With a growing number of people actively seeking positions that allow working from home, and with others still preferring to attend the workplace in-person, hybrid meetings are becoming a necessity. But with this new format comes new aspects that need to be considered to ensure meetings remain effective.
Keep reading to find out how to successfully prepare, present, and follow up hybrid meetings or visit the ViewSonic workplace solutions page for hardware and software solutions that support the hybrid workplace model.
Hybrid meetings represent the present and future, allowing on-site staff and remote staff to communicate, collaborate, make important decisions, and plot the course for changes of strategy. This approach has become increasingly necessary as the concept of telecommuting has grown in popularity and as employees continue to crave greater flexibility.
Nonetheless, effective hybrid meetings require the right steps to be taken across three main stages: preparation, presentation, and follow-up. In this article, we explain what hybrid meetings are and why they are beneficial, and also explore the steps that need to be taken to conduct efficient, effective, and genuinely useful meetings of this kind.
The Advantages of Hybrid Meetings
Before going further, it is a good idea to explain precisely what hybrid meetings are and why they can be beneficial. The basic definition of a hybrid meeting is a meeting where some employees are attending in-person, while others are participating remotely through the use of video conferencing technology.
This has become more and more necessary in modern workplaces as companies look to become more agile and dynamic while also responding to the demand for more flexible work arrangements.
Hybrid meetings can be advantageous because they remove the importance of physical location. This potentially opens each meeting up to more people, makes meetings easier to schedule, reduces travel, and allows companies to reimagine meeting spaces within central offices. For more on the benefits of hybrid meetings, read Hybrid Meetings: Saving Time, Money, and Space.
How to Prepare for Hybrid Meetings
According to the Harvard Business Review, 71 percent of senior managers believe their business meetings are unproductive and inefficient. There are several reasons for this but perhaps one of the most significant is the lack of preparation that often goes into meetings. It is therefore vital to remember the basics of general meeting preparation while also addressing the issue of representation that is more prevalent in hybrid meetings.
Be Clear on Your Aims and Objectives
When preparing for any meeting, the first and most important step is to precisely communicate what exactly you are calling the meeting for. You should clearly identify the specific aims and objectives of the meeting, not only to outline the agenda and guide the course of the meeting but also to measure the success of the meeting itself.
By outlining the key points and objectives, it becomes much easier to maintain control and keep the meeting on track. It’s also highly advised that you share any material that will be addressed in advance so attendees are not seeing it for the first time during the meeting. We cover these fine strokes and more about general meeting preparation in How to Plan an Effective Meeting.
Ensure Equal Representation of All Attendees
A key characteristic of any successful meeting is equal access to information for all attendees and equal representation of all attendees. In hybrid meetings, this is largely reliant on display solutions and how the physical meeting room is set up to allow equal and fair representation of remote attendees.
First, ensure that the video conferencing platform that remote attendees will be using is able to display their faces (or avatars) clearly on the meeting room display and that the audio support is able to make their opinions and insights clearly heard by in-person attendees. Secondly, for those attending in person, ensure that everybody is sat in such a way that they can be clearly seen and heard by remote employees. Key to the success of the hybrid workplace model is the elimination of any instance where remote workers are at a disadvantage. Meeting hosts, therefore, need to take active steps to ensure fairness, which begins at the preparation stage.
It is also advisable that all these technical aspects and considerations regarding seating arrangements are handled beforehand to avoid wasting valuable time at the start of the meeting.
How to Present Hybrid Meetings Successfully
While planning is important, the presentation phase is likely to have a far greater bearing on the overall success of the meeting. With hybrid meetings, the stumbling block of many is the failure to effectively bring remote attendees into the conversation and ensure equal access to information for all.
Follow the Remote-First Approach
In our previous article on How to Implement the Hybrid Workplace Model in Your Company, we cited the necessity of adopting a remote-first approach in which remote work is considered the default setting. Naturally, this extends to hybrid meetings in the way that all information surrounding the meeting, from invitation to follow-up, should be digitally available to avoid remote workers being at a disadvantage.
In terms of meeting presentation, nothing should occur within the meeting that creates a clear disadvantage for those working from home. If new material is introduced into the meeting, be sure to share it on screen for all to see and make a note to share it digitally with all participants after the meeting.
The very purpose of almost any meeting is to get valuable insights from key members of a team, and therefore, to marginalize the remote attendees in any way will only be at a disadvantage to the meeting itself.
Facilitate Equal Participation
Alongside this effort to create a framework of fairness for both kinds of meeting attendees, there will also need to be a conscious effort to encourage involvement from all employees, especially those attending from remote locations.
In-person meetings naturally drive active participation from attendees, while online meetings can leave the door open for passive participation. Hybrid meetings have the potential to make organizations more dynamic, but the onus is on the host to bring this element out during meetings by facilitating productive discussions between in-person and remote attendees. To avoid passive participation, be sure to:
- Stay on topic and avoid discussions drifting into areas that may be irrelevant
- Avoid sidebar discussions that may alienate remote attendees
- Pay attention to body language and avoid showing your back
- Ask questions to bring others into the conversation
- Keep unnecessary distractions to a minimum
Find out more on how to communicate better in meetings here.
Utilize Effective Communication and Collaboration Technology
Hybrid meetings rely heavily on hardware and software solutions to help attendees from various locations connect, communicate, and collaborate.
This type of meeting, where both in-person and online attendees are present, is most effective when the meeting room is equipped with a large interactive display to provide visual information and other forms of multimedia to drive the meeting forward. Combined with the myViewBoard software suite which is compatible with Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and more, meeting participants can not only communicate effectively but also collaborate through useful features such as multi-person casting, on-screen annotation, and digital whiteboarding for brainstorming and ideation.
Understanding the potential of wireless presentation displays and how they support hybrid meetings will help you conduct more effective meetings that are inclusive, collaborative, and ultimately more successful.
How to Effectively Follow Up Hybrid Meetings
Perhaps one of the biggest (and easiest to avoid) shortfalls of any kind of meeting is the lack of an effective follow-up. With it, action is taken, decisions are made, and feedback is obtained. Without it, momentum is lost and time is wasted. Hybrid meetings are no different, however, there is a larger importance placed on the digital documentation of the follow-up and relevant action points.
Follow Up Clearly, Digitally, and Comprehensively
The precise nature of the follow-up process will depend on a range of factors, including the objectives of the meeting and what was agreed during it, but it is important to be clear about who will follow up, how, and when.
In most cases, the follow-up process will be handled by the meeting host, but there may be instances where the duty is shared. What is vitally important is that a detailed follow-up is shared digitally to give all attendees a chance to review the keynotes and that a timeline is provided for when it can be expected. This can be especially useful for remote attendees who may have had connectivity issues during the meeting, and who may be concerned that the follow-up was conducted in person only with those physically present.
As pointed out in our best practices for following up after meetings, sending a simple meeting recap is a great starting point as it reminds attendees of the most important points. But there are multiple other follow-up activities you may want to consider, such as:
- Thanking attendees for joining and for their contributions
- Collecting all supporting documents used in the meeting and attaching them to the meeting recap for further review
- Clearly outlining the next steps with an accompanying timeline
- Requesting status updates or progress reports from key staff members
- Following up in person to provide support on delegated action points
Seek Out Feedback and Make Changes
Finally, take the time to actively seek out feedback from employees and make changes, if necessary. Hybrid meetings are still relatively new so there is bound to be a period of adjustment. Speak to those who attended remotely and ask what difficulties they faced and if improvements could be made. Speak to those who attended in person and find out if the hardware and software solutions adequately supported the necessary communication and collaboration between all team members. With honest feedback, positive adjustments can be made for more productive hybrid meetings going forward.
Digital transformation has drastically changed the workplace, providing new opportunities in the way we work and the way we meet. With the technology available today, hybrid meetings can be just as fluid as their in-person counterparts, yet there are a few best practices to remember. Firstly, embrace the remote-first approach, it should already be the default setting of any forward-thinking company. Secondly, be inclusive. It’s natural to pay more attention to those that are near you but for hybrid meetings to be successful it is vital that remote attendees are brought into the conversation. And lastly, look to optimize your meeting rooms with the right display solutions that support collaboration within the modern workplace as the choice of hardware and software you choose will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of all hybrid meetings within the organization.
You may also be interested in reading 10 Tips for Managing Hybrid Teams. Or, for innovative hardware and software solutions that support hybrid workplaces, from monitors to meeting rooms, visit the Viewsonic workplace solutions page.