Helping our customers to ‘meet’ is what HUONE does. Many of HUONE’s customers had to postpone or cancel their events since the spring due to the pandemic and now, many are pursuing an alternative option—Hybrid Meeting. Before introducing HUONE’s hybrid meeting packages, we hosted a small webinar to go over the most frequently asked questions from our customers. Here is the summary:
What is a Hybrid Meeting?
Think of a hybrid car; it’s powered by both an eclectic motor and the gasoline engine. A hybrid meeting is a meeting where some participants are in-person together in a meeting room at one location, while some participants join a meeting virtually online. You can organise different types of meetings/events in a hybrid format such as seminar, kick-off, training, board meeting, workshop, team meeting etc. People attending online, and in-person participate in the same session in real-time concurrently (not watching a recording). On the other hand, in a virtual meeting, 100% of your participants are online. People are not invited to be physically present together in a physical meeting room, but still participate in the meeting.
Why is it a good alternative to a ‘live’ event?
It combines the bests of both formats, Hybrid meeting and Virtual meeting. Especially now, during the pandemic (it is not yet over), it combines the best aspects of face-to-face meetings with the additional safety and security that are now required. It allows attendees to safely interact in person while others can attend the meeting online from the comfort of their remote location. In short,
- More space. Physical distancing is still highly recommended. Let’s respect the guidelines to protect ourselves and others.
- Not everyone’s comfortable going back to ‘normal’ just yet. People may still have concerns for travels and gathering in groups (even though the local government might have given the ‘all-clear’). Hence, it is a way to include all the important stakeholders.
- Friendly for your budget. Many companies had to adjust their budgets for company events and meetings.
Why not have 100% virtual meeting?
It’s the most popular question we get especially with coronavirus situation.
Participating in only half of the meeting
A meeting/event is a multi-sensory, immersive experience. Virtual events it will be able to offer only half of the whole experience. Why does someone buy a 100€ live concert ticket, even when the same concert is available at your fingertip and you can be on your comfortable couch? And, let’s not forget the conversations you make with others during a break, lunchtime, or during designated ‘networking’ time. Opportunity to make new connections (or getting to know others better) is very often, a part of the main meeting and event goals.
Moreover, for a successful meeting, engagement is crucial. Without it, your meeting failed. Compared to a virtual meeting (where 100% of the participants attend online including the host), hybrid meetings encourage more active participation. It is a win-win situation, for both live attendees as well as for the remote attendees; the engagement is higher.
“Imagine watching a talk show where one host is presenting something himself, speaking all the time, VERSUS, watching a talk show where a host is interacting with a live audience. It is THE reason why a hybrid option is a preferred option to go”
Think of a Speaker
Often, a meeting or an event involves a speaker. A person could be the CEO leading an executive meeting, could be a consultant conducting a seminar, could be your manager conducting a training session. Could be only one or could be many depending on the kinds of events. It is VERY difficult to give an engaging speech staring at a camera without an on-site audience.
“It is very important for a presenter to be able to observe how much people are engaging with the content, for example, are they leaning forward? are they squinting their eyes? are they showing any emotions from their face? etc. Without on-site attendees, it is to grasp how people are reacting to the content.”
How can we get the most out of Hybrid Meetings?
1. A Hybrid meeting is still a meeting.
Remember all the basic meeting/event principles still apply. They could be as basic as having a clear objective and agenda and showing up on time. Plan it with the same core as you would have an in-person ‘live’ meeting.
2. Remember you have two audiences!
Relate to your audience and plan your agenda/content accordingly. Hybrid meetings are NOT about putting your live audience before your live audience. You have to think about both audiences. You have to consider two different meeting experiences. For instance, plan shorter sessions instead of an hour default.
3. Engage your attendees by soliciting their voices.
One of the threats for engagement in a hybrid meeting is allowing the attendees to take the role of observer. Everyone values being seen, and heard. Try inviting the participants using their names. For example instead of asking what does everyone think? Say “Maria, what do you think about Mat’s proposal?” Making frequent eye contact with the camera also helps.
4. Set ground rules.
You should only join a meeting or an event when ready to participate. One good ground rule is to have everyone to turn their cameras on (not always possible, but still highly encouraged). It is something that will help an attendee take a ‘participant’ hat instead of ‘observer’ hat. Being able to see others’ facial expressions, reactions, and ‘feel’ the non-verbal cues make a big difference in the quality of the whole event overall especially for a speaker.
5. Keep it simple.
From hosting our internal hybrid meetings, we can see how investing in a meeting and technology CAN help boost the quality of a meeting. However, meeting platforms & technology need to work for YOU—your event, the meeting, and your team. It should help you achieve the goal of the day. Avoid complicating things just because now it seems like the right thing to do.
6. Be prepared, both as an organiser and an attendee.
As an organiser, make sure to take time to check your virtual meeting platforms and practice in advance. As an attendee, remember that you are a part of this event, and you contribute to an effective meeting, virtual or otherwise, you can attend a meeting remotely, and contribute to the meeting/event as much and be a very engaging participant.
It’s better to over-communicate. Arrangements made for the event should be clearly communicated with the guests in advance in the invitations or via other internal communication channels. Emphasize safety and encourage participation, but avoid making the attendance mandatory.
Hybrid Meeting is NOT a passing trend
Remote working, one of the #futureofwork trends, has been fast-tracked to becoming a ‘new norm.’ Many global companies have already announced changes regarding Working From Home(WFH), some even permanent, as well as scaling down the office space, lowering the number of work stations and adding more meeting rooms. Even after the pandemic, these trends are likely to stay.
Here is a teaser for our webinar. Watch the full recording here.