Photo credit: Multi-Hub Meetings 

Is getting everyone is the same room more difficult than herding caffeinated cats with a fear of enclosed places? Perhaps the solution for your group is a multi-hub meeting. As distributed companies with lots of remote workers become more prevalent, hybrid meetings that link groups of participants in different cities using a package of real-time audiovisual technology are a cost-saving way to help everyone feel connected. They combine the benefits of face-to-face interaction with the convenience of gathering in groups or hubs.

Planning a successful hybrid meeting that goes beyond a video call or webcast requires balancing location, cost and technology. Nienke Verwer, sales and marketing manager at Belgium-based Multi-Hub Meetings, says the key to a successful meeting is engagement. Her company provides technology packages that include cameras, microphones—and most importantly, technicians to run them—for distributed meetings. “We can never replace f2f events with virtual or hybrid events, because it’s the highest form of interaction. But we can still be engaging when we’re considering increasing our reach. Hybrid meetings [can be] the closest thing to f2f interaction.”

Multi-Hub Meetings recently helped produce an event with more than 300 participants, in 18 locations. Needless to say, that would have been impossible logistically without a technology solution.

Photo credit: Multi-Hub Meetings 

Verwer suggests considering the following when planning multi-city events:

1. Ensure all participants are seen and heard by all hubs when they speak. This is as simple as zooming in on people as they speak, and giving them a mic.

2. Make every hub as important as the others, so even when people are merely watching a screen in one location, they still feel as if they’re a part of the overall meeting (just as they would if everyone was in the same place). A multi-hub meeting is a live, zero-delay, hear-all-and-see-all event.

3. Effective ways to connect locations with each other—and foster an active connection—include using mobile apps for voting, creating a shared space for discussions and holding a competition.

4. Invest in a strong Internet connection to ensure no frustrating delay. Avoid using Wi-Fi unless absolutely necessary.