by TJ Winick, Senior Vice President
According to a 2021 McKinsey survey, as many as 90% of organizations are adopting a setup of both remote and in-office work for their employees after the lessons learned over the past two and a half years. This makes the need to step up your hybrid meeting “game” an imperative in this RTO (return to office) environment.
It wasn’t until I arrived at my first such meeting, with half the participants in the room and half on a flatscreen monitor at the head of the conference table, that I truly appreciated this unique dynamic. Below are five recommendations I hope you’ll find helpful ahead of, during, and after your next hybrid get together.
Leave time for set-up.
Even with the latest, state-of-the art projection setups, it can take time to figure out how to arrange a PowerPoint presentation on one screen and the Zoom participant screen on the other. As with any meeting in which you will rely on technology, arrive early enough (I’ve even scoped out spaces the day before) to ensure you feel comfortable with the set-up. Knowing these logistics ahead of time always gives me a sense of additional confidence heading into an important meeting.
Play to the room and the camera.
Admittedly, this can be awkward at first and take some time to get into a rhythm where it feels natural. The amount of time the speaker spends playing to the camera should be proportionate to how many of the participants are remote. For instance, when I spoke during a recent meeting, I spent 50% of the time speaking to the camera, with half of our client contacts in a remote location. This helps ensure that those joining virtually feel like full participants and not merely as observers.
Watch how you address participants.
If speaking to someone in the room, better to use the collective “we” than “you”, as those outside the room might be unclear about who the speaker is addressing. Some office cameras will have the conference room framed rather wide, which makes it even more challenging for remote participants to follow the flow of the conversation happening in the room. If addressing a point made by one individual, better to use their actual name to avoid confusion.
Many of us will normally ask this as we make our way through presentations to ensure everyone is up to speed. With hybrid meetings, it’s even more crucial to ensure participants are on the same page. If someone who is remote is experiencing faulty wi-fi at home or other technological glitches (or are just interrupted by a domestic distraction), they may not have heard a crucial point being made. Regularly asking if there are any questions, comments, or concerns will help keep everyone engaged.
Consider sending materials afterwards.
Again, a normal practice which is even more crucial after hybrid meetings. Perhaps a participant was taking notes on a slide that wasn’t up long enough or the font/graphics were too small for a remote participant to read. Good to let everyone know you will be sending around materials that were discussed during the meeting so nothing is lost in translation and everyone is fully informed.
Ensuring you’ve planned appropriately with regard to technology, process, and presentation will ensure your hybrid connections remain seamless. The end result should be that your communication with colleagues, clients, and whomever else you might engage with, is as natural as if they were sitting across the table from you.