We're defining and exploring our new normal
As we all return to in-person work, we are not all able to return -- or are not returning at the same pace. We have learned that remote meetings can be very effective and efficient.
In this environment, many teams are starting to think about having meetings in a hybrid methodology, or blending in-person and remote participants. That means that we need to develop our skills and in some cases the technology we have in place to hold meeting in a virtual or hybrid way.
Hybrid Meeting Technology
There are a lot of ways to have a meeting that blends face to face and remote participants.
For small meetings, your laptop may be all you need. It likely has a microphone, camera, screen, and can run Zoom quite easily. A document you’re working on can be handled on the computer and shared through Zoom.
Smartphones - Again, for a small meeting, a smartphone’s speakerphone capability might be enough to bring someone else into the room by phone.
Office phones - Our office phones have speaker phones which are appropriate for small audio-only meetings
Remote Meeting Equipped Conference rooms - Many of our conference rooms are equipped with built in computers and camera/microphone systems that can make it easy to include remote participants. Equipment can vary, so if you have access to a room but don't know how to operate it, contact Campus Media Services (x3588 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for help.
If you need to get some equipment to hold remote meetings Campus Media Services can help you find the right equipment for the room that you have and get it set up for you. Contact CMS at x3588 or email@example.com . CMS can suggest a wide variety of supported solutions that can fit your needs and your budget.
Hybrid/Remote Events - Campus Media Services can also provide support for hybrid events as needed.
Hybrid Meeting Success
Holding hybrid meetings seems like a great idea at first, but it can often be very difficult to make sure that the people who are participating at a distance are just as engaged and involved in the meeting as those who are there in person.
Here are some considerations and ideas for having good hybrid meetings:
Plan Carefully - planning for your meeting is often critical. How will the live and virtual participants interact? Will you be sharing documents? How will you make sure that the remote participants have the same opportunities to contribute as everyone else?
Respect Privacy - It's often tempting to request that virtual participants keep their cameras on so they're obviously in the meeting the whole time. This is problematic, however, because the participant is attending from their home, and there can be a lot of reasons why they might not want to have their camera on.
Ensure equal participation
Are remote participants able to speak without being interrupted?
How will a remote participant signal that they want to speak? Who will get those signals?
Will someone be able to speak for unspoken communication going on in the room? For example, if a suggestion is met with a lot of uncomfortable shrugs, a facilitator may need to speak up and say "I think that idea isn't going over very well, can someone put that into words?"
Leverage digital tools -- you're using Teams or Zoom to hold the meeting, make sure that you use the other features that come with those tools. Encourage a shared response channel in chat that everyone -- live and virtual -- contributes to. Share documents, and do as much of the work as you can in that virtual environment.
Allow for as much asynchronous work as possible. If the meeting is to discuss a proposal, make sure that you provide the proposal to participants at least a day in advance so that you can get right to the meat of the discussion when the meeting starts.
Be kind to yourself and your participants. We're all figuring a lot of the technology and habits for good hybrid meetings as we go. Cut yourself and your colleagues some slack, but also check in with folks and see if they feel like they are having a good experience in the hybrid meetings. If someone is having a hard time feeling like they're connected and making a contribution to the meeting, what can you do to address that?
What Method Makes the most sense?
When you plan meetings take some time to consider what type of meeting you're having and what type of business your meeting will involve.
In-person meetings are great for meetings when there is a need for good emotional connection between the participants.
Virtual meetings are great for technical meetings where screens on documents can be shared, when a team is collaborating on a document, etc.
- Hybrid meetings are often a response to necessity, mixing the advantages and challenges of both in person and virtual meetings.