or-nothing choice anymore. What’s happening now is the rise of hybrid work. People may be in-person part of their time and remote the rest of the time. One of the biggest impacts on the workplace is the way meetings happen. Chances are good moving forward that most meeting will have at least one person participating remotely. Running hybrid meetings presents an array of challenges. Every hybrid meeting needs an appointed facilitator who keeps the following 5 keys to a successful hybrid meeting in mind:
Key 1: Fully Embrace Hybrid Meetings
Back in October 2020, 98% meetings had at least one employee participating remotely, according to The Rise of the Hybrid Workplace. While this figure is likely to go down as more people physically return to the workplace, an increased level of hybrid work is here to stay, which means hybrid meetings are also here to stay. The only question is whether hybrid meetings will be quality meetings. If the meetings are needed or required, then it’s worth doing them right so they’re as effective as possible.
Key 2: Strategically Integrate Meetings and Online Collaboration Tools
When employees are remote, it’s all too easy for them to feel out of the loop because they’re missing out all the conversations and ad hoc meetings happening in the workplace. If those conversations are important, they should be happening online. After all, this is the digital age of the twenty-first century and the tech tools are available to facilitate communication (Slack, Notion, Asana, Trello, and so on) as well as get feedback on documents (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides).
Use similar tools for collecting information, feedback, and opinions on meeting topics ahead of the gathering to increase meeting efficiency. Discussing the results is better than trying to collect the information during the meeting as well as discussing it. When these tools become the primary channel of communicating and even working with team members, everyone is part of the conversation regardless of location.
When a hybrid meeting, is needed no one will be feeling out of the loop because team communication and collaboration has been happening online all along the way. Use those same tools to share thorough meeting notes as soon as possible afterwards.
Key 3: Get Hybrid Meeting Logistics Right
Making sure the logistics of a hybrid meeting run smoothly is essential for meeting productivity by fully engaging both in-person and remote participants. Everyone needs to feel heard and respected. All participants need to be on camera so remote participants can see everyone. No disembodied voices! Minimize crosstalk and side conversations. Anyone attending in-person who speaks needs to address the remote participants as well as their in-person colleagues.
Spell these ground rules out to everyone at the beginning of the meeting, and gently provide reminders during the meeting as needed. Adequate microphones in the physical meeting space are critical in order for remote participants to easily hear everyone who speaks, and external speakers in the room so in-person attendees can hear the remote participants. Include a sound check as the meeting gets underway.
Remote attendees also deserve to be represented as close to life-size as possible, which means the meeting room should be equipped with a screen large enough to show remote attendees close to life-size. Check all tech well before the meeting starts. There’s nothing worse than preventable tech failures during a hybrid meeting.
Key 4: Plan for Remote-First Inclusion
The meeting facilitator should always give a special welcome to the remote participants at the outset of the meeting to fully engaged from the start. If the meeting needs to include interactive activities, make sure to plan ahead for how they can be conducted online to include remote participants (virtual whiteboards, Q&A, polls, and so on).
Yes, this means even in-person attendees need to have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to engage those online tools during the meeting. In general, it’s wise to have a “remote-first” mindset. Because the remote participants are at highest risk of feeling disengaged or left out, prioritize them first in all interactions, not the in-person attendees.
It’s also up to the meeting facilitator to be sure in-person attendees don’t hog all the speaking time. The facilitator also needs to keep an eye out for when a muted remote participant unmutes or uses the “raise a hand” feature (or even does it physically on camera), signaling they want to speak. Also pay attention to the body language of remote participants on camera and respond to those cues as needed.
Key 5: Solicit Meeting Feedback from All Participants Afterwards
There are a lot of moving parts and considerations that go into effective hybrid meetings. Like anything, there’s a learning curve to getting them right. After a hybrid meeting, follow-up with each participant individually to solicit feedback about how it went and ask for suggestions to improve future hybrid meetings.
What work looks like continues to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing world. The good news in all of it are the technology tools available today that allow teams to still be productive and collaborate to get things done. Hybrid meetings will play a critical role in workplace productivity for the foreseeable future and establishing best practices for conducting them now will ensure quality results moving forward.