Business organizations and startups are increasingly moving toward the hybrid approach after the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the survey by Gallup after February 2022, about 53% of the workforce expects a hybrid arrangement, and businesses also consider it a viable option for remote employees.
Online collaboration tools and virtual meeting platforms have undoubtedly transformed how teams work together, and greater flexibility has led to more productivity and happiness. But conducting a successful hybrid meeting isn’t as easy as you might think. Virtual meetings are more exhausting for remote attendees than in-person attendees, and communication is not as smooth and efficient. Fostering participation and engagement is challenging too!
So, if your concern is how to effectively engage an audience in meetings when half of the attendees are spread out worldwide, here are some simple yet powerful tips to perfect your presentation delivery in a hybrid workplace. Let’s dive in!
1. Acknowledge and Involve Both the Audiences
The first step to maintaining a hybrid workplace is adopting a virtual-first mindset. While you don’t intend to leave anyone out, hybrid meetings make remote attendees feel disconnected. It is of paramount importance to help them feel heard and seen. Greet your virtual audience; don’t just acknowledge their presence but let them know that you are thrilled they chose to give you their valuable time. You can also designate specific time intervals to speak to or directly address remote participants.
2. Make Sure the Tech Works
Troubleshooting the technology in advance is critical. Arrive at your presentation site before the designated time and sort out any technical issues ahead of schedule. Often, the fluidity of the presentation gets interrupted due to unforeseen technical mishaps, so plan ahead and rehearse with the technology for both the in-person and virtual participants. You can even have a producer or moderator who can serve as tech support, letting you focus on your presentation.
3. Choose the Right Background
Keeping the background clean and decluttered is essential. Hence, ensure there are no visual distractions in your background, such as a cluttered bookshelf or a stack of items. Virtual backgrounds can be distracting for the same reason, so avoiding them is a good practice. Put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ tag on your presentation room’s door to prevent interruptions and loud noises.
4. Don’t Forget the Importance of Eye Contact
Eye contact during a hybrid presentation is an important aspect to consider and needs a little more practice. As a speaker, you must consciously make eye contact with those in the meeting room without forgetting to look into your laptop’s camera. Make your virtual audience feel seen and included by switching back and forth between them and your in-person audience. Don’t lose the connection with the audience by being too far away from the screen but make sure that your face doesn’t take over the whole screen because that looks weird. It is always a good idea to practice your distance and positioning.
5. Engage Your Remote Participants
To fully engage your remote participants, allow them to express themselves and have their opinions/suggestions heard. Level the playing field between the in-person and virtual attendees by using polls for everyone and asking for feedback so that everyone present in the meeting has the same opportunity to voice their opinions. You can catch up with your virtual audience during the scheduled coffee breaks in the presentation and networking opportunities for the in-person participants.
6. Be Yourself and Have Fun
Don’t rush the agenda. The audience will hardly engage if the speaker seems bored or disinterested. Look for cues and watch for disengaged behaviour, puzzled faces, or raised eyebrows. You need to honour your audience’s time by delivering the best presentation. So, find ways to create an authentic connection with the participants and have fun. If you will enjoy the presentation and look happy, so will others.
Pro Tip:Interactive PowerPoint and Google slides templates act as icebreakers and help grab and keep the attention for the duration of the presentation.
7. Make the Best Use of New Technology Features
Technology companies are creating platforms specifically designed for the hybrid meeting format. Guide your virtual audience to embrace these features and feel more connected as remotely located people rely on audio alone. To make your hybrid meetings and presentations immersive, thoroughly investigate which technology upgrades or platform functionalities might be helpful.
8. Keep Presentations Brief
Less is more. Make your presentations as brief and efficient as possible to keep the momentum going and the audience engaged. In the case of hybrid presentations, resist the temptation to speak for longer intervals and try to time its duration based on the energy levels of the remote attendees. Take time to plan content and practice your delivery to keep it crisp and constructive.
Successful hybrid presentations don’t happen by chance, as they come with their own unique challenges and requirements. Besides requiring excellent virtual and face-to-face presentation skills, presenters struggle to maintain the attention and interest of both live and remote participants. For an excellent presentation, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, the connection is key.
To build that connection, strive to create an energizing, positive, and inclusive environment for each person in the audience. No matter what kind of presentation you are giving, find ways to create value and enhance the experience for everyone.