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Smarter change

In my experience as a trainer, facilitator and also as a participant in meetings, “hybrid” meetings just don’t work without a lot of help. To be clear a hybrid meeting is where some participants are together in one room, some are together in another room, and some are by themselves.

At its root, this is an issue about inclusion: those who are together in a room feel included. Those who aren’t don’t always. Even when you try. 

The only time I’ve seen it work is when it was the leader of the group who dialed in and everyone else was together in a room. And it worked because it gave her the chance to talk to them, and they all listened. Not an interactive model, more of a way to deliver a town hall meeting. or a tv interview. 

If you’re thinking of 20 people in one room and 1 or 2 scattered, it’s going to reinforce the remoteness of those not in the room, and may give your team a feeling of being split too. If team building is one of your outcomes of a live training, then maybe avoid it. 

If you can avoid it, do.

There are a number of sources of advice on how to work with the problems it poses. Basically you need at least the proper kit: multiple cameras in the ‘base’ room, multiple microphones, online whiteboards even for the live participants. You need to test that kit. The trainers need to work seamlessly with a tech. You need to plan interactions so that you’ve thought of most of the difficulties which may arise and have a strategy to counter them.

Here are some articles, some quoting research, on how hybrid doesn’t work, and what would make it work better.

There are many more articles like these, and the fact that there are so many is testament to the need to re think how we do hybrid meetings (just as we are rethinking hybrid workplaces). it’s not just a “let’s get larry to dial in” kind of decision to add some remote people to a live training. It takes a good deal of tech and forethought. It will add the need for a facilitator/trainer to have a co-pilot to run the tech, watch the chat, look after the remote people if they fall off the call, set up break out rooms with them, much much more.

If you expect full participation and want to make a community of your workplace, and all of the values that accompany that, it needs thought.. There is strong potential to frustrate the live participants, alienate the remote participants and make the training experience terrible. 

In many organisations it is hard to get people into a training room. Why make it worse by providing a sub par experience?

i think we could make it work, and it will at least initially be something which is more expensive because of the tech set up – remember when we first started teams and zoom set ups in the workplace – i was regularly asking participants to dial in a half hour early just to have them all logged in properly. This will be less visible tech, but the room will be teched similarly, and even more seriously. Fun!

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