Hybrid meetings are not a new concept, although the idea didn’t gain much traction until the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit. With the new normals of social distancing and working from home, hybrid meetings have become a primary solution to keep businesses moving forward.
WHAT IS A HYBRID MEETING
Hybrid meetings are meetings that have a blend of in-person and virtual attendees. In-person guests may meet in the same room or be spread through the venue in separate hotel rooms and meeting spaces. Off-site attendees are teleconferenced into the meeting where they can watch speakers and join discussions.
Hybrid meetings are an excellent option during these times because they allow guests to attend from the safety of their home if they prefer. If they desire to participate in person, there is additional space available for social distancing due to fewer on-site guests.
In part one of this series, we addressed several ways to overcome technology challenges for hybrid meetings. Today, we will dive deep into keeping attendees engaged and participating even if they are meeting off-site.
Although it’s frowned upon, virtual guests can be tempted to multitask while listening to a meeting. As long as they aren’t on camera and have the ability to mute, they can easily bake a cake, weed their garden, or take a shower while listening to the discussion.
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SEND PARTICIPATION PACKAGE TO OFFSITE ATTENDEES
Meetings typically include handouts that will need to be mailed to virtual guests. Instead of tossing them in an envelope, consider sending them a box filled with items that will make offsite guests feel more involved.
Things to consider including could be:
- A bag of coffee and a logo mug
- A logo pen and notebook
- Themed snacks
- Grubhub (or similar) gift card
- Screen cleaner
- Depending on your audience and meeting content, a small bottle of wine or liqueur for toasting or virtual happy hour
- Assembly required gift to put together-together
- Virtual scavenger hunt with pre-delivered items or not and participants have to find items on their own.
Remember, you’re saving the cost of transportation and catering by hosting the meeting hybrid. Using that budget elsewhere to engage your audience could drastically increase your ROI.
MEET IN THE SAME BUILDING – SOCIAL DISTANCE
If you reserve the right venue, you can still meet together while maintaining proper social distancing. A property like Stonewall Resort can accommodate guests in multiple locations, including ballrooms, conference rooms, the library, outdoors, and even individual guest rooms.
Meeting in one location but dispersed throughout the area has several advantages. Small groups can meet together during breaks or power sessions. Departments or committee members can meet as a group as needed to further discussions. Attendees can still connect with speakers in-person from a distance rather than through a screen.
ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE
Guests who are meeting onsite are more apt to participate than those who are watching on a screen. Get creative with how to interact with all attendees so that everyone feels included.
Polls – Polls, especially in real-time, are tremendously helpful in keeping a meeting on track. If you want to know how anyone feels about a subject, invite them to participate in polls along the way.
Surveys – Surveys throughout the meeting are also a great way to make sure you move forward with the majority in mind. For instance, you might have a survey before your lunch break to see how the technology is working for virtual guests or how they feel about the meeting’s direction.
Call out Names – Inform your staff ahead of time that you will be asking questions throughout the day and calling them out by name for answers. This helps keep everyone on their toes because they never know if they just might be next!
Finally, take plenty of breaks. Although staff attending in person may not be fatigued, virtual attendees need to break from their screens regularly. To keep them engaged, be clear on how often you will be taking breaks and when you need them back at their desk.
Following these guidelines will help to keep your engagement up during your meeting. At Stonewall Resort, we have the technology, space, and the experience to host your next successful hybrid meeting.