Running hybrid workshopsby Adrian
Hybrid workshops – a mixture of people in a room and on-line – are increasingly common as COVID restrictions are lifted but as travel is still not back to usual. Having now moderated a few such events, for instance, last week with eight people phyiscally in a room in Tunis, and a similar number on-line in Germany, let me share a few thoughts on them.
- There is a room dynamic (also different to usual, given the need for physical distancing) and there is an on-line dynamic, and both need to be mastered. Even more than is the case with 100% presence or 100% virtual workshops, it is important to change format regularly: give the people in the room and on-line a chance to speak in small groups with each other and alternate that with plenary, both to change pace and so each has a chance to speak.
- As in 100% virtual meetings, just “asking for comments” is likely to lead to a silence on the line, especially if you cannot see all the people in the room well. Much better to warn in advance that “in a minute I am going to ask you to answer this question: xxxx” and then to go name by name through the room and on-line gathering comments.
- Visualising the course of the conversation by writing down what is said in a way everybody can see it is important to avoid conversation creep and repetition.
- There are moments when you may want to let the room dynamic dominate (as people react to each others statements) but you should also then make sure the on-line community has a space to talk too, and does not feel like the “poor partner” in the conversation. Again, calling on people by name is important here.
- Whilst it is optimal to be in the room with the group, it can work also if you are on-line: so long as you have some connection to the people in advance so as you are not just a voice in the ether.
- As with 100% on-line events, it is good if presentations can be given before the workshop, thus keeping the time on-line for interaction rather than monologue. Last week, I made video interviews in advance, and they also provided a couple of slides that the other participants could peruse before the meeting started.
Any other thoughts most welcome