Managing Two Simultaneous Audience Groups: In-Person and Remote Attendees

April 28, 2014 in Author, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Presentation, Virtual

This article was originally published on MondoSpective.

empty conference room 4-29-14My team and I recently found ourselves in a situation we advise our clients to avoid. It occurs to me that if even WE can’t follow our own advice, how can we expect others to? So, instead of saying “don’t do it,” here’s some advice for dealing with it.

The situation is this: You’re presenting to a group of individuals. You’re in the conference room and you have some slides to back you up. You also have a few people logging in remotely using a desktop sharing platform.

It’s one thing to manage the group in the conference room. It’s an entirely different thing to manage the remote group as well. It’s nearly impossible to keep everyone focused and on the same page, which is why we don’t recommend doing it. But reality is what reality is. So, here are some ideas for managing both groups so that everyone remains equally engaged and actively participating.

  • The main thing is to remain engaged so that you can monitor everything that’s going on. You have responsibility for both audience groups.
  • Remind the in-person group to be thoughtfully inclusive of the people participating remotely. When side-bar conversations happen, they leave the remote participants feeling left out, as if they are merely observers rather than active participants.
  • Ask remote attendees to put their phones on mute. Too much background noise coming from several phones at once becomes distracting to people in both groups.
  • Encourage remote attendees to use the chat feature when they have questions or comments.
  • Assign a spokesperson who can speak for the remote attendees. This person should monitor chat and be the voice and advocate of the remote attendees.
  • Use directional language such as “in the upper right corner…,” or “moving on to slide 13…” These verbal cues will help everyone know where to focus.
  • Check in with the remote attendees throughout by asking if they have anything they’d like to add to the conversation. At that point they can unmute themselves or use the chat feature.

Managing both audience groups can be a real challenge, but by using these ideas, you should be able to do it without too much trouble.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”