On Thursday, we flew to Seattle.

On Saturday, my iPhone alerted me that I may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Oddly, nobody else received an exposure notification, despite the fact that we were all together anytime we were around other people.

The only time I’d been off on my own was to take a walk, where there were no other people in sight, so the fact that I was the only one who got a notification was pretty bizarre, but there it was.

Now what to do?

As a compassionate person who cares about other people’s well being, I did the only thing that made sense:

I spent the rest of the trip like a bit of a pariah.

I masked up indoors, unless I was alone in the basement guest bedroom suite.

I ate outside alone, instead of at the table with everyone else

Honestly, it was an isolating, lonely experience.

I was part of the group… but not part of the group. And it didn’t feel good.

It felt a lot like what it feels like to be a virtual participant of a hybrid meeting or event. 

Those who are in the room together are having a three-dimensional, full sensory experience.

But the folks who log in via their computers or devices? Not only are they missing out on all that, but they’re literally isolated from everyone else.

It’s easy for them to feel like second class citizens.

When designing hybrid events, it is so important not to exacerbate what can be an isolating and lonely experience for attendees, and instead be mindful of actively engaging with and bringing the virtual participants into the community.

How might you use this opportunity to bridge the gap between in-the-room and virtual attendees?

How might you help in-the-room attendees feel invested in virtual attendees’ experience?

(For example, can you create a buddy system, or stations, where in-person attendees are paired with virtual attendees?)

How might you help the virtual attendees feel just as important as everyone else?

(For example, when calling on folks, I recommend going to virtual folks first, so they don’t feel like an afterthought.)

The truth is, “hybrid” is a big umbrella, incorporating everything from a completely in-person gathering with one person joining in via phone or computer;

…to a Zoom meeting with multiple people appearing in one or more of the windows;

…to an elaborately produced event with massive monitors and speakers to broadcast virtual participants to the room, and multiple video cameras and microphones to broadcast the room back to virtual participants.

In all cases, leverage the simplest tech that yields the highest rewards, and design for your primary audience first…

AND make sure to consider how you will design for connection for all participants.

Easier said than done, but well worth the effort.


Next month is my next (and possibly final) chance to try out brain-friendly exercises that activate learning while building connection! Join me at my last Non-Boring Virtual Meetings Learning Lab on August 18th!

Interested to learn more? Message me to chat about how I can use my signature system to help your employees infuse connection, joy and delight into virtual meetings, trainings and events at your workplace.

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