Tips for Inclusive Meetings for Hybrid Teams
Conducting effective and inclusive meetings is essential for the team to stay productive and connected. The following are some suggestions specific to hybrid and online meetings.
Before the meeting:
Set everyone up for success by choosing a meeting format that best serves your needs, setting expectations with attendees, and managing roles and access.
Choose the suitable space: Determine the outcomes you want to deliver and book the suitable space for it. If brainstorming, consider a space/platform with a whiteboard. Or, if presenting, consider an area with a clear camera angle of the presenter so in-person and remote participants can follow along.
Take five to transition: Schedule meetings with a five (or even 10) minute break at the beginning or end of the hour or half-hour. This allows for a short gap between meetings to improve focus and engagement.
Set expectations in the meeting chat: Send the agenda ahead of time to allow members to prepare. Share documents and other materials directly in the meeting chat to have all context in one place when they join the meeting.
Begin the meeting as soon as live participants enter the room: When you enter the room, join the meeting from the conference room console before natural chatting and social interactions between attendees in the room start, so remote attendees can participate.
Join meetings from your personal devices in the room: Bring your personal device to the room to use the companion experiences like raise hands, chat, and live reactions. Also, feel free to join the meeting with video if you want to be more visible in the meeting.
During the meeting:
Make good use of attendees’ time while leading meetings that reflect your culture and use tools that make the experience more engaging.
Find the optimal viewing experience: Choose between gallery views in the room, such as together mode and large gallery, to ensure the best layout for presenting to and viewing the audience, especially those joining the meeting remotely.
Keep inclusion in mind: Check in on remote participants and keep an eye on the chat window for questions or shared insights. Turn on live transcriptions and record the meeting to enhance the experience in real-time, and for those who couldn’t attend and are reviewing it later.
It is easy for the group dynamic of people in a room together to take over the meeting. The best way to ensure everyone stays visible, heard, and included is to default to REMOTE-first meetings (where all members, even those on-site, join virtually). If your team decides not to all join virtually – check-in with those, who are remote first.
Keep meetings interactive and engaging: Use raise hand to give everyone a chance to speak up, chat and polls to track questions and comments, a moderator to facilitate discussion and track participation, and breakout rooms to encourage small group collaboration. (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/express-yourself-in-teams-meetings-with-live-reactions-a8323a40-3d07-4129-934b-305370a36e21)
Brainstorm effectively in real-time: Use a shared digital whiteboard across the room and remote participants. Or, if using a physical whiteboard, make sure the content camera is turned on in the room to capture what’s written clearly (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/use-whiteboard-in-microsoft-teams-7a6e7218-e9dc-4ccc-89aa-b1a0bb9c31ee?ui=en-us&rs=en-us&ad=us).
Make co-presenting seamless: Use PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams to smoothly transition to co-presenters, whether they’re in the room or participating remotely. Also, people who join late can scroll through content to catch up.
After the meeting:
Make sure progress continues after your meeting ends and that the right people are informed of decisions and outcomes.
End the meeting strong: Use the 5-minute alert banner to wrap up and align on the next steps. Include next steps in the meeting chat or the notes tab in the Teams meeting.
Keep everything in one place: After a meeting, Teams automatically saves the transcription, recording, chat, and files within the meeting, and you can always refer to the meeting recap for future reference.
Don’t have the meeting after the meeting: Often when working at an office and a meeting ends, the group of people will head back to their desks and talk some more about the decisions made in the meeting. They may decide on some new things or have sudden realizations (if this happens often, your meetings may be too short!). Team members should keep all discussions around the meeting contents within the meeting time frame and the video call.
Example of a hybrid team’s agreement for meetings:
- We are strategic in who we invite to each meeting and resist the urge to gather input or “make dicisions in the hallway” without including appropriate remote workers.
- We equalize the playing field. For virtual meetings, everyone takes part on their own computer, even if some of us could be in the same room.
- We check for understanding before we leave the meeting by ensuring everyone is clear on what is happening, who is responsible for what action items.
- We give people an opportunity to express their feelings about how the meeting went.