The last few years have seen a huge shift in the way we work, and since the pandemic, many companies have continued to function remotely. In fact, by the end of 2022, an estimated 25% of professional jobs in the US were remote. And while most companies haven't gone fully remote, many have adopted a system of hybrid working.
With some staff working in the office and others working from home, hybrid meetings are a way of life now. But they don't come without their challenges. Tech issues, bad audio, and finding it hard to contribute are just some of the challenges experienced in hybrid meetings. But fear not, they're easily avoidable!
Keep reading for seven top tips to make your hybrid meeting a success.
Let's start with the basics. A hybrid meeting involves a mixture of in-person and remote attendees. In-person attendees physically gather in a meeting room, while those attending remotely dial in via an online conferencing platform like Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
If there's a meeting presentation, it will be shared on a screen in the meeting room, and shared online for everyone else.
According to the 2022 State of Hybrid Work Report, more than 70% of meeting attendees experience the following challenges during hybrid meetings:
Uncertainty about whether to interrupt someone who's speaking
Not being able to hear everyone
Not being able to see faces and therefore missing visual cues
Finding it difficult to be part of or contribute to the conversation
These are the biggest challenges, but with the right planning and preparation, they're easy to overcome.
1. Choose your platform
Each online meeting tool comes with its own unique pros and cons. Make sure you do your research to find the best one for your particular needs. Once you've chosen one, make sure you share a link to the online meeting as part of your meeting invite.
2. Allow plenty of time for setup
Arrive around 20 minutes early to the meeting area so you can run through your presentation and check all technology is working as it should be. Set up your camera so those watching online can clearly see you and make sure there is enough seating for in-person attendees.
3. Prioritize great audio
Bad audio is one of the biggest issues when it comes to hybrid meetings, so get ahead of the problem and make sure you have good quality microphones. Ensure your meeting is held in a quiet, distraction-free space and check with online participants that they can hear before you begin.
4. Think about the visuals
As well as making sure your camera works and is pointing in the right direction so that online attendees can see everything going on in the room, you should also consider things like lighting, the position of your interactive board, and anything that could cause annoyance or discomfort (like sun streaming through the blinds).
5. Help online members feel more included and engaged
Feeling disengaged and finding it hard to contribute to the conversation are two of the biggest challenges in hybrid meetings, but there's lots you can do to make hybrid meetings more inclusive.
Encourage everybody to turn on their cameras so that it's clear who's in attendance, and consider using the "raise your hand" function so that remote attendees can easily interject if they have a question or comment, without fear of interrupting someone.
6. Use an online whiteboard for hybrid brainstorms
If your hybrid meetings are used for ideation and collaborative thinking, then online whiteboard tools are a great way to get remote attendees more involved.
One of the main trends in remote working at the moment is the use of online collaboration tools. In fact, the global online whiteboard software market is projected to grow from $9.56 million in 2019 to $24.67 million by 2027, and searches for the online whiteboard platform Miro are up 900% over the last three years!
By using an online whiteboard, remote attendees can play as big a part in the session as their in-person colleagues, contributing their ideas and engaging in the task at hand.
7. Record and transcribe the meeting
Recording the meeting is important - for those who can't make the meeting and also for attendees to refer back to if they experience any tech problems or if they need to double check anything. Go one step further with a meeting transcription, which your team can skim-read and search for key points, saving them loads of time compared to skipping through a video file.
Meeting transcripts are beneficial when it comes to keeping the team engaged in the meeting too, as attendees won't have to worry about taking notes. Instead, they can stay focused and remain a part of the conversation throughout.
While they come with their challenges, with a few simple tweaks and the right planning and preparation, hybrid meetings can be inclusive, engaging, and very productive! If you like the sound of meeting transcriptions, then find out how to transcribe a Zoom meeting or how to transcribe a Teams meeting.
Written By Katie Garrett