Running hybrid workshops

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

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