Tips and techniques

A free hack to make every hybrid meeting better

Ben Crothers Ben Crothers • 14 September 2022

End that 'trapped-in-a-box' effect for people joining in-person meetings via videoconference with this easy but effective trick

Keep all your remote meeting participants close to the action with your own phone camera

Keep all your remote meeting participants close to the action with your own phone camera

One of the biggest things that annoys me about hybrid meetings is the "Trapped-in-a-Box' effect. This happens when most of the people in a hybrid meeting are in-person in a room together, and you're joining via videoconference (e.g. Zoom, MS Teams)... but the webcam in the room doesn't capture the action of the meeting. Like this:

A picture of a meeting, as seen from someone joining via videoconference
Has this ever happened to you in a hybrid meeting?

Here's a hybrid meeting I was in recently. Notice how I can't see who's speaking, while everyone else can.

Has this ever happened to you? It's like you're trapped inside a little box, peeking out, not being able to see everything. This is a horrible experience for those joining your in-person meeting via videoconference, it's a big reason why I post ideas like make someone Chief Inclusion Officer for your hybrid meetings.

Solution: Keep your remote participants close to the action with multiple cams

Thankfully, there's a super simple solution. Plus it's free! AND you're already carrying it around with you.

It's your own mobile phone.

A picture of a smartphone on a tripod, joining an in-person meeting meeting via videoconference software
Having one or more phone cams join your meeting keeps remote participants close to the action

If you're having a meeting, and you're in the room, and others will be joining via videoconference, try this: 

  1. Join the videoconference via your phone (e.g. the Zoom app). You don't need a separate log-in or anything; just the meeting passcode.
  2. Tap Mute in the app! That's very important, otherwise there'll be an awkward echo.
  3. Point your phone camera wherever the action is during your meeting. You can prop it up against something on the desk. 

That's it! Now everyone who's joining your meeting has two views to see what's going on in the meeting: the main room webcam and your phone camera. 

A few other tips:

  • Use a cheap little tripod, like in the photo above - this makes it much easier to move the phone around
  • Keep a phone camera pointed at the whiteboard, or any wall space where you're creating content going on in the meeting
  • Give somebody the job of "roving cam', to move the phone around to capture the action 
  • Why stop at one? Ask a couple of people in the room to join the videoconference link of the meeting via their phones (and tap mute), especially if the meeting is using several wall spaces for meeting content and capture.

Like a lot of these hacks, it might be weird the first time you try it, but then it will be very welcomed! Give it a go, and you'll see levels of engagement rise in your hybrid meetings.

Get power moves in your inbox every week

Subscribe to our newsletter, and receive news, tips and resources to help you have a better impact at work.

Keep learning

Best-voted ideas to keep your hybrid meetings from not sucking so much

24 October 2022

Here’s a shortcut list of the top ideas to help your team get ‘Hybrid-Happy’ together, thanks to all of our Excursion workshop attendees.

5 thinking traps to avoid at work

11 October 2022

Sometimes we find that certain truisms we think and say at work just aren't...well... so true anymore. Here are five we should consign to the bin of Outdated Thinking.

Other categories to dive into