Hybrid Meetings and Events
The global pandemic has completely accelerated the landscape for Toastmaster clubs but we are not unique. Across the world adaption to hybrid meetings is a reality that provides opportunities for better global communities, networking and engagement.
Toastmasters International Resources
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From District 91
Experiences and Insights from Hybrid Contests and Training.
This panel was hosted by Amy Jones, Training Manager for 2023/24 with panelists Chris Boden, Grace Nathan and Sam Lloyd.
Check out more webinars on the District 91 YouTube Channel.
Do you want to deliver a webinar? Contact the Program Quality Team to discuss.
Additional Resources from District 91 Leaders
When organising hybrid training, organisers should work with trainers to facilitate the operations of training.
Hybrid training has happened at every level within our district – from clubs, to areas and divisions as well as district level.
Read our training tips below! Reach out to email@example.com for further support.
Are you ready for your contest?
These resources are key to running successful contests. Regardless of the format.
Further resources from the District have been developed on our contest pages.
1. Understand Your Dual Audience
Live Audience: Acknowledge and interact with attendees present in the room.
Virtual Audience: Use cameras and microphones to engage with remote attendees. Trainers are encouraged to dial in on their own device in the room to observe who is online for training so they have audience members names to connect with during interactive training sessions.
2. Choose the Right Technology
Stable Internet: Ensure a strong and stable internet connection for uninterrupted communication.
User-friendly Platform: opt for a webinar or video conferencing platform that’s easy for everyone to use.
Keep it simple: In person delegates can be encouraged to bring laptops, ipads or smart phones so all training resources are online vs. needing to prepare physical and virtual resources for one session. Be mindful if people are participating on work devices, they may struggle to use some tools i.e. Google Jamboard will be an issue for Microsoft Users whose companies block Google Workspace tools.
3. Clear Visuals and Sound
Camera Positioning: Make sure the camera captures both you and any physical props or slides. We recommend having one camera on the stage, straight on or close to and one pointing to the delegates in the room as well. Make sure you take a few moments to test the online audience can see and hear you before you start.
Audio Clarity: Invest in a quality microphone for clear and crisp sound.
4. Interactive Engagement
Polls and Quizzes: Use real-time polls or quizzes to engage both virtual and physical audiences. QR codes make it easy for those in the room to engage via smart phones.
Chat Features: Monitor the chat to address questions or comments from remote attendees. Trainers may request the zoom host or specific online attendee monitor the chat to ensure engagement is well managed.
5. Synchronise Content Delivery
Simultaneous Display: Make sure any slides or visual aids are visible to both audiences.
Sync Breaks: When taking short breaks, consider both in-person and online attendees.
6. Master Time Management
Agenda: Share the session’s agenda beforehand.
Timekeeping: Stick to the planned schedule to respect everyone’s time.
7. Encourage Participation
Open Forum: Allow both remote and in-person attendees to ask questions or share insights.
Interactive Exercises: Plan exercises that both in-person and remote attendees can participate in.
8. Seek Feedback
Immediate Reactions: Watch for body language and real-time comments to gauge interest levels.
Post-event Surveys: Use online surveys to collect feedback from both in-person and virtual attendees.
9. Record the Session
On-demand Access: Record the training session for those who couldn’t attend live. Note that Club and District Officer Training must be attended live to obtain credit.
Review: The recording can serve as a review material for all attendees.
10. Follow-up Action
Resource Sharing: Share any relevant materials, handouts, or links post-session.
Continued Learning: Announce any upcoming webinars, workshops, or training events.
This hybrid workflow summary has been prepared with Area-level contests in mind. Effective training sessions will ideally have Audio Visual that is more flexible i.e. an online trainee should be able to hear AND see in-person attendees, regardless of where the in-person attendees are sitting in the room.
If a more flexible AV set-up is not an option, the consideration is that Trainers should ensure the in-person attendees come to the stage to engage. Trainers may consider appointing someone to help facilitate this. Trainers and organisers should carefully consider training design. Trainers should be mindful that all workshop-style activities and interaction is inclusive of both the in-person and online audiences.
Trainers may consider adapting activities to be similar but different for the different audiences or asking those coming in person to bring laptops and utilise virtual training worksheets/resources.
Alternatively, training that is fully online or fully in-person may be a more straightforward option to ensure quality training is delivered.
For the 2023/2024 Program Year, the District Council moved that all District (Area, Division and District level) contests will be hybrid.
Clubs can choose to have in-person, online or hybrid contests. This is a decision that should be made by the members of the club.
Find a range of resources developed by District Leaders over on our contest pages.
Hybrid Contests require additional consideration for logistics, and we encourage Contest Chairs to look to recruit someone to support with the technical logistics in order to streamline organising, avoid painful delays and issues on the day and make the contest a success.
This hybrid workflow summary has been prepared with Area-level contests in mind. Note that for the purposes of a contest, the Audio Visual set-up should be solely focused on the Contest Chair and Contestants being seen and heard by both audiences.
Additional equipment to provide more AV input from the room to the online audience is great to improve the event itself but focusing on getting the workflow set up to ensure the contestants can be seen and heard should be the main priority i.e. the in-person audience not needing to come to the stage to be heard by the online audience during intervals or additional cameras so the online audience can see the in-person audience.
- Briefings should be done prior to the contest, as hybrid briefings on the day of the contest may cause unnecessary delays. A quick check-in on the day by the Chief Judge and Contest Chair should be enough.
- Audio Visual (AV) A run-through prior to the event is highly recommended. If not at the venue, at least with the equipment. If that is not possible, we advise allowing at least two hours of set up time.
- Sound and audio checks should be first done with the Contest Chair, Chief Judge and relevant functionaries/organisers before contestants arrive to avoid causing unnecessary delays or stress to the contestants.
- In-person and online contestants should be asked to arrive early for sound and audio checks.
- To ensure the AV is seamless, a computer controlling Audio and another controlling Sound may be needed unless the venue has a specific set-up for hybrid meetings.
- Camera (Visual) Hybrid contests require a single camera feed for the online audience to see the contestant. An additional feed to see the audience is ideal, where practical. A suitable TV or projection will ensure those in the physical venue can see the contestant on screen.
- The Chief Judge is advised to connect to the online meeting so they can be assured that all judges are present and are able to pause the contest in the event of technical failure. This has been done by the Chief Judge being in the room, seeing the contestants on stage or on the visual feed but dialling into the audio that the online meeting is picking up.
- Tables for the on-site AV/ Zoom Hosts, Timekeepers and the Chief Judge will be needed when considering logistics.
- The Contest Chair and Chief Judge are two functionaries who really need to be physically present at the in-person venue.
- Timekeepers are best to be in the room together where possible. They can each bring a laptop to support online contestants, but this reduces issues with timing delays or confusion in hybrid contests and avoids an online-only timer who has technical issues being missed.
- Sergeant of Arms We recommend having three on the day.
- 1. Online SAA controls the breakout room for the Table Topics and Evaluation Contests. An online Zoom Host could also do this if the Contest Chair is comfortable with this.
- 2. In-person SAA takes the in-person contestants to the break-out room and supervises them.
- 3. In-person support guard the door during contestant speeches, collect in-person contestants from the breakout room and bring them back.
- Zoom Hosts should not close contestant break-out rooms until they are 100% empty, to avoid a Sergeant of Arms who is dialled into a break-out room but physically on-site accidentally providing feed into the contest.
- Contest Chairs, Chief Judges and District Leaders should consider how the interval time will be managed with the hybrid audience to involve everyone. They should also prepare in advance for virtual and physical participation & winners’ certificates, contestant interviews, thank you certificates etc.
Starting in early 2022, District 91 began meeting in hybrid and online formats for District Executive Committee Meetings and District Council Meetings.
The lessons learned since have been shared in handovers between District Leadership Teams.
Mo Dawodu was the Hybrid Committee Chair, appointed by PDD Arnaud Sartre DTM. He formed a committee that invested time into speaking with hybrid pioneers across our District.
Check out the series of videos on the District 91 YouTube Channel, many are linked below.
How are clubs meeting post-COVID?
- Alternating meetings In-person and Online
- Hybrid (a blended online and in-person meeting)
- Any combination of the above
However, each club is different and there cannot be one comprehensive solution as to how to proceed.
On an important topic like this, each club committee should consult with its members on matters of club business.
Consider these documents before making a decision
Guidance on how to consult your club members about the future of club meetings
Useful information for clubs using Easyspeak