Planning for a Hybrid Meeting
*Before using this information please read and discuss the “Building Use Guidelines During Covid-19 Re-Opening”
If you rent space (from a church or other entity) first have a conversation with them before proceeding. Ask if they have WiFi available for your use. They may also have technology to share. In any event, it’s important to let them know what your plans are.
Hybrid Meetings: Considerations with Suggested Approaches
**** Important don’t forget to update Minneapolis Intergroup if and when you change formats for your group meetings.
When we eventually can start meeting in person, there will be reasons why some members will not be able to attend the in-person component of the meeting:
- Health Concerns, Accessibility issues, Physically Unable to leave home, Attendance limitations of facility
There are two ways to address the above limitations:
- Parallel meetings: two separate meetings, happening at the same time- one online meeting and one in-person meeting, that have nothing to do with each other.
- Hybrid meeting: one meeting that includes some attending in person and other members participating in the meeting from remote locations via online platform like Zoom.
Advantage: it is the simplest solution to address those who cannot attend the in-person meetings. We continue as we have, limitless attendance to online meetings, and the necessary limitations to the in- person meetings.
Disadvantage: If someone shows up to an in-person meeting, and for some reason cannot be admitted (health reasons, and/or will not comply with the requirements for attendance), they may be disappointed when directed to the online meeting to find that the same folks attending the in-person meeting are not there.
Eventually, the group will start to feel as though they are two entities and may result in a division of the online vs in-person attendees.
Why Bother with Hybrid meetings?
- Tradition I: Our common welfare comes first; personal recovery depends on AA unity. Making the effort to include group members who cannot attend in-person meetings is a very noble effort to keep a group unified. A lack of coordination between the needs of all group members will undoubtedly result in Group disharmony. A hybrid meeting allows all members of the group to stay connected to the group.
- Many meetings have found that on-line meetings attract members that are former members who have moved away and new members who live far away. They are also able to attract a wider variety of speakers from out of the area.
- Allows a member in a high risk group or with accessibility issues to participate in regular meetings
- Allows your group to overcome attendance capacity limits at your physical venueParticipants arriving after the limit is reached, could easily and quickly join the meeting from outside the venue, such as from the comfort of their vehicle OR
- someone already inside could volunteer their spot to another in more need, such as a newcomer or a member without the ability to join an online meeting
- If there is a second wave in the pandemic that requires in-person meetings to be temporarily suspended, the group is flexible and can continue to have meetings online with a meeting code and password that everyone knows.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SETTING UP A HYBRID MEETING
Experience shared on hybrid meetings: Be sure to include those online equally with those who are meeting in person. Sometimes when attending as an online participant to a hybrid meeting, those online don’t feel like they are part of the meeting.
Good coordination between zoom portion, and in-person meeting.
Decide who will lead the meeting, the online or in-person member. Be sure, especially in business meetings and/or discussion meetings that all are included in the discussion and able to participate freely. That may require a dedicated person in the in-person meeting to look after the folks online, looking for raised hands and watching the chat for issues or problems raised in addition to the in-person chair/facilitator
Equal Participation: Consider alternating between in-person share and online person share.Good idea to have at least 1 person, maybe 2 online facilitating the online component (aka a zoom tech and an online chair).
Anonymity: have an announcement, or let people know as they are coming into the meeting that this is a hybrid meeting and give people at the In-Person meeting the option to sit out of view of the camera, or give people the option to point the camera at their feet. For those online, they should be advised and may not want to have their video turned on.
IMPORTANT: Zoom Host should disable the option to record the meeting.
TECHNICAL SET UP FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEETINGS:
- Simplest set up (small groups, small space): tablet, phone or laptop pointed at whoever is sharing and pass the device around. When online participants are speaking, put the microphone on mute.
- Simplest set up (small groups, big space): If the sound coming from the device cannot be heard by those at the In-person meeting, it may be necessary to introduce a Bluetooth speaker to project the online participants better.
A HYBRID MEETING WILL NEED
In-person members: Reliable participants in the In-person location to open the meeting and ensure that safety precautions are being followed (see suggested guidelines from the Breakout Rooms on Safety for In-Person meetings)
In-Person Zoomer: One person in the In-Person meeting will provide the computer/cell phone to sign on to zoom (data charges may apply) and give those Online access to the in-person meeting.
Zoom Host: this will be someone attending the meeting remotely and will let online participants out of the waiting room and into the zoom meeting.
Optional: Zoom Tech: depending on the size of the meeting, it might be helpful to have a zoom tech, who can assist the Zoom host in the necessities of online meetings.
Their responsibilities can include welcoming folks as they arrive, ensuring the anonymity of online participants (first name, last initial), and bounce out any disruptors.
Informed Group Conscience: Make sure when deciding how to move forward you are in touch with all group members and that it comes from a place of an informed group conscience.
The virtual host should verify the Internet connection and equipment are functioning prior to the start of the meeting. The checklist should include:
- A stable connection to the Internet. Ideally using wi-fi. (A mobile hotspot using a phone could also work, should have an unlimited data plan.)
- A dependable virtual conferencing account (Zoom charges around $15/month, their free accounts are limited to only 40 minutes.) Other video conferencing options exist.
- Using a laptop with the accessories below would provide a better experience for the virtual attendees rather than a hand-held phone or tablet.
- Omnidirectional microphone – $30-$90 (higher end models may include speakers)
- Speakers – $20 – $50 (if not included with microphone)
- Swivel USB Camera – $45 – $100
- (Optional – a separate monitor or projector. This would allow the in-person attendees to see the virtual attendees.)
Three Scenarios for Hybrid Meetings
- Small Groups can have hybrid meetings with one person bringing a laptop to the in-person meeting and sharing their meeting with others on Zoom. For example, 10-12 people in person and 10-12 people on zoom. The camera located on the laptop will not move so people on zoom will not see everyone but should be able to hear very well. The laptop can be moved to anyone speaking in the room as an option.
- Medium Groups can bring in a donated flat screen TV, a donated laptop with camera abilities and put those items on a cart or table and hold their hybrid meetings that way. They could use a microphone or have a speaker able to pick up all the in person members.
- Large Groups such as Alanos can purchase a large flat screen TV with good speakers with omnidirectional microphones mounted to the wall, a laptop in a cabinet on the side for connecting to zoom and a camera mounted above the TV. Option could be a camera that can be controlled with a remote to zoom closer or wider into a room of people.