The Virtual Meeting Coach

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October 8 th

The Dalai Lama Joins Desmond Tutu in Hangout to Celebrate his 80th Birthday!


Denied permission to visit Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the body, the Dalai Lama opened a Google Plus account this week and set up a Hangout to celebrate his “mischievous brother’s” 80th birthday. I was unable to watch in real-time as they met at 1:30am Pacific but I will post the recording of their meeting here as soon as possible.

Presence shared, in real time, across space and time. Outside any foolish limitations of governmental policy.

Let’s use these two fine leaders’ wise choices to continue inspiring us to do whatever we know is right, whatever we know is true. To share whatever we know is beautiful. Whenever – as as often – as we can. Using virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings, whichever serves us best.

I am so happy to have lived to see the day when two world Peace leaders meet in a virtual meeting inside a new social network to celebrate one of their 80th birthdays! Blessings to them. Blessings to us all.

And blessings to Google Plus!

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September 13 th

A Senior Couple Practices With Their New Webcam: A Whole World In One Vid!


A friend shared this vid with me today because it’s outrageously funny. Take a look…

Look at the Monkey! Is this precious, or what?! The thing is, there’s a lot more to this vid than just the humor.

If you’ll watch it a couple more times after you’ve had your initial laugh, you’ll see that this vid demonstrates a handful of issues that human beings – of all ages, personalities, and persuasions – to encounter and move through on our way to developing webcam “literacy” – i.e., the ability to make good use of webcams for video mail, video conferencing, web conferencing, internet conferencing, and/or virtual meetings.

To be truly effective communicators in the 21st Century, we simply can’t afford to skip webcam literacy. No matter how young or old we are…

A new set of skills are called for when we step away from “publishing papers” online. Whether we’re pairing still webcam images with words or using moving pictures and sound to convey our messages, new kinds of “composition” formats are called for. We can’t just expect to turn our traditional 5-paragraph essays into audio scripts and throw in a few pictures for “visual aides.” That just doesn’t cut it with 21st century audiences. To give you their time and attention, your online audience expects you to acknowledge THEIR concerns and connect with them quickly, effectively, and with candor.

So, what are a few of the questions and issues people need to work through if we’re to make effective use of webcams as communication tools? Let’s make a list here, using the commenting box…

I’ll start.

1) Turning on a webcam is NOT the same thing as watching ourselves in a mirror as we record our pre-written speeches. We simply can’t help being fascinated with the way we look and how we sound as we’re using the camera (as the man was above). We’re human, after all. (Even chimps love looking at themselves in mirrors and on camera.) But, when we turn on a webcam, who or what else do we need to be paying attention to – besides what we look like and whatever it is we want someone else to see and hear?

2) What are some key differences between illustrating our words with still webcam shots (or screen grabs) … and translating our verbal scripts into a video recordings? When, how and why would you choose to use one or the other approach?

3) Your turn…

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September 10 th

Ashland Social Media and Virtual Meeting Coaching Groups: It’s Time to Register for Fall ’11 Sessions Now


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May 13 th

Counselors, Coaches, Healers – See the Road Ahead? It’s Telepresence!


It’s been a wild and wooly first few months of 2011 and I’ve been so busy over at my new blog, BeingSocial.Us, that I haven’t updated much here. My sincere apologies to anyone who hasn’t yet heard about the extension of my work to helping Baby Boomer and senior thought leaders use BOTH social media AND virtual meetings to connect with their people.  I hope you’ll join me over at BeingSocial.Us

And I’m blogging back here today because the news is so important: Microsoft’s purchase of our precious Skype this week for $8.5B is a big, big deal. On so many fronts.

It’s going to take awhile to see what’s going to happen to us 700 million registered users of Skype. But here are a few things to bear in mind:

When Skype was part of EBay, the company used to issue all kind of data about its growth but solid recent numbers have been harder to locate. A couple of things we do know:

  • At peak times, over 23 million users are logged into Skype.
  • Skype is available in 29 languages and is used in almost every country around the world.
  • 35 percent of Skype users utilize it for business purposes.

Skypejournal.com reports that Microsoft bought Skype because it pays for itself and has 180 million registered users actively video calling. That seems obvious.

It also makes sense because Microsoft seems like the most obvious player to offer the general public video chat at home, school and work using mobile phones tables, desktops, game consoles equipped with webcams (like the latest XBox units) and large screen televisions.

Microsoft stands well-prepared to build video chat into all sorts of applications – which only makes sense when everyone now wants to use all their senses to connect with others as we work, play and learn together – across the globe.

However, it’s my hunch that the Microsoft/Skype deal foretells  a much bigger game than this. A game I’ve been pointing to for the last five years, while feeling like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness.

The big game is moving counseling, coaching, and both traditional and alternative medicine into our living rooms quickly – and a lot more cheaply – than Cisco’s home-based telepresence system called Umi.

Today’s TeleMental Health Institute blog brings Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype into clearer focus for psychotherapists. I want to underscore everything Marlene had to say there. The fact that Microsoft was willing to spend a full $2B more to acquire Skype than either Google or Facebook was willing put on the table is waving the flag of big business, friends: the business of physical and mental healthcare.

Since way back in 2007, I’ve been urging counselors, coaches, health coaches, physicians, and alternative healers of all shapes and sizes to begin testing various virtual meeting tools and to start practicing your virtual meeting chops.

When Xbox consoles have webcams built it (which has been the case for at least the last six months) and Microsoft pays $8.5B to acquire Skype so they can “build Skype’s functionality into Microsoft apps and products” (as Microsoft announced it plans to do)… it’s maybe 12-18 months until it’s going to be possible for YOU to be meeting easily and cheaply with your clients- from your office to their living rooms.

So, if you’re not confident you can easily transition both

1) your crucial business processes and

2) your subtle healing skills

into virtual meeting rooms, now is the time to take a look at what it’s going to take for you to play the new game.

If you want some support for making the transition, you can start with my little ebook, “The Coach’s Short List,” or sign up for my 10-week FREE ecourse, “21-Ways to Build Trust and Respect Working With Others Online.”

I’m blogging several times a week over at BeingSocial.Us and I’m also happy to offer any reader of this blog a free, 30-minute consultation so I can hear more about your specific situation and explore the fit between your needs and my coaching programs. It would be my great delight to help mental health professionals of all kinds bring your services within easy reach of new clients.

How exciting! That $8.5B  purchase signals showtime’s just around the corner! And you’re going to be the show.

If you’re the kind of person who needs to SEE to BELIEVE, please take a look at this vid about Cisco’s Umi unit. And, take a very careful look at the comments beneath the vid there on YouTube. The comments tell the story behind Microsoft’s purchase. At least that’s my hunch. Wondering what you think…

Cisco Demos the Umi

First comment beneath this vid on YouTube as I pulled the link today: “I pay $43 a month for my internet service. I download Yahoo Messenger, with Video and voice chat, … with full FPS. hook up a HDMI or S-Video cord from my laptop to my TV, right click on my desktop, choose output to : TV, and in a matter of seconds, I see my desktop on the TV, “with the messenger Video Chat” and beats the $599 that you’d pay for this crap. even if I had the $600, “I Will NOT” buy this crap.” ~UserIsAnFBIAgent

And here’s a short vid showing how easy it is to use a Logitech TV Cam and Google TV:

Logitech TV Cam and Google TV

Get the picture?

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January 7 th

Bye, Bye DimDim! Virtual Meeting Tools Morphing All Over the Place This 1st Week of Jan ’11!


As many of you know, I’ve been a fan of DimDim for quite some time, so it’s with heavy heart that I pass on the info that unless you’re a SalesForce user, whenever your current license with DimDim ends this year, you’re going to be moving on to another platform.

Here’s a page of FAQs they’ve posted to help you make plans…

Passing the box of tissues around. I really have enjoyed using DimDim. On the bright side: this acquisition signals the movement of virtual meetings into mainstream business processes, especially in the sales realm.

If you haven’t already incorporated virtual meetings into your business processes, THIS is the year to do so. If you’d like some help, I’d love to coach you and your people to make the easiest possible transitions…

Amplify’d from www.dimdim.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Read more at www.dimdim.com

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January 4 th

More Good News for the New Year: ShowDocument Offering FREE Use of Premium Tools for 30-365 Days


I just heard more good news for people who want to try out the full collaborative capacities of ShowDocument this year. Charter members and new users will all be able to do screen sharing, record meetings, share webcams, use a free conference line, share video from YouTube, share maps, edit documents, and much much more – all from our personal ShowDocument meeting rooms.

Yes, you read that right. Charter members will be able to use all the premium features FREE for the next 12 months. New users will be able to access the full premium feature set for 30 days FREE and then either revert to the basic tools (which are excellent!) or pay a reasonable license fee to continue their access to all the premium tools.

I’ve been using ShowDocument and other fine tools made by HBR Labs for over two years now and I have to say, I think they’re superfine. Easy to use. Reliable. Elegant. Take a look.

If you like ShowDoc, come back and let me know. I’m interested in interviewing a half-dozen new users of virtual meeting tools over the upcoming 90 days. If you’d be willing to have a quick chat, please just drop me a note.

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January 3 rd

A New Year’s Present: Free Online Meeting Options From Yugma!


Here’s a big FYI for those of you who have been wanting to experiment further with FREE virtual meeting tools:

Effective January 4th, Yugma will be offering FREE users an unlimited number of meetings per day. Users will be limited to 15 minutes of use per meeting, but otherwise able to enjoy full Yugma P2 functionality.

If you have’t given Yugma a try yet, now’s a great time to start experimenting with the free license. Screen sharing is easy with Yugma, as are a half-dozen other collaborative activities. You may find that you like Yugma so much you decide to subscribe to the Pro version and take off the 15-minute limit. Either way, good for you!

Welcome to 2011!

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December 17 th

How Can We Stop the Information Economy From Leaching the Value Out of Our Hard-Earned Expertise?


I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks putting together a new blog site where I’m focusing on the needs of Baby Boomer thought leaders who need help extending their lifetime contributions using easy 21st Century digital communication tools. Both social media and virtual meetings. My hope is to create a robust conversation there around the new rules, new tools, and new “social skills” that Baby Boomers need to practice in order to build an engaging social presence.

The site’s called BeingSocial.us

Please come check out the new space and participate in the conversation there.  I’d love to hear what you think!

I just posted some resources from a conversation I had yesterday with the Ashland Internet Marketing Group and you may find them interesting, too.

Our topic was: How Can We Stop the Information Economy From Leaching the Value Out of Our Hard-Earned Expertise?

Internet Marketing is a big subject, isn’t it? It’s not just all about selling information products. It’s also about making it easy for people to buy your services – including getting real-time coaching and consulting from you about your areas of expertise – from wherever they happen to be.

People were excited to hear about a new local coaching group I’m starting up in January, 2011. Here’s a link where you can read more about that group, if you’re interested and happen to be local: http://toolbox.blinkweb.com.

I’ll also be starting another online coaching group towards the end of January and will post more information here for people who may be interested in joining that group to practice your virtual meeting chops with a small group of other talented professionals who are also transitioning some of their professional services online.

I’m certainly not going to be abandoning this blog. But I’m excited about expanding my reach at BeingSocial.us and I hope you’ll join me there, too!


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December 7 th

What will you say and do when you step onto a Holodeck for your virtual meeting?


Image from France Telecom Magic Telepresence Wall

There’s news coming out over the last month that technology can – and will – soon provide us with new ways to be present with one another ala Star Wars/Star Trek “holodecks” and “holograms.”

If your fondest wish for a virtual meeting experience is to being able to simulate people being physically present (telepresent) with one another, here are a couple of new stories you may find interesting:

http://bit.ly/dJgQW9

http://bit.ly/fAQ7Bd

Fueled by extensive market research, Citrix and Cisco are taking different paths towards providing telepresence capabilities to business, education and medical markets. And all of this is fascinating for those of us who find technology fascinating.

But the even more fascinating inquiry – for me, and maybe for you – is wondering how these new holographic capabilities are going to affect our business communication practices and meeting processes.

Telepresence tools – like all of man’s tools – create new possibilities, new environments for human behavior. In so doing, they also create new limitations, new frames of reference that circumscribe behavior. Automobiles, for example, have opened up a whole new “way” of being on the planet – and a whole new set of constraints and hazards, too.

My everyday business requires me to think about new ways I can help my clients take advantage of social media and real-time virtual meeting tools to save time and money – without sacrificing quality outcomes. And every day I run into walls of assumptions about how people can – and should – interact around information and shared tasks together. Face-to-face is hard enough. Then there are the challenges of working together at a distance. . Climbing over the walls of  assumptions  about “appropriate” interaction in collaborative activities can either liberate groups or tie them up in knots. To be candid, quite often it does both – at first.

So, as I’m reading today about new possibilities for telepresence, I’m both excited about potential new terrain and more curious than ever about the new constraints clients are certainly going to encounter as they move to take advantage of these tools.

It’s going to be fascinating helping human beings look through their assumptions about what someone’s “quasi” physical presence might actually contribute to achieving shared outcomes. And how it might impede that achievement, as well.

So many of us have a Star Trek boy- or girlself who has been longing to be able to “see” and “feel” the semi-physical presence of others in our meetings. There’s no reason to deny it – it’s going to be totally cool!

And, if you haven’t already looked ahead to how having semi-physical presence possibilities is going to affect your communication and collaboration, I invite you this week to consider what you’re going to say and do when you step onto a “holodeck.” How are you imagining you’ll be able to contribute more to a virtual meeting than you can contribute now using FREE web conferencing tools that are already available?

Besides starting out with “Wow! Isn’t this cool? I can hardly believe this is happening…” how will you use telepresence to accelerate the achievement of your meeting objectives? And how will you work around the limitations that “quasi” physical presence may bring to the creation – and sustenance – of shared meaning that groups of human beings require if they’re going to get things done together?

I’d love to hear your thoughts here below or over at Amplify. Take your pick.

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December 1 st

How do you design virtual meetings to enable high-energy collaboration?


I’m reading a number of new blogs lately and one, in particular,  really got me thinking this week.

You can read the whole post I’ve been chewing on here on Jeff Lowe’s blog at http://bit.ly/fqEiy8 .

In that post, Jeff’s thoughts are focused on planning for meetings in 3D immersive environments. But the issues he’s raising about the need to design the interactive space for collaboration are hardly limited to meetings in 3D environments. And, in particular, the list of questions Jeff poses for meeting designers seem to me to be crucial to the design of every virtual meeting in which your goal for the meeting is high-energy collaboration.

Granted, not all virtual meetings are focused on collaborative work.

But when you’re aiming for collaboration between people who aren’t in the same room (much less the same time zone), then creating a sense of shared presence is everything.  When we’re not able to be face-to-face with collaborators, the room, the meeting flow, and the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements and interactions need to work together seamlessly for human beings to achieve a sense of shared presence, shared meaning, and shared purpose.

I’ve clipped all of Jeff’s questions and raised a couple of additional points here on my Amplify blog. Please take a look and, if they stimulate you, too,  join in the conversation at Amplify – or right here below.

I’m always curious about what you’re thinking as you’re designing your virtual meetings… These seem like crucial questions to me.

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