Hybrid Meetings as a New Form of Collaboration

Global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic required urgent social distancing and self-isolation. In these circumstances, most companies have been adopting remote working scenarios, finding new formats for interaction with customers, suppliers, and between team members. As a result, communication has moved online, forcing people to e-meet using team collaboration platforms, e.g. WebEx, Microsoft Teams, TrueConf, Zoom, etc.

hybrid conferences

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Now pandemic restrictions are gradually being lifted and the business environment starts returning to in-person events. Obviously, it is not possible to resume the usual way of cooperation immediately, so a phenomenon called ‘hybrid’ is going to be a new reality of our time. This kind of semi-virtual collaboration is set out below.

What is a Hybrid Meeting?

Relaxation of social distancing restrictions poses a new challenge for entrepreneurs and educators who need to bring their activities to the next level, namely to incorporate digital solutions into most in-person meetings. This is how communication gradually comes to the hybrid format that is able to solve current issues effectively.

Hybrid meeting is an innovative form of collaboration that incorporates elements of both face-to-face and virtual experiences into one joint event, serving all audiences in a viewer-friendly way. This term implies any kind of conference, presentation, seminar or workshop, where attendees can participate either virtually or physically.

Providing up-to-date content delivery and communication options, it facilitates participation between live and online guests who are equally involved in the discussion and stay focused on the subject matter. Everything happens in real-time mode, as if everyone is sitting side by side.

How Do Hybrid Meetings Work? Why Do We Have Hybrid Meetings?

In order to understand how hybrid meetings work, imagine 10 people sitting together in the room, and another 30 people join them from remote locations using video-enabled devices. The speaker presents content to the mixed audience, and audio-visual speech is simultaneously streamed for online viewers. They may discuss the information while it is being presented without disturbing the speaker who can be addressed in text or video chat, or by digital hand-raising. This interactive feature allows virtual guests to contribute to the subject matter and get feedback by notifying the meeting host that they have a question or comment.

hybrid meetings

It is possible to distinguish two main formats of conferencing modes suitable for hybrid meetings:

  • Symmetric. Local and remote teams interact with each other fully — everyone hears and sees each other, having the ability to communicate. It works well for small teams and roundtable discussions.
  • Role-based. The virtual audience is divided into two groups — participants who hear and see presenters and those who, in addition, can be speakers. They are assigned by the host. This format is well suited for all-hands meetings.

Within this framework, the hybrid offers the facilitator great flexibility to keep event running, even if most of the participants are scattered around the world. In the face of today's uncertainty, this unique solution looks like the most optimal channel for collaboration.

Is Hybrid Meeting the Same as Virtual Meeting?

Sometimes the hybrid may be confused with virtual meeting, because in both cases people use video conferencing to get together. However, these concepts are not synonymous, because the hybrid event is a gathering of at least one group of face-to-face participants that digitally connects with people in another or multiple locations. Whereas, virtual meeting implies a gathering of attendees in multiple locations who connect by desktop and laptop computers, various portable devices, or other technologies.

hybrid meeting solutions

Benefits Of Hybrid Meetings

As the hybrid combines the best features of both traditional and online meetings, it is commonly used to expand the reach and boost engagement, while ensuring safe experience by reducing physical attendance and still allowing the meeting to take place. It is able to unify multiple events that occur concurrently at different places, allowing remote attendees to participate alone or in groups from a comfortable location.

The most important benefit of such an experience is that it provides opportunities for hosting a really wide audience of virtual and live guests. Generally speaking, hybrid participants are not limited to a single room or venue — they can join online sessions right from the apartment, office meeting room, hotel and even while lying on the beach. Thus, this format contributes to a significant reduction of event costs, e.g. flights, lodging, meals, etc.

Adding digital elements to a face-to-face meeting opens up new engagement opportunities that are not possible at a strictly live event. With the help of their devices, online participants can talk to each other, like and share information. At the same time, the speaker can host polls for both virtual and in-person attendees.

It happens that during a discussion some opinions may remain unheard due to someone's dominance. The hybrid puts online and live audiences on the same level, enabling remote attendees to develop an opinion and contribute to the discussion in a natural and comfortable way. Besides, it helps to overcome fear of public speaking, making the introverted guests feel more at ease with their contributions in the communication process.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that due to coronavirus restrictions, many companies have switched to semi-remote working, when some of the employees are in the office, and the rest work from home. For such a mixed team, hybrid meetings are the only opportunity to meet and communicate.

How to Organize a Successful Hybrid Meeting?

It might appear at first sight that hybrid meetings are some of the most difficult events to manage as you can neither rely on attendees having access to the video conferencing technologies nor on the audience at the physical venue. The facilitator should consider issues such as venue capacity, registration tools, time zone differences, and many others. All processes should run safely and comfortably, both for offline and online guests.

hybrid conference examples

In fact, hybridization is not a challenge, even if you have never done it before. Experts on remote teamwork recommend defining the hybrid strategy and goals before organizing such an event. Then it is important to find a secure and easy-to-use platform for hybrid event management. This is due to the fact that video-based presentation of content necessitates fully-equipped space, providing reliable audio-visual connection between all the participants.

When choosing a software solution for hybrid purpose, you should pay attention to the following features:

  • High video quality. Video conferences are often displayed on the meeting room screen, so it is important to achieve the effect of telepresence as if everyone is sitting next to each other.
  • Availability of client apps for desktop computers, laptops, and tablets, as the hybrid meeting should be available for everyone to attend.
  • Variety of collaboration toolbox: content sharing, raise-hand option, annotation over content, push-to-talk, recording, etc.
  • Compatibility with video conferencing endpoints. Part of the hybrid audience participates in-person and usually gathers in video-enabled meeting rooms or conference halls where H.323/SIP endpoints are generally used.

For example, TrueConf provides an on-premises video collaboration platform for holding video-based meetings with up to 1,000 participants, both in private networks and over the public Internet. It is applicable for any size venue and works on all major platforms — macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, and browsers.

TrueConf Server easily integrates with video conferencing endpoints, meeting room systems and cloud video conferencing services, delivering 4K video quality and a variety of digital collaboration tools, e.g. screen sharing, recording, chat, remote desktop control, and polling. Thus, all participants in the hybrid meeting can collaborate, view and share content without limits!

Get started with an enterprise-grade hybrid meetings platform!