At first glance, hybrid meetings may seem like the best of both worlds: You can have a fun and engaging meeting for your in-person attendees, while making it easy for remote team members to participate from afar. But hybrid meetings can present some unique challenges, from technical issues to a lack of focus and engagement.
Here’s how to choose the right hybrid meeting format, and how you can use remote collaboration tools to streamline your meetings and follow up afterwards.
What Is a Hybrid Meeting?
A hybrid meeting is one that takes place both online and in-person at the same time. It differs from a virtual meeting in that at least some participants are present in the same room together, but it shares many of the same features as a fully-remote meeting and may even use the same meeting technology, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
The proportion of in-person participants to remote attendees can vary widely, and it may not be a 50/50 split. You could have a team meeting in which only a few participants dial in remotely, or an all-hands meeting in which two or three presenters are on-site, but hundreds of remote employees are watching from their home offices.
Although online meetings became the new normal during the pandemic, the rise of the hybrid work model means that hybrid meetings are gaining ground.
Benefits of Hybrid Meetings
Hybrid meetings make it possible to meet the needs of virtual attendees and in-person participants at the same time. Rather than catering to one or the other, effective hybrid meetings can provide an engaging meeting experience for both groups.
Hybrid video calls are more accessible than in-person meetings, because they’re open to anyone with a webcam and internet connection. Employees who can’t easily attend face-to-face meetings due to distance, chronic illness, or disability aren’t left out.
Hybrid meetings offer greater transparency than other types of meetings because it’s easier to record your meeting when audio and video are being captured anyway. You can create an audio and/or video recording for future reference, or use automated note-taking tools like Anchor AI to take meeting minutes that capture just the right details.
Send the recording and your meeting notes out to stakeholders who weren’t able to attend, or create a meeting summary with action items to ensure follow-through.
Hybrid meetings provide greater flexibility because you don’t have to cram everyone into the same meeting space at the same time. If you only have limited space in which to hold your meeting, you can easily increase your meeting capacity without having to rent or furnish an additional conference room.
You can also make use of breakout rooms on video conferencing platforms like Zoom, which allow you to break up into smaller groups in a virtual meeting room.
Challenges of Hybrid Meetings
Hybrid meetings present some unique challenges, and can be even harder to run than traditional video conferences. At least with a video call, everyone is on a level playing field. In a hybrid meeting, meeting participants can have a wildly different experience depending on where they’re physically located.
Even at the best of times, virtual meetings are prone to technical issues such as poor audio quality, dropped WiFi, and Zoom error messages. Your webcam or microphone may not capture everyone who’s physically present in the room, and a hectic work environment can contribute to background noise and crosstalk.
You may need to invest in high-quality video conferencing equipment to ensure that remote participants get the same experience as in-room meeting attendees.
If there’s an imbalance between the number of remote participants and face-to-face attendees, one side of the meeting can quickly overpower the other. In-person team members may address each other, rather than speaking into the microphone and including remote participants in the discussion.
Hybrid meeting facilitators need to pay special attention to both groups of meeting participants to ensure that everyone is able to stay focused and engaged.
Timing can also be a challenge for hybrid meetings, since you don’t have the benefit of meeting in a shared workspace. Depending on your remote work policy, some of your team members may work from different time zones or set their own work hours.
Remote participants may even experience meeting burnout more often than in-person attendees, since they don’t have as many opportunities to socialize or get a change of scenery between back-to-back meetings.
5 Steps to Running a Successful Hybrid Meeting
Hybrid meetings have their pros and cons, but they can be incredibly effective when done right. Follow these five steps to run a successful hybrid meeting.
1. Choose the right meeting format
First, decide if you really need to have a hybrid meeting. If your meeting requires the full participation of remote and in-person employees, then it may be the right choice. But if you’re considering a hybrid meeting just because one team member is working from home for the day and wants to Zoom in, it may not be worth the extra effort.
Consider these alternatives to hybrid meetings:
- Break your hybrid meeting up into two groups — one in-person, one virtual — so you can make the best use of both meeting formats.
- Use remote collaboration tools to communicate asynchronously. This could take the form of a group chat or a recorded video message instead of a meeting.
- Have everyone participate virtually — even in-person participants — to level the playing field and avoid having discordant meeting experiences.
2. Use the right technology
Using the right hybrid meeting technology can spare you from delays due to poor audio quality and internet connection issues. Start by investing in a high-quality camera and microphone, and choose a meeting room with good lighting and acoustics.
Next, consider using AI productivity tools to help you get more out of your meetings. You can use an automated meeting notes tool for hands-free documentation, or an AI project management tool to automatically capture action items. Anchor AI offers both of these features in one easy-to-use platform.
3. Stick to the script
Keep your hybrid meetings to the point by creating a meeting agenda and sticking to it. By sending out your meeting agenda in advance, you’ll make it easy for participants to follow along and for the facilitator to keep things running smoothly.
Don’t have time to create an agenda? Anchor AI’s Quick Prep tool can create agenda items for any meeting automatically based on the notes from your previous meeting.
4. Make the meeting engaging
Hybrid meetings can be less engaging than in-person meetings if you don’t take the time to get everyone on the same page. Schedule in time for icebreakers and other fun team meeting ideas to keep your team engaged.
If you’re having a brainstorming meeting, use a virtual whiteboard app so that everyone can follow along and remote participants don’t get left behind.
Call on individual speakers to encourage participation, and keep an eye on the video call to see if anyone has put a virtual hand up to speak.
5. Follow up afterwards
Following up is a key part of any successful meeting, hybrid or otherwise. It helps you keep the momentum going and ensures team accountability.
Use Anchor AI to generate key takeaways or a follow-up email that you can send out to meeting participants and other stakeholders. Anchor’s built-in AI assistant, Max, can also assign action items to individual team members with a due date attached.
Run Better Meetings With Anchor AI
Hybrid meetings can be a boon for team leaders who need to facilitate meetings with both remote and in-person participants. They can make meetings more accessible by including employees who work from home or have disabilities that prevent them from attending face-to-face meetings. But they also present some challenges, especially when it comes to technical issues and keeping team members engaged.
Anchor AI can help you get more out of any type of meeting, whether it’s in-person, remote, or a hybrid of the two. Simply invite Anchor AI to your meeting to capture video or just audio, or upload a recording afterwards. Use it to generate a transcript, a follow-up email, a meeting summary, or even an agenda that you can use for your next meeting.
Sign up for free to level up your team meetings today!