To allow anyone with a desire to stop drinking to attend your meeting, and to offer the best flexibility for your members, consider running your meeting in a hybrid format. Hybrid meetings provide the highest level of accessibility for anyone interested in attending your meeting. Members can attend in person or online, which allows easier involvement for anyone in remote locations, for seniors, and for anyone with transportation difficulties, with childcare needs, with immunity concerns, with schedule conflicts, and with any other accessibility challenges. To better accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing, consider adding closed captioning to your meetings as well. Let’s take advantage of the introduction of technology to AA help make our meetings as inclusive and diverse as possible!
How do we run a hybrid meeting?
It does take some planning, some practice, and a lot of trial and error to run a smooth hybrid meeting. Consider creating new positions in your group for this purpose. There will be tech problems, especially early on, so be patient, and remember the larger accessibility and group unity goals. And please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of any help!
Minimalist Version- 1 Device
For the simplest version of a hybrid meeting, you just need a cell phone or a laptop. Set the device in front of the room, keep the in person members as close to the device as possible for better audio, and make sure device volume is up so you can hear the zoom members. This set up isn’t ideal for large groups, and there are other elements you can add for a better experience on both sides, but this is enough to get started. Keep this simple set up in mind if you run into difficulties with your other equipment. If things are malfunctioning, unplug some stuff, and go back to this basic set up.
- Does your space have wifi? You can use a cellphone without wifi, but a laptop running zoom will require internet. In an emergency, you can set up a hotspot on your phone, but this tends to be too slow for a long term zoom solution for the group.
For better visibility and control, consider adding a second device. Set a laptop/phone facing the room, and another facing the meeting chair. The chair can now see the people on zoom and more easily include them in the meeting. The second device can show the room to the zoom attendees, and if large enough, give a window to zoom for those attending in person. A cell phone on a stand can be a great simple option for the room facing camera, especially if the meeting already includes a large screen.
- Make sure only one device has sound. Any other devices should be muted and have the sound off. Otherwise you will get the dreaded echo effect.
For larger groups, a device microphone might not be enough to pick up all the in person members. You can add an external microphone. I personally have had a good experience with the Yeti Blue and TONOR Wireless Microphone with a USB adapter.
- Make sure to plug this microphone into the primary device that is doing audio.
- Zoom has a test audio option. Use it to make sure everything is working before the meeting starts.
- Check zoom audio input and output to make sure they are set correctly and the mic is actually getting used.
- If nothing seems to be working or is breaking during the meeting, don’t forget that you can just unplug the mic and go back to the device audio.
TV or Large Monitor
To allow the in person attendees to better see who is on zoom, consider plugging a TV or larger monitor into one of the devices.
- If using TV sound, make sure the primary device that is doing audio is the one plugged in.
- You will most likely need an HDMI cord to connect the screen.
3rd Control Device
In addition to the Chair’s primary device and the one facing the room, you can add a 3rd device for better controlling the online meeting. If the Chair is running the meeting, it might be hard for them to mute people, deal with zoom bombers, let people into the meeting, check chat, or attend to any other online needs. The Tech Host can perform these responsibilities from a third device. Make sure this device is muted, silenced, and has the camera turned off. In addition, the Tech Host can use headphones connected to the device to periodically check the room audio. For bonus points, they can spotlight the person speaking. Since the in person meeting only has audio on one device, it won’t automatically switch between the chair and the room- the tech host can spotlight the actual person speaking.
- Being the Tech Host takes a lot of focus and a bit of practice. Consider making this a group position. This can be combined with the person responsible for setting up all the zoom equipment, or it can be a separate position.
What Are Other Groups Doing?
As you can see, there are lots different options for setting up equipment for a hybrid meeting. Here is what some of our groups are doing:
If your group is running a hybrid meeting, please contact us and share what you’re doing, what’s working, and what the challenges are! We can keep growing this page to help other groups. Name and email are optional, but please include a way to contact you if you would like a response.