I know, I know. You just got the handle on Zoom meetings and/or MS Teams and now we’re faced with the multiple challenges of hybrid.
The learning curve never ends.
Which can alternately be energizing and exhausting.
There’s hope and even loads of opportunities with hybrids.
Note: hybrid can refer to ongoing remote working, flexible work arrangements, flexible hours of work, etc. In this post, however, I’m using it to mean a real-time event, meeting, or workshop where some participants are physically present in a ‘real’ room, and some are in an online room.
I’ll share eight tips but first, the overall goal for hybrid events
I recently designed and led a hybrid two-day workshop for a UN team of 60. I explained to the organizing team upfront that my goal was to, as much as possible, break down any silos between those who were present in the physical room and those who were online. Those online should feel as present and as welcome as those in the physical room. Any learning activity had to work for both those in the virtual space and those in the ‘real’ room. If it didn’t work for one or the other, the activity got ditched.
When you’re starting to think of a hybrid meeting, workshop, event, etc. start out by making everyone feel included, those in the physical room and those in the Zoom/MS Teams room. If something won’t work for folks online don’t do it.
Case in point: flipcharts.
Don’t use them with a hybrid event. It’s too finicky to have folks online be able to consistently see them. Instead, use the wealth of opportunities that being online brings, for example, collaborative platforms like Google Docs, Padlet, and more.
Now that you have your goal sorted, here are four tips to help you prepare for hybrid events and four tips for when the event is taking place.
Four tips for focusing and preparing for your hybrid event
1. Get in the know
- Survey folks ahead of time and sort out who’ll be present in the physical room, and who’ll be online. This has an impact on how you plan your event and the technology.
2. Safety first
- Everyone’s organization is going to be different but do everything you can to help people feel safe during the pandemic. For us, that meant contacting the top brass and filling in a risk assessment sheet.
- In the lead-up to the two-day event we communicated what we were doing safety-wise with the team so everyone would be in the know.
- We also communicated with the venue staff to ensure chairs were spaced far enough apart, there was as much air flow (e.g. open doors and windows), sanitizer on all tables, etc.
3. Tech tips
- Consider this a continuous learning curve and collate what you currently know about hybrid and create a tech tip list that you continually add to. I’ve given you one below. Feel free to copy and add to it.
- Because nothing derails an event/meeting/workshop faster than participants getting hung up and frustrated with tech, share this tech tip list with the participants ahead of time.
- Use your tech people to help you.
4. Do some research
- Hybrid is THE thing right now. I took part in an informative UN Digital Executive Series webinar on the same topic and it was fascinating. The link to the replay is below. Here are some things I gleaned:
- John Frank, Vice President for UN Affairs at Microsoft, said there is now a billion minutes of online collaboration every day (which has more than doubled in the last year). This has created a big opportunity for how to make tech and workplace culture work together. He also admitted that things become more, not less complex in hybrid work.
- Stijn Nauwelaerts, Corporate Vice President, Global HR at Microsoft, pointed out that Learning and Development has gotten much easier for those who want to upskill and do new things. Can I get a high five! He also said that organizations who don’t move to hybrid will be really challenged. Yep! Tis true.
- Nick Bloom, Professor at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme at the National Bureau of Economic Research, told of a survey of 5000 Americans and 2500 British people that showed folks overwhelmingly like the hybrid concept. Yeah, for motivation!
I appreciate that hybrid is yet another learning curve AND you got this. There are so many opportunities that hybrid brings. Next week I’ll share four tips for holding your hybrid event.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Check out the recording of the UN’s Digital Executive Series webinar mentioned above.
- Here’s a link to a technical tips document.
- Hybrid is a thing made by combining two different elements. In this hilarious example, this mom, a former reporter, narrates her toddler’s meltdown. The hilarity results from combining a formal approach in an informal environment. It’s funny and unexpected.
- Go for it. Prepare and host a hybrid and let me know how it goes.