When COVID-19 first swept around the world, we all got comfortable with virtual meetings. As a portion of workers started returning to the office, a slightly different type of gathering emerged: the hybrid meeting.
A hybrid meeting is when some attendees are together in person while others participate remotely. During the pandemic, many companies started hiring remote workers with no expectation that they would ever step foot in the office.
In fact, as of fall 2021, 25% of U.S. employees were working full-time from home and another 20% were working part-time from home. Hybrid meetings are essential in keeping those remote workers engaged, connected and productive in their roles.
But not everyone has mastered the art of the hybrid meeting. In some cases, technology issues can undermine hybrid meetings. In others, remote participants aren’t given the emphasis or talk time that they deserve.
What’s a hybrid meeting’s leader to do?
To help you host effective hybrid meetings time after time, here’s a look at nine ways to get the most out of this new style of work gathering.
1. Ensure a Meeting is Necessary
There’s nothing worse than getting into a meeting … only to realize you didn’t really need to meet in the first place. In the United States, 71% of meetings are unproductive, and meetings overall represent $37 billion in wasted resources.
So, before anything else, carefully evaluate whether or not you need an in-person gathering. Alternatives you can consider include:
- Sharing a memo and asking for collaborators to leave comments.
- Creating a Slack channel to discuss the topic at hand.
- Sending an email with relevant details you were planning to share in the meeting.
When are meetings absolutely necessary? They are essential when discussing sensitive topics, when making key decisions, when brainstorming new ideas, etc. Don’t shy away from scheduling meetings. Just confirm that they are worth the attendees’ time.
2. Set an Agenda
You’ve confirmed that you need a meeting. The natural next step is to create a comprehensive agenda. Outline exactly what you need to discuss and what outcomes you’re hoping to achieve by having the meeting.
Also, consider sending a brief message about the meeting to attendees. Share any pre-work that you’d like attendees to complete, links to presentations or documents that you’ll be discussing, plus overarching goals and objectives of the meeting. You can often include these details directly in the meeting invite.
Bonus: After creating the agenda, go person by person to confirm they are relevant to the conversation. If someone is included on the invite who doesn’t necessarily need to be in the meeting, mark them as optional — or message them directly and let them know their attendance is optional.
3. Designate a Leader
Don’t try to decide who’s leading the conversation after the meeting has started. Designate a leader beforehand and make sure they have aligned with the agenda to lead as efficiently and effectively as possible.
When meetings don’t have leaders, they are often unproductive. They can also feel chaotic to remote attendees. Name a leader ahead of the meeting, and make sure that he or she is prepared to dive into the content and topics as soon as the meeting begins.
4. Prioritize the Remote Attendees
When you’re hosting a hybrid meeting, there should be no second-class citizens. Remote attendees aren’t just listening in. Rather, they are pivotal players in the conversation, and they should be treated as such.
How can you prioritize your remote attendees? Start by making sure that they can see and hear all of the in-person attendees. Also, using large monitors that make remote participants look life-sized can help the in-person attendees engage with them.
Remote attendees can make themselves priorities, too. They should turn their cameras on to maximize their presence in a hybrid meeting, and they should use chat and “raise hand” features if available on your meeting platform. These features can help them get into the conversation if and when needed.
5. Give Everyone a Chance to Ask Questions
Some people dominate the conversations during meetings. Make sure that everyone involved gets a chance to make comments and ask questions by going around one-by-one during or at the conclusion of a meeting.
The meeting’s leader should be prepared to identify anyone who hasn’t participated in the conversation. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask them directly if they have any questions or would like to make any comments about the topic being discussed.
The desire to talk or not talk during a meeting is often a function of personality type. It’s not a shortcoming. Charge meeting leaders with being as inclusive as possible, and you’ll get a diverse mix of voices into the conversation.
6. Consider Recording
In this era of hybrid meetings, some participants work off-schedule hours and others live and work from different continents. It can be hard to find time that fits everyone’s schedule.
For example, if you live in the United States, it’s nearly impossible to talk to someone in Australia unless one party takes the call at night.
We’ve already mentioned some asynchronous ways to communicate above: memos, Slack channels, emails. Use those asynchronous channels for invitees who can’t attend, but also consider recording your meeting. A recording allows invitees who can’t attend to listen to the conversation and pose questions and/or make comments afterward.
In addition to recording, some virtual meeting platforms offer transcription services. Invitees who can’t attend may not have time to watch and listen to the replay — but they can skim a transcription to get the gist of the conversation.
7. Keep it Short
Time is a precious commodity. Make sure you’re using everyone’s time wisely.
There’s no rule that says a meeting scheduled for 30 minutes must last the full half hour. You have an agenda in hand. When you’ve completed the agenda, let attendees hop off the call to go about their business. They may even thank you for it.
Meetings that end early provide relief to attendees. An extra few minutes can go a long way toward cleaning up email, finishing projects, scheduling other meetings, or even just running to get a drink of water. When you’ve accomplished the objectives of the meeting, end it — no matter how much time you have left.
8. Test and Use the Right Technologies
Hybrid meetings fail without the right technologies included. Your company likely has in place all of the tools needed to facilitate hybrid meetings. Most modern conference rooms even have integrations between the virtual meeting software running on your computer and the hardware present in the space.
But, if your organization is just starting to use hybrid meeting technology, spend time testing before you use it. If you wait until just a few minutes before the meeting begins, you may have to troubleshoot the technology — which wastes some of the time allotted for the meeting itself. You never want to waste attendees’ time by working through tech issues during a meeting.
9. Emphasize Audio
Video technology is important. But audio is essential. It’s so essential that it deserves its own section.
Without effective audio connections, your hybrid meeting will fail. And, even if your audio is working, the subtle noises and sounds that come with remote work can be seriously distracting. Some remote attendees might have:
- Children playing in the next room.
- Delivery drivers knocking on their doors.
- Dogs barking at passersby.
- Microphones that provide feedback.
- Offices that echo.
When you have the right audio technologies in place, you can eliminate those distractions to facilitate highly productive hybrid meetings. In-person attendees will be able to hear remote attendees clearly (and vice versa).
Stellar Audio for Virtual Meetings
Need perfect audio for effective hybrid meetings? Krisp was designed with that objective in mind. As an online meeting experience with both audio and video capabilities, Krisp uses artificial intelligence to:
- Cancel noises: Krisp removes disruptions from both ends of the conversation. Never again will you have to worry about audio quality when meeting with colleagues, partners, clients or prospects.
- Cancel voices: When your children are playing in the next room, Krisp cancels out all but the primary speaker’s voice so that he or she can be heard clearly.
- Cancel echoes: Working from a room with hardwood floors? The echo can be distracting. Krisp cancels out the echo for maximum clarity — giving you the option to work from wherever you like.
In pursuit of effective hybrid meetings, Krisp monitors talk time so that meeting leaders can keep tabs on participation. You also get meeting insights and historical data points to review the impact of hybrid meetings.
Use Krisp in tandem with more than 800 popular communication tools, including Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and others. This audio-enhancing software acts as a “smart” layer between devices to cancel distractions — and to empower effective hybrid meetings, day after day.
Are you ready to host stellar hybrid meetings? Try Krisp for free.