The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for the ‘professional services’ Category

Virtual Meetings Are a Cinch – When You Set Them Up Right

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

It’s 100% true. You can use your computer and free virtual meeting tools to grow your income and enrich important relationships. Take a look:

I love these Verishow clips because they show real-world situations with real people that are easy to relate to.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah…they might be actors. But they’re behaving just like real people. I have meetings like this every day with my clients, using a desktop computer or my laptop – from my home office, a coffee shop, or a hotel room. No kidding!)

If you took a couple of minutes to watch, you saw that virtual meetings really can be like child’s play!  Fast and easy for the host – and clients love them. They save everyone time, money, and hassle – whether you’re across town or across the globe from each other.

So…. The question is, if virtual meetings are really this easy, what’s keeping you from using them for 40-60% of your work?

That’s a real question.

Your answer might be something like:

1) I can’t believe it’s actually that easy – there must be a catch.
2) I don’t want to be chained to a desk on a computer.
3) I hate the way I look on a webcam.
4) I don’t want my privacy invaded all the time.
5) To use virtual meetings with my clients, I’d have to change so many things about the way I do business … and I don’t have time to do that right now.

Or something similar. I’ve heard a hundred reasons since I opened my practice as “The Virtual Meeting Coach” and launched Virtual Meeting Startup.

Every reason people have for not already using virtual meetings with their clients holds the seed of a legitimate concern. But not one of them is a serious obstacle. Not one. Certainly there are concerns to address, and ways you’ll need to tailor your approach to make it fit your clients. But every day, I’m helping small- and mid-sized business owners – just like you – quickly work through the challenges.

So, go ahead! Take the plunge! Just sign up now so you can use Verishow, ShowDocument, DimDim or vYew – or something similar – and start doing this week what you see happening in these clips! All four of those tools have robust free versions- and there lots of others like them.


On the other hand, if you can’t bring yourself to take the plunge on your own… but you want to be able to meet with your clients this way in 2011 – I want to offer you a leg up right now. To get it, you can use THE CONTACT BUTTON at Virtual Meeting Startup and ask for a FREE 30-minute private consultation with me.

I’ll listen to you, ask a few questions, and make some free recommendations based on your unique situation and the needs of your clients and customers.


The Fall session of my 10-Week Online Group Coaching Program begins the week of September 19th. I’ve got 2 seats left in this group. And, if your situation is one that could really benefit from you being part of a learning group, I don’t want you to miss the chance to sign up for the next cycle.

Cynthia Winton-Henry, co-founder of Interplay, was a participant in the Spring session of the program. Here’s something she said about her experience:

The Madhatter’s Program was great for my learning curve. In spite of personal and job time constraints, it’s proof that when the heart and mind are in the right place, things work. Meri was the perfect coach for me at this time! Her spirit of fun, play, and that its OK to fail help the change become incremental, instead of overwhelming.

I love Meri’s accessibility and the amount of practice she’s had. It’s also fun learning who the other Madhatters are and sharing with one another.

One more time, here’s a link to the contact form to request a free 30-minute private consultation with me.

C U soon~!

Geometry, Morale, Virtual Meeting Mastery and Oreos

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

It’s storytime, friends. I’ve slowed down a bit this summer and as I begin gearing back up for the Fall, I’ve got a little story to share. If you’ve got a few minutes, please grab a cool drink…

Last weekend my dear friend, Diana Fairbanks, helped me gather up and move a bunch of things I’ve been storing at another friend’s property since I moved from Austin to Ashland almost four years ago. It was hot, heavy, dirty work in 105 degree heat and we were filthy, thirsty, and bone-tired when we got back to my place late in the afternoon with a car, a truck and a trailer piled high with stuff.

Fortunately, two cheerful, strong-backed, willing-to-work high school boys, Austin Huerta and Nick Geiger, were waiting to help us unload everything and fit it – somehow – into two small storage spaces under the building where I live.

As we began unloading, Austin and Nick noticed the flat file drawers stacked in the back of my car and asked me about being an artist. This opened a conversation about how much the boys loved Tetris and making art but hated geometry. We bonded immediately – across three generations – and the conversation about art and geometry kept us all from worrying too hard about the decision-making and stacking work as we hoisted stuff out of the vehicles and started tucking it into two pretty tight spaces.

As Austin quickly and skillfully transferred containers of different shapes and sizes from one place to another, he talked about how much he loved playing Tetris – and how irrelevant the kinds of problems he was being asked to solve in geometry seemed to him. And, as Nick helped Austin shoulder the heavy stuff, he chimed in about how much he loved drawing – but how painful geometry was for him because the formulas just made no sense to him.

As the boys demonstrated, moment by moment, how much geometry they had clearly mastered, I told them how happy I was that two smart young guys were having so much trouble with the damn theorems and postulates because I’ve been an artist my entire life and geometry was the only class I ever got a “D” in.

We agreed that theorems, axioms, postulates and corollarys weren’t the only way to work with shapes and that making art – and moving stuff around in space – were much better routes for people like us. Before we knew it, the work was done and we were high-fiving with a cheer for “Screw the postulates!” I thanked them for their cheerful company and quick creative thinking and we took off to get drinks and clean up. Despite the hard work and the heat, morale was high all around. What a day!

So, what’s this got to do with virtual meetings?

Well, three days later, as I’m recovering, I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to integrate everything into my life and my work now that all my stuff’s back under one roof. It’s a big deal to have all my books, tools, and supplies in one place four years after moving across the country! I went downstairs to survey the storage spaces and smiled immediately remembering the way the cheerful conversation with the boys lifted everyone’s morale.

And I’m also realizing that maybe it’s not quite true that theorems and postulates don’t work for me when I’m designing new solutions.

What might be truer is that, when I’m working as a coach, I’m always working with some theorem, axiom or postulate, assembling new corollaries, and searching for neat, provable little “systems” I can share with clients. Especially now that I’m helping coaches and consultants transition their face-to-face services into virtual meeting rooms.

But the thing is, instead of working with precise lines, protractors, and little letter-and-number-labels, I use words and phrases, together with photographs and video and cartoons and sometimes even little interactive games. There’s still a lot of rigor in the work and the systems have to “prove out” — or they’re not useful to anyone. And I notice that’s a liberating insight…

Advanced Coaching for Virtual Meeting Mastery

Throughout the Spring Session of the Madhatters Tea Party Group Coaching Program, Tom Carroll and I debriefed the Hatters about their action-learning experiences and I posted the videos here in the Virtual Meeting Coach blog. In those video interviews – and the written posts – Tom and I were actually fishing for axioms to share with the whole Virtual Meeting Camp.

But there was little time for me to reflect on my own learning, as the program director. So, I decided to chill a bit during the first part of the summer, have some fun turning 60, and take time to mull over the feedback the Hatters and Partiers shared so generously at the close of the session before attempting to design any followup coaching programs.

As August 1st looms on the horizon, I’m starting to dream again about some fast, fun, effective ways I could meet clients’ requests for advanced coaching this Fall. And, as I reflect on the geometry conversation, I’m realizing that the Virtual Tea Party Group actually handed me some powerful axioms in their post-session feedback surveys.

From both sides of the action-learning experience, Madhatter Hostesses and Virtual Tea Partiers agreed they want more

  1. Learning community – to help them sustain morale while they take the time necessary to develop consistent virtual meeting skills
  2. Real-time feedback – so they can design and deliver superior services – at a distance
  3. Resources and support – for building excellent project team(s) that can help each other migrate successfully from 3D rooms to virtual meeting rooms
  4. Practice – being exactly who they are in virtual relationships

And, as I’ve been reflecting on my own experience, it’s clear to me that running successful service businesses – businesses that deliver both face-to-face and virtual servicesdepends on our successful application of a couple of crucial corollaries as we design new service products.

I wish I could take credit for authoring all these – but this is actually an Oreo. I can only claim credit for the creamy center. The top and bottom cookies come from leaders at Pixar Studios.

(1) For imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.
- Steve Jobs (CEO, Pixar Studios)

(2) Morale is the life-blood of imagination and without trust and respect, morale fails. Without exception.
- Meri Aaron Walker (co-author, “Teamwork is an Individual Skill“)

(3) With low morale, for every $1 your spend, you get $.25 value. With high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get $3 in value.
- Brad Bird (Director/Screenwriter, Pixar Studios)

I know, I know…

I can hear some of you muttering… “Tell me again, Meri, what’s all this GEOMETRY and OREO stuff got to do with me getting the results I need in this tough economy using virtual meetings?”

Hey, it’s summertime. And I just slid over the falls into my sixth decade… Rambling a little is just part of the territory.

What all this has to do with YOU, YOUR BUSINESS, and YOUR VIRTUAL MEETING MASTERY is this:

If you aren’t literally living and working within easy walking distance of all your coworkers, clients, and suppliers… (Not “A”)

… and if you are a service company that isn’t growing your profits fast enough to keep pace with this persistently volatile economy… (Not “B”)

… and if what you actually sell your clients, suppliers, and coworkers is your attention, intelligence and help applying new strategies to improve other people’s productivity and profits… (PLU$)


… taking time to learn to use interactive virtual meetings in ways that build trust and respect and sustain morale around you would be a great investment to make in yourself this year. (C)

So, are you needing

  • a smart learning community,
  • honest real-time feedback,
  • proven resources and support for making your migration into virtual meetings, and
  • a place to do real-world practice FREE tools with live, supportive audiences?

If you’d like to explore options with me, you can use this link to request a FREE 30-minute private consultation.

I’m always curious about what smart women business owners are dreaming and I’ll be happy to share some pointers about tools and strategies that could speed up your transition – without breaking the bank. And, I promise we won’t talk about geometry – not even for a moment!

Until next time, I hope you’re enjoying your summer! We’ve only got one life to live. I hope you’re taking time to enjoy yours because high morale really is the most reliable generator of new value in this tough economy!


What’s keeping us from already using virtual meetings for 30-40% of our work? The status quo!

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I’m going to be speaking locally tomorrow with a group of nonprofit consultants about how they could begin using virtual meeting tools to generate new revenues in their businesses.

Experience levels vary widely, so I decided to make a little mindmap to illustrate the primary factors affecting our “individual” decisions about when to use virtual meetings in our work – and when not to.

It occurred to me, as I made the map, that others might find the format useful as you dig deeper into your work processes with co-workers, clients and suppliers.

It would be nice if we could just unilaterally decide to start using some of the virtual meeting tools to simplify our work and save us time and money without damaging crucial relationships.

But the truth of the matter is that we can’t start having virtual meetings alone. ;^) We need people to meet with, don’t we? And not everyone is working from the same beliefs, attitudes, and systems to keep things rolling in their organizations. Human beings meet in the ways that we’re used to meeting – because we’ve got systems built up around those ways. And, even if our habits, beliefs and processes are burning up irreplaceable resources, we can’t help but resist changing them. It’s human nature! Nevertheless, our beliefs, habits, attitudes and systems are going to need to shift – at least just a bit – if we want to reap the benefits available from virtual meetings. (If we could have just copied over our face-to-face practices and skills – as is – everyone would already be using these tools, wouldn’t they?)

Please feel free to link to this little map. Use it in your self-inquiry. Use it to support your inquiry with co-workers and clients. You’re going to need to talk carefully about which things might need to shift a bit so that everyone can SHARE the benefits and savings available when you start use real-time virtual meetings together to get stuff done. You, your co-workers, your clients, and even your suppliers – everyone stands to benefit. But only if you’re able to give each other what you need to perform – and stay motivated – when you’re not in the same place or even the same time.

So, which things need to shift in ways that won’t overturn your apple carts?

If you need help facilitating these kinds of internal conversations with co-workers or clients, I’d love to help.

And, if you’re all ready to start exploring some of the possibilities EXPERIENTIALLY, I’ve got two places left in the next Madhatters Tea Party 10-Week Group Coaching Program starting the week of July 5th. You can grab one of those spots for yourself by contacting me here: Do it today, though. This is a first-come first-served program and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this opportunity.

The Virtual Meeting Coach’s Love Song to The Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame where everything shines as it disappears.
- Rainer Marie Rilke

Okay, I’m breathing deliberately at my desk. I’m taking short walks and breathing deliberately. I’m meditating. I’m chanting. I’m practicing the Power of Now, the Law of Attraction and doing The Work. I’m crying. And I’m still not okay about watching, helplessly, as the Gulf of Mexico turns into a toxic waste site.

I grew up going to the Gulf on vacations to swim with my family from the time I was a tiny girl. Then, when I was a teenager, we moved to the west coast of Florida and my adolescence was spent swimming on Lido Beach and Longboat Key. I had a short stint up in Georgia while I went to college and started a family, but I always went home to the Gulf to find my bearings. And I took my kids there from the time they were little. Even when I moved to Austin, I made as many trips as possible to the east coast of Texas to immerse myself in my beautiful Gulf. My whole life, it’s been my holy water.

So, while I’m now living in southern Oregon, I might as well be right there on the coast of Louisiana because I FEEL what’s happening there – every second – deep in my heart. And I’m at my wit’s end. I feel angry, helpless, and so sad I can barely breathe.

And, the worst part is I’ve been telling myself I don’t know what I can do – from up here – to help. Friends, colleagues and clients tell me they’re feeling the same anger, helplessness and sadness. My friend and colleague, Sharon Drew Morgan, even wrote a totally wacky post in her biz blog this week about Aliens and their possible role in this tragedy.

In fact, it was Sharon Drew’s post that actually shook me out of the trance of helpless rage at BP for failing to take responsibility for what’s happening. The insanity of talking about aliens popped my attention over to my personal responsibility as a driver whose demand for gasoline to power my car continues to fuel BP’s race to produce oil to meet that demand – at any cost.

And here’s a fresh video about the cost. The real cost:

So, What Can We Do – From Right Where We Are – About the Disaster in the Gulf?
If you can watch that footage without wanting to vomit, you’re a better wo/man than I. I can barely stand to watch it. Because I loved those waters. I loved those fish. And I love every single shell that washed up on the pristine, white sands of those beaches  since I first set my little foot on them. I’ve been picking up shells from Gulf beaches since I was three years old – shells left by sea creatures who died a natural death in those waters.

I simply cannot physically go down to the Gulf right now to help with the clean up. I’ve had the same kind of financially challenging year that everyone else has and I don’t have the cash to take off work and drive or fly down there right now to help with the clean up in person.

But, I can do something from right here. I can stand up – in my full humanity – and lead sans  shame or embarrassment. Like this guy:

Who cares if I look like a fool to start with? This is our precious Gulf of Mexico!!

So, here’s my declaration:

I can – and I will – offer every day to help people who sell professional services learn to use virtual meetings to start delivering some of your services without having to get into your cars to drive somewhere just so you can sit down in a room to work with other people. Sometimes we have to, but we don’t always have to do this!!

I can – and I will – keep reminding people through this blog that until we all learn to use these tools in skillful ways, we are just blowing smoke when we open our mouths and speak about “greening” this economy or “saving the environment.”

It’s time now for us to walk our talk! Will you join me?

The Times They Are A’Changin’
If you don’t know how to use virtual meetings to work with clients and colleagues at a distance, you have no other choice but to walk, ride your bike, ride the bus, or get into your car – or fly – to work with other people! But not having another choice is simply no excuse when the tools to work collaboratively – and at a distance – are FREE and I’m here to help you learn to use them!

The truth of the matter is this: Until each of us knows enough to be able to exercise choice with our colleagues and clients – ie., to work virtually sometimes, using live meeting tools and Web 2.0 collaborative applications, whenever doing so won’t damage crucial relationships – each of us must take personal responsible for creating the tragedy in the Gulf.

It is our driving habits that are the driving force in the demand for oil production.
Along with BP and lazy, selfish congressional regulators, it is YOU AND I who must take full responsibility for what our unquestioned – frequently senseless – work routines and habits are now doing to drive the demand for oil that is killing the Gulf and the other precious oceans!

So, how about singing along with me and Don Henley and song-writer extraordinaire Bob Dylan (celebrating his 69th birthday this week)? How about learning to use virtual meeting tools? And how about starting NOW?

Want to Do More Than Just Sing?
I’m starting up a new Madhatter’s Tea Party Group Coaching Program in July. It’s going to be fun…and it’s just not that damn hard!

If you want to participate, contact me this week right here for a FREE 20-minute consultation:

And if not now, when? While we keep fiddling around, the Gulf is burning.

Speaking of fiddling, a million thanks to Diana Fairbanks whose wide-ranging, quirky intelligence and warm friendship brought both the Rilke poem and the Leadership Guy vid to my attention early Thursday. You can enjoy her eclectic taste in music here on her new station at as you ponder next steps….

Another Way to Speak About What We Do – Why, How, What?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

This deceptively simple talk holds the keys to a whole new way of thinking about whatever we used to call “positioning.”

Using Simon Sinek’s way of looking at what’s true about my biz, I end up speaking about what I offer in a whole new way. What do you think?

In everything I do, I believe in finding the least expensive and fastest way to get things done well … so I have as much time and money as I can to take care of myself, friends, family, and community the way I want to. Without hurting other people – or the environment.

I get quick, inexpensive, high quality results by learning – continuously – about new ways people can use personal computers and the internet to connect with one another to get the best outcomes we can afford.

These days, I coach my peers (people who sell professional services) to use virtual meetings so we can extend our reach, save money, save time, and strengthen relationships with our clients. Without driving or flying around all the time.

Are you someone who wants this, too? Want to be my client?

(I also consult around social media use and help people reap big benefits from “cloud” computing apps and processes. I do those things from the same perspective: finding the least expensive and fastest way to get things done well. But that’s another conversation….)

If you’re someone who also believes that getting stuff done quickly, inexpensively, and well – without hurting other people or the environment – really matters… I offer a FREE 20-minute consultation here.

Use the link on the right-hand-side of the page to schedule a one-on-one virtual meeting with me and let’s talk about YOU and virtual meetings.

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