Hybrid Meetings: How to Run Them Productively

Chris Carnduff
June 7, 2024

Are you tired of the same old meeting routine? Tired of sitting in a room with a bunch of people, staring at a screen and sharing PowerPoints?

Well, it might be time to switch things up. A hybrid meeting combines the best aspects of both online and in-person meetings, and can be a great way to boost productivity and engagement.

So what are hybrid meetings, exactly? And how can you make sure that they run smoothly and productively? At CoffeePals, we'll answer those questions and give you some tips on how to get the most out of your next hybrid meeting.

What are hybrid meetings?

A hybrid meeting is a meeting that combines both in-person and online participants by having some people in the room and others joining via video conference.

This type of meeting has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it allows for greater flexibility and collaboration. And with the right tools in place, hybrid meetings can be just as effective as traditional in-person meetings.

Hybrid meeting types: How they're used in the workplace

There could be many reasons why you simply can't have everyone sitting in the same room in real life. It could be that your company has employees located in different cities or countries. Maybe some team members are working from home, or are traveling for business.

Whatever the reason, hybrid meetings provide a great solution for getting everyone on the same page - no matter where they are. Here are a few of the most common types of hybrid meetings:

  • For large events (e.g., kick-offs, all-hands, keynotes) – These types of meetings are typically large in scale and involve a lot of people. By having some attendees participate online, you can save on travel costs and make it easier for people to join from different time zones – all while giving everyone access to the same information and activities.
  • Live studio audience (i.e., talk-show setup) – When there's a panel of speakers (e.g., industry experts or company executives) talking in front of a smaller live audience while broadcasting the event to a larger virtual audience.
  • Speakers-only roundtable – Similar to the live studio, except there are only speakers and the moderator, while the audience tunes in virtually. In the workplace, this can be used for training sessions, executive briefings, or knowledge-sharing sessions.
  • Product demos – If you're launching a new product, this makes it easy to give a demo to your remote team. Instead of gathering everyone in one room, you can have some people join remotely while others watch in person so you can still give a great demo without having to worry about technical difficulties or losing people's attention.
  • Brainstorming sessions – Brainstorming is all about generating ideas, so it's important to have everyone in the room engaged and participating by adding a video component. This way you can promote engagement and open idea-sharing to get the most out of your meetings.

Why hybrid meetings are a great idea

Should you bother with hybrid meetings? Here's why it's a popular option for many HR managers and executives:

  • Flexibility – One of the biggest advantages of hybrid meetings is that they offer greater flexibility to meet the needs of your team. No matter where people are located, you can easily include them in the meeting by having some join online and others in person.
  • Improved productivity – Hybrid meetings can help boost productivity by making it easier for everyone to share ideas and collaborate. When people are in the same room, they can quickly turn to each other to discuss an idea or ask a question – make sure to add a video component for remote participants to feel present.
  • Increased engagement – With hybrid meetings, you can keep everyone engaged by incorporating different activities and using interactive features. For example, you can use a whiteboard or screen-sharing tool to share ideas, or use tools like CoffeePals to randomly match in-person and virtual participants in breakout rooms to encourage small group discussions with auto-generated questions.
  • Better communication – Hybrid meetings can also help improve communication by allowing people to see each other's body language and facial expressions. This can be especially helpful when you're trying to build relationships or resolve conflict.

The hybrid meeting checklist: What to consider before starting

Now that you know some of the benefits of hybrid meetings, here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your first one:

  1. Purpose – First and foremost, you need to determine the purpose of the meeting. What is the goal? What do you hope to achieve? Once you know the answer to these questions, you can start planning the rest of the meeting.
  2. Location – If you're going to have in-person attendees, you'll need to choose a location that's convenient for everyone. Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to join remotely, so you'll need to find a balance between accessibility and capacity.
  3. Time – When it comes to hybrid meetings, timing is everything. You'll need to consider the time zone of your remote attendees and make sure the meeting doesn't conflict with any other events or obligations.
  4. Equipment – In order to run a successful hybrid meeting, you'll need the right equipment. This includes a laptop or desktop computer with a webcam and microphone, as well as a reliable internet connection. You might also want to consider investing in a video conferencing system to make it easier to connect with remote attendees.
productive hybrid meeting

How to run a productive hybrid meeting

Now that you know what to consider before starting, it's time to learn how to run a productive hybrid meeting. Here are a few tips:

Create an agenda

Before the meeting, create an agenda and send it out to all attendees. This will help everyone prepare for the meeting and ensure that the discussion stays on track. Here are some tips on structuring a strong hybrid meeting agenda:

  • Include a mix of in-person and remote activities To keep everyone engaged, start with an icebreaker or brainstorming session. To get the ball rolling on this, take advantage of CoffeePals’ fun and thought-provoking virtual coffee chat questions. Then you can follow with a presentation from the presenter(s), and end with a Q&A or discussion.
  • Designate time for each activity – Once you've chosen the activities, be sure to designate a specific amount of time for each one. Make sure it's not too long or too short, and that everyone is moving on at the same pace.
  • Allow time for breaks – Allow time for breaks, especially if the meeting is longer than an hour. This will give everyone a chance to stretch their legs, grab a coffee, or take a bathroom break.
  • Choose a moderator – To keep the meeting moving, choose a moderator who can keep track of time and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute.

Use interactive features

There are a variety of interactive features that you can use to make your hybrid meeting more engaging. Here are a few to consider:

  • Video conferencing – Video conferencing is a great way to connect with remote attendees and see each other's facial expressions and body language. Pro tip: Make remote participants full-sized on the call. In-person attendees will subconsciously take the "life-sized" panels more seriously and give them more attention.
  • Make sure audio quality is crisp – did you know that audio quality can impact a speaker's credibility? If you want the contents of your meeting and its participants to be taken serious, ensure that your room is equipped with high-quality microphones, so that no one drowns in noise and is discouraged to participate.
  • Virtual whiteboard – A virtual whiteboard helps you brainstorm ideas or collaborate on projects. There are a variety of online tools that you can use, such as MURAL or Stormboard. We recommend MURAL because it's easy to use and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams.
  • Polling – Polling is a great way to engage your audience and get feedback without a lot of interruptions or double-speaking. There are a variety of online tools that you can use, such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms.

Ensure remote participants feel included & heard

When you're conducting meetings in person, it's naturally going to be more difficult to involve and hear from those sitting behind a screen. And if you're not careful, it can create an environment where some feel more included than others.

Here are a few tips to ensure that remote employees feel included and heard:

  • Give a shoutout to your virtual participants – If you have a large remote team, demonstrate your respect for their attendance with a quick line of acknowledgement. You could say: “Hey, folks in Canada, how are you today?”
  • Be sensitive to subtle cues & expressions – Just because participants are behind a computer doesn't mean they're not engaging with the material. Pay attention to expressions like body language, head nods, or even laughter.
  • Use the chat function – The chat function is a great way to include remote attendees in the discussion. If someone has a question or wants to make a comment, they can type it into the chat box and the moderator can address it.
  • Break out into smaller groups – If you have a large meeting, consider breaking out into small groups. This will allow everyone to have a chance to participate in the discussion. To set up a breakout room in Microsoft Teams, go to the "Meeting" tab and click "Create breakout room."

Let CoffeePals introduce everyone well before your hybrid meetings

Hybrid meetings can be a great way to engage with remote attendees and get more out of your meeting time. By using interactive features like video conferencing, polling, and breakout groups, you can ensure that everyone is participating and feels heard.

And since some introductions will likely be in order, especially in large teams with remote employees, consider using CoffeePals to help make introductions before your hybrid meetings. We match people in your company together for coffee chats on a routine basis and post fun, thought-provoking questions to spark conversation (Coffee Maker topics) - all within Microsoft Teams.


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