Bridging the Divide: Fostering Openness and Respect in Hybrid Meetings

Hybrid meetings present exciting possibilities but also unique challenges. In a sea of faces, both physical and virtual, how do you unlock productive discussions where everyone feels heard and respected?

Here are some key strategies:

Tech that Talks: It all starts with high-quality technology. Laggy connections, muffled audio, and grainy video create barriers to engagement. You’ll find cutting-edge technology at the Lisa Maloff University Center, including top-of-the-line microphones, speakers, and webcams, ensuring everyone can see and hear each other clearly.

Level the Playing Field: Don’t let the “in-room advantage” silence remote voices. Encourage video participation for all, and leverage tools like virtual hand-raising or chat features to give everyone an equal opportunity to contribute.

Be Intentional with Introductions: Don’t assume everyone knows each other. Regularly introduce participants, both new and remote, highlighting their expertise and contributions. This fosters personal connections and encourages diverse perspectives.

Actively Include Remote Voices: Don’t let conversations flow only between those physically present. Call on remote participants by name, explicitly invite their input and summarize their points for clarity. Remember, silence on video doesn’t always mean disengagement.

Respect the Non-Verbal: In hybrid settings, non-verbal cues can get lost. Encourage active listening postures, avoid interrupting, and use verbal affirmations like “That’s a great point” to show you’re engaged.

Embrace Collaborative Tools: Whiteboards, polls, and shared documents can bridge the physical gap. Use them to brainstorm, collect ideas, and visualize discussions, ensuring everyone participates actively.

Feedback is Key: Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on the hybrid meeting experience. What worked well? What could be improved? Encourage honest responses to continuously refine your approach and foster an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.