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Hybrid Meeting Technology Best Practices

If you will be hosting a meeting in a hybrid modality (with meeting attendees participating both on-site and through videoconferencing software) we recommend taking the following steps to ensure a seamless experience before, at the start, and during meetings for all attendees.

Before the meeting

  • Reserve a room with the right technology to hold the meeting. OIT provides guidance about conducting low-tech meetings just using Teams or Zoom on a host’s computer, as well as technology recommendations for small, medium, and large meeting spaces. Learn more about technology in meeting spaces.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the videoconferencing platform (e.g. Teams or Zoom) prior to the meeting and how it will work with the technology in the room. Both Teams and Zoom have abilities to make a test call before the meeting.
    • To make a test call in Teams, click the three dots […] for Settings and more next to your profile picture. Select Settings then click Devices. Click on the Make a test call button to test your mic, speakers, and video.
    • To make a test call in Zoom, go to https://zoom.us/test and follow the on-screen steps.
  • Send out any tips to attendees in advance in case they are not familiar with the videoconferencing platform you will be using.
  • If a remote attendee will be presenting during the meeting, arrange in advance to test the software and technology to ensure all will go smoothly.
  • If you will be using capabilities like breakout rooms in Zoom, consider doing a dry run with a small group of testers to ensure you are comfortable using the capability in your meeting.    
  • Provide any materials participants will need for the meeting ahead of the meeting in a digital format. If you will be presenting, consider sharing your slide deck ahead of time. 
  • Make sure both on-site attendees and remote attendees can “enter” the meeting early to engage in pre-meeting socializing. 
  • When appropriate, make sure to set your preferences in the videoconferencing platform you will be using to “meeting attendees can start the meeting without the host” in case you are delayed in getting to the meeting. Depending on the meeting, you may also want to designate a back-up who is equally familiar with the technology and platforms and can start the meeting in your absence. 
  • Designate a person who will be physically present at the meeting and can attend to the needs of those participating remotely. The responsibilities of this individual include:
    • Describing what is happening in the physical space to the remote attendees via the chat.
    • Acting upon questions or comments in the chat (private or public) coming from remote participants. For ex. A private chat disclosing, “Whenever Fred speaks no one can hear him. Can you ask him to speak up?”

At the start of the hybrid meeting

If you would like on-site and remote participants to engage with each other through chat during the meeting, follow these tips.

Meetings in Teams

On-site attendees can read and contribute to the Teams meeting chat without joining the video conference. In Teams, click on the Calendar tab. Click on the meeting and select Chat with participants to open the chat.

Meetings in Zoom

On-site participants will have to join the Zoom web conference as well to participate. Don’t forget to have them turn off their sound and mic, otherwise there will be audio interference.

Alternatively, you can create a Teams chat that includes all the meeting participants so everyone on-site and remote can read and contribute to the chat without on-site participants joining the Zoom web conference. This chat can be created before the start of the meeting and communicated to the participants.

  • In both Teams and Zoom, you can spotlight the speaker. In Zoom, once the speaker is spotlighted participants will only see the speaker. In Teams, the speaker window becomes the largest window, but all participants can still be viewed.
  • If you will be taking notes in a shared document (Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Word document, etc.), ensure all participants have access to the document. 
  • Encourage all participants to raise their hand to speak, regardless of whether they are physically present or not. Both Teams and Zoom have a Raise Hand button that allows remote participants to indicate they have a raised their hand, which is especially helpful if they do not have their camera on.
  • Encourage remote users to enable their camera whenever possible.
  • To minimize distractions, remind in-person attendees to keep side conversations to a minimum and remind remote participants to keep their audio on mute when not speaking.
  • Ensure that remote participants are actively included in any “in-room” discussions and discourage “side-bar” discussions in the room
  • Consider whether to record the meeting or turn on live transcription to enable participants or those who couldn’t attend to review meeting content after the meeting. If you decide to do this, make sure to inform all meeting attendees that you will be recording or transcribing the meeting.

During the hybrid meeting

  • There may be a time lag for remote participants when speaking. This may result in remote attendees interrupting/talking over in person attendees. Encouraging all participants to raise their hand and be called on before speaking can help mitigate this.  
  • Breakout rooms require coordination with the person you’ve designated to assist with the remote attendees. It’s easiest to send all remote attendees into their own breakout room or rooms (if there are a significant number of remote participants) and all in-person attendees into another as opposed to trying to create hybrid breakout rooms. Hybrid breakout rooms are possible but additional planning, including addressing background noise issues, is required.

For additional tips and tricks, including more links to OIT’s Zoom and Teams documentation, visit OIT’s Hybrid Work Recommendations – Your Meetings webpage.