New meeting strategies emerging amid ‘new normal’
Hybrid meetings combining technology and live gatherings may grow in use
The global coronavirus pandemic has thrust us all into a new and unfamiliar reality, and it has led many of us to re-examine and adapt how we communicate with customers, students, patients and loved ones. Platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect have increasingly become a solution to many who have had to quickly solve the communication divides caused by our unexpected social separations.
These platforms have proven to be effective tools, allowing us to connect with our families, friends and co-workers, and they have provided us with a valuable connections in these times of social isolation.
If there is an optimistic note that can be extracted from the disruptions and changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be the understanding that there is value in these new ways of communicating with each other that we otherwise may not have imagined or adopted so rapidly.
As we all emerge from our isolation, businesses should take note of the communication shift that has occurred in our lives and consider how best to integrate these remote communications technologies into their communications toolkit. By using these increasingly familiar software solutions, businesses can easily and effectively reach their internal and external audiences, with the same ease as we have reached out to family and friends.
During these times of remote communication, however, another view has emerged, as many have realized that technology alone does fully meet all our communication needs. I know teachers who have learned this as they seek to engage students without the direct contact and immediate feedback that the classroom provides. I have also learned from social workers and counselors about their everyday difficulties of connecting meaningfully to those who need them the most.
Businesses too are learning these lessons as they embrace web-based presentation platforms. They are realizing that these remote interactions alone are rarely as effective as in-person communication.
There are certain interactions that happen best among groups of participants sharing the same space –brainstorming, relationship-building and immediate feedback are examples of some of the activities that are difficult to replicate via remote technologies.
Finding new ways to replicate the success of the interactions that occur in meeting rooms, hotel ballrooms, hallways and classrooms will be a challenge as businesses transition into the “new normal” that will exist when we are past this time of forced isolation.
One solution that will likely emerge in this new environment is the hybrid meeting, which takes the best elements that a live gathering offers and combines it with distant presenters.
This seamless integration of web-based communication platforms into a traditional live event provides the opportunity to showcase the best of what these two systems offer — the human interactions and feedback that are essential to a successful live event combined with the flexibility and variety that distant voices and unique perspectives can bring.
This hybrid approach has been utilized quite successfully for decades in broadcast television and for nearly as long in corporate settings. It has always held value for business by delivering tangible benefits, such as reducing travel costs, providing flexibility in scheduling and easily connecting remote locations, such as subsidiaries, and satellite offices.
The integration of these two distinct methods of communicating into traditional broadcasts and webcasts has also been the mainstay of meeting planners, corporate producers and webcast providers for quite some time, but in the past, cost was sometimes a barrier to entry.
As point-to-point communications technologies have advanced, we have seen their acceptance move from the conference room to our home offices, to our kitchen tables. In the current environment especially, it is clear that these tools have become part of everyone’s daily life, which makes them easier to integrate into your business meeting strategy.
Technology has also advanced to provide another important link that makes the hybrid meeting possible: The integration of live “real-time” question and answers into presentations so that both the remote presenter and the audience, are active participants in the dialogue that often accompanies a presentation.
The concept of a hybrid meeting should no longer be considered out of reach for your businesses. Because there is such wide acceptance of web-based platforms, now is the time to explore the integration of these two important web technologies into your corporate meetings. In fact, integrating these technologies into your communication strategy may be a necessity in a world where the “new normal” may include changes to our professional lives, such as new social distancing measures and corporate travel restrictions.
Qualified communication partners and webcast technicians can assist you in managing the seamless integration of remote presentations into your live meetings. I cannot think of a more compelling time in our history to consider making changes to your communication strategy.
Eric Frank is president of Edify Multimedia Group, a Nashua-based video and webcasting company.