It’s been nearly two years since most of us went all-virtual… all.the.time. As we push forward with customer advisory board meetings, one thing is clear — there is no definitive answer on what a potential hybrid meeting will entail.
When is the right time to convene an in-person customer advisory board meeting with 20-25 people from around the globe? And for those who are unable to be in-person, what would that meeting look like if they want to participate virtually? The key will likely be some sort of flexible, hybrid meeting — where some attend in-person and others still participate virtually via some form of technology.
Understanding what your hybrid meeting will look like depends on many factors, most of which are changing every day; COVID vaccine status, company travel policy and countries’ varying travel restrictions, just to name a few. I don’t think anyone has found the secret sauce for the best approach to a hybrid session, including for customer advisory boards. Below are three areas to consider as you look to plan your next meeting.
Poll your meeting attendees. Find out in advance who will travel and who won’t by simply asking your customer advisory board members. From there, you can begin to paint a picture of what your meeting room setup will look like. Knowing ahead of time whether three or 13 people will attend virtually enables you to identify the best approach (e.g. do you need one computer to connect in someone via video, or do you need several?). The caveat is that some participants’ plans may change in the weeks and days leading up to the meeting… at the very least you have a starting place. Which brings me to my next thought…
You have to start somewhere. Planning, planning and more planning. It’s never too early to start planning your customer advisory board meeting in general. Now that you’re considering a hybrid session you need to have a solid plan to start with, and you may not get it 100% right on your first try. That’s okay, as long as you set clear expectations upfront with your clients as well as customer advisory board members. The good news — like any meeting, you’ll walk away from that hybrid session with lessons learned and can continue to improve for future meetings. No one has the best answer for hybrid sessions because it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The only way to learn what works is to have a robust plan as a starting place, and then adjust as needed.
Back up plans matter. There’s no precedent for hybrid meetings, so keep in mind you should always have a back-up plan. For instance, as things are changing every day around COVID and travel restrictions, you’ll feel better knowing you can make the session work… just in case you have to go all-virtual at the last minute. Having a back-up plan will ensure you have a successful meeting — whether hybrid or not.
And if by chance you do have hybrid meetings figured out, what is your best approach?