Hybrid presentations and workshops are here to stay, yet there can be concerns about their effectiveness, especially for businesses who are working out the best ways to run hybrid meetings. In UNtoday, the United Nations voices concerns about how hybrid meetings could lead to “first class in-person participants” and “coach virtual travelers.” In other words, organizations may be making hybrid meetings available for both audiences, but unless proactively prevented, hybrid meetings can foster unequal treatment of in-person and virtual attendees.
So what can organizations do to overcome the challenges of hybrid working and engage all participants? It starts with having the right technology to provide equal access to attendees, but it doesn’t end there. Meeting hosts can also take steps to ensure each participant feels empowered to engage, no matter where they’re tuning in from. In this hybrid event guide, we cover these essentials and more.
What Is a Hybrid Meeting?
Hybrid meetings have a combination of in-person and remote presenters and attendees. Along with all of the benefits and challenges of each model, hybrid meetings come with requirements to manage both groups simultaneously. The hybrid model works for meetings with nearly any purpose, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Team Meetings
- Client Presentations
- Shareholder Meetings
- Strategic Planning
- Project Work
To accomplish these different purposes, you can employ several types of hybrid meeting formats, such as:
- Simultaneous: The simultaneous hybrid format is the standard for meetings. In these meetings, in-person and virtual attendees are present at the same time and can interact with each other.
- Live Studio Audience: This format is focused primarily on presenters and is often used during larger announcement events, such as a product launch. The presenter is typically attending in-person, while audience members can attend either physically or virtually. Audience participation is usually reserved for asking questions during a set time period.
- On-Demand: On-demand events separate the experience of in-person and virtual attendees, but they can still be helpful for certain purposes. In this format, presenters address an in-person audience, and that presentation is recorded for later distribution to virtual viewers. On-demand events can work well when the presentation doesn’t heavily feature audience participation. This is because attendees can view the presentation when and where they can connect best without missing out. For example, on-demand viewership can work well for sharing keynote presentations from conferences.
When done well, hybrid meetings can yield many benefits. Engaging and purposeful hybrid meetings often result in:
- Cost Savings: Having employees spread out across different locations is nothing new for many organizations. However, bringing everyone in the same room can get costly, considering travel, lodging, and meal costs. You also run the risk of travel complications, such as inclement weather and flight cancellations, which can derail your schedule. Hybrid meetings allow those who can/wish to attend in-person to do so, while virtual attendees can participate from their usual workspace. With hybrid meetings, you can also bring the entire team together more often, since doing so requires a more manageable financial investment each time.
- Increased Employee Satisfaction: Hybrid work models save employees time and money by reducing their commute, and they often get more control over their daily schedule. According to Forbes, this flexibility increases job satisfaction for 88% of employees. Hybrid meetings make it possible for in-person and virtual workers to complete projects from where they work best. Therefore, following hybrid meeting best practices helps your business thrive while supporting employees.
- Expanded Talent Pool: According to Gallup, 53% of remote-capable employees expect to have a hybrid schedule, while 24% expect to be able to work fully-remote. Good talent can be hard to come by, and ensuring that your organization has the right tools and processes to run hybrid meetings effectively allows you to attract talent that expects a hybrid model.
- Improved Idea Generation: Each member of your team was hired because they had something to contribute to your company. However, ineffective meetings make it difficult for each team member to express their ideas, which means great ideas can go unheard. Purposeful hybrid meetings include those who have something to offer, and engagement methods make sure everyone is able and excited to share their ideas.
How Does a Hybrid Conference Work?
On the surface, the basics of running a hybrid meeting are similar to those of a live event, except you need to balance the needs of both an in-person and virtual audience. What makes a great hybrid meeting lies in this balance; each member needs to feasibly be able to participate and feel encouraged and enabled to do so.
Logistically, hybrid meetings function by having virtual attendees tune into the meeting through an online platform, while in-person attendees can see and hear them through a device like a computer or tablet in their physical meeting space.
What Is Needed for a Hybrid Meeting?
Hybrid meetings need the same elements as a fully in-person meeting with added technology to connect with a virtual audience. That means nailing the essentials like having a clear and intentional agenda, starting on time, and providing opportunities for employees to contribute.
What Equipment Is Needed for a Hybrid Event?
The required technology for hybrid meetings ranges from allowing the meeting to happen to making it as successful as possible. To host a meeting and run it well, you will need the following equipment and technology tools at your disposal:
- Stable Internet Connection: You likely have a strong internet connection at your office, but do your hybrid and remote employees have a good connection at home? In certain areas, it’s harder to get a reliable connection, which may lead to interruptions during meetings. Knowing this ahead of time allows you to plan workarounds, like allowing coworkers to turn off their camera to preserve bandwidth or participate through chat if their voice connection becomes choppy. Many virtual platforms also allow users to call into meetings with their cell phone, as they may be able to find a better connection through their cellular network.
- Internet-Connected Devices: In-person and virtual attendees will need access to internet-connected devices to communicate with one another. Typically, desktops or laptops work best so attendees can make use of advanced tools like screen sharing and collaborative whiteboards. For the in-person participants, it helps to equip your meeting room with a large screen, so it’s easier to see the virtual attendees and their reactions.
- Webcams: In many cases, it can be advantageous for employees to have face-to-face connection, even if they aren’t in the same room. Most laptops come equipped with webcams already, but if your team is working with a device that doesn’t come with one, they can acquire attachable webcams.
- Microphones: It’s also important for employees to be able to hear each other in real time, without any delays. This can be difficult for remote attendees trying to understand what people in the office are saying, especially when everyone isn’t close to a microphone. This can be solved with sound bars that act as both speakers and microphones that can pick up softer noises. At-home participants can also use programs that filter out background noise from their end, so stampeding pets or family members passing through cause less of a distraction.
- Virtual Meeting Platform: The virtual meeting platform is the software that you use to host hybrid meetings. Basic versions of this software will allow you to create and schedule meetings, host video calls, and send messages through chat. Advanced platforms, like Alleo, include added features focused on engagement and participation equity, such as collaborative whiteboards that multiple users can interact with at the same time.
- Chat Room: Chat rooms are an essential tool for hybrid meetings, and they come standard with many virtual meeting platforms. However, this tool often goes underutilized. In addition to sharing links, virtual attendees can also write questions that may be difficult to communicate verbally due to connection issues or shyness. The meeting host should therefore make a point to monitor the chat room for questions and comments, make sure that they are heard by the entire group, and give participants a chance to respond to them.
How Do You Run a Successful Hybrid Meeting?
Running a successful meeting requires being aware of the problems with hybrid meetings and making a plan to overcome them. Some of the common challenges to focus on are technology issues, meeting fatigue, and uniting all participants. We already discussed the essential technology (be sure to test it ahead of meetings), and now we’ll cover how to actively include more people in your meetings and boost participation.
How Do You Engage People in Hybrid Meetings and How Do You Make Hybrid Events More Interactive?
People like to make meaningful contributions, and enabling your team members to do so will increase participation during meetings. The first step to doing this applies for all meetings—hybrid or not. When inviting employees to meetings, ensure that you are only inviting the people who need to be there and who you would welcome input from. There are few things more frustrating than knowing you have piles of work to get through while stuck on a call that has nothing to do with you.
The second step, which applies specifically to hybrid meetings, is to make it easy for each attendee to contribute, whether they’re attending in-person or virtually. With the right technology, this can be done without interrupting the flow of meetings. For example, having a designated chat moderator can make it easier for virtual attendees to voice their opinions and be heard. Also, A collaborative canvas allows each attendee to work together on the same space in real-time, rather than having one person control what gets visually represented. Finally, built-in presentation tools remove the need for screen sharing, which saves minutes (that may feel like hours) of presenters awkwardly fumbling through their tabs and hoping they don’t share the wrong thing.
Hybrid Meeting Checklist
When it comes to hybrid meeting best practices, ensuring you have everything ready may seem overwhelming. If this is the case, you can use this checklist to track what you have in place and what you still need to prepare:
- Physical meeting room is equipped with a display and sound bar
- Virtual attendees have internet-connected devices, video and microphone access
- Meeting Platform
- Your platform enables live video, audio, and chat
- Equipped with powerful tools for real time collaboration
- Can support multiple screen shares and embeds simultaneously
- Meeting Flow
- An agenda is sent out ahead of time so attendees can brainstorm ideas
- There is a moderator to ensure that questions are clearly heard from virtual attendees
- There are regular opportunities for attendees to provide feedback
Check Every Box with Alleo
When it comes to running effective hybrid meetings, it’s important to maintain focus. Unfortunately, basic virtual meeting platforms leave out essential tools, so hosts have to switch between programs or tabs. This leaves more opportunities for distraction. That’s why it’s critical to have a platform that does it all. With Alleo, you get just that, an all-in-one hybrid meeting platform with features like:
- Customizable meeting templates to keep everyone on-track and engaged
- Our infinite collaborative canvas that supports whiteboarding and ideation
- Widgets such as simple chat to support nonverbal communication while driving participation equity
- Multiple screen sharing to allow for real-time comparisons
- Built-in multimedia presentations so you can say, show, and demonstrate what you mean without wasting time to click around your desktop
For meetings that are accessible, customizable, simplified, and engaging, it’s time to switch to Alleo. See the difference for yourself and schedule a demo today.