How to run a perfect Hybrid Video Conference
We are now living in a future of hybrid video conferencing and remote work but how do we ensure that everything runs perfectly all the time? From the Jetsons’ videophone to Back to the Future Part II’s video conference, we are living sci-fi’s future depictions when it comes to conferencing.
Since the start of 2020, companies have evolved to include remote work in their routines. While some of us have started returning to the office especially to attend meetings and conferences, some are struggling with the immediate change are still working remotely.
The solution? Hybrid video conferencing.
Here are 10 tips on how to run a perfect hybrid video conference:
1. Test Technology in Advance
Most meetings are scheduled, but we can all be flexible if there’s a need for spontaneous emergency meetings or rescheduled ones. At the start of the day and right before a scheduled meeting, make sure to test all technologies to be used such as:
Switcher to capture multiple angles on different cameras
Wireless screen sharing devices
Lightings and Tripods
Visuals like laptops and desktop computers for PPT presentations, spreadsheets, etc.
It is more convenient if you have a piece of all-in-one equipment that captures the entire conference room including components for speakers and microphones and whiteboard so that you can easily perform a convenient equipment check. The less equipment there is to check, the more thorough the checking will be.
2. Ensure a reliable high-speed internet connection
No one ever complained of the internet being "too fast". Most of our daily lives now depend on speedy internet connection. Moreover, some video conferencing cameras may offer 4K HD resolutions but this would also require network speeds that could enable this feature. For example, a camera that can capture a 4K resolution would also require 2048 Kbps (roughly, 2 Mbps). With connections at or below 1 Mbps, resolutions of 1080p or less should also be expected.
3. Select and train Meeting Technicians
Meeting technicians are familiar with the video conference platform and physical equipment to be used. The assignment may sound redundant, as most of the conference participants may know how to handle troubleshooting by now. However, a perfect hybrid meeting setup may still encounter unforeseeable obstacles that may be too much to handle efficiently. For ease of participation, conference attendees may rely on this technician to be in charge of renaming participants, muting and unmuting, monitoring chats, toggling between views, assigning breakout rooms, screen(s) sharing, and physical equipment troubleshooting. Usually, this person is also assigned the conference platform’s host controls.
4. Make remote participants more visible
To ensure that remote participants are fully engaged and as present as those who are in the same room, remote participants must be able to see all attendees, presentations, shared screens, physical documents, and other aspects. Since there are in-room participants in a hybrid conference, the equipment that captures them must do so clearly for all participants (remote and in-room) to appreciate. It will be counterintuitive to simply ask in-room participants to merely join the conference using individual laptops. This would negate the purpose of a hybrid meeting because participants may simply do that in their own offices or homes. However, allowing remote participants to engage more by letting them see and hear clearly will go a long way. Using large screen monitors, “life-size panes”, or projectors to include their presence in the room would only do so much if the video and audio qualities they receive are not up to par. Further, remote attendees must also have the easy option to separately contact the meeting technician by way of a separate chat platform or merely a “help” button that is distinct from the conference chat area.
5. Balance activities for in-room and remote participants
This may include sending physical (or scanned) documents in advance or foreseeing what tools or equipment will be used for the meeting to maximize the participation of all attendees whether remote or present in-room. While in-room participants will relatively be more alert, focused, and socially connected, remote attendees will be more prone to distractions, lost connectivity, and shorter attention spans. Hosts or "meeting technicians" can thereby step up to maximize available technology to ensure the meeting is not dominated solely by the in-room attendees by keeping remote participants engaged, draw them into conversations, and make sure their speeches are neither talked over nor interrupted.
6. Allocate “co-presences”
One of the main purposes of the hybrid conference model is to allow people to collaborate and talk face to face without having to be physically in the same room. However, there are still setbacks to participants not being present physically: a blocked camera, a sleepy colleague, a dangerously placed coffee mug, etc. These are things that are better-given attention face to face or discreetly communicated. For these circumstances, “co-presences” may help each remote participant to be their physical presence in the conference or huddle room. It also removes part of the sense of isolation that comes with being remote by having a point person to be in confidence with.
7. Maximize asynchronous tasks online
Asynchronous tasks or communications should be done online – without having to gather for a hybrid conference. These tasks include e-mailing, chat, writing a blog, or voice mail--- tasks that can be done one at a time or one after another. Although this may seem the opposite of this list, maximizing these tasks allows for better preparation when doing hybrid conferences, not to mention the preparation gained from the delayed communications will benefit the outcome of those communications. Moreover, having multiple channels for communication is beneficial because different situations may call upon different solutions.
Time zone differences make real-time conferences arduous. Some attendees’ work-life balance may be negatively impacted with meetings outside of their office hours just to accommodate global colleagues.
Although chat or instant messaging is considered asynchronous, the speed with which we expect immediate reply these days may disrupt our work routines (deep, meaningful work) to always try to respond in real-time. E-mailing then would be a better solution for more concise concerns followed up by a hybrid conference.
Well-thought-out replies will be delivered when one has enough time to think of a proper response, rather than a knee-jerk response that we sometimes feel is expected during face-to-face meetings.
Although meetings often have written minutes, asynchronous communications instantly become written documentation that can be used as reference or evidence for future perusal.
8. Establish and practice video conference etiquette
Things like listening while someone is speaking, unmuting your microphone when not your turn, or starting the meeting on time might seem like common sense practices but in reality, these can easily be taken for granted and overlooked. However, it is important to carefully observe simple etiquette practices and apply them every time you have a hybrid conference meeting.
Start meetings on time. In hybrid meetings, not everyone is on-location to understand the context of current delays caused by things happening at the office.
Conversations must be kept for everyone to hear and understand. Just like traditional meetings, speaking when you should be listening is considered rude. This is elevated exponentially when some participants are not on-site. It is sometimes hard to understand each other over the speakers, and having multiple speakers at the same time would be even more confusing.
Whiteboard markings or displays must be visible. We all know how annoying small handwritings can be when we look at notices on whiteboards. For hybrid conferences, writing on physical whiteboards may seem a convenient way to convey your thoughts but make sure the camera/s can capture what is written on the whiteboard. Digital whiteboards are also available to easily incorporate your preference of writing to the hybrid video conference.
Point to things using the cursor and not physically. Although the video conference camera industry has upgraded so much to the point of providing video resolutions up to 4K or higher, only a few cameras in the market provide 360 degrees panoramic view of the room. Chances are, at some points in your conference room, your webcam might not be pointed at you at some point. To better cater to your remote participants, always use the cursor when pointing at screen shares.
9. Use AI panoramic technology to get the most out of your hybrid video conference
The Coolpo AI Huddle Pana Conferencing Camera lets you see the entire conference room in its entirety, allowing remote participants to see live reactions and have live interactions with in-room colleagues. Having this much to see using one camera minimizes the sense of isolation that comes with being a remote attendee. The camera also keeps track of the last three speakers by zooming in on them and showing them at the top of the screen. To aid you in having the perfect hybrid video conference, Coolpo AI Huddle Pana is all-in-one equipment that has all your basic video conferencing necessities:
360-degree horizontal view
60-degree vertical field of view
Smart self-adaptive 4K Camera
4 microphones that pick up participants within 15 feet
75 x 120 mm all-surrounded speaker with clear sound
Furthermore, with its portable size and only at 4.11 pounds, it can be an easy addition to your bring-your-own-meeting or -device (BYOM or BYOD).
10. Continue adopting feedback from participants
Just as how constructive feedback in sports training brings forth the honing of skills and achievement of better results, companies and teams can also adopt feedback from hybrid video conference participants, remote and in-room. Hosts and meeting technicians may be able to apply all feedback to future video conferences.
Companies continuously pull efforts to ensure that everything runs perfectly during conferences: cameras, electric wirings, and the whole shebang. Despite this, continuous improvement is still indispensable to be able to “perfect” the skills necessary. With the volume of hybrid meetings the world is having these days, there are definitely enough chances to improve our methods and eventually run the perfect hybrid video conference.