Facilitate hybrid sessions … with inspiration from a Christmas Poem!

Fun and whimsy to close out 2022! Years ago, I wrote a poem based on “Twas the Night before Christmas” as a tribute to facilitators and the individuals and organizations with whom we work. This year, I had fun updating it to talk about the challenging world of hybrid sessions.

A hybrid session is one with a mix of participants in person and online. Following the poem, see a list of questions I discuss with clients about the possibility of an in-person or online session switching unexpectedly to a hybrid session.

To all facilitators! I wish you calm nights before the workshop and minimal last-minute switches to hybrid sessions.

“Twas the Night before the Workshop
(with credit to Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr., each credited as the author of “Twas the Night before Christmas”)
‘Twas the night before the (in-person) workshop and all through the house
The facilitator was running; way too loud for a mouse!
The flipcharts were stacked by the door with care.
She couldn’t forget them if she tripped over them there.
The laptop was snuggled all secure in its case.
The sticky wall was sprayed and ready to place.
The markers and post-its were in the supply kit.
The facilitator felt physically and mentally fit.
When back in her office there arose such a clatter,
She dashed to her desk to see what was the matter.
The phone was ringing and texts were blinking.
She took a quick look and her heart started sinking.
An emergency message from the client appeared.
Two team members’ flights were canceled, they feared.
They’d agreed to no hybrid but could she adjust?
The timing was critical; holding the session a must.
The facilitator understood that the need was great.
Three deep breaths, then it was time to recalibrate.
The workshop design she could easily fix
To enable in-person and online participants to mix.

A co-facilitator for the online group was a must.
The client agreed; that was a plus.
A trusted colleague was available to facilitate on Zoom.
Allowing the facilitator to focus on the in-person room.
A buddy system between in-person and online would be used,
As well as a dedicated camera to show the whole room.
Small groups would include one person online
And talking by video chats would work fine.
An Owl device would have worked great.
Buying one now was much too late.
Instead, a cell phone camera on a roving tripod stick
Laptops and portable microphones would do the trick.
The facilitator phoned her client and they created a plan.
She said to herself, “I know that I can.”
She emailed all participants to explain the new way
And found they were willing to adjust, work hard, and play.
Serving the client was her strongest desire.
Hosting great conversations was how she was “wired”.
So, she stayed up a few hours to revise the tech and design.
She knew in her heart that all would be fine.
The facilitator went to bed excited yet steady,
To help the group the next day, she surely was ready!

My list to discuss with a client about a possible change to hybrid

When contracting with a client about an in-person or online workshop or session, I always ask them about the possibility of unexpectedly switching to a hybrid situation at the last moment. Once the client and I agree about purpose, products, and participants, I ask about PLACE.

  • Will it be online only?
  • Will it be in person only?
  • Will it be hybrid?

If online or in-person only, I ask how possible is it that a last-minute switch to a hybrid format may occur.

  • What would cause a change to hybrid?
  • When might a change to hybrid occur?
  • How much notice would be acceptable
  • I talk about scenarios and ask for their decisions as much as possible.
    • If someone is ill the day before, do we switch to hybrid to allow them to participate?
    • If participants cannot attend because of changes in their air flights or weather conditions, do we switch to hybrid?
    • If a participant decides on the morning of the event that she does not want to join in person, do we allow them to join online? (This is normally a “hard” NO for me as I have no chance to design and organize.)
  • What technology is readily available?
  • Who knows how to set it up and use it?
  • How willing is the client organization to pay for:
    • A co-facilitator if we change to hybrid?
    • A “standby” fee for a co-facilitator to hold the dates?
    • A fee of 1 to 2x for me to prepare a hybrid design in case we need it?
    • “Stand-by” technology in case we need it?

Enjoy a different version of Twas the Night before the Workshop that I wrote in 2015. http://www.barbpedersen.ca/facilitate-with-inspiration-from-a-christmas-poem/

And here is a link to the text of Twas the Night before Christmas.


Here is an interesting video from Toastmasters about hybrid meetings. https://www.toastmasters.org/magazine/magazine-issues/2021/may/technology-for-hybrid-meetings

Have a joyful and relaxing holiday.

Facilitate hybrid sessions … with inspiration from a Christmas Poem!
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