Blended / HybridVirtual Meetings
People are eager to return to live in-person meetings, and many still want to enjoy joining sessions across the country without actually traveling there.
I had previously explored the "why" of having blended / hybrid meetings.
Now I want to explore the "how" to use Zoom meetings
Zoom has two categories for virtual presentations: Meetings ($15/mo) and Webinars $40/mo).
I am only considering "meeting" formats for this discussion.
Blended / Hybrid Classes & SIGs
Our classes and special interest groups (SIGs) generally meet in the Local History Room at the Largo Library. When these were live in 2019, attendance varied from 5 to 25. Since we've moved online, the numbers have grown to 25-50.
Classes will be the easiest format to move a blended environment.
The instructor presents from a deck of PowerPoint slides. The speaker may occasionally go online to demonstrate a website or show a video.
Audience: I visualize our blended classes as having 5-10 people sitting together in a meeting room, and perhaps that many more remotely connecting via Zoom.
PGS already has a projector and the room has a screen on one wall. The library offers a Wi-Fi connection, and our remote audience may be subject to failures from that.
Hardware: I recommend an external set of speakers and a USB microphone. USB cabling could allow the speakers to sit at the front of the room.
The speaker presents the class to people in the room, and the remote attendees will see the screen and the teacher.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
- Use the existing projector, connected to the leader's laptop.
- An external set of speakers.
- An external USB microphone with surround sound (much like those used for conference calls on telephones). Again, cabling could allow this microphone to sit in the exact center of the room, next/near the projector.
- A webcam mounted on a tripod at the front of the room pointed toward the audience.
- We'll need USB extension cables, and probably a USB hub that allows multiple devices.
The Zoom "Host" is the administrator and will make the leader/presenter a co-host. The host should be seated near the speaker or podium.
The focus of the leader is to engage the audience. They can use their laptop and projector, just as they do now.
The job of the Zoom host is purely technical. The host mutes/unmutes virtual attendees as appropriate. They can disable the video, and even remove someone from the meeting.
Large Blended / Hybrid Meetings
Our Monthly Member Meetings will be really challenging because they combine the interaction of a SIG with the audience of a presentation in a much larger venue (Jenkins room instead of the Local History Room).
A blended PGS monthly meeting will require the hardware and staffing of both classes as SIGs.
- I suggest a camera on a tripod at the front of the room
- Perhaps the library will provide a TV for the front of the room.
- Speakers - not sure if the attendees need to hear anything a virtual attendee has to say. Perhaps chat/comments will be sufficient. I am unsure about the speaker's Q&A session.
- Microphone(s) - We may need to acquire wireless lavalier mics. I need to explore the possibility of connecting the room's sound system directly to a laptop.
- Internet: Fortunately there will be a cabled connection in the Jenkins Room.
- Staffing: This will absolutely require one technical person to provide admin assistance. (Yes, I volunteer.)
- I experimented in 2020 where I set up a cheap camera in the back and walked around the room: (58-second video - Aug 2020)
- Top Online Meeting Software to Know
- As We Go Back to Work, Don't Do Blended Meetings (July, 2020)
- Blended conferences - current technologies may transform meetings and events (2002 !!)
- Challenges of Virtual and Blended Meetings (2011 !)
- What are hybrid meetings? Why should you prepare your offices for them? (Nov 2020)
- How To Host A Hybrid Event With Zoom? (Jan 2021)