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Mastering Hybrid Meetings: Tips for Engaging In-Person and Virtual Participants


Mon Apr 24 2023

Mastering Hybrid Meetings: Tips for Engaging In-Person and Virtual Participants

As virtual meetings gained popularity, we learned how to move from room to Zoom. However, as most of us are meeting in person again, bringing Zoom back into the room can be challenging, especially when trying to create an engaging hybrid experience. The main challenge boils down to planning and facilitating the session all on your own. As a facilitator, you likely mastered creating engagement, interacting with your audience, and using tools such as PowerPoint, flip charts, and Post-its. You might also be proficient in virtual facilitation and the tools Google Jamboard, PowerPoint, and shared documents. The challenge arises when you attempt to deliver all of these components at once.

To overcome this issue, first determine your project’s budget. If you can afford it, consider hiring a meeting technologist to help you run your session. This person can take care of all technical aspects and interact with your virtual participants in real time, allowing you to orchestrate your session. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, find someone to assist you, whether it’s a coworker, assistant, or participant. You will need someone to help you engage with your virtual participants.


Once you have a helper, you need to understand the space and how your budget accounts for the platform and equipment—speakers, cameras, microphones, etc. You’ll also need to test your equipment and platform in advance and consider the Wi-Fi strength. Use the platform you’re most comfortable with (Zoom, Teams, Go To Meeting, etc.) and having two cameras, a speaker, and a microphone, if possible.

When you've determined the space, platform, equipment, and support, it’s time to design an engaging session. It’s helpful to create two separate leader guides, one for in-person facilitation and one for virtual facilitation. Your virtual leader guide should include all instructions that need to be entered into the chat and all links that will be shared, so that your meeting technologist can provide clear instructions as you deliver the assignment. This will also help you consider timing, as you may need more time in a virtual setting to move participants into breakout groups.

For example, if you plan to do a pair-and-share activity, ask in-person participants to find a partner at a different table, while virtual participants move to breakout rooms and come back at the end of the exercise. This will ensure both groups move at the same pace. Find as many engaging activities that work with your presentation as possible, such as videos, group breakouts, and interactive tools to keep your audience engaged throughout the hybrid experience. It can be difficult to rely only on PowerPoint in a hybrid presentation, as virtual attendees may only see you and a slide, making it feel more like a webinar. Whatever activities you choose, ensure that all participants have equal access to real-time information.

Now that you’ve established the timing and how you’ll engage your learners, follow basic meeting etiquette to conduct a great hybrid experience. Planning a hybrid experience takes more time, but if done correctly, you can meet all participants’ needs and provide a rewarding experience, regardless of physical location.

For a more advice, join me at the ATD International Conference & EXPO May 21-24, 2023 in San Diego, California, for the session, Meeting in the Multiverse: Mastering Engagement in a Hybrid Environment.


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