Hybrid Meetings: Balancing the Virtual & In-Person Experience

For more than 20 years, Worktank has been helping c-suite executives successfully host meetings with both in-person and virtual attendees across the globe. Here are our recommendations for creating a balanced experience for all participants.

Throughout the 2020 Pandemic, online meetings served a valuable purpose. And now that we’ve all learned to use the technology and work remotely, they’re not going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately, video calls are taking a toll. Zoom Fatigue is real. And after more than a year of collaborating and meeting via video screens, companies and team members are looking for balance. An overwhelming majority want a combination of remote work and in-office work, and many of our clients are obliging with hybrid work models that allow for 2 or 3 days in the office and alternate days at home.

The future of work is hybrid, and so, too, is the future of meetings. Businesses not only need to provide appropriate connectivity and tech infrastructure to enable meetings to happen in multiple locations, but they need to balance the virtual and in-person experience so that all attendees feel equally engaged.

Best Practices for Hosting Hybrid Meetings

For more than 20 years, Worktank has been helping c-suite executives successfully host meetings with both in-person and virtual attendees across the globe. Here are our recommendations for creating a balanced experience for all participants.

Assign a Virtual Facilitator

Virtual attendees tend to get drowned out by the people who are physically meeting in the room, so it’s a good idea to assign an in-person virtual facilitator to ensure remote attendees have equal participation in the meeting. The facilitator may alert the presenter when a virtual attendee raises their hand or submits a comment or question in the chat, they may manage virtual attendee questions, repeating them for the room, and be responsible for muting and unmuting participants. The facilitator’s role can be filled by any in-person attendee, but it should be separate from the person running the meeting.

Set Expectations at the Start of the Meeting

It might seem obvious, but it’s important for the presenter to set the expectation at the beginning of the meeting that there is an equality between the online participants and the in-person attendees. This is to both remind those who are physically present to respect the facilitator, and for those who are remote to understand that they are expected to participate at the same level as those in the office. Make sure that everyone understands the facilitator role, and are aware that they may interrupt from time to time as an advocate for all of the virtual attendees.

Prepare and Share an Agenda Prior to the Meeting

Creating and sticking to an agenda is a must for any meeting, but it’s especially critical in hybrid meetings. Without a pre-planned itinerary, the people physically in the room will have a much greater advantage over those who are not in influencing the course of the meeting. Writing out an agenda on a whiteboard, or using printed hand-outs also creates an imbalance for those attending online. By preparing and sending out an agenda to all attendees prior to the meeting, everyone will be on the same page. All attendees will know what will be discussed, and can come prepared to participate, regardless of where they may be located.

Use a Standard Background for Virtual Attendees

One of the many reasons virtual meetings are exhausting is basic human psychology. When everyone on the Zoom call has a different background, our brains are on overload trying to focus, while still processing all the visual distractions. On the contrary, when everyone is meeting in the same room, it’s easy to comprehend the space, so there’s less mental processing involved. One solution might be to take a photo of your conference room and have everyone use it as their virtual background. We also recommend using the “hide-self” view to stop virtual attendees from critiquing their own reflection.

More Help with Hybrid Meetings

Ensuring all team members within the company have equal access to information, and are equally engaged in company meetings is crucial. When those team members are located both in-house and spread throughout the state, nation or globe, many companies turn to Worktank for help.

Bringing together virtual and in-person teams is our specialty. Our virtual meeting management services go far beyond basic AV setup and tech support. We want your online meeting participants to feel like they are sitting face-to-face with the leadership team, and we work hard to ensure each participant’s time is respected, and company-wide collaboration is encouraged—not hindered.

Learn more about our virtual meeting management services, or give us a call at 877-975-8265.

Evan Evan

Evan Sadler, Director of Content Solutions

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