Hybrid meetings are horrible. Of course, I should really say “often horrible”. I wish I could do that with honesty. But the reality is that hybrid meetings – by which I mean the kind of meetings where the main group is in the same room, with one or two people remote – are almost universally awful.
Communication inequality is baked in to the hybrid format. The remote person is, well, remote. Often, they’re only connected to the group by a dodgy spider phone.
Humans haven’t evolved the skills to handle that effectively. “Meetings”, in the broadest sense of the word, are our natural territory: humans are social animals. And audio-only is manageable, not least because in bygone days we spent lots of time together in the dark.
But it isn’t natural to have one person separated from the tribe. In prehistoric times, being “remote” would have meant almost certain death. As a result, it triggers all sorts of strange behaviours. All too often, distant participants are completely forgotten by the in-the-room group.
Experienced facilitators avoid hybrid meetings like the plague – just as they swerve noisy, smelly and overcrowded venues. As a result, there’s not a great pool of expert knowledge out there. Instead, we’re all learning by experience.
- With Steve McCann, I’ve pulled together current best practice for hybrid meetings in a recorded meeting skills mini course, here. Please check it out.