This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on May 9, 2022 - May 15, 2022
“Can everyone turn off their mics during the presentation?” and “You’re on mute” are some of the common, and sometimes exasperated, comments that we have heard during online work meetings over the last couple of years.
Technology has grown increasingly important in our lives since the pandemic hit and “remote” and “hybrid” have become normal work practices. And yet, some of us still find it difficult to have a good and seamless online meeting experience. Here are some tips on how to manage a hybrid meeting efficiently.
Planning ahead for a hybrid meeting can help increase efficiency. Everyone will know the purpose and objectives of the meeting. A host or producer should be present in both settings to allow seamless interactivity on both sides, which will result in a fruitful session for all parties involved. As the hosts will be accustomed to moderating both online and offline sessions, they will also know what to do in the event there is a glitch and undertake damage control immediately.
Deciding who will be present physically and joining in virtually will help organise the meeting’s processes in terms of gauging the scale of the hybrid meeting and discussion area. On top of that, technical issues are unpredictable, so by knowing who will be joining in virtually, the host or presenter can share resources — such as PowerPoint presentations — ahead of time. While it may not completely eliminate frustrations, it will save time and still keep everyone in the loop.
Most presentations and meetings will automatically turn off a participant’s audio and video to reduce noise and unnecessary interruptions. In these situations, the application’s chat room is typically used to communicate with the presenters and other participants. At times, the chat room is neglected and discussions in the chat box are left out. In order to make everyone feel included, assign one person to pay attention to the chat room. This will benefit everyone involved.
Breakout sessions are useful functions that are available on Google Meet and Zoom, which allow the host to have personal discussions on the side, enabling participants to have a space to speak out too. Those who are attending the session physically can break out into smaller groups at the venue while those online can enter the designated rooms created by the host. Room leaders are assigned to take note of those present and facilitate discussions that are happening both online and offline.
An external microphone, speaker and video camera are essential tools for a pleasant virtual meeting experience. Investing in audio and video solutions would benefit those who are physically present at the meeting venue as well, because clear audio and video will allow for a seamless event, both online and offline.
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