Saturday, September 9, 2023

HMS: Clothes for Hybrid Meetings

Taylor Wildman wearing shorts for a Hybrid Meeting

Dressing for Hybrid Meetings... an Interesting Title

Participants in an online meeting have learned that they only need to dress from the waist up! (A tie for men is optional.)

Audiences in an in-person meeting have to dress from top to bottom. 

This article is a creative way to look at the complexities of meetings. I am starting with the idea that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to either clothing choices or running hybrid meetings. 

Writing a book about Hybrid Meetings

A clothing analogy extends to writing a book about how to run a Hybrid Meeting. The contents of a book about this are challenging. I mentally review all the possible options, variations, and requirements.

I want to write a book to share my knowledge and experience. I've started and restarted several times. I want it to be entertaining and informative. That's a huge challenge for a non-fiction book. While I find virtual meeting technology fascinating, it's boring for most people.

Remember, a Hybrid Meeting is where part of the audience is in the room, part of the audience is online, and EVERYONE in the audience should be able to interact with anyone and everyone else! Read more at Hybrid Meeting Specialists (.com). The link opens in a new window.

Street Clothes

Let's talk, for a moment, about the clothes we wear every day. 

There are certain basic pieces of clothing that people wear such as trousers, shorts, dresses, tops, shoes, and socks. 

After that, the possibilities are endless! The first consideration is budget, followed closely by technology, and lastly, style. Yes, there is such a thing as "clothing technology." 

Clothing Budget

The first constraint is how much money someone is able - and willing - to spend on their wardrobe. In addition to the money-on-hand, there is a consideration of how important appearance is. 
The alternative, of course, is to wear nothing.

Clothing Technology

Society has taught the basic concepts of what to put on your body - but society does not generally teach how to sew or how make a sewing needle. Do you think the size of clothes is a technology issue?
I can pick clothes from a rack, but I cannot run a sewing machine.

Clothing Style

Ah! There seems to be an almost infinite variety of colors, textures, and cuts. Remember, this is an essay on writing a how-to book. I could not find a beginning point to explain the concept of "style."

Hybrid Meetings

Next, I want to compare our knowledge of clothing to my view of hybrid meetings.

Hybrid Meeting Budget

Every organization has a different budget. What they spend depends on how much are they willing - and able - to spend. 

Hybrid meetings have: 
  • Capital (1-time) expenses, 
  • Annual or monthly subscriptions, and 
  • Either volunteer hours or labor costs.
The alternative, of course, is to not do hybrid meetings. Unfortunately, that could leave out half of your audience.

Hybrid Meeting Technology

My favorite technology story is about a common light switch on a wall. People don't have to understand it to use it. When someone walks into a room, they simply expect the light switch to work. They don't need to know about the thickness of the wire in the wall or the wattage of the light bulbs.

Unfortunately, the online part of a hybrid meeting is not that easy. One day it will be, but not right now.

Your hybrid meeting tech can be either a paid part-timer or a volunteer. People need to have experience with audio, video, and the whole virtual environment. They need to set up and test equipment, and know which "buttons" to push when an online participant misbehaves. Finally, then need to be able to troubleshoot everything in a timely manner, with as little interruption in the flow of the meeting.

Meeting Style

In-Person Meetings
Organizations have been holding in-person meetings for years. Someone stands at the front and presents a message. There are no standards after that. The meeting organizers can require everyone to stand or make arrangements for them to sit. There might be a small crowd (2-6 people) or a huge crowd of several hundred. The people responsible for the meeting know what to expect and how to meet those expectations.

Online Meetings
The 2020 pandemic moved meetings online, where a whole new set of parameters evolved. Because everyone in the world was locked down, virtual meeting skills were quickly mastered by the audiences that connected over the Internet. The meeting organizers often only acquired the basic technical skills to communicate their message. Only gradually did they learn many of the nuances of virtual meetings.

Combination Meetings
A hybrid meeting is a combination of those two different types of meetings. 
  • Running an In-Person meeting requires one skill set. This runs the gamut from setting up the room, providing snacks, and reading audience reactions.
    In-person meetings have literature that reaches back centuries.

  • Running a Virtual meeting requires a different skill set. The presenter has to be more entertaining to keep people engaged. It's too easy for the online audience to multi-task their concentration away from the subject at hand.
    Virtual meetings has a large body of reference work. A lot of those are videos. The printed material is a bit scarce because it's been changing so rapidly in the last two years.

  • Running a Hybrid meeting requires both skills!

Connecting the Dots

Budgeting (clothes & hybrid meetings) - This is a consideration whether shopping for clothes or setting up a meeting.

Technology (clothes) -  We grew up with clothes, and we take the technology for granted: zippers, buttons, and shoestring knots. An expert maid or butler would be nice, but is not necessary because we have a lifetime of personal experience! 

Technology (hybrid meetings) -  Virtual meetings have become popular only in the last three years. Combining in-person and virtual meetings at the same time has only come into vogue in the last year! Having an expert admin is necessary for the success of the meeting.

Style (clothes & hybrid meetings) - This is not the time or place for an in-depth discussion about this. It should suffice to say that there is no one style (the right way) to choose and wear clothes or run a hybrid meeting. Every person and situation is different.

Hybrid Meeting Specialists Logo

I would appreciate your feedback about whether this analogy works. What do you think?

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