This article shares one of the lessons I learned when planning and running a hybrid class reunion event in May 2022. Read the introduction and see the other lessons in this series here.
One of the issues with hybrid meetings is how to build a connection between the people in the room and those who are attending virtually. The small grid of videos does not promote connection. When planning the hybrid reunion event I decide that I would introduce each virtual attendee to the room so each side could say Hi. As people joined the meeting I let them know that we would be doing this at the start of the program.
When the program started I let people in the room know that I was going to introduce each virtual attendee and where to look at the room webcam (see this lesson for how I used two webcams in the room). This way people in the room could wave and say Hi to each person as they were introduced. I asked each remote attendee to let us know where they were attending from and we had people from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and various US states.
After the event I had so many people comment on how helpful it was to see each virtual attendee full screen during the introductions. They said it helped them connect with the classmates who couldn’t attend in person.
Applying this lesson to your meetings
Plan for introductions of virtual attendees
When planning a hybrid meeting, reserve some time at the start to individually introduce each virtual attendee to the people in the room. Let the virtual attendees know you will be doing this and making their video full screen when they are introduced. It will help connect everyone at the start of the meeting.
Spotlight each video so they are full screen
Use the spotlight feature of Zoom or Teams to make each virtual attendee full screen in the meeting so they are full screen in the room and for the other virtual attendees. This is much better than the small video square that the regular meeting interface provides. Seeing facial expressions are what help people connect and the spotlight feature enables us to see the expressions of each virtual attendee.
Involve each virtual attendee with a question
Instead of just having a virtual attendee wave at the camera, involve them in a way that gets them to speak. Ask a question that helps them connect with the people in the room. The people in the room have had the chance to engage in small talk before the meeting while virtual attendees likely did not. Ask a question such as where they are connecting from, what the weather is like, or what drink or snack they have at their desk. Something to get them to share a part of their day or situation that helps build connection in the entire group.
In a hybrid meeting we need to connect the people who are in the room with those who are attending virtually. Don’t just hope this will happen. Be deliberate about it and plan introductions to help people connect.
Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 3.5 million times and liked over 14,000 times on YouTube.