The hybrid work guide

Hybrid video best practices: When to record or go live

David Perez

Oct 10, 2023

When you need to share a lot of information with your distributed colleagues, you might think to bring them into a meeting. But this might not be the best choice, especially considering that most people aren’t jumping at the chance to be in more meetings.

We think there’s a better way—one that considers the kind of information you’re sharing, who you’re sharing it with, and the results you want to achieve. Taking these things into account will help you decide when to send a recorded video and when it’s best to hop onto a live call.

Using a hybrid video approach that combines recorded updates and live sessions, you can help your team be better informed and have more productive conversations, with less stress. (And you just might become everyone’s hero by giving them back some time.)

Why recorded and live video work well together

Imagine a speaker giving a long presentation on a video call. At the end, they ask, “Any questions?” When no one answers, they look surprised, “Really? So all of that was totally clear?”

Well, not exactly. People need time to process information. And it doesn’t help when someone is staring at them, waiting for them to respond immediately after receiving a lot of new facts and figures. This is one reason it’s important to think beyond the information people need to know and start helping them understand and apply that information to serve your shared goals.

This is especially true in a hybrid work environment, where you’re constantly using multiple channels to communicate, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the best channel for your needs can help everyone reduce confusion and make decisions faster. But how do you decide what channel to use?

In Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere, Tsedal Neeley makes a helpful distinction. She talks about conveyance (relaying information from person to person) versus convergence (where people have to come to an agreement on something). Generally speaking, recorded video works best when you need to convey information, and live video is better when people need to converge in order to make a decision or solve a problem.

In real life, you often need some combination of these strategies to get things done. That’s why using live and recorded video together is so powerful. When combined, they allow you to help people understand the information they need and apply it to the task at hand. To see how, let’s break down the benefits of recorded versus live video.

Recorded video—your presentation’s best friend

If your communication needs to flow in one direction, from presenter to listener, recorded video is probably the right tool for the job. Think lectures, status updates, reporting results, or any time you need to share a lot of details.

Recorded video lets people internalize the information their way. They can watch it when they’re best able to focus, and they can speed it up, rewatch it, and pause to let key ideas sink in. These options empower your audience to understand your message much better than a presentation flying past them on a live call.

For these reasons, recorded video is also better than just emailing a document or sending a long Slack message. Still, some people prefer to review details in written form. In these cases, try sending both a document and your video explanation. This will help people hear your tone in addition to reading your message.

Recorded video can also be more respectful of everyone’s time. You’re not asking everybody to carve out the same slot in their calendars just to suit you, and you’re not assuming they're all going to understand the info at the pace you deliver it.

This makes things easier on you, the presenter. Ever stumbled over your words on a live call? Ever said something a little confusing and wished you could go back in time and say it differently? With recorded video, your mistakes need not be broadcast for all to see. Just do a second take and share your message the way you want others to hear it. And don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. Too much polish can sap the life out of your message. Just be your authentic self and know that you can have a do-over if you need it.

Live video—a better way to discuss and decide

When ideas and information need to flow in multiple directions then live video is the way to go. Think brainstorms, problem-solving, and decision-making. Live video allows people to have a back-and-forth conversation in real time. This helps them find a flow and respond more naturally than they can through email or other asynchronous channels. As Gordon Plant, VP of Product for BaseKit, says, “I don't want those breaks in the conversation or flow, because it's those things that let people's attention drift.”

For hybrid workers, live video works best when everyone has an equal presence, and it doesn’t split the group between individuals calling in and a mass of people gathered in a conference room. When this split occurs, the attendees in the room tend to focus on each other. This can make the people on the call feel left out of the conversation.

For all the benefits of live video, try to use it only when people really need to converge. As we mentioned before, people need time to internalize new information. So if there are any important updates or new relevant data, avoid springing these on people during a live call. Instead, share any important info in a brief recorded video beforehand. That way people can show up to the brainstorm and just start brainstorming.

A good rule of thumb for live calls is that everyone should be an active participant. It’s also important to make sure there’s dialogue and a purpose. According to our July 2023 survey on meeting culture in the U.S., people want to get these from their meetings. 64% of respondents said they want meetings to answer their questions. 61% want meetings to end with clear outcomes or next steps, and 59% said that meetings should have a clear agenda.

It’s true that some people need to be informed of what happens in a meeting even if they don’t need to contribute. This is another way recorded and live video can work together. You can either record the conversation when a decision is made or summarize it into a concise video and share it with everyone who needs to be in the know. Of course, if the decision is really cut and dry, sharing it via email or Slack might be the way to go, but bear in mind that written summaries can lose important context compared to seeing and hearing a human being.

How to communicate on video with large groups

What about things like all-hands meetings or long quarterly reports—anything where a lot of people need to hear the same important announcements, but they also need an opportunity to respond?

Hybrid video really shines in these situations because it allows you to deliver the information people need and the chance to let their voices be heard, all without unnecessary demands on their schedule.

Take all-hands meetings as an example. Your presenters could each record their own video or team up and record a video together. They can then share those videos ahead of a live video Q&A. This call wouldn’t need to be nearly as long as your typical all-hands meeting because there’s no presentation time. Now your ‘all-hands’ meeting really involves all hands. It’s not just listening, but everyone speaking up after they’ve had a chance to think.

Have a busy executive that can’t always make these meetings? Recorded video offers a way for the company to hear directly from the CEO or other busy executives more often. One such executive is Steven Mih, CEO of Ahana. Mih stays connected with his team by recording concise videos that people can watch according to their own schedules, helping them feel connected to the broader mission without putting an undue burden on their time.

The hybrid workplace is awash in ways to help you connect with your colleagues, making it a challenge to choose the right tool for the job. We hope these best practices for live and recorded video help you see what’s possible and inspire your team to communicate more effectively.

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