Running hybrid meetings will look a lot different than leading an in-person or completely virtual gathering. The following article offers some tips to consider, including how to best leverage technology to engage all types of attendees.
We moved pretty quickly from the real-world style of work to the all-virtual all-the-time model. Now, the pendulum is swinging back – adapting to the new world of work, whether it’s Hybrid or WFA (Work From Anywhere). And that’s good news for your personal brand ... Especially when you’re in charge of running a hybrid meeting.
When it comes to personal branding, one of the most important ways to express your personal brand and get noticed for the value you deliver is in meetings. It was true in face-to-face meetings. It was true in the dawn of the Zoom room. And it’s just as true in the WFA environment too. But mastering the hybrid meeting is much more challenging than all-real or all-virtual. That’s because you need to be good at both formats simultaneously while staying conscious of both communities – those in the four walls with you and those participating remotely. And to be truly effective, you need to completely rethink the format and structure of meetings to make them relevant for WFA. The payoff is big, though, because the people who can create seamless, engaging hybrid meetings are rare indeed.
Here's what you need to do to demonstrate your hybrid meeting prowess so you can stand out and bolster your personal brand:
Combine synchronous with asynchronous. Never again should you look at a meeting as a one time, strictly one-hour event. Instead, look at it as a sandwich: Prework. Interaction. Follow-through. This creates more balance for those who work at the office and those who work remotely. The first and third elements are done by all participants alone during a time slot that’s convenient for them. This allows you to focus on the most important part of the sandwich, the filling. That’s where all the interaction happens. Of course, to ensure participants arrive prepared and ready to achieve the meeting’s outcomes, make the pre-work and follow-up interesting and engaging (and not too time-consuming).
When it comes to the highly interactive filling:
Prioritize virtual over real. Thanks to proximity bias, our natural inclination is to focus on what’s there in front of us. That often means that the people participating from their home office or third-place are ignored or forgotten. To fully bring them into the meeting:
- Start your introductions with those who are participating virtually. Have them tell you a little bit about what’s going on where they are. This will make them more 3D despite the fact that they’re on a two-dimensional screen.
- Call on remote participants regularly: “Raj in Phoenix, what do you think about that marketing model?”
- Engage them in conversation when you haven’t heard from them in a while during the session.
- Design for the small screen ... The really small screen. That means make your presentations engaging with at least 32 pt. font, and lots of images and video.
- Keep it short. Remember, the remote participants likely just came from an online meeting and will probably jump on another one right after yours.
Integrate work and play
- Be clear about what has to be accomplished. But don’t be too ambitious, as this could make the meeting a stressful rush of impossible activities, especially for those who are participating virtually.
- Mix the agenda with items that are serious work tasks and those that are recreational. For example, during introductions at the beginning, have all participants share one thing that’s fun (“If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing right now?”).
- Each time before you move into a new topic, create an interstitial. It can be something as simple as a relevant thought-provoking quote, a joke or riddle or a fun quick YouTube or TikTok video. This will create a reset for participants and add to the enjoyment of the meeting. Meetings should not be boring! Unless you want “boring” as a personal brand trait.
Balance tech with humanity
- Spend time on compassion, appreciation and acknowledgement – the emotionally connective part of business. Be overt with praise and appreciation.
- If possible, use tech to bring remote members into the room on the big screen. Technology that can make the participants appear larger than life will keep those local participants aware of their virtual colleagues.
- Use polling software, even for people in the room. Use a QR code that all participants can access with their phone. Then you can have multiple choice or word cloud interactions where everyone participates the same way. This is a good equalizer.
It's time to truly rethink meetings so they work in the hybrid world. When you take the lead and deliver meetings like this, you make them more productive and more fun while making a giant deposit in your personal brand bank.
William Arruda is a keynote speaker, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the 360Reach personal brand feedback survey which allows you to get the real scoop about your professional reputation from those who know you.