The COVID pandemic has taught us to be nimbler. Before 2020, we thought someone was crazy to suggest holding a sales meeting virtually. Yet here we are. However, we are starting to see that some of our agents still appreciate the opportunity to gather in person. And so, a hybrid meeting is a challenge we currently face.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin recognized this basic premise eons ago, and it still holds today. Take into consideration the following best practices to ensure your hybrid meeting is the best experience for both worlds.

9 Tips for More Effective Hybrid Meetings

  1. Organize them effectively – good organization is key to running effective virtual and in-person meetings. Here is a short list of instructions to get you started.
    • Have a group calendar – send out a calendar invite well in advance of the meeting.
    • Have a notification system – when agents are primarily working remotely, there will be a disconnect. Leveraging a reminder email that you can schedule ahead of time to be sent 15 minutes before the meeting begins can help keep everyone on track.
    • Find a tool that works for you. Technology is good when it works. In addition to finding a video conferencing tool that works well for your company, you want everyone to feel comfortable and confident using the technology. Consider setting up small in-person groups to help agents understand how to attend and ensure they have a working microphone (either built-in or external), as well as a functioning webcam. And more importantly, how to mute/unmute themselves, turn their webcam on/off, as well as any additional features your platform may offer (such as annotation tools, virtual backgrounds, or raising a hand)
    • Structure your meeting. This way, everyone will know where exactly their question or comment belongs. An easy way to keep your meetings organized is to have a consistent structure every week. And make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda beforehand.
  2. Focus on what’s important. Every meeting should have a clear objective. Remember, you are taking up everyone’s valuable time. Your meetings should support your company’s learning culture with relevant topics and an opportunity to learn.
  3. Adopt a mandatory video-on policy for those joining virtually.
    • Communication is more effective when non-verbal clues are involved.
    • Putting a face to a voice helps attendees to make a connection.
    • Facial expressions humanize your virtual meetings.
    • For those attending who are not comfortable with how they look on camera, reassure them that they are among friends.  This meeting is a no-judgment zone.
  4. During your opening, acknowledge everyone, both the virtual room and those in person. Out of sight, out of mind – it’s all too easy to forget to include online attendees in discussions.
  5. Share the mic. All participants should have the opportunity to offer their input. Don’t allow your meeting to be dominated by more extroverted individuals. Encourage your quieter members to share, too. A few ways to encourage everyone to participate:
    • Ask their opinion on a specific subject.
    • Ask if they have anything they’d like to add.
  6. Do not tolerate disrespect – hiding behind a screen may embolden some to say things they usually wouldn’t in person. The point of your meetings is to build upon your company’s culture. You are reminding everyone that meetings are a place of mutual respect and collaboration.
  7. Keep the meeting short & sweet. Virtual meeting burnout is all too real. A meeting should be no longer than 60 minutes. If it’s going longer than that, consider taking the lengthier section of the meeting and making it into its own discussion, workshop, or learning event to be held at another date and time.
  8. Always end on a positive note. When we don’t see each other frequently, it’s important to find ways to support your company’s culture. Ask agents to share one good thing that has happened to them since the last meeting, either for business or personal.
  9. And last, make sure you are prepared for the next sales meeting. At the end of the current meeting, let everyone know a “teaser” about a topic, guest speaker, or event on tap for the next meeting.

To sum it all up, your business needs to conduct meaningful and relevant meetings that work well with both online and in-person attendees. Agents will appreciate the flexibility, and you will continue to bring value to the agents’ businesses.

About the Author

  • Laurie Popp
    Laurie Popp