Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Managing Hybrid Meetings

By Shelley Levitt

In the upcoming Spring issue of Michigan Meetings + Events, you’ll find an exclusive interview with the authors of Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting (Wiley). Emmy-winning broadcaster Karin M. Reed and Joseph A. Allen, Ph.D., a leading expert on workplace meetings, offer a guide to navigating the new normal of meetings where some attendees are in the room and others are Zooming in from remote locations. 

Here’s a preview of the strategies that make hybrid meetings work for team leaders, according to Reed and Allen:

  • Decide whether or not an issue is actually meeting-worthy, or if a result can be achieved through email, Slack, a quick phone call, or even recording a short video for team members. The best question for team leaders to ask themselves is, “What is the purpose of this meeting, and does it require team collaboration?” 
  • Do the pre-work before the meeting begins. Provide your team with enough information so they can attend the meeting with a higher understanding, and fully prepared to participate, either in person or virtually. Gone are the days where meetings can be improvised with no clear agenda. 
  • Be aware that there will always be in-room bias, and keep in mind that the meeting room is larger than just the physical space. Ensure even-handed participation regardless of where people are located. One successful method is to have remote attendees speak first to instantly pull them in to the meeting and establish their significance to in-person team members. 
  • Observe the golden rule you learned in grade school and adhere to a policy of taking turns so the in-room team members don’t monopolize the conversation. Be mindful of who has spoken and who has not. 
  • Accommodate hybrid meetings with a meeting room re-design. One example would be to ditch the conference room laptop and use a mounted large screen monitor that brings the virtual attendees more fully into the space.
  • Monitor and acknowledge the Zoom chat box on the side of the screen with verbal validation.
  • Be a good narrator for the virtual attendees Zooming in from remote locations. Narrate the energy of the room, people’s facial expressions, and body language. 
  • Provide your remote team members with good lighting, video and audio equipment where needed and when possible.
  • Stick to the meeting’s agenda.
  • Don’t be afraid to call out bad meeting behavior where necessary and explain that, “if you are in the ‘room,’” whether physically or virtually, your attention and input is valuable and needed.
  • Make sure all in-person attendees leave the room before closing meeting link. Sometimes there tends to be “the meeting after the meeting,” which is unfair to remote attendees, as virtuals might wonder what they are missing. All in person attendees need to leave the room before that link is closed. 
  • Establish a feedback loop where in-person and remote/hybrid employees can safely share what worked and what didn’t work about your last hybrid team meeting and adjust accordingly.