Making your hybrid meeting more effective

Most of you will have been organising meetings with a mixture of people joining the meeting in person and others joining virtually. You’ll know without a solid set-up, planning and facilitation, it can be tricky to ensure that the meeting is a success and that all of the attendees, either physically there or on screen, are engaged and fully involved. So, how do you go about making your hybrid meeting more effective?

McKinsey said in 2021 that 9 out of 10 organisations would embrace a hybrid model. This is great for flexibility, employee happiness, and keeping people safe and comfortable. We all found a way to work, but it doesn’t mean that all employees have felt engaged and included.

So let’s look at some of those challenges around hybrid meetings in more detail.

Attendees feel equal

In a hybrid meeting, it can be challenging to ensure that remote and in-person attendees feel equally valued.

Without the proper setup, remote participants may feel like outsiders or mere observers—or like their contribution is less significant. Interrupting the flow of conversation can be hard when you are not in the room, and often the virtual attendee’s opinion is forgotten or not asked.

Technology is functional

We’ve all sat in those meetings where the virtual meeting technology isn’t working correctly, or there are internet issues. Technology issues aren’t unique to hybrid meetings, but they can be especially detrimental when you have a mixture of in-person and remote attendees. This ties in with the challenge of creating an even playing field; if your technological setup is sub-optimal, remote participants may have difficulty keeping up with what’s happening.

Likewise, if remote attendees dial in with a weak internet connection or shaky video quality, in-person participants might find it tricky to enjoy and value their presence. Or they don’t turn their camera on or forget to mute their audio and then unmute it when they need to speak. We’ve all gotten used to that over the last few years, but we all know it has a detrimental effect on the meeting quality.

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Attendees are engaged

The most engaging meetings and workshops are interactive and keep attendees engaged in the conversation. This becomes incredibly complex when you have some people in the room able to physically take part and engage with other people in the room and others relying purely on technology.

It’s essential that discussions and any activities involve the virtual attendees; otherwise, they will be wholly disengaged from the meeting.

Okay, so we know what the challenges are. Only half of the meeting time is used effectively. Evidence shows virtual meetings are less effective, so if we want to ensure our arrangements are helpful and add value, we need to be strategic about organising meetings. Hence, they are an effective way to move the organisation’s strategic objectives forward.

So let’s look at how we start making your hybrid meeting more effective.

In our Effective Meetings Management online course, we talk about the difference between an efficient and effective meeting, and I want to take a minute to share the difference with you.

So an efficient meeting starts promptly, stays on track, includes as few people as possible, and achieves the stated objective. It sounds like the job is done, right?

But, we haven’t said whether the right people were in the meeting, whether the meeting generated any value, and whether the actions were communicated outside the meeting.

What makes an effective meeting? Whether it is virtual or not?

  1. The meeting has a clear purpose.
  2. The meeting provides a space for open discussion
  3. There is a tangible outcome from the meeting
  4. The result is then shared with others whose work may be affected

We know hybrid meetings have specific requirements that will make them effective. So let’s look at how to overcome the challenges we discussed earlier.

The digital setup

For many Assistants, you don’t have a say over the digital setup in your offices or the virtual meeting software that your IT department has acquired. However, you can do a few things to ensure that the meeting runs effectively and you don’t have any tech issues.

Use a conference room with a large screen

Hybrid meetings are difficult to hear and see. Remote employees are on a small screen, and in-person employees are scattered in a boardroom, making it difficult to hear and see. It’s challenging to stay engaged and follow what they’re saying. So, use a conference room with a large screen so everyone can see and hear.

Enable the chat function

It’s hard to read nonverbal cues signalling someone wants to speak when there’s a mix of in-person and remote employees. It’s vital to enable the chat function so everyone can participate and have equal visibility regardless of whether they are in the meeting room or tuning in remotely.

Test the technology in advance

Nothing is worse than malfunctioning technology. Technology needs to work well during hybrid meetings so remote attendees can hear and see everything in the office. If they can’t, this will make them feel excluded and unimportant. It’s also important that remote employees have good technology so that in-person employees can hear and see them. Remember to do audio, camera, and internet check before the meeting begins so the time allotted to the meeting isn’t wasted trying to solve technical issues.

If you have several video calling technology available to your colleagues, ensure they are all using the same platform, Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Make it very clear which platform they need to log into.


  • If you’re brainstorming, where and how will this be done? E.g. via a virtual whiteboarding tool
  • If your workshop requires additional materials, how will these be made available to both remote and in-person participants? For example, you might create a PDF that can be printed or accessed via computer.

So let’s move on to how you set up the physical meeting room.

It can be easy to forget about remote attendees in hybrid meetings because people get carried away in face-to-face conversations. However, focusing on some attendees more than others is not adequate. Therefore, giving equal focus to all virtual and in-person attendees is essential.

You want to ensure a stable internet connection, good-quality video, and clear audio. If you’ve got in-person participants sharing one video and microphone (i.e. through one laptop), ensure that everyone can still be heard and seen.

Depending on the group size and the space, it might be worth bringing in a portable conference call speaker.

And, if you’ve got the budget and resources, consider upgrading your setup as follows:

  • Bring in extra screens (big ones)
  • Have a WiFi booster on hand if the internet connection is likely to pose problems
  • Equip your meeting space with high-quality speakers and microphones
  • Invest in high-res webcams (you might even consider AI webcams which can track and zoom in on whoever is speaking)

Most importantly, you want to ensure a stable internet connection, good-quality video, and clear audio. If you’ve got in-person participants sharing one video and microphone (i.e. through one laptop), ensure that everyone can still be heard and seen.