U-M implemented a broad return to an in-person experience on campus. At the same time, some departments have embraced flexible remote work plans, meaning one or more people who are attending your in-person meeting may need to join from a remote location. This is called a Hybrid Meeting experience. Below you’ll find our top tips for creating successful hybrid meetings, including what to do and what not to do.
If you need guidance for an upcoming event or meeting, submit a request to LSA Technology Services. You can also report videoconferencing equipment issues, send requests for assistance with sound quality (for either remote or in-person participants), or submit any general hybrid meeting help requests by submitting this form.
Top 5 Things to Consider
To hold a hybrid meeting, you’ll need to have a space for your in-person participants that is equipped for videoconferencing. Your department may already have such a room, but it may not. There are a number of paths you can take to getting one or more spaces ready for your department.
- If available and accessible, first use a meeting room with installed equipment for videoconferencing.
- Stay fully virtual. If you don’t have an appropriate room and can’t get one set up in time, consider choosing to remain fully virtual for your meeting. In this situation, you’ll want to consider providing simple headphones-and-microphone headsets to your staff to help improve the quality of their connections.
- If your meeting room has a monitor and computer, borrow a videoconferencing system from LSA Technology Services. Options exist that have various combinations of cameras, microphones. Contact our Loan Desk to learn more.
- In very small (huddle) meeting rooms that have a built-in monitor, a laptop placed under the monitor and connected to it as an external display often provides a solid functional connection to one or more remote participants.
Near-term and longer-term solutions:
LSA Technology Services is kicking off a pilot project, funded by the college, to increase the number of spaces and access to videoconferencing capabilities. We will be upgrading some meeting rooms with existing technology, providing mobile equipment for buildings, and creating new spaces for videoconferencing during this academic year. If you are interested in having upgrades to your meeting rooms, please contact LSA Technology Services and we will work with you on planning.
Good audio is where you should invest the most effort. If you can’t clearly hear one another, you won’t have a productive meeting. This applies equally to the Zoom auto captioning system or a live CART transcriptionist. They must have clean audio in order to be helpful to you.
- For those joining remotely, headsets are always a great idea. Having a microphone positioned near to the speaker’s mouth is nearly always an improvement over built-in microphones in laptops and mobile devices.
- Test the sound coming from your conference room. Zoom provides this 3-step guide to assist you in testing your sound. Are all the in-person participants heard well? Is there a source of background noise which degrades the quality of the sound?
- If there is any reason to suspect that not everyone in the physical meeting room can be heard by your microphone, a person who is well-heard should paraphrase and repeat questions and comments from poorly-heard colleagues.
Make the remote participants clearly visible in the physical meeting room. If your remote colleagues don’t have a visible ‘presence’ in the room, the temptation will be to ignore or forget them, which will negatively impact the quality of your joint work. A laptop is rarely useful for presenting more than a single remote participant. Larger monitors are more effective. By the same token, invest time ensuring that those in the physical meeting room can be seen sufficiently well by the remote participants. Body language and facial expressions convey information that improves the productivity of the meeting. For more information on setting up your space for effective communication, read our article, How to Maximize Your Videoconferencing Presence.
Share documents, videos, or other files electronically with all meeting participants ahead of time. This will help everyone to be a constructive participant in your meeting, as some participants may need direct access to the files in order to understand and process their content. Providing content only through the Share Screen facility does not allow remote participants to use a screen reader on your document, for example, so they are blocked from accessing its content if the file has not been previously shared.
The melding together of in-person and remote participants in a meeting often does not come naturally. The best results come when ongoing conscious attention is paid to connecting the two groups. Consider how your remote participants will engage with the work of the meeting.
- Ask them directly and frequently for input. Address them by name to keep them connected with the in-person group.
- Use of Auto Captioning in Zoom should be the default, as it helps with comprehension for a wide range of people and situations. It’s useful for people with hearing impairments, but also for people for whom English is not their native language, and for people who may experience distractions from the conversation and would benefit from an available transcript with which to catch up.
- If you use breakout rooms to encourage engagement with the topic in smaller groups, prompt each group to choose someone to report out the results, and provide a way for them to do so (e.g. a Google Doc).