Hybrid meetings and training sessions – are you prepared?

How do you lead a meeting or training session in which you could have as many in-person attendees as you do virtual ones? These  “hybrid sessions” require you to effectively and appropriately merge in-person and virtual strategies.

But how do you do this well?

Contact Me About Leading Hybrid Meetings & Training Sessions

Related: Register for our Mastering Hybrid Meetings course.

What are the specific challenges with a hybrid session?

There are several issues that make hybrid meetings more challenging. The core issue, of course, is that you have two sets of participants – those in the room and those not in the room. But several challenges are apparent from this core issue:

1.    How will you ensure that all participants and you will be able to see everyone at the same time?

2.    How will you ensure that all participants and you will be able to hear everyone?

3.    How will you ensure that people have access to and are able to view the same information?

4.    How will you ensure that people will have essentially equal opportunity for involvement and contribution?

5. How will you ensure that people feel connected to one another both in-person and virtually?

Best Practices from Leadership Strategies

As we’re experiencing more and more hybrid sessions, we’ve been building our list of best practices. Assume we have a 20 person session with 12 people in the room together and eight people who are remote, all in different locations. Let’s look at best practices across three areas: room set-up, ground rules, and session execution.

Room and Session Set-up

1.    The room would have 3 tables, with four people each.

2.    Each table would have a laptop and a separate video camera pointed at the participants at the table.

3.    All remote participants would also have a laptop.

4.    There would be a video camera that was viewing the entire room.

5.    The screen projection for those on video.

6.    Speakers are important so that all can hear; yet it can be shut off during breakout groups.

7.    Facilitator should be at the end of the room, so facilitator can see the people in the room and the people on the screen without turning.

8.    Email materials to be used during the session to all participants.

Ground Rules

Along with the normal set of ground rules guiding behavior and interaction, we would add a few specially designed for virtual and hybrid meetings.

1.    If you don’t see something…say something!

2.    Avoid losing the remotes…we start there first

3.    Videos always on…we need to connect

4.    ONLY work on the session during the session

5.    Mute…Unmute…Re-mute

Session Execution

1.    Typically, a projection screen is at the front of the room. For hybrid sessions, the facilitator must be able to easily view all participants. Accordingly, we recommend that the facilitator operate from the other end of the room so that the screen is in front of the facilitator rather than behind him/her.

2.    With any round-robins or activities involving all participants, consider starting with the remote participants first, to avoid “losing the remotes.”

3.    With breakout groups divide the eight virtual participants into two groups of four; divide the twelve in-person participants into three groups of four.

4.    Document using electronic tools (Word, PowerPoint, Google Doc, etc.) so that both in-person and virtual participants can easily view the results.

5.    Avoid activities requiring the use of in-person media (flip charts, post-its, dots), except perhaps in breakout groups where the in-person groups would use the media and then share with the rest of the group using the vidcam at the table.