Whispering Through Walls

“Our results show that WhisperChannel made both remote participants, and those co-located participants seated at a distance from each other, more involved in the hybrid meeting.”

  • Time Frame


  • Collaborators

    Qianqian Mu, Jens Emil Grønbæk, Susanne Bødker, Eve Hoggan

  • Keywords

    Backchannel Communication, Hybrid Meetings, Virtual Meetings, Whispering


Backchannel communication, like whispering or instant messaging, is common in meetings and holds significant value. However, it remains largely unexplored in the context of hybrid meetings with co-located and remote participants. To address this gap, we derived unique challenges of backchannel communication in hybrid meetings through an interview study. These challenges inspired a new voice-based backchannel communication system, WhisperChannel, aimed to be inclusive and low effort. WhisperChannel enables users to whisper remotely to anyone in the meeting—similar to whispering to co-located seat neighbors. In a user study with three groups, each having two sessions of hybrid meetings, we investigated the inclusiveness and effort of WhisperChannel for both co-located and remote participants. We provide insights into the benefits and limitations of using remote whispering. We show that WhisperChannel helped remote and co-located participants feel more included while requiring low effort to use, however, also introduced new challenges in backchannel communication.


Qianqian Mu, Marcel Borowski, Jens Emil Grønbæk, Susanne Bødker, and Eve Hoggan. 2024. Whispering Through Walls: Towards Inclusive Backchannel Communication in Hybrid Meetings. In Proceedings of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’24). DOI: 10.1145/3613904.3642419. PDF.


CHI 2024 System Demonstration