Four people are gathered at a table for a business meeting. There is a computer monitor set up featuring the images of four additional remote employees attending the meeting.

It’s been over a year since many of us switched office desks for dining room tables. Now as we emerge into a post-quarantine world, it’s time to face facts. Hybrid video and in-person meetings are with us for the foreseeable future.  

Simply adapting the format of traditional face-to-face meetings to hybrid won’t work and hasn’t been working. Recent brain science helps us understand why:  

  • When on video, most people tend to spend more time looking at themselves, something that’s barely even possible in live meetings 
  • Tracking “Tic-Tac-Toe” grids of different people and their backgrounds is massively distracting and exhausting for the brain 
  • It’s easy to minimize or overlook virtual participants

Given the first two items, it’s not surprising that you can expect only about 10 minutes of focused attention from video participants during the average business meeting. It’s actually made worse by requiring people to turn their videos on (because they end up looking at themselves or getting distracted by backgrounds). 

So, what can you do to make your hybrid meetings more productive? Here are four quick tips to help enhance your video or hybrid meeting effectiveness: 

  1. Break long, standing meetings into shorter ones. Although some of the isolation of quarantine has begun to ease, many people are still dealing with social anxiety and a sense of being alone. It’s a perfect opportunity to break that hour-long weekly meeting into shorter meetings spaced throughout the week. 
  2. Make it interactive.Break the screen hypnosis by mixing things up with breakout rooms or plan for multiple presenters so that your agenda isn’t limited to one talking head. Encourage cross dialogue between video and live participants. Set aside times for specific callouts to invite video participants into the conversation.
  3. Use a larger video screen for in-room conference participants. Do use video when virtual participants are speaking and use the settings that either hide or minimize other virtual participants when one of them is speaking. Make the speaker’s image as life-sized as possible and arrange the screen for maximum visibility for those participants in the room.  
  4. Follow up.It’s always been important to follow up meetings with meeting note. Now it’s essential. With back-channeling through chat or other media, shrinking on-screen attention spans, or just audio hiccups at bad times, it’s easier than ever to miss key decisions, deadlines and deliverables. 

If you are tired of meetings that feel repetitive or less productive, if you are worried about fully engaging participants, whether in-person or on video, or if you just seek remedies to some of the screen-exhaustion created by a year of quarantine – take control to activate your employees and make meetings more productive. Learn more.