Faced with the challenges of conducting our business and personal lives remotely, we have all become virtuosos in the world of online communication via a range of platforms, like WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft teams and Google Meets.
Now, in the blink of a virtual eye, we find ourselves catapulted once again into a new set of circumstances and adaptation. This time it’s contending with a hybrid combination of virtual and in-person meetings and presentations. And, like any new challenge, it’s going to take anticipation, planning, and multi-tasking to pull it off successfully.
Multitasking isn’t easy, sometimes it is inadvisable, and it can certainly impact your message in a challenging way if not accomplished well.
You might find yourself sidetracked by the technology not working properly, chat responses that catch your eye, and other micro messages from both the virtual and in-person groups. You might also have trouble engaging both groups or realize that you yourself are tending towards engaging with just one group. That’s a natural tendency, and you need to consciously work on bringing the two together.
Meet the Challenge with an Entirely New Set of Skills
What do you need to do to ensure that both your in-person audience and your virtual participants are equally engaged?
You must have a plan: Hybrid meeting approaches require a strategy that allows for maximizing the moment with specific, topical content. Any pre-work and organization that can be accomplished beforehand will make a huge difference in how you manage and engage your employees.
Avoid cramming several topics into one meeting as you are already being pulled in two synchronous communication directions. If your meeting strategy is buttoned-up, you will be more focused and effective.
For example, you wouldn’t want to discuss change management with both groups as this is a hot topic for any project while discussing new projects and/or features. Focused meetings can help with your hybrid engagement. The major topics require a strategic thinking approach to meetings and presentations. Keep it simple, request pre-work and organization, and stay on topic.
There are other practical steps you can take to ease the way, including the following:
* Explain the mechanics of the meeting to both sets of participants
* Ensure that your room and or office are set up to accommodate both
* Designate a person specifically to monitor online participants and the chat
* Arrange pre-meetings with group participants and have them appoint a spokesperson to go over highlights
* Call on people in both groups to engage, but do so in an organized way
* Check on both groups for understanding and any follow-up items
* Make eye contact with both virtual and in-person participants, and
* Remind the in-person participants to look into the camera and engage their virtual colleagues
* Make sure that your meeting is “chunked”, strategic and purposeful