Below are 5 top hybrid presentation tips when you are meeting in person but also have virtual attendees as well. In the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of odd things happen in my in-person meetings and training sessions. The first occurred when a big client called me the day before the meeting asking for a favor. One of the participants had gotten ill. She was wondering if I would mind allowing that single individual to participate in the training session virtually. Although I’m all about making the customer happy, my initial response was, “If he is ill, why are we trying to make him attend the meeting?” After thinking it over, she recommended just sending him the handouts from the meeting.
It got me thinking, though. A year ago companies were opening back up and some team members were in the office while others were remote. We began to alter the way that we led meetings. For instance, in our office, half our team was remote and the other half came into the office every day. However, to include the entire team, each of us who were in the office closed our doors and entered virtual meetings versus having everyone come into the office. It looks like we have come full circle.
In the last few weeks, “vaccine only” offices have emerged in different cities. Most of these employers are not mandating vaccines, by the way. They are just mandating that only vaccinated people can come into the office workspace. Non-vaccinated team members have the option to work remotely.
So, we now see more organizers scheduling more hybrid meetings — in-person presentations with a few remote participants.
Best Practices for Hybrid Presentations with Both In-Person Attendees and Online Participants.
Before I get to the meeting tips, let’s set a few ground rules for delivering presentations in a hybrid world. The first thing that you want to consider is what is the best way for the majority of the audience to meet? Often, an event manager may want to schedule in-person events just because she’s tired of virtual events. However, before you decide on the type of meeting to schedule, think about what is best for your specific audience type.
When you mix a remote audience with in-person audience members there is always a chance that both groups suffer. For instance, let’s say that you work in a competitive corporate culture. Your online audience may feel that the team members who have the face-to-face experience with you have an advantage.
Or, the in-person participants may resent the virtual team being able to turn off their microphones or cameras. Just realize when you schedule your first hybrid event, you will experience challenges you didn’t anticipate. So, below are a few of the top tips to help you improve hybrid meetings.
Encourage All Participants to Use the Same Meeting Room Type If at All Possible.
You want to avoid just adding a virtual audience to a regular conference room meeting if possible. Virtual audiences have different needs than in-person groups. When you combine the two in the same meeting, you increase the difficulty dramatically. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it. (In fact, the remaining tips will help.)
A client recently asked us to create a custom workshop about communication skills for different generations. Half the group worked remotely and the other half came into the office at least a few days a week. Originally, the client asked me to design the workshop for virtual participants. However, because of the topic, they later decided to invite the whole group into the office for the session.
Some of the people in the room started working for the company during the pandemic. So, they had never met many of the other participants in person before. We used the meeting both for training and as a team building activity to allow the group to get to know each other better.
Most often, though, the easiest solution for different audiences is to just make the entire meeting virtual. Many meeting organizers resist this idea because of Zoom fatigue. “My team is tired of remote meetings,” they say. However, forcing a hybrid approach too early can be a big mistake. Virtual event platforms like Zoom can help you keep your online attendees engaged if used properly. Be patient. Eventually, your entire team will be back in the office. Save the in-person meetings until then.
A Cheap, Easy, and Professional Way to Lead a Hybrid Meeting on a Budget.
Here is a way to plan a successful hybrid meeting on a budget. It is really easy and you probably already have all the technology you need. Just put your smartphone on a stand and place it on the table in front of a participant’s chair. The phone becomes a stand-in for the actual person (people). Make sure to switch the audio to speaker mode.
If your virtual participants find it hard to hear, just move the phone closer to the presenter. Alternatively, I have Airpods that I use quite often. If I just use one earpiece instead of both, the microphone gives the virtual delegates great sound. The biggest drawback to this, though, is that the presenter will be the only person in the hybrid presentation who can hear the virtual participants. So, if the phone speaker works, use it.
As you present, you will most likely move your eyes from person to person in your live audience. The phone becomes just another short stop as you make eye contact.
Hire a Professional Audio/Video Crew to Create the Perfect Hybrid Presentation.
Many big companies that hire us to deliver hybrid presentations have fantastic digital components. For instance, they have big screens and incredible audio quality. If you have access to equipment like this, by all means, use it. If not, you may need to consider a cost/benefit analysis of investing in better equipment.
As much as we would like to just someday return back to “normal,” the evidence shows that this is not very likely. Virtual meetings and hybrid presentations are here to stay.
Luckily, just before Covid hit, my company created a studio for recording podcasts and videos. Having a professional video person on staff was a Godsend when the pandemic hit. We were able to adapt more quickly and easily to a virtual world. If you haven’t yet invested in professional help, you’ll never find a better time. A good audio person can make you sound great. A good video person can make you look fantastic online. They can also help you create the perfect virtual environment. This will be helpful for bost regular Zoom meetings and hybrid presentations.
Divide the In-Person Team into Groups and Use Breakout Rooms on Zoom.
A great way to improve any meeting is to make it more interactive. Zoom breakout rooms can help. One of my favorite techniques is called Think/Write/Share. As you present, ask a question of your audience. Ask them to “Think” about the answer to the question. Then, have the group “Write” down what they thought about. Finally, divide them into small groups to “Share” what they wrote down. The technique is quick and easy.
You can easily divide up the people in your meeting room. With a little help, you can also send the online folks into breakout rooms. You’d probably just need an assistant who is attending virtually who you can make a co-host. The assistant can create and invite people to the breakout rooms.
After a few minutes, close the Zoom breakout rooms. Ask someone from each group to report on the discussion from their team. This is an easy way to create a similar experience for both the people in the room and the virtual attendees as well.
For additional details about Effective Audience Participation in Meetings, click this link.
Create a Different But Similar Experience for the In-Person Audience and the Virtual Audience. (A True Hybrid Presentation)
A successful hybrid event doesn’t necessarily mean the same experience for both groups. Things you can do in a meeting room sometimes don’t transfer well online and vice versa. However, with a little creativity, you can improve the meeting for both groups.
Last month, I taught a virtual team-building activity for a company called ServiceNow. The participants attended from all over the world. The goal was to create a shared experience that also benefited a charity. So, we sent the participants kits containing stuffed animal parts. These items were similar to what you can buy at the stuffed animal stores at the mall. We divided the teams into groups who worked together to solve virtual team challenges. As each team succeeded, they opened up their boxes to build the bears. The boxes also contained a shipping label addressed to the local children’s charity.
The event went so well, that one of the leaders hired us to do an event for his group in California. This time, he wanted the delivery in person. However, about 10 people on his team work remotely. He didn’t want to exclude this group. So, we just organized a second instructor to lead the online activity. Each group would be doing similar games or challenges. However, one group would play games geared toward face-to-face meetings. The other group plays virtual games.
Then, at the end, the face-to-face group leader just logs into the Zoom meeting on his phone. That way, the entire group can participate in the conclusion of the event.
For Additional Hybrid Presentation Tips, Consult with One of Our Experts.
If your team needs help improving your meetings, schedule a free consulting call with one of our experts. Often, our experts can offer advice to help you create more interactive meetings and add some fun. To schedule a free Zoom call, just click here.