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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

February 22, 2022

Hybrid Meeting Methods Initiative Moves Forward

Submitted by Cheryl Boyer

Learning new skills to enhance our work is foundational to our careers as Extension professionals. In a nutshell, our responsibility is to determine stakeholder needs, develop and deliver research-based programming to meet those needs, and evaluate our efforts.

These responsibilities require a range of skills encompassing everything from subject matter expertise, understanding and working with diverse people, to learning how to ask questions effectively and navigate the technology tools provided by our affiliation with the land-grant university system.

In the last two years, our skills in online program delivery have increased exponentially. Now, we must grow our skills to converge our in-person offerings with online learning opportunities.

In Dr. Hadley’s August 17, 2021, Tuesday Letter article, he reported six initiatives, including hybrid meeting methods, identified at the Extension administrative team retreat in July. Knowing that each KSRE office has varying technology needs and every Extension professional has different comfort and experience with delivering programs in a hybrid format, our goal is to support and encourage you in this learning process. We will provide tools, learning resources, and examples of success to help us all grow our hybrid meeting skills.

Moving toward consistent use of hybrid meeting methods will take a significant team effort from everyone in KSRE. No one person can provide a quality hybrid learning experience alone. Fortunately, we Extension professionals tend to be helpers by nature. Once we learn how to navigate the challenges associated with hybrid programs, we’ll all be stronger, more relevant and more impactful together.

First, what are hybrid meeting methods? Hybrid in this context means delivering meetings and programs in an online format and an in-person format at the same time (synchronously) or some combination of online and in-person at different times (asynchronously).

The challenge is determining what makes the most sense for each program and participant group. Not every event needs to be hybrid, but each opportunity should include a hybrid consideration. The key is to think through the content and participant experience from all angles before deciding on the best way to offer the meeting.

Hybrid meeting methods will expand our audiences beyond those who prefer in-person meetings to embrace those who may choose (or need) to meet online—making our work more accessible to everyone.

Case in point for teamwork: At annual conference last fall, a subgroup of the Community Vitality PFT also identified the need to improve our hybrid meeting methods through training opportunities.

As a result of their strategic doing session, they developed a needs assessment survey to determine needs and interest in using hybrid programming to enhance face-to-face meetings. The survey was distributed online through the KSRE Tuesday Letter on November 30, 2021 and remained open through January 2022. There were 121 responses to the hybrid meeting training survey from agents, specialists and other staff across the K-State Research and Extension system.

Key takeaways:

  • Most respondents serve community members who would benefit from the option of attending meetings virtually
  • 76% are interested in attending a training on how to run a hybrid meeting
  • More than one half of respondents would like to learn about: the logistics and technological requirements of a hybrid meeting (88%); tools and techniques for engaging all participants (85%); and room setup (68%).

To read the survey report, click here.

Thank you to the Community Vitality PFT for partnering on the hybrid meeting methods initiative. Members of the subgroup working on this project include Erica Blair, Rial Carver, Kylee Harrison, Carla Nemecek, Ron Wilson and Taylor Ziegelmeier.

The Extension administration team is proud to take the next steps in facilitating change in our system toward enhancing our hybrid meeting methods skills and tools. With financial support from Extension administration, we are partnering with the University of Missouri to offer training by Chad Littlefield (We and Me, Inc.) on April 19, 2022. Chad will lead us through professional development to learn how to improve our engagement in meetings. He has worked with several other Extension systems and understands our unique needs.

Many thanks to Laurie Chandler, Jan Steen, and Erica Blair for helping develop this training opportunity. We are all excited about learning from Chad—it’s going to be great!

More details to come! In the meantime, please block your calendar for 9 a.m. to noon on April 19. It will be an interactive online meeting with breakout rooms to engage with our colleagues from Missouri. The learning opportunity will be recorded for those of you with other meetings already on the calendar. Everyone else: Please plan to join us and grow your hybrid meeting methods skills!