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The New Business Meeting: How to Adapt to a Hybrid Audience

Posted by StellaPop on Jun 8, 2021 11:02:59 AM
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Depending on where you're living, you might be tempted to think we're going back to business as usual. There are a lot of reasons for us to say this but if no one's told you yet, don't do it! 

Business as usual isn't around the corner and you don't want it to be. We've all been pushed in our businesses to stretch and grow our capability to adapt. There're so many things we've done of necessity that we now need to see what's actually innovative, providing opportunities for disruption. 

As a lot of companies are now coming back to the office, we have the opportunity for hybrid setups. And this may be uncomfortable. 

Having a partially remote workforce isn't unheard of but it does present challenges. One of which has been making some CEO's a little apprehensive; Hybrid presentations. 

The Struggle With Hybrid Presentations in the Corporate Suite

Before the effects of the pandemic hit, you held company meetings and presentations without thinking about it. Then, you suddenly went remote and adapted to holding meetings over Zoom. This had its problems but you figured it out and even had a virtual office party with a raffle and everything. 

Now you've some team members sitting at the conference table and others tuning in through zoom. And it's going to present some real issues.

Your Virtual Audience is at a Real Disadvantage

There's an energy created when we're physically together that's simply missing when we're not. As the presenter, you're likely to feed off your audience and your audience will build on each other. This makes it feel almost unavoidable that your virtual audience will be eclipsed of attention by your in-person audience. 

Plus, physical communication ques are easily missed. Virtual attendees miss the facial expression you responded to or the body language of their peers telling them they're in agreement. This can be confusing for your virtual audience members.

All of this ultimately leads to your virtual audience being sidelined. This means that not only do you miss their valuable input and opinions but they feel unnecessary. And undervalued employees are lost employees now. 

How to Seamlessly Present to Your Hybrid Audience 

1. Think of and Acknowledge Your Hybrid Set Up With Positivity

As the presenter or leader, you set the stage. And in this case, think positive is 100% necessary to make your hybrid presentation a success. Start by identifying the advantages of having your zoom and in-person audience in the meeting at the same time. Then, how might you highlight or make use of those advantages?

Going into the presentation, it's good to acknowledge the uniqueness of the setup but don't do it in a deprecating way. Rather, share your enthusiasm for the opportunity. You've already identified the plus side, now act like it!

2. Put Your Virtual Participants on the Large Screen

If your virtual attendees are out of sight, you know they'll be out of mind. So not only should cameras be on, but you need to make sure they're not hidden on a small laptop screen. Especially if you have a large group! 

Put your virtual participants on a large screen. Either in the front of the room or where it's easy for yourself and those in person to engage naturally with them. 

3. Practice Making Virtual Eye Contact

As the presenter of the meeting, you need to practice making eye contact with the camera. If you've ever had someone look at your ear when they spoke, you understand this is the most important tactic on this list. Try it. It's annoying. 

This simple practice will make your audience feel included and not object in the room. Look into their virtual eyes and not awkwardly off to the side!

4. Ensure In-Person Participants Can be Heard

You need your in-person participants to be easily heard by your virtual participants. This doesn't mean making everyone yell. Rather, there is a technology that aids in picking up the spoken audio in the room for your zoom audience. Or you can move the mic closer to those speaking if that seems simpler to you. 

6. Keep it Short and Sweet

Just like with a zoom meeting, a hybrid meeting should be kept short and sweet. Quality over quantity will prevent a loss of interest, improve engagement and save you time. 

Rise to the Challenge

Whether hybrid meetings become your new normal or not, this is an opportunity to clear barriers and find innovation. What changes can you make? What skills can you learn that'll make business as usual obsolete and put you at the top of the game? 

Need help navigating the great return back to the office? Call in the experts.

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See Also:

Working Virtually Still Calls for Humanity

Remote vs. In-Person: What’s the Right Office Solution for Your Business?

Recruiting Tips for Conducting a Successful Virtual Interview

Topics: Management Consulting, Leadership, CEO Series

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