Image by Marzena P. from Pixabay

Everyone is talking about hybrid meetings these days. The future is hybrid. The word is booming. In her book ‘Work left the building’ (Werk heeft het gebouw verlaten) Jitske Kramer asks: How hybrid do you want the future be? At the moment, some are moving back to the office, while others keep working from home; it seems somehow natural to have hybrid meetings.

hy·​brid | \ ˈhī-brəd  \
: something heterogeneous in origin or composition 
: something (such as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function

In hybrid meetings and workshops a part of the participants joins remotely while another part is physically present in the office or workshop room. 

This seems easy. It is not. Hybrid meetings are not that simple.

Hybrid meetings create unequal experiences.

Hybrid is challenging, especially for remote participants. Technology is often not to the point and therefore the quality of seeing and being seen and of hearing and being heard blurry. Participation is unequal if not planned from the perspective of the weakest participant. And this is the person joining remotely. Remote participants will always miss out on certain aspects and be/ feel excluded (non-verbal communication, informal chats etc.). The experience of having been the remote participant (at least once) is probably a very good advisor when planning a hybrid meeting.

If you go for a hybrid meeting then do it well. This is work!

  • Hybrid meetings need the right equipment. With the right technological equipment enabling good video and sound quality, remote participants can hear and see what is happening in the room. This is normally more than in an all-online-meeting. It also needs  the capacities to handle the tech side smoothly. 
  • Hybrid meetings need a plan. All meetings and workshops need a clear and shared purpose and some preparation. For hybrid meetings (also the recurring ones!) and workshops, a well thought through process is a must to make the interaction for all participants involved smooth and beneficial. 
  • Hybrid meetings ask for shared leadership. Hybrid meetings are the responsibility of everyone, the organiser, the facilitators, the participants present in the room and joining online. It needs some ‘facilitation from the chair or screen’ supporting each other and including remote participants consequently into the conversation. Also remote participants have a proactive role to play and step in when the process is not fine.
  • The experience of having been the remote participant (at least once) is probably a very good advisor when planning a hybrid meeting.

The reason for having hybrid meetings are hybrid settings with people working from different offices and places. Translating hybrid settings into hybrid meetings seems logical. But is it the best conclusion? 

Having a hybrid meeting is a choice. 

Actually, we have options and therefore a choice: We can meet all online, can’t we? Everyone can join from her/ his desk remotely even when working in the office. An all-physically-present-meeting does not allow this. This means, we have a choice between hybrid and all-online. 

Take a reflective decision

Jointly with Corinne Sprecher, Monika Schlatter and Carsten Schulz, we have created the “decision wheel” as a support for a reflective decision 

  • Does a hybrid event make sense?
  • What does it take to plan successful hybrid events?

Read more about the decision wheel and the questions for a reflective decision in my blog post next week. 


In the meantime, here some tips for hybrid meetings: 

  • Know why a hybrid meeting is the best option for all participants involved (and why you are not moving the whole meeting online).
  • Be well prepared, plan the meeting from the perspective and experience of remote participants: What will they see, hear, grasp and what will be difficult? How can they contribute pro-actively?
  • Be technically well equipped and know how to handle the tech side with confidence (book a “giraffe”, a streaming box or an equivalent equipment enabling good video and sound quality, use several laptops with webcams and for large group work with microphones). 
  • Facilitate the meeting and get support from co-facilitators taking care of the remote participants. Share roles for the process facilitation and handling technical aspects.
  • Light! Good light is key to seeing and being seen. Noone is sitting in front of windows.
  • Be conscious that social coffee breaks and informal chats are excluding remote participants. Make arrangements to include them in one or the other way.
  • Introduce a buddy system: Pair remote participants with someone physically present in the room.  
  • Make sure everybody knows who is present, both physically and virtually and ensure good turn taking, include remote participants consciously and ask people to tell their name when they speak.
  • Share visualisation in advance, flipcharts exclude remote participants. Use the whiteboard of the videoconferencing platform or any other visual online support tool. 

Last but not least: For having all-online-meeting or hybrid meetings that rock bring interaction online!

Liberating Structures Online Immersion Workshop
May 31 – June 3, 14h-17h CET
BONUS: Sign up as soon as possible and you will profit from up to 2 explorative Broad Stroke Sessions on April 23, 15h30-17h and May 18, 15h30-17h CET
GROUP OFFER: If a group signs up with 4 people, the 4th person will join for free!
>>> Information and registration <<<

Could Liberating Structures guide us into the leadership we need?
April 28, 9-12h CET on Zoom 
>>> Information and registration <<<