Meetings are nothing new for employees, over 20% of whom say they attend at least one each day. But with so many workplaces maintaining a hybrid approach, meetings with both in-person and virtual attendees are becoming commonplace – but they’re not always easy to host.
Studies have found that more than 7 in 10 find hybrid meetings a challenge. The biggest roadblock? Creating an inclusive environment that makes everyone, whether they’re in the room or at home, feel like they’re an important part of the conversation. Nearly 2 in 5 said that attending a hybrid meeting makes it difficult to engage with a large group and more than 1 in 4 find it hard to speak up when joining from a remote location.
This inability to connect can lead to a multitude of problems for meeting attendees, including feelings of stress and unhappiness. This, in turn, impacts productivity and your bottom line.
A hybrid meeting doesn’t have to feel disjointed or disconnected, regardless of how many attendees are actually in the room or not. Today, let’s talk about four easy ways to make your next hybrid meeting feel inclusive.
1. Allow remote attendees to provide comments and feedback before in-person attendees.
It’s all too easy to overlook remote meeting attendees or ignore them altogether during a hybrid meeting. It’s not because it’s personal – it’s simply because they’re not in the room.
One thing I like to do to avoid this is to make sure that each remote attendee has a chance to contribute. Because it’s easy to get lost in a conversation when half of the participants are together, I tend to prioritize them when it comes to initial comments and feedback. This reminds in-person attendees that they aren’t the only participants and allows everyone to be part of the conversation.
I also recommend using the technology at your disposal to make each remote participant “life-sized.” If you can, use a few large monitors or a television at the front of the room to display their video streams or photos. Doing so will let remote participants have a “seat” at the table and help to keep them involved.
2. Use video so that you can identify necessary conversational cues.
Phoning into a hybrid meeting feels like, well, phoning it in. While a phone call can lend itself to a successful conversation, it presents challenges to both in-person and remote participants.
Remote participants are likely to feel unsure as to when it’s safe for them to jump in with a comment or feedback, leading to a decline in participation. Those in the room, however, might forget they’re there completely and never present a chance for remote participants to add to the conversation.
Video conferencing, however, allows meeting participants to see each other regardless of distance. Not only is it easier to bond as a team this way, but using video makes it possible to have more productive conversations and achieve meeting goals more efficiently.
3. Use the video platform’s features to increase engagement.
On that note, make sure that your remote participants are up-to-speed with the video platform’s features. This is particularly important for the features that allow them to indicate that they would like to contribute a thought or have a question to add.
Many videoconferencing platforms, including Zoom, come with intuitive tools to help solve this problem, such as a “Raise hand” button, or a selection of emoticons or emojis that will flash across their window to signal that they’d like to be more involved.
4. Make sure just one in-person attendee speaks at a time.
We’ve focused mainly on how your meeting’s remote attendees can make sure they have ample opportunities to participate – but what type of responsibility falls on in-person attendees?
I like to remind those who attend my meeting that the rules of everyday conversation are still applicable even in a hybrid environment. One of the most important: Make sure only one person is speaking at a time.
This is particularly important when a meeting has remote attendees. It’s hard enough to get a firm grasp on the conversation when too many people are talking at once, even if you’re physically with them. Now, imagine how difficult it would be to keep up watching and listening from behind a computer screen.
Remind attendees to be respectful of this and speak one at a time in a clear, concise manner to make it easy for all involved.
5. Invite just those who are essential to the meeting.
Just like you would for an in-person meeting, it’s important to ask yourself who really needs to be invited.
Inviting only those who are most relevant to the task at hand and can make the most impact will reduce the number of irrelevant participants, increase engagement, and drive productivity.
Everybody deserves to feel like they have a spot in the room and at the table. What challenges have you faced in your hybrid meetings and how have you overcome them? Share below 👇
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