Blog titlecard Story of hybrid meeting virtual host

Catalyst Ranch has always encouraged our clients to step out of their comfort zones and experiment with new ideas. The current climate in the meetings industry has definitely necessitated a great deal of experimentation. In spite of many challenges, we’ve been happy to see our clients succeed where they might have thought they could not. One of those clients was Andrea Hack.

Andrea recently was tasked with facilitating a hybrid meeting here at the Ranch. This, of course, is nothing new but with any meeting there’s a level of stress and pressure put onto the facilitator to pull things off and that can be increased when dealing with a hybrid model where one may not be completely comfortable. So imagine her surprise when her client asked that she facilitate the hybrid meeting virtually, and not in-person as she’d planned for. At the end of the day the meeting was a big success, but I wanted to chat with Andrea and see what her thoughts were about this new experience and how preparing for this kind of meeting went for her. Hopefully you’ll find her experience as interesting as I did.

The story of the hybrid meeting and the virtual host lyndon andrea

What were your biggest concerns ahead of virtually facilitating this hybrid meeting?

Making sure all participants felt equally included, and that the folks joining virtually had just as much power in their voice as the folks in the room. That came down to A/V, where the shared ‘workspace’ would be (flip charts or digital), and facilitation.

How did you manage these concerns ahead of time? Was this a good opportunity for experimentation?

I spoke with people who had run hybrid workshops before and asked their advice about what went well and didn’t. Hands down the A/V was the top thing they mentioned. Without strong A/V virtual participants can’t hear, see, or easily participate in the discussion–leaving them feeling like an outsider and going against everything we were trying to design for.

Catalyst Ranch assured me they had this under control. But because of all the horror stories I had heard, I was rightfully nervous ahead of time. The day before our workshop, I did a site visit and was immediately put at ease. Your high tech A/V was outstanding and far better than had we just used our computers or a conference phone. We also had all in-person participants turn on their computer cameras so that each person was equally represented in the ‘brady bunch’ video conference view.

On the facilitation front, we chose a virtual facilitator to even out the power dynamic between the room and virtual participants. We also purposefully assigned roles that normally the facilitator would take on (scribe, time keeper, vibe/energy manager, bridge builder, challenger, etc.) so that the meeting’s success was a shared responsibility.

hybrid meeting virtual host photo of table with laptops open and pens and postit notes

What were the best parts about facilitating the meeting in this way? What were the drawbacks?

The best part was that, in the spirit of inclusivity, it allowed participants to choose a comfort-level and working style that worked best for them. This was this team’s first big foray into a multi-day hybrid workshop and I know we can do it again if we need to.

The drawbacks are all the added preparation. Instead of designing one in-person experience, you are almost designing three: the in person, the virtual, and how those come together for hybrid. I’m sure it gets easier over time, but the first one is a lot of prep.

Do you think you’ll run a meeting this way again in the future?

I guarantee it. This is the new normal.

We’re looking forward to many more great hybrid meetings in the future and hopefully more new situations and challenges like this to tackle.

Thank you again Andrea for your time!



If you liked this blog post, please join our mailing list and please share it with others with the icons found below!