By Jill Kaszubski
As we enter year three of the pandemic, businesses are solidifying what has thus far been a moving target of sorts — the return to the office.
Many companies have embraced permanent changes that give employees long-term flexibility when it comes to remote work. But keeping those remote workers fully engaged starts with hosting meetings that truly work well for everyone.
Too often, so-called ‘hybrid’ meetings — large and small — are conducted in a way that makes remote participants feel short-changed relative to their in-person counterparts.
Here are a few strategies for hosting successful hybrid meetings:
Avoid the laptop trap
Day-to-day smaller team meetings are often more likely to be overlooked from an audio-visual standpoint.
It’s one thing to have access to a teleconference room with top-of-the-line AV gear, but you may not always have that luxury. And simply pointing your laptop at the room — with its mediocre webcam and tinny audio — can make it easy for virtual attendees to become distracted or unable to participate if they can’t hear or see in-person attendees clearly.
Consider investing in some portable gear — like a quality USB microphone and a good external webcam that can be positioned to best “see and hear” the room. You’ll find that fewer things get lost in translation, which helps remote participants stay engaged and can improve productivity and the overall outcome of the meeting.
A better experience for all (hands)
When it comes to larger ‘all hands’-style meetings, it’s essential to adapt the town hall format for the new hybrid era. Corporate leaders will likely need to present important business updates to an in-person plus virtual audience, so it’s crucial to identify designated people to think through the following:
- Chat/Q&A: It’s easy to field questions in the room, but for the remote crowd, think beyond the “just drop it in the chat” approach. Try designating a moderator to drive participation by chatting directly with your virtual audience and funneling their questions and insights to the presenters.
- Presentation Content: Where there’s a company meeting, there’s usually a slide deck — and traditional video conferencing tools usually prioritize one over the other. But newer features from platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams can now keep presenters front and center when slides are being shared — which helps in terms of connecting with virtual attendees.
- Displays & AV Content: Whether you’re in a fancy teleconference room or not, a large monitor is helpful for displaying content, virtual presenters or simply a gallery of virtual attendees. And sharing pre-recorded video is a great way to spice things up! Whatever you do, be sure to schedule time for AV testing ahead of your meeting to make sure everything plays well both in the room and on remote screens.
At KWI, we encourage our clients and teams to create community among their employees. In its simplest form, that starts with how we gather and connect as colleagues in this new era.
We love swapping best practices and sharing our experience, so drop us a line if you’d like to chat. Our team is eager to connect and is always glad to provide support when it comes to engaging teams, including optimizing hybrid meetings.