First, there was there was the overnight switch from in-person to virtual meetings. There were over 1 billion Google searches for “working from home,” and webcams were sold out everywhere for months.

Slowly, people have begun to return to the office, but room restrictions and personal safety concerns created a third alternative called the “hybrid” meeting.

Geraldine Ree-experienced SVP, mentor, facilitator, and speaker

Guest post by Geraldine Ree. Bio and website below.

A hybrid meeting consists of a combination of leading from home while others are in a single location, or leading from an office with everyone in their remote locations, or some combination in between.

The key to running a hybrid meeting is masterful facilitation to get your audience from where they are to where you want them to be. Take into consideration these 8 steps as you plan your route.

1. Intention: This hybrid meeting could change lives. Show up with enthusiasm, encouragement, and empathy. People will feel your commitment to their wellbeing.

If a meeting is worth having, it’s worth doing it right.

2. Plan: The complexity of running a hybrid meeting takes a little extra planning so that you can anticipate roadblocks and marry the flow of two entirely different mediums.

Map out your logistics first: How long, how many, what technical tools, what handouts, what pre-work, what is your agenda, how many breaks, etc.

Consider the best of each method first, then consider how those work together. What can you keep (such as breakouts and stretching exercises), and what has to be sacrificed (such as mealtime together)?

3. The wow: Create a riveting start in both mediums. Captivating the attention at the start of the meeting is critical.

In-person meetings can run longer, as there is the capacity for visiting before and after the meeting.

Set the meeting time in-person 15 minutes ahead of the virtual meeting, and focus all your attention on setting a welcoming tone that allows for chit chat.

Transfer that same tone to starting the virtual meeting by welcoming everyone as they arrive. Noticing people says, “I see you. Your contribution matters to all of us.”

Start tying the two groups together in an extremely intentional way. To everyone in both rooms, there is no virtual wall.

4. Purpose: The key to a successful hybrid meeting is that everyone who attends feels like they got value out of the meeting. In a study by Harvard Business Review, 70% of senior managers felt like meetings were a waste of time and kept them from deep work.

The first thing to ask is, “Is this a meeting, update, training, or a social?”

If one person is speaking for more than 50% of the time, it’s no longer a meeting. Consider moving long speeches into a different time slot.

Create a compelling agenda that facilitates value for every attendee.

Be particularly thoughtful about the guest list. We often feel like we need to be inclusive about our guest list as if throwing everyone in a room will solve our communication issues.

Keep the meeting small, relevant, and with an expectation of participation.

5. Insight: Do your homework. Carefully consider the problem the meeting is trying to solve. Is it setting sales targets, or completing a project?

Look for inspirational work, quotes, video, or case studies of other groups who’ve faced similar challenges.

Contributing a nugget of third-party wisdom is often the one thing people will reflect on as most valuable after the meeting.

6. Be thoughtful of how you share both virtually and in person.

  • If you’re referring to a handout you’ve provided in-person attendees, ask people to print it out in advance.
  • Be nimble with screen sharing, switching back to speaker view as often as possible, rather than leaving people hanging on a PowerPoint slide.
  • Breakouts in person are visible, and virtually they are not. Consider some extra instructions on the process.
  • Assign a moderator randomly, such as the closest birthday. Keep them short and small.

7. Impact: In a sea of mediocrity and burnout, hybrid meetings are an opportunity for you to run the best meeting of someone’s week, month, or even year. Set a goal of creating 20 insights per meeting.

Provide a collateral template of takeaways with 20 lines or spaces specifically for your meeting. When someone shares a good idea, prompt people to write it down.

Plant the seed in advance of doing deep work at the meeting to leverage the big-picture opportunity of being with other bright minds.

8. Action: End the meeting with next steps and commitments.

  • Next steps: When will you meet again, and what is the expected outcome at that point?
  • Commitments: Refer people back to their handout on takeaways. What’s the one thing they will commit to actioning within 24 hours?

Note: As a facilitator, make a mental note of this step. It’s your report card for engagement.

How did you do? Were there people struggling to come up with an action item, or were there too many to choose from? This could be a sign of many things and a great opportunity for going deeper.

Comment below and I’ll help you get to the next level

Are you looking to take your virtual meetings to the next level? I can help! Reach out for a strategy call, or to learn more, please visit me on my website.