The workplace has transformed dramatically over the last few years. As more employees juggle remote and in-person work, hybrid meetings must be inclusive, efficient, and engaging. In this blog, we’ll look at six strategies to ensure you and your coworkers are always getting the most out of every hybrid meeting.
Calendar: attending in-person or remote
Leveraging calendar tools is an easy way to bridge the gap between remote and in-person employees. Google Calendar, for instance, allows users to specify their attendance preferences.
- “I’m attending remotely” notifies others that you’ll be a virtual participant.
- “I’m attending in person” notifies others that you’ll be physically present for the meeting.
This feature enables participants to plan accordingly and even adjust their attendance plans when needed to ensure that in-person and remote attendees can seamlessly collaborate.
Send a pre-read
Don’t waste meeting time by having everyone spend the first few minutes reading meeting materials. Maximize your time by sending all relevant documents or materials in advance. This “pre-read” gives meeting participants, whether in-office or remote, an opportunity to familiarize themselves with content beforehand and come prepared with any questions they may have. By making sure that everyone is prepared, you can delve deeper into discussions and problem-solving during the meeting, maximizing productivity and engagement.
Cameras on or off
There is a healthy debate to be had on the merits of having cameras on or off during virtual meetings, but this choice becomes even more important during a hybrid meeting. While some attendees may groan when they’re told that cameras need to be on for a meeting, there are several important benefits to using them:
- Non-verbal cues and facial expressions enhance communication and collaboration.
- It helps remote attendees feel more involved in the meeting.
- It’s the easiest way to facilitate the sense of connection and engagement that comes from in-person interactions.
Remember, technology has come quite a way over the last few years, and there are options available that put a basic web camera to shame. Front and center solutions, like the Meeting Owl 3 + Owl Bar, work together to capture every angle in a room, no matter where a participant is sitting or looking. These solutions make hybrid meetings a more natural experience by facilitating more face-to-face communication and making sure everyone can be clearly seen and heard.
Designate one person to manage chat
Keeping everyone engaged and informed should be a top priority in every hybrid meeting. One of the best tools for doing this is the chat function in whichever video-conferencing software you’re using. That’s why designating one person to manage the chat during a hybrid meeting can be such a game changer. The chat manager should be responsible for:
- Noting questions and comments from remote participants.
- Sharing pertinent links and documents in the chat during the meeting.
- Moderating the chat conversation to make sure everyone stays on topic.
By assigning this role before every hybrid meeting, you’re streamlining the communication flow, which allows for more meaningful interactions between meeting participants, regardless of their locations.
Check reaction buttons
Many video-conferencing platforms, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, feature reaction buttons like “raise hand.” When utilized correctly, these reactions provide remote attendees with ways to organically interact and participate in the conversation without interrupting the speaker.
Encourage your remote participants to use these reactions, and be sure to actively monitor them during your hybrid meetings. When those reactions are used, be sure to acknowledge them and follow up when needed.
Pause between topics for questions from the floor
One of the biggest challenges during hybrid meetings is creating an environment where questions from both remote and in-person attendees are encouraged and answered. To do this effectively:
- Regularly pause the discussion and ask for questions.
- Allocate time for answering any outstanding questions.
- Encourage participants to take advantage of chat.
This approach fosters active engagement and ensures that remote participants are included in the conversation.
Hybrid meetings are the new norm, and mastering them requires a balanced approach that caters to the needs of both in-person and remote participants. Designating a chat manager, checking reaction buttons, pausing for questions, sending pre-read materials, using calendar tools, and addressing the camera issue are strategies that can make your hybrid meetings efficient and inclusive. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that everyone is engaged, informed, and actively contributing, regardless of their location.