How often have you come away from a meeting feeling like it was a waste of time?

The outcomes were unclear. The takeaway value was little. Unfortunately, this is a little too common and only continues to become more complex with the rise in hosted hybrid meetings. 

Connecting both remote and in-person participants has benefits for all: (1) the host can expand reach and collaboration, and (2) participants gain access and flexibility to the meeting online.

But the ability to meet the expectations of both live and virtual participants is more complex. 

So, what’s the secret sauce? With years of experience in the hybrid workspace here at Front+Centre, we’ve compiled some of our key learnings to create the ultimate guide to running an effective hybrid meeting.

1. Preparation and setting expectations are key

Be prepared. Like any meeting (virtual or not), setting expectations and preparing participants for what will take place is essential. Send a clear agenda to everybody, along with the meeting login details for remote participants. We recommend setting up a chat system: for conference-style hybrid meetings, attendees can use an online chat to introduce themselves before the meeting, and for general meetings, it’s a great way for attendees to ask questions and make comments during the session with less disruption. In some cases, setting up a pre-meeting chat can help the meeting run more smoothly — where points or questions may be answered directly via chat to avoid meeting clutter later.

Come meeting day, you’ll want to have all the right equipment set up and ready to go. That’s why we think it’s wise to partner with an expert in meeting technology. Showing up to host a hybrid meeting with all the relevant tech and high-speed internet reduces the risk of delay or stress that can come from meeting setup. Book a room with us at Front+Centre to ensure that your video conferencing is correctly set up, so you can focus on facilitating a great experience for your virtual and in-person audience.

2. Remember: digital-first 

When planning how your meeting will run, it’s important to understand that the attention span of a virtual audience is lower than that of your in-person audience, due to screen fatigue. We recommend focusing on splitting your meeting into smaller and easier-to-digest sessions, with breaks. Consider incorporating sessions that don’t require virtual attendance. Instead, record those sessions and send them out to virtual participants to watch on another day.  

While hosting the hybrid meeting, making virtual attendees feel included and engaged in discussions is key. Do this by ensuring that everyone in the host room is in view, or by moving the camera to face the speaker (ensuring they give eye contact to both the live audience and look directly to the camera). Looking out for visual cues, e.g. virtual attendees switching off mute, is important for encouraging participation and inclusion.

3. Enhance the experience of all attendees

Schedule breakout rooms (both in-person and virtual combined) throughout your meeting and get participants to collaborate or network together in a more personal setting. Use online collaboration tools for brainstorming sessions such as miro (an online whiteboard) to further bring hybrid teams of people together or slido where participants can take part in live polls, Q&As and quizzes.

As a host, the experience you create can be elevated beyond your meeting agenda. Enhance your participants’ experience with a meal or some grazing snacks to break up the day and enable attendees to network in a relaxed and comfortable setting. In more recent times at Front+Centre, our caterers have offered packed lunch bags to avoid food sharing during the pandemic. As the hybrid organiser, consider sending out delivery food bags or snacks to your online attendees to match this experience.

4. It’s not all over once the meeting or conference has finished

Post-meeting engagement is the final step in achieving a successful hybrid meeting. We recommend summarising, following up and requesting feedback from all attendees. These steps will ensure that meeting outcomes or actions are clearly stated, and a feedback loop is in place to further improve or acknowledge success. A big thank you also goes a long way! Send out any follow-up info with good messaging that shows your appreciation for participant involvement, and save important meeting documents and notes in a place that everyone can access and make further comments on. If you recorded the meeting, or specific sessions, you might also choose to file these away or upload them to your intranet or website if the content isn’t confidential.

Use this guide to increase meeting engagement, enable participants to feel involved, and establish a safe hybrid space to optimise creativity and collaboration. 

Interested in hiring a hybrid meeting room in Wellington? Check out our big rooms here and our small rooms here. To book a space, click on any of the Book Now buttons.