Last week I attended a roundtable meeting where the focus of the discussion was around virtual teamworking. One of the issues that arose was how you deal with a situation where you are combining a face-to-face and virtual meeting, i.e. where most of the participants are together in the same room, but others, who presumably were not able to make the trip, are participating using a web conferencing tool. In particular the issue was how to make sure the virtual participants aren’t ignored completely and become just passive participants.
Now I’m not going to pretend that I have much experience of this situation, but I’m going to throw in a few ideas to get us started:
- Project the web conferencing system onto the screen so that this becomes the main focus of attention.
- Use the web conferencing system to present any slides or documents for review.
- Use an omni-directional mic to capture the face-to-face audio and feed this into the web conference.
- If possible, position a webcam to pick up the face-to-face group and feed this as well into the web conference.
- Output the audio from the web conference to the speakers in the room.
- Have all participants introduce themselves, whether face-to-face or virtual.
- When asking for contributions, keep a constant eye on the web conference to check whether there are ‘hands raised’ or entries to the chat. If this proves difficult to manage, allocate someone to looking after this as their sole task.
- Make a deliberate point of asking for remote contributions, and not necessarily after the face-to-face group has had their say.
- Have remote participants make presentations or lead activities.
- If you run breakout sessions, have the remote participants form their own group.
So, over to you. How have you tackled this situation? I’d love to know.