As offices reopen and the Delta variant continues to spread, we expect an increase in hybrid meeting and event formats — where some participants are in person are other are joining via videoconference. Whether you are planning a hybrid version of your company’s all-hands meeting, your organization’s annual conference, your team’s standing meeting, your pitch to a prospective client, or another event, it’s important to adapt so all participants have a quality experience.
To help you plan a successful hybrid meeting and event, Spoken with Authority has developed a free Hybrid Meeting and Event Checklist.
By using our checklist, you will first determine if hybrid is the right format, and then will consider the program setup, AV, materials and hospitality, as well as strategies for networking and engagement. While online participants of your hybrid meetings and events won’t have the exact same experience as in-person participants, they can and will have a positive experience that does not relegate them to second-class status when you follow recommendations in our checklist.
Forethought for a Hybrid Meeting and Event
It’s not enough to post a recording of a live event for online participants after the fact or to live stream an in-person event at the last minute
- Is there a compelling reason why the meeting should be hybrid and not fully online?
- Is the experience of online participants well planned (and not an afterthought)?
- Will online participants have a synchronous / live experience?
- Will the main speaker(s) be trained to engage both online and in-person participants?
- Will the main speaker(s) practice presenting dynamically in the hybrid environment?
- Will online participants have an online and equal co-facilitator who is focused on their experience, questions, and needs?
- Will facilitators be trained to effectively engage all participants?
- Will all participants have access to translation, captioning, and other services that are essential for inclusion?
Meeting platforms and technology solutions for hybrid meetings exist and must be researched, invested in, and thoroughly tested.
Ask about audio:
- Can all participants clearly hear the main speaker(s)?
- Can all participants clearly hear in-person and online participants when they make comments or ask questions?
- Does the audio set-up avoid any unpleasant audio feedback or echo for either in-person or online participants?
- Will the main speaker(s) have practice time to get comfortable with the audio system?
- Can online participants experience music and videos that in-person participants do?
Ask about video:
- Can all participants see the main speaker(s)?
- Is the speaking area marked so the main speaker(s) are consistently in the camera view for online participants?
- Can all participants see in-person and online participants when they make comments or ask questions?
- Can all participants see slides, props, and other visuals?
- Is the camera positioned so the main speaker(s) can easily make eye contact with it?
- Will the main speaker(s) be trained to look directly into the camera to give online participants the experience of eye contact and direct communication?
Materials and food
Online participants should receive similar, but not necessarily the same materials and food as in-person participants. For example, if in-person participants will receive a paper handout, a branded tote bag, and breakfast, online participants might receive a fillable PDF version of the handout as well as a pre-mailed box that includes a branded pair of earbuds with a built-in microphone, a coffee shop gift card, and a few shelf-stable snack items.
- Will both in-person and online participants receive timely and convenient access to content such as handouts, slides, reports, and books?
- If in-person participants receive a useful gift or table prize, will online participants receive one that is of similar value and tailored to their needs?
- If in-person participants are offered drinks and / or food, will a corollary be mailed or otherwise offered to online participants?
Networking and engagement
To be on equal footing with in-person participants, online participants need to be engaged in a commensurate way before, during, and after the meeting or event.
- Will online participants be allowed entry into and greeted at the meeting or event at the same time as in-person participants?
- If in-person participants can casually converse with speakers or dignitaries in attendance, will online participants have a way to access them too?
- Will online participants be able to engage in networking, brainstorming, group discussions, polls, and other activities that in-person participants do?
- Will online participants have opportunities to pair or group with in-person participants to network, brainstorm, and discuss topics?
- Will both online and in-person participants have timely and convenient access to a session evaluation (when offered)?
Where to go from here?
Download an interactive version of the hybrid meeting and event checklist. You can also learn more about our training Host Hybrid Meetings and Events with an Eye Toward Inclusion and Engagement and schedule a call to learn more about how we can customize it for your organization.
This checklist was created by Christine Clapp, founder and president of Spoken with Authority. You are welcome to share or reprint it with attribution.