While global organisations have held hybrid meetings for many years now, these types of meetings are now extremely commonplace in a world where social distancing has become part of the new normal. Similarly, event management companies are now coming up with ways to make their hybrid events and meetings more interesting, attention-grabbing, and interactive, as they attempt to bring the best of live events to the virtual world without compromising on engagement.
If you work for a virtual events agency or have hosted virtual meetings or virtual events in the past, you know that hybrid meetings are very different from in-person meetings. For one thing, there are far too many distractions that plague the modern hybrid event attendee. Unstable internet connections, feeling self-conscious in front of the camera, and having multiple tabs open in your browser during the event are unavoidable distractions that cause attendees to lose attention.
Thankfully, if you are looking for a virtual event solution to running hybrid meetings, you have come to the right place. This article will outline 5 ways that you can run hybrid meetings where attendees actually pay attention. So let’s get into it!
1. Send Out an Agenda in Advance
One of the biggest reasons why attendees of your hybrid meeting stop paying attention is that the flow of the meeting is now efficient enough. The key to efficiency is to have everything planned out beforehand and to make sure that all your attendees are aware of the agenda so that they can keep track of what to expect during the meeting.
Your agenda should give the attendees an idea of how much time will be taken up for each task and what the outcome of the meeting will be. This will keep attendees more motivated to remain engaged and keep up with the pre-established pace of the meeting.
2. Make Appropriate Virtual Locations a Requirement
There are few things more distracting during a virtual meeting than an attendee who is moving around the house doing their daily chores or driving while attending the meeting. This is one of the drawbacks of hybrid meetings, as many attendees will be under the impression that simply by being a virtual participant, they are participating.
However, this kind of behavior can be incredibly distracting, not just for the other participants but also for the hosts. Moreover, it can slow down the pace of the meeting by a lot. Therefore, one way of ensuring that attendees actually pay attention during your hybrid meeting is to require them to attend from an appropriate virtual location, and if possible, to use a laptop camera to minimize distracting movements.
3. Designate a Moderator
Most live conferences have a moderator for a good reason: the moderator keeps the flow of the meeting in check and tries to pull the discussion back to the agenda. During a hybrid meeting, however, moderators can be even more crucial when it comings to maintaining the attention of the attendees.
Here, the moderators will ensure that there is constant engagement and that no one person takes up all the talking time. The moderator’s job is to ensure that the meeting is progressing according to the agenda and that people aren’t talking over one another, or worse, not interacting at all.
4. Set Some Basic Ground Rules
Included in your pre-established agenda should be a list of ground rules that all attendees need to follow. Here are some rules that will ensure that attendees maintain their attention throughout the hybrid meeting.
- Appropriate dressing – attendees should come dressed formally as if they were attending an in-person meeting. Formal clothes create an official and demanding atmosphere, while everyday comfortable clothes create a casual, lazy, and easygoing atmosphere, which makes it easier to get distracted.
- Video cameras should be kept on throughout the meeting so that attendees can see each other’s facial expressions and know who is talking. This will help the pace of the meeting feel much more like that of an in-person meeting, making it less likely that attendees will get distracted.
- Microphones should be muted at all times unless the attendee is speaking. This will help eliminate or minimise background noises which can be very distracting during a hybrid meeting.
- If someone needs to leave their seat or turn their video camera off, they should leave a message in the chatbox before doing so.
5. Start with Some Ice-Breakers and Introductions
During a hybrid meeting, it is very easy for participants and attendees to feel rather awkward, especially if they are not active members of the community that is meeting. Ice-breakers and introductions at the beginning of the meeting are a great way to get the ball rolling and allow attendees to feel more comfortable interacting with the others.
Moreover, this will warm up the social atmosphere and make even the most formal hybrid meetings feel a little more natural and organic. As a bonus, this will also allow various attendees and participants to get to know one another better, thereby acting as a networking opportunity.
If you can afford to do so, you can use a short and simple game to get everybody’s social and creative juices flowing before the actual meeting begins. Not only can such games ease the tension for the rest of the hybrid meeting, but they also have the added benefit of creating an active and engaging atmosphere, thereby maximizing interaction and minimizing distractions.
As event management companies adapt to the new normal of social distancing norms, hybrid meetings and events will not only become more commonplace, but they will have to become more innovative to stand out amongst all the others. Any virtual events agency will tell you that in order to host an engaging and interactive hybrid meeting, the above methods should be used to ensure that your attendees are as immersed as they possibly could be.
While you could potentially come up with your own virtual event solution for your own hybrid meetings, the methods outlined in this article are some of the most tried and tested ways of increasing attendee engagement and ensuring that your hybrid meeting achieves all the outcomes you have set for it.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, a leading event management company in Birmingham offering event planning and venue finding services. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.