Well-run hybrid meetings can provide new volunteer opportunities for more association members. Before COVID-19 made virtual meetings the norm, travel, whether driving a long distance for a committee meeting or taking days off work to fly to a board meeting, may have been too much of a time commitment. Today, as more associations move to hybrid meetings, where some volunteers are together in person and others participate virtually, it’s important to find a productive balance for all involved to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone regardless of how they join the meeting.
Hybrid meetings require even more up front planning so you can create an equitable experience for both in-person and remote participants. Retaining your previous in-person meeting format is not an option. The potential problems that come with hybrid meetings are not resolved simply because you can “see” every participant.
HYBRID MEETING BEST PRACTICES
1. Focus on prework
When it comes to scheduling hybrid meetings, prework pays off. Set a reasonable agenda that allows time for discussion and breaks if meeting for a longer period of time. At the end, include time to review format and flow so you can gather feedback and continue to modify as needed.
2. Think digital first
For smaller meetings, have everyone continue to join from a laptop, including everyone in the same location if they are together in a room. Have the onsite participants join from one audio source and mute themselves on their laptops to avoid sound issues.
3. Designate facilitators
In-person facilitators support the host in managing the flow of the meeting and ensuring attendees have what they need and troubleshooting any technical glitches that may arise. Remote facilitators act as a liaison for remote participants, who may have a harder time getting their voices heard.
4. Cameras on or off?
With the sheer volume of video meetings today, Zoom fatigue is real. There may be a variety of reasons someone does not want to have their camera on. Let people do what’s comfortable. Use your facilitators to monitor conversation and call upon participants who don’t turn on their cameras so they can participate.
5. Cater to short attention spans
Attention spans have never been shorter. It’s a great idea to keep hybrid meetings moving along, which means avoiding over-presenting. Also, while everyone may want to ask questions or make points, keep in mind, when that happens, the meeting won’t be as productive as it otherwise might have been.
6. Incorporate breaks and share conversations
If you are hosting a board meeting or event that requires several hours, be sure to include breaks. Casual conversation during breaks can be invaluable. You can help your virtual and in-person participants reconnect after a break. Ask your in-person participants if they discussed anything informally during the break that is worth sharing with remote colleagues and getting their comments.
7. Change up the start time
Regularly scheduled hybrid meetings may have volunteers joining from different time zones across the country or around the world. This means start times that skew either incredibly early or extremely late in the day for some attendees. Alternating the start times helps to make sure the meetings are convenient for everyone at least for some meetings.