Hybrid Meetings Should Make Sense

I came across a blog the other day that asked the question: "What the heck is a hybrid event? (using virtual technology at a face-to-face event)." It sparked in me the need to address a few points about the use of different virtual technologies at meetings -- because I think there is a lot of confusion these days about the tech that's out there. 

For one, there's telepresence technology, with hi-def sound and life-size images, giving virtual meetings  that "you are there" feel. It's a technology that's certainly growing. And it's enabling companies to save money by bringing people together from disparate regions globally -- via telepresence centers at places like hotels and conference centers -- without having to travel.

And then there are webcasts, a whole different animal. This is more of a collaborative presentation online, and while you can do things like ask questions to the webcast presenter, interaction is somewhat limited, depending on the size of the meeting.

And then still there are social media tools like Twitter, that enable attendees to send 140-character messages to each other, as well as presenters -- sometimes enriching the content of sessions. 

But just because something is shiny and new and hip doesn't mean it's right for your particular meeting.  Ask yourself: will this add value and increase meeting ROI? Does this automation fit the purpose and goals of the meeting, for example, do you want to invest in bringing attendees via telepresence to an internal training meeting...or will a webcast do the job?

What's certain is that establishing policy guidelines on the use of virtual meetings technology within your strategic meetings management program (SMMP) will help you and your planners make the right, most cost-effective choices.

Have you used any virtual meetings tech at f2fs (that's texting lingo for face-to-face meetings)?

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management