The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for May, 2009

Premiere: The Virtual Meeting Coach Show!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

For over a year, my friend, Tom Carroll, and I have been playing with free virtual meeting tools. Testing them, pushing them, breaking them, seeing which ones work best for what kinds of meetings.

My fascination with real-time virtual meetings comes from my very real, very non-technical experience as a child growing up in a divided bungalow in Chevy Chase where the upstairs bathroom of our home shared a pretty thin wall with the upstairs bathroom of our neighbor’s home.

When I was a curious little girl, I wanted more than anything to be able to “see” through that wall and “hear” what my neighbor, Don Jackson, was doing over on his side. Don was 10 years older than me and generously tolerated my crush on him by actually encouraging me to memorize Morse Code and tap out little messages back and forth with him on the bathroom wall.

I know. It sounds really silly. And it was. But that experience birthed my fascination with “distance” communication and it survives today in my desire to be able to “see” and “hear” what my neighbors around the globe are doing and thinking – without me actually having to travel around the world all the time to see them face-to-face.

Not that I’ve got anything against traveling! I love traveling more than almost anything. But I can’t live that way. After awhile, everyone wants a place they call home. But I still want to take adventures from home, too. What’s the internet for, anyway, if not adventuring?

So, from my home in Ashland, Oregon and Tom’s home in Austin, Texas, we’ve been taking adventures, using all kinds of web conferencing tools to have live, authentic conversations that incorporate all kinds of media.

Now we’ve started inviting people who have something interesting to share to join us.

About a week ago, Tom made this recording I posted today to It’s the introduction to a 4-part conversation I’ll be having over the next couple of weeks with Matt Sweet and Rene Fabre.

Matt and Rene work for Ticor Title in the Pacific NW. It’s their job to help REALTORS and title people from Astoria, Washington to Ashland, Oregon, make sense of the ways that online communication has forever changed their businesses.

Matt and Rene are not quite Ren and Stimpy. But almost. They’re a couple of wild and crazy guys who happen to love exploring what makes Google tick. Their passion – and their work – is finding new ways to use social media to help professional business people make friends and influence people to buy from them. Every week they take their people into free, online meeting rooms at to have raucous conversations about new ways they need to start  building their reputations and connecting to customers – online.

I’m still experimenting with these kinds of interviews, and Tom’s still testing out ways to record them for me, but I hope you’ll take a look and a listen to this one and let me know what you think about the format.

Over the next 3 sessions, I’m hoping you’ll get to see a little more about how vYew works and, at the same time, learn something about how you can use social media to establish a more visible/audible presence for yourself online.

Please share any thoughts or suggestions you have that will help us improve!

“In the company of nudists, no one is naked.”

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This week I read a stunning piece by Jeff Jarvis in Business Week.

Jeff teaches at the CUNY School of Journalism and blogs at His piece is short but packed a big punch.

He probed around a number of key issues in the conversation about openness – or transparency – and the Internet. The whole conversation of “publicness.”  His opening line was provocative, “In the company of nudists, no one is naked.”

The longer I live here, in southern Oregon, the more I see that what’s most important to people here is having a place to live their lives in “peace and privacy.” Migrants and natives alike.

I moved here not quite three years ago from Austin, Texas, and it’s taken me awhile to appreciate just how deliberately my fellow residents of the “State of Jefferson” cultivate their disconnection from the rest of the nation – and the world. I consider myself a very “private person,” but compared to most of my neighbors, I’m a virtual slut. So, I spend a lot of time trying to calibrate my enthusiasm for online learning and virtual business relationships with the thinking of most folks I’m shopping for groceries and gardening supplies with.

All week I’ve been pondering Jeff’s point about  the obstacle to more transparency in our online relating being “control,” not  “privacy.”

Privacy and Control Are Not the Same Issue

A new friend (who’s a 30-40-something) told me this week she just signed up for Facebook and that she wanted to talk to me about some “virtual meeting coaching.”  She was in a panic about how she was going to keep her real-life friends out of her Facebook. She said she didn’t want them “in there acting like they do.”

When I asked her why not, she said she wanted to be able to keep taking crazy, fun road-trips to the beach with them – without having to acknowledge “in public” that she enjoys their carousing. She was worried that if she let them into her Facebook, they would make her look bad to the other people she wanted in her Facebook and she wondered what she could do about that.

As I listened to her, I heard a perfect testimony for Jarvis’ suggestion that our hesitation about increasing the transparency of our online communication isn’t about “privacy.” It’s about “control” of how we reveal (or conceal) our different faces.

Privacy and control really aren’t the same issue, are they?  What we want from relating “virtually” are new ways to strengthen relationships – without being misunderstood or taken advantage of.

I gave my new friend some personal advice about how I’m handling this challenge, but I’m really interested in how the rest of you are handling it. How are you handling the opportunity to become more and more transparent with your online communication?

Will you help me out by leaving some comments below?

Five-Finger Virtual Meeting Tips

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

handprint-green.gifLast week, people started asking me for five-finger tips they could use to improve their virtual meetings. This is a tough one.

On the one hand, people want the same things from you in a virtual meeting that they want in a face-to-face meeting. On the other hand, they want some different stuff, too. That’s why I wrote “The Coach’s Short List.”

But, there are plenty of things beyond The Short List that you can do to make your virtual meetings and web conferencing more useful  Рand you more popular.

Here are five-fingers worth:

1. Make your meeting guests the rock stars. Besides hearing what you have to say, your VM guests want and need to hear each others’ ideas, too. Make sure you do everything possible to “pass the microphone” and “pass the chalk” around during your meetings so your guests get to show off their chops, too.

2. Give your guests a real voice. Using polls and leaving time at the end of meetings for questions is good basic online meeting practice. But, if you really want people to remember your meetings – and keep coming back for more – be sure you give them other ways to make their wishes known and their voices heard. Ask them to help you generate the agenda at the start of the meeting. Keep checking in with them during the meeting to see if they’re getting what they came for. And, before you close, whenever it’s appropriate, ask them to tell you anything they might have wished you had covered or done that would have made the meeting even better for them.

3. Make it easy. Make everything easy. Desite the fact that more and more people are having virtual meetings every day, they’re still a very new way for people to meet. Most people still need help getting comfortable with web conferencing. Make it easy to sign in and join the meeting. Make it easy for people to introduce themselves. Make it easy for participants to add their two-cents’-worth. Make it easy for them to follow up with you – and each other – after the meeting. Make everything you can think of as easy as possible. If you can’t do this yourself, get someone like me to be your producer and get them to do it for you.

4. Make it easy to refer new participants. Once someone has located you and decided you’re a useful, credible source of expertise, they are going to want to share you with their friends. It makes them look good to have found you! Be sure you make it easy for them to tell other people about you and add them to your meetings – this one or the next one.

5. Merge online and offline communities. The best thing about virtual meetings is that you don’t have to be face-to-face to have one. The best thing about face-to-face meetings is that you don’t have to use a computer or any other electronic device to have one. Some people are more comfortable meeting one way – or the other. But, especially in this economy, all of us needto grow our social networks and build new opportunities every way we can

When you’re hosting virtual meetings, do everything you can to help your guests link their online and offline resources. When you can, record your meetings so guests can share the content with offline partners and friends. Post your presentation at an online slide sharing site like And, whenever possible, help port face-to-face conversations online, too. You can Tweet Live to connect people who aren’t able to be with you at live meetings. You can scan and post your handwritten meeting notes or photos to your blog so you can share them with people who weren’t able to attend.¬† There are dozens of ways you can help people merge their online and offline resources. Do it. They’ll thank and remember you

What are some of the easy ways you like to help people connect their online and offline resources? Post them here as a comment and let’s share the wealth!

I Get Social Media Now: Publishing and Meeting are Mashing Up

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Image via Wikipedia, (c) Tommy Wong

Whew, I think I’m starting to get social media well enough to quit kicking constantly and take a little rest. For a minute.

Truly useful insights came this week from reading John Borthwick, Marcia Connor, and Tony Karrer‘s thoughts about what people are doing participating on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media — including live-tweeted seminars and webinars.

As I catch my breath and let my legs dangle for a little bit, I’m relaxing into the realization that publishing and meeting are mashing up.

As more and more of us just let go of the side of the pool and swim out into the deep waters of online relationship, we’re “meeting” and “distributing” at the same time. Human communication has always served many functions at once. But the possibilities offered by social media (including live virtual meetings) are really stirring things up.

From out here in the deep, I can see that most newspapers are gonna be gonners. No amount of refinancing will change anything. And magazines are either going to become clubs where all the members publish or they’re gonna die, too. But there’s actually a lot more going on than that.

For sure, as Karen Stephenson says, human beings have begun “storing our knowledge in our friends.” But we’re also finding new ways to store other people’s knowledge in our friends, too. And that has huge implications for all media distributors. Makes my head hurt stretching my mind around that one.

Social media is a much bigger thing than I can understand yet.

Sure is nice finding ScribeFire to support my blogging this week. It’s going to take quite a bit of writing to help me get my thoughts clear while I kick around out here so far away from familiar shores.

Right now though, I notice I’m asking myself over and over, “When we meet virtually, where are we meeting?” And, “Who are we, anyway?” I’m not talking about the tools, now. I’m talking about the place of mind we meet. Where exactly is that? Who is that “we” that’s following me on Twitter? Who are all those “we’s” I’m part of when I’m following someone, especially someone I haven’t met yet F2F? And how are we ever going to keep track of all those fluid identities?

Deep water.

Discovering ScribeFire!

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I’m testing to see just how easy it’s really going to be to post here using ScribeFire.

I know WordPress is supposed to be easy. I know there’s so much I could be doing with the wonderful “easy” features. All 65 million of them. But the complexity has been preventing me from just doing the thing. The blogging thing. Time for that to stop. Today!

If this works like Jenie promised, I’m going to be having a lot more fun every day, especially now that the snow is over and Spring is easing in. Whoohoo!

Calling All Cars! Calling All Cars! I Need Some Quick Advice From My Posse!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I need advice from my posse – and I need it right away!

I’ve been asked to speak to a group of college profs in about 10 days. They want to hear about no more than FIVE emerging technologies that support online learning.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make an impact on the hearts and minds of people who can make a real difference in the ways their students interact with them online.

The trouble is, we all know there are hundreds of Web 2.0 tools that support online learning. Dozens are truly mind-changing!

I need some serious help deciding which five to talk to them about.

So, would you be so kind as to take five minutes of your time and add your faves -and what makes them your faves – to the Comments here?

Think of it as a contribution to me and also to the next five years of learners coming through Southern Oregon University. That’s a BIG contribution!

If you’ll be kind enough to do this, and include your email address, I will send you a FREE COPY of my most recent e-book, “The Coach’s Short List.”

“The Coach’s Short List” outlines a half-dozen things you need to think about before you plan your virtual meetings. It also provides templates for organizing your thinking and running your meetings. You can read more about the book here.

It’s a $12.97 value for five minutes of your time. If that’s a fair exchange to you, I’ll consider it fair for me, too.

I really need help narrowing the field down to just five technologies to talk about. You can enter your comments below.

And thanks a million for being a live, contributing member of my learning posse!

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

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