If 2021 has taught us anything at all, it’s safe to say as a country we’ve learned how to exist during a crisis, for better or worse. And whether you’re a glass-half-full or -empty kind of person, the world around you has become infinitely more digital. In the auto industry, for instance, incredibly connected car buyers are now spending 14+ hours online researching.
And the trend of digital isn’t just growing on the buyer side of the equation either. With nearly 61% of companies utilizing or planning on utilizing hybrid work environments, another 56% of workers (an estimated 75 million employees) would work from home if given the chance.
The “traditional workplace” seems to be fading quickly into the past, going the way of child labor and, maybe, the five-day workweek. Because of this trend, many workers find themselves logging into work meetings from just about anywhere besides the office. These digital-first meetings went from being a far-away-client-only necessity to a major part of the daily routine.
To combat these roadblocks, we will discuss these seven 7 tips for successful hybrid meetings:
- Ensure People Want to Share
- Utilize Inclusive Tools & Practices
- Test Your Tech Ahead of Time
- Set An Agenda
- Stick to Meeting Basics
- Keep Meetings Short & Sweet
- Jump Right Into Things
1. Ensure People Want to Share (Cameras On!) 📸
One of the hardest elements of successful hybrid meetings is connecting your team no matter where they are in the world. While two sitting in the same room may be able to connect and work together, those scattered to the wind may find connecting difficult, and even exhausting.
Zoom Fatigue (n) – Though Zoom Fatigue is not an officially diagnosed medical condition, Krystal Jagoo, MSW, RSW describes it as: “Similar to exhaustion or burnout, [due to] increased cognitive demands of video conferencing communication.”
According to HealthLine, the key signs of Zoom Fatigue typically include:
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones
- Frustration and irritability with co-workers
- Physical symptoms, like muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia
But ensuring all of your meeting’s attendees have their cameras turned on during the meeting means they’re more likely to be engaged and less likely to be surfing the web and not fully paying attention. The psychology makes a lot of sense – turning cameras on also helps team members connect with their peers and what their day-to-day lives may actually be like, wherever it is they work from.
2. Utilize Inclusive Tools & Practices
While not everyone loves sharing constantly in a video chat, it’s critical employers understand and utilize inclusive tools and best practices for getting the most out of their entire team in hybrid meetings.
Teams offers many options for inclusivity, including hand-raising features that allow introverted meeting attendees to let everyone know they have something to say. Additionally, it helps immensely to periodically call on individuals to speak about their viewpoints on the topic at hand, even by virtually “going around the table” before a decision is finalized.
3. Test Your Tech Ahead of Time
It’s an iconic scene from Season 4 of The Office- Michael Scott is tasked with giving a PowerPoint presentation and, to absolutely no one’s surprise, after a 12-minute “initial setup” timer opens, Michael quips it may take “5-or-10 minutes.” In mere seconds, the meeting has fully devolved into chaos.
Another meeting avoided by the king of procrastination himself – but also an incredibly apt real-world example of how quickly meetings can be derailed by a technical problem that takes time to fix. While you may not have the same cast of characters trying everything they can to avoid working, your group will check out just as quickly if you skip the test and simply cross your fingers.
4. Set An Agenda
At this point, your team is prepped on expectations and all your tech is ready to roll. But just like countless other meetings, every time you gather together for a hybrid meeting, it’s possible for things to become unhinged quickly.
Keep your meetings on track and on the right topic by setting a clear agenda and sharing that with attendees at the beginning of the meeting – even by sharing your screen through Teams. Write the agenda clearly and with all the details needed to use as an added visual reminder. If things begin to fall off the tracks, you can always show the slide again as a reference to help attendees refocus.
5. Stick to Meeting Basics
Prior to any kind of conversation, set clear objectives for everyone involved and email or hand out a pre-read with all of the necessary information for the meeting. During the session itself, use a hard-copy agenda, set clear meeting ground rules, take timely breaks, and clearly outline the next steps – including timing and accountabilities – for everyone involved in the meeting.
6. Keep Meetings Short & Sweet
The only thing worse than a long-winded presenter in an old, in-person meeting is a long presentation during an even more boring virtual meeting. These opportunities should be moments for discussion, not for eyes to roll into the backs of each of your team member’s heads.
If someone needs to present for their portion of the meeting, utilize screen-sharing options built into tools like Teams to guide the conversation so attendees can literally be on the same page. Prioritize conversation, however, it works for your group, to leverage the time people are looking at each other during these hybrid meetings.
7. Jump Right Into Things
Your meeting is about to start and you’re ready to get things going… But how do you start? Maybe try some ice breakers with your group? Spin some wicked beats on your completely unnecessary DJ table?
No, none of that is necessary or helpful.
In fact, doing any kind of introduction that doesn’t speak directly to the meeting and its content is a waste of time and, quite frankly, the fastest way to ensure that meeting attendees are bored to tears. Briefly introduce yourself, thank everyone for attending however they are, and share the agenda.
And now you’re ready to rock. 🤘
Whatever the future has in store for us, a full-on “return to normalcy” (shoutout to Warren G. Harding for that one) may not be possible after the world’s most recent round of rattling. When your team logs in for their next meetings, they’ll greatly appreciate you following these seven tips for successful hybrid meetings.
Seriously. Try it.
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