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Hybrid and Online Meeting Resources
     -- Helping you connect to your members

As pandemic restrictions loosen around the world, many clubs have begun, or are thinking about beginning, to do hybrid meetings--meetings with an in-person, on-site audience and also with remote participants joining online. Is this a good option for your club? Maybe, but it should be approached deliberately with much thought. What format will best allow your members to connect and grow?


I have gathered resources here to help you decide if hybrid meetings are a good idea for you (check out the "Decision Guide), help you learn how to run them effectively to achieve a "high-quality" experience for everyone, and also resources to help you make online meetings in general more productive and enjoyable. Give more your feedback and let me know what other aids you would like to see, and definitely feel free to reach out to me to ask questions. This is important and I am here for you!

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The world, and Toastmasters, is changing.  One way it is changing is we are spending much more of our time online than before the Covid-19 Pandemic began. Now, after three years of being mostly inline, more and more clubs are beginning, or thinking about beginning, to conduct "hybrid" meetings, that is, meetings with some attendees meeting together in a physical location and others joining remotely. This creates many wonderful opportunities, but it also presents challenges. This page will help overcome some of those challenges.

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But first, is a Hybrid meeting the best option for your club. This guide will help you discuss it and answer that question:

Toastmasters International has published tips on conducting successful hybrid meetings that may meet your needs:

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Different clubs have different situations. Some clubs, especially corporate clubs, have access to conference rooms with build in audio-visual and remote video teleconferencing. All you have to do is learn how to use the equipment or have technicians on-hand who can help you on demand. Many corporate clubs have this. The biggest questions in this case are:

  • Who can join remotely?

    • Can only members of the organization who are at remote location do so?

    • If anybody can, what is required for them to do so?

  • Is this facility consistently available?

    • Is there a chance your club could be bumped on little or no-notice?

    • Is an alternate location with comparable capability available?

    • Do you have a back-up plan?

  • What size is the facility?

    • Will the in-person participants be in a small area or around a small table or spread out over a large area?

    • Will it require multiple microphones, cameras, speakers and/or monitors to ensure everybody can be seen and heard?

  • Are special training and permissions required to use the equipment?

    • Who in the club has these?

    • Are there enough to ensure that one of them is (almost) always available?

    • What is the back-up plan if they are not available?

In some cases, corporate rules and policies may make it exceedingly difficult to conduct hybrid meetings, even if the capabilities to do so exist. In this case, they may not be a realistic option unless the club essentially “moves out” and conducts meetings from a different location. Perhaps that is an option, perhaps it is even a good option. It is something you will need to work through. And maybe, a hybrid meeting is not a viable option for your club.

But many clubs do not have access to these resources and will need to create a comparable capability wherever they are meeting. Thi sdiagram shows every thing you need for a successful, high quality, hybrid meeting.

The above diagram shows everything that a fully equipped conference room has, only the way you might replicate it at some other location. Can you do a hybrid meeting with less? Certainly, but every component you remove takes a percentage of meeting quality with it. You will have to decide when that point reaches “too much,” or if the best you are able to do will be “good enough.” On the other side of the coin, you can also, very easily, reach “too much” when acquiring new equipment, which can very quickly become quite expensive, or at least more expensive than what your club needs to be paying for what you are trying to do. Also, managing storing, transporting, and setting up/taking down equipment might prove to be more cumbersome than your club is comfortable with.

Here is a quick laundry list of the equipment (we will explain the “why” for everything when we discuss how to set up and run the meeting):

  1. 2 (or more) laptops (one will be for running microphones, a speaker and a camera, the other(s) for an additional camera and monitor)

  2. 2 (or more) Cameras (webcams one the speaker and one for the group) (Click here for more information)

  3. 2 (or more) microphones (one for the speaker and one for the group) (Click here for more information)

  4. 1 (or more), external speaker(s) (Click here for more information)

  5. 1 (or more), or more, external monitors (Click here for more information)

  6. A docking station or USB/AV hub

This might be a good time to discuss why just setting up two laptops, without additional microphones, cameras, and speakers, might not work for you. Basically, it boils down to what laptops are designed to do. They are very capable these days, but they are optimized to support one person at a time. This means that the cameras, microphones, and speakers all tend to have limited capabilities—plenty when it is just one person and that is why meetings with everyone on-line are pretty simple to do. But that is why they may be inadequate for groups. Generally, the further away from them you are, the harder you are to see and hear.

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