Lessons Learned for Hybrid Events: A Story from the Field
Just as many of us finally settled into our virtual meeting routines we found a new challenge: hybrid meetings. A hybrid event is where some of the participants are online and some of the participants are in-person.
As my colleagues and I prepared for our first hybrid meeting we realized that many of the lessons we had learned over the past two years of virtual meetings could be carried over, with special attention to a few key areas.
Prioritize. Hybrid events have many components, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. It is important to stop and ask yourself, what matters most? For this meeting, there were a few of us facilitating on screen with a larger international group in-person in one room, so offering interpretation was the most important component. Our staff, who did not speak the local language, created an agenda that allowed our on-site partners to facilitate certain parts of the meeting without us, enabling all participants to interact in their chosen language. All meeting materials were also translated ahead of time and provided to those involved.
Check your tech! We held several tests to ensure the audio-visual equipment worked for those in the room and those on the screen. We checked the audio from various areas of the room to make certain that all attendees could hear and see clearly. If you are sharing videos during the meeting, be sure to have the file or link ready to share in the Chat, in case virtual participants have issues viewing or hearing the video. Do not leave any details out! Walk through each part of your agenda to ensure you have the audiovisuals you need.
Run-of-show. We learned early on that virtual meetings benefit from a detailed run-of-show or script. This has become even more important during our hybrid meeting. Everyone involved knew their exact roles during the meeting and what to expect and mostly importantly, could step in for one another in case there were any issues. When thinking of engagement activities, keep your virtual participants in mind, ensure that the suggested activities are easy for them to participate in as well. Lastly, be sure to build in additional time whenever you are sharing videos, or other audiovisuals since there might be a time delay.
More moderators. We never know what the technology gods might surprise us with, so we made sure to have two moderators, one in the meeting room and another in the virtual room. The moderator in the virtual room was also in the meeting room, creating a link between the groups of participants and ensuring continuity. Having a moderator in the virtual room also meant we could engage with participants using the Chat.
Hybrid meetings aren’t optimal. However, if they are needed, detailed planning can help make the experience more engaging for all.
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What have you found helpful when facilitating or preparing for a hybrid gathering?
Trisha Viecco Carrillo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Events Coordinator at International Budget Partnership. Over her ten years in this role she has coordinated countless meetings around the world for IBP and its partners. Trisha is based in Washington, DC where she lives with her husband and two adorable kids. Presently, she is working toward becoming a Certified Dialogue Education Teacher with GLP.
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