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Practical and technical tips to make hybrid meetings more effective

Make your hybrid meetings more effective when returning to on-site working

Woman at desk hybrid working

Here are some considerations before starting your hybrid meetings: 


Testing technology in advance 

Prior to a meeting, test the audio-visual set up for both in-room and remote attendees. Schedule a dry run 10 minutes before the meeting starts to get remote participants comfortable with what they will see and hear during the meeting. Use this opportunity to review software features that they’ll likely use. Check if any collaborative software used is accessible to those attending and ask if anyone has specific requirements. If the meeting needs to be recorded, always get consent from meeting participants beforehand.


Audio

Is the room fitted with high-quality microphones so remote colleagues can hear? If multiple microphones aren’t available, consider having a hand-held microphone that in-person attendees can pass around before speaking. Staff wishing to book audio equipment for short term loan may do so by visiting AV Centre loans. Wearing a headset can also be useful, for times when there are a lot of background noise. 

Avoid putting the meeting room on mute as remote attendees may feel they are being left out of the conversation. If you do mute someone, let them know why you’ve done so in the chat. To avoid this, encourage staff to mute their microphone if they're not speaking.


New technology features  

New tech features are being continuously introduced to improve communication among hybrid meetings. For example, Microsoft is developing meeting rooms augmented for the hybrid experience. It is recommended to investigate which technology upgrades might be useful in making hybrid meetings more immersive.

Ideally, those joining the meeting remotely will be able to see the attendees who are at the meeting in person. If, however, the people dialling in remotely are reliant on audio alone, it is important to consider how you can keep them engaged in this environment.


Handouts

Always provide an agenda. An agenda, as well as alternative documents, should be shared before the meeting. Remember to upload them to the meeting platform with enough time for participants to read through them. When reviewing the documents, refer to the page numbers so that everybody can follow the discussion. If you cannot distribute them in advance, one person will need to dial into the meeting to share their screen with the people who are working remotely. Materials used such as slides and documents should be made accessible.


Assign a facilitator

One meeting attendee should be assigned to guide the conversation and keep it on track. A facilitator can introduce guests and invite remote participants to speak, ensuring that their voices are heard and not interrupted. When doing this, use names and avoid any phrases such as Does anyone online have any comments?”, to encourage engagement and avoid in-person attendees dominating the meeting. To allow everybody to contribute, questions should be welcomed in chat as well as in person.

At times, the facilitator may need to call on in-room or remote participants to ensure that all voices are heard. For instance, if you are using Microsoft Teams, you will need to see if someone is using the Raise Hand or Chat functions to make a comment or ask a question. It's also useful to keep in mind that short meetings can be less formal and may not require a facilitator.


Make remote participants full sized

Give remote participants a greater presence in the room. Use the main screen to show life size images of the remote participants. Additionally, it may be beneficial to set up two monitors - one on each side of the room. Large images can provide a constant reminder to include at home attendees in the conversation with visual cues being more important on a hybrid call. There are times when some staff members prefer to not turn on their cameras, so allow the option of not being on camera to create a more inclusive environment.  


Consider video from the remote participant perspective

Continually ask yourself: What do remote participants need to see in order to fully engage? It would be beneficial for remote participants to see the faces of in-room attendees, the presentation slides, physical documents, and any content that is created during the meeting via virtual whiteboards etc. Also, consider accessibility to those that are hard of hearing. Teams has live captions, transcripts and recordings features that should be optimised if necessary. For more information on how to make your hybrid meeting more accessible, visit the Live sessions and events page or the


If all else fails

If you have tried and are finding hybrid meetings difficult, it could be best that all attendees join the meeting either remotely or in person. Some organisations use the phrase “one remote, all remote”. If one person is attending remotely, then those in the office should all connect online using separate devices. Consequently, everyone has the same experience and are more likely to participate equally. In some cases, this may not work if your team includes disabled or vulnerable staff needing adjustments.  


Most importantly

Trust, respect and collaboration are increasingly important in hybrid meetings. Respect your colleagues, whether they are joining in remotely or in person, and ensure the agreed meeting etiquette is followed.