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How to master Zoom hybrid meetings

If Zoom meetings became the new normal in 2020, Zoom HYBRID meetings are the new normal this year. Now that we’re not confined to our homes anymore, a lot of people are going back to the office and to face-to-face meetings. But there are people who realized they prefer staying at home and companies who allow you (or even require you) to do so. 

Hybrid meetings allow people working remotely to collaborate with a group of people who are sitting together in the same room. 

In this article I will teach you the project management, facilitation, body language aspect of running a successful hybrid meeting with Zoom. Humanizing your meetings is key to drive high engagements and positive results.

(For help with the technical setup, check out this YouTube video I made)

BEFORE YOU START A ZOOM HYBRID MEETING

Always Test Your Setup

You can never be 100% sure you will get everything right in the first meeting, but if you test your setup in advance you make it much more likely. You can reduce some of the stress and minimize the risk of things going wrong. 

Before you start the virtual meeting, ask one of the in-person attendees to join you to see if all the tech stuff is working properly. Then you can ask another remote attendee to see if everything works well for them too. 

Have A Clear Agenda 

The bigger the meeting, the more prepared you want to be. 

Don’t come up with the agenda on the spot. Prepare it beforehand, and include the details to the invite that you send to everybody. If you have any documents that need to be reviewed, make sure you send them ahead of time.

Additional tip: at the beginning of the call, copy and paste your agenda details inside the chat window on your Zoom application. This way, all participants can see them immediately when they join the call. You can also remind people that the information is there and point your finger to the lower left side of your frame.

AT THE BEGINNING OF A ZOOM HYBRID MEETING

Introduce Attendees And Encourage Them To Update Their Names 

You don’t need to spend a long time one this, but make sure you quickly let people know who’s in the room – especially new faces such as interns or new employees.

You can also encourage people to update their names in Zoom, so everyone can easily understand who’s speaking. Ask the participants to add their name, last name (or initial) and type in their role in the organization – such as designer, developer, etc. 

See how to add these details in the screenshots:

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This will really help people recognize each other and especially to avoid confusion if someone’s join in late in the middle of the conversation.

Ask Attendees To Turn On Their Cameras

I know this one can be difficult and that some people prefer not showing themselves on camera, but it helps make the sessions more active. 

When people have their cameras on, they will be more focused because they know they are seen by others, and they tend to engage and participate more, which in turn makes the meeting more interesting. 

Don’t forget about the people who are in the room with you! You should show them too. 

Depending on how many people are with you in person, it can be hard to fit everyone on one screen. 

Instead, take your phone, call in to the same meeting, turn off the audio and mute yourself. Now you can use your mobile phone as a camera-only device to show a different angle of the room and include all the colleagues sitting next to you. 

DURING A ZOOM HYBRID MEETING

Active Listening Matters (And Remember To Look Into The Camera)

As a Zoom host or moderator, you should ALWAYS look into the camera (i.e. making direct eye contact as much as possible with the camera) and remember to smile. People watching you from their screen will feel like you’re looking at them into their eyes. 

When you ask questions, try to include everyone and try not to interact only with one or a few people in the group. 

After your question is asked, you need to be patient. On Zoom, you need to wait a little bit longer for an answer and give time for people to hear your question in case they have a different connection speed to yours. Sometimes it also takes some extra time to unmute themselves to answer your question. 

Yes, those short silent moments can be a bit awkward, but be patient. Don’t interrupt, don’t rush and don’t change the question. 

Zoom Breakouts Can Still Work If Done Right 

Zoom breakout rooms were designed for pure virtual meetings, but you can still make them work with hybrid conferences. 

If you want your in-person attendees to join breakout rooms with their remote colleagues, you need to let them know before the meeting. This way they can bring a device to the conference, join the call individually from this device and be separated in breakout rooms with virtual attendees. 

How To Engage Attendees During The Hybrid Meeting

  1. Use Helpful Zoom Features

Use some of the built-in features on Zoom. One of the best features is the Zoom whiteboard. Not only can virtual participants contribute with their ideas, but people in the same space as you can also participate using the white board on their own computer. 

Another cool feature is annotations, which is for the host or co-host to point and draw on the screen. This is really helpful if you want people to follow specific instructions which can be hard to explain only by voice. 

  1. Effective Zoom games for hybrid sessions 

Go to Zoom Marketplace and check out which games and icebreakers are available. There are some games designed specifically for office spaces which can help team members to get to know each other better. It’s a simple and playful way to engage people and create better relationships and collaboration in the team.

  1. Casual Fridays

Do something fun on a Friday! You can encourage employees to dress in a fun way on Fridays. Or you could ask them to change their background – for example by going to a different room or adding some plants – or to show one item on their desk and explain what it is and why it’s there.

Let them know they can be relaxed and have some fun. This way they can get more creative and get more done during that meeting.

  1. The State Change Method by Wes Kao

This tip was inspired by Wes Kao, someone I met through Seth Godin’s AltMBA. 

Avoid monologues where you as the host talk talk talk and talk. How boring. 

Change it up and drive a conversation. Task, ask questions, set up breakout rooms and invite people to engage in the chat. Also remember that it’s not only about WHAT you say but HOW you say it. Your tone really matters when it comes to making conversations engaging. Change your tone, vary the speed, make pauses. Read about Wes Kao’s State Change Method here so you can apply it to the next meeting.

AFTER THE MEETING

Give And Get Feedback

As a Zoom host and moderator, you probably know more than your attendees about the technical and facilitation skills needed to run these meetings – especially now that you’re reading this article. Share this knowledge with your attendees, so they can share it with their colleagues and make each hybrid meeting better with time. For example, if you share knowledge on how to look better on camera, you can help people feel more comfortable and engage more in the next meetings. 

But most importantly, get feedback from everyone who joined so you can improve your own skills. You can do this by asking for feedback at the end of the call and getting a response in real time. If people are uncomfortable or the meeting is really big, you can create a short survey before the meeting asking a few simple questions and you can share the link to the survey in the Zoom chat. Some example of questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • Any new ideas?
  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we continue doing?

I hope these tips will help you feel confident in your next Zoom hybrid meeting. Good luck!

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