Raising Your Digital Game in the Hybrid World

Get more mileage out of the technologies you already use, then start venturing into less charted territory.

It is no surprise that the last couple of years have seen an exponential increase in virtual and hybrid meetings. To keep up, collaboration platforms have been feverishly innovating their products— adding new features, streamlining capabilities, and smoothing out the experience to make hybrid work more seamless and connected.

Yet, what I see in my consulting work with business leaders is that while workplace technology is becoming more and more powerful, digital skills haven’t kept pace. Most people are overwhelmed with the constant stream of new technologies and simply aren’t able to both do their day job and keep up.

This opens a massive opportunity for Learning leaders to serve as role models, showcasing the use of innovative technologies and their tremendous power to unlock more engagement, collaboration, and learning impact.


It doesn’t actually have to be complicated. To start, try to get more mileage out of what you already use. Take videoconferencing, for instance. By now, most people have mastered being on video and screen sharing, but we still see massive untapped potential across the more innovative and advanced features such as:

  • Breakout rooms: All major platforms now offer breakout rooms, which allow for more direct, intimate engagement and interaction. Some platforms such as Zoom also allow people to self-select groups, as well as ask for help from a host while in a breakout room, which opens up even more options for experience design.
  • On-screen annotations: This allows everyone to collaboratively work on and write text on the screen together in real time. This can be done via native whiteboard features or in a separate program such as Mural or even Google docs.
  • Taking screen control: This is an underused feature of both Teams and Zoom. This allows others to control the sharer’s screen, allowing for pressing buttons (like in a virtual game) or making something together on a canvas. (I personally learned its power during my son’s virtual preschool.)
  • Polling: This allows for quick audience input and can be done through the native meeting platform or a separate polling tool, such as Slido, Poll Everywhere, or Mentimeter. While the classic multiple choice poll is the common go-to, you can get even more creative by mixing in word clouds and free-response questions.
  • Games and quizzes: Some polling tools have a quiz option, as well, which takes the audience experience to a whole new level of engagement. You also can use PowerPoint to create your own games and/or download pre-made ones, such as from Youth Downloads—which has amazing gameshow templates.
  • PowerPoint-as-background (Zoom): Few people currently leverage this feature, so you’ll really stand out if you do. It enables you to show your slides as your virtual background, clicking through as you go. This adds a whole new level of engagement and creativity, especially if you have a green screen and design your slides to incorporate your talking head (which can be strategically moved around while you speak).


Experimenting with new features/tools regularly can turn meeting fatigue into a dynamic, engaging, and energetic experience. Once you’ve mastered the full potential of what you have today, start venturing into less charted territory, such as speed networking in Run the World or 3D immersive meetings in Spatial.

To consistently stay ahead of the digital curve, make it a team sport. Carve out time during standing meetings to try a new tool or feature together. I do a regular session with my teams called the “tech train,” for example, which makes several “stops” at cool digital tools or features we’ve seen in the last month.

Experimenting with innovative tech with your teams and in your learning experiences helps you personally stay ahead in the hybrid world, as well as pay it forward and inspire others to raise their own digital skills for the future.

Yulia Barnakova
Yulia Barnakova is passionate about helping people develop the skills and learning mindset to thrive in the digital age. She is always experimenting with emerging technologies and has been recognized by Microsoft as a “Most Valuable Professional” for her creative presentation technology tutorials, which have more than 8 million views on YouTube. Her recent TEDx Talk, Think You’re Not Tech Savvy? Here’s Why You Are, shows how everyone can (and must) develop the mindset and skill set embrace technology. Barnakova is an emerging tech strategist for Accenture, a global technology consulting firm. In her role, she works with Fortune 500 leaders to envision how emerging technologies will transform their business and how to stay ahead.