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Hybrid Meeting Challenges (Part 1)

Despite what you might think (if you haven't experienced a hybrid meeting), audio is the biggest challenge in a hybrid meeting. We manage hybrid meetings a number of different ways - each with advantages and disadvantages - with audio frequently being a deciding factor.

There is equipment that can be installed in a space to operate a hybrid meeting. This works if you have a significant number of meetings in that space. But, even here you have many choices. Pre-configured screens with cameras and audio built in; free standing camera(s) that self-manage, or that can be managed by users; devices like MeetingOwls (in full disclosure, we are a reseller of the MeetingOwl line) that once connected (a very easy process) can self manage; or, your laptop connected to a television with a webcam. Each of these work in different settings; each have very different price points; each require a different level of active management; and each require a different level of installation work. Not only do those factors apply, but each of the options require or provide different audio solutions.

Then, there are ways to operate a hybrid meeting in spaces you do not control, and visit on an irregular basis. This almost always requires bringing in some additional equipment - this can include cameras, microphones, speakers, projectors and screens, and depending on the size of the space, even again something like MeetingOwls. Remember what we said upfront - audio is the biggest challenge. Some locations will have a sophisticated audio set-up that you can utilize; some will have a less sophisticated audio system, and require that you supplement. One question to ask - can the location provide a mix-minus (we'll do a whole post at some point on definitions) so that you can capture the in-room audio, send out the remote audio without those two interfering with each other.

Site visits in advance are always something you want to include in your planning process. We have told countless clients that we will not agree to manage a hybrid meeting (or even a live stream) without a site visit. Then, we know going into to set up for the meeting what equipment we need; what will be provided by the venue; and how to manage between the two. In fact, later today we have just such a site visit planned. But, remember, site visits add to your costs - whether your time or someone else's - so repeating meetings in the same location save time in advance of your meeting, and even the day of, as set-up can occur faster each time you return to the same location. Knowing what to do, what worked and didn't work, make it easier to get ready.

Hybrid meetings are complex - describing how to manage them effectively is complex, and will require additional posts. We'll talk about them more over the next two or three posts. If you have specific topics you want us to address, let us know. And, if you want help running a meeting, planning a meeting, or planning what equipment to buy or install (or have us do that for you), let us know as well.

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