Since many groups were forced to be fully remote for the better part of the last two years, it seems that many are trying their hardest to avoid it as a solution this year (unless, of course, there are extenuating circumstances making remote meetings more practical, more equitable, more financially responsible, and the like).
Particularly for those participants not yet ready to convene again in-person, but respecting those who are, groups are asking with greater regularity to shift to a hybrid model. What organizers are not recognizing, however, is that this approach to meetings often requires a different design plan than meetings either 100 percent virtual or 100 percent in-person.
Without a doubt, hybrid meetings are difficult. It does take added intentionality and patience.
Likewise, both budget and capacity are often impacted because, depending on the size of each group and the purpose of the meeting, you may need two teams to ensure the same level of participation, engagement, discussion, consensus, and accountability.
So, before just “going hybrid,” following are 20 key considerations for both you and your organization to help ensure the best possible experience for everyone involved:
- How many people will join in-person vs. remotely?
- How will you handle participants who choose to “go remote” at the last minute?
- How will you set the room to be mindful of your COVID safety protocols and to best engage both the in-person and remote audiences?
- What supplies are needed in the room (and what might you recommend the remote participants gather to fully participate)?
- What technologies will be needed to bridge the in-person and remote audiences?
- How will this affect the meeting budget?
- Will one or more producers be needed to navigate these technologies?
- Will the in-person audience get to see/hear the remote audience (and vice versa)?
- Is there an expectation that the remote audience be on camera?
- Is the remote audience just seeing a panoramic of the entire room or individual participant faces?
- Will the two groups get to engage directly with one another, or will a facilitator be needed to bridge the conversation?
- Who will respond to remote participant questions/comments and elevate to the full room, as needed?
- Do all the planned exercises (e.g., networking, small group discussions) translate to the in-person and remote audiences?
- How many facilitators will be needed to effectively lead the planned exercises for both the in-person and remote audiences?
- How will you handle instruction clarifications, drop ins, consultations, and the like for the remote audience during group exercises?
- Who will scribe ideas from the remote audience onto half sheets/flipcharts and present them in the room?
- Can the remote audience see PowerPoint slides, sticky walls, flipcharts, and the like?
- If not, who will take pictures of these items to share with the remote audience?
- Who will prepare/upload handouts to the remote audience throughout the session?
- How are you handling the remote audience during breaks/mealtimes?