The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for the ‘web conferencing’ Category

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

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

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!

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

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

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…

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

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

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

Friday, May 13th, 2011

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. 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?

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

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

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.

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

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

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!

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

Friday, December 17th, 2010

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

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:

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 and I hope you’ll join me there, too!

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

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

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 .

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.

Using Virtual Meetings to Support and Enrich Collaboration

Monday, November 1st, 2010

On his e-learning focused blog, Christopher Pappas just provided a quick, meaty overview of several of the best free virtual meeting, web conferencing, and online meeting and online learning tools. I hope you’ll take a look at it today.

For several years, Christopher and I have been learning and from each other – across the globe. He’s in Greece and I’m in southern Oregon. And we’ve both been participating in online communities focused on e-learning. We haven’t met in person yet, but I look forward to getting a chance to shake Christopher’s physical hand one day soon and thank him for this post and all the rest of the pointers he’s shared with me and other colleagues focused on helping people work and learn from each other at a distance.

People have asked me several times to make a post like this and I’ve simply been too busy to take the time, so I’m grateful to able to point you to Christopher’s blog.

I particularly appreciate this vid he found from the folks at Yugma because it articulates a crucial distinction between intermittent and persistent collaboration.

I love the way this vid highlights the magic of using virtual meetings, web conferences, and online learning tools to enable different people to think about and work on the same thing in different ways – in real-time. Because that’s what’s important: the people working and learning together using whatever tools they find easiest to use when they’re not co-located.

I’ve found Yugma to be a practical tool for what the Yugma team calls “fluid collaboration.” So are all the other apps Christopher highlighted in his post. They all provide simple, practical, browser-based platforms for people to work together – both intermittently and persistently.  There are a couple of dozen other tools that work well, too.

But the issue isn’t really so much about finding the right TOOLS to use. The trick is understanding how to work with others fluidly and collaboratively. The real challenge isn’t so much how to technically access an online whiteboard or do a screen share. It’s learning to think about work and learning as continuous processes of creating and nourishing a sense of shared meaning – and purpose – with others.

Four years ago, I relocated from Austin, TX, a busy major metropolitan area, to a sweet town of 20,000 in rural southern Oregon.  Since I did this, I’ve been using all kinds of free virtual meeting tools on a daily basis to work with old and new clients across the country and continents.

After my move, clients and colleagues (many of whom have since become clients) started telling and showing me that they didn’t understand HOW I thought about work and learning as processes of persistent collaboration.

They didn’t understand how I chunked the work into manageable pieces we could accomplish in 30-90 minutes. They didn’t understand how I set up the tools to make it easy for us to interact in real-time. And they didn’t understand how I made decisions – on the fly – that made it easy for BOTH of us to contribute to the work product at the same time. (Especially useful when people have different ways of thinking and looking at what they need to do together.)

So, I started coaching my clients and friends and colleagues…and now, four years later, I’m “The Virtual Meeting Coach” as well as a health and wellness coach who uses virtual meetings to support my clients’ deliberately reorienting their lives around their natural strengths.

Over the last four years, I’ve field-tested all kinds of helping strategies, from one-on-one coaching to small group meetings. At this point, I’ve discovered that the one-on-one coaching is the fastest and easiest way for people to learn. But it’s also the most expensive. Some people need to speed things up and are ready to go for it, one-on-one. Others can’t focus all their energy on new skills because they’ve got a lot to attend to just to keep their revenue streams flowing. I can help in either situation.

To address the needs of people who can’t do one-on-one work right now, this year I developed what I call the Madhatters’ Tea Party Group Coaching Programs. They provide a 10-week fun, high-energy, and emotionally supportive practice environment where small groups of people can quickly learn “fluid collaboration” processes by doing them weekly – with me and their friends, fans and followers.

Participants report the outcomes are greater ease and a sense of excitement and facility at creating both intermittent meetings and persistent collaborative practices that nourish – and sustain – a sense of shared meaning and purpose with the people who are most important to them. Even when they’re not able to be physically co-located.

If you’re not sure which tools you’d like to get started with, I hope you’ll take a look at this post in Christopher’s blog.

When you’re ready for some one-on-one coaching, or to build your skills by practicing in a small group – using whichever FREE tools you like the most – I hope you’ll give me a call. I use all of the tools Christopher highlighted in his post and many others. I offer a FREE initial 30-minute consultation and I’d love to hear more about your situation.

As “The Virtual Meeting Coach,” I’m committed to helping smart people learn to use the free tools in ways – and at a price – that’s affordable and sustainable for everyone as well as our fragile Earth.

This is the future we’ve been waiting for, friends. The tools are FREE and they’re available NOW. If you’ve still got a lot more to share with others – and you can’t afford either the time or the money it takes to fly and drive all over the place all the time to share it – I’d love to help you get started collaborating fluidly with the people who are most important to you – in the areas that you’ve got crucial gifts to contribute. We need your gifts. Now.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Navigating the Scylla and the Charybdis of Face-to-Face and Virtual Meetings

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Regular readers of this blog have heard that I went “over the hill” this summer: I turned 60. It’s been quite a ride!

Along with taking time to reflect on the journey this far, I’ve started culling through my extensive library, passing on books I don’t need to carry with me for the next decade, and reclaiming those I can’t live without. One I can’t live without is Homer’s Odyssey. Curiously, re-reading this ancient story over the last couple of weeks has given me some new insights about our modern lives –  including things like remote work and virtual meetings. One seems particularly useful. You tell me…

Time changes many things, but one thing that’s never changed is that human beings need to interact socially and work together in order to accomplish all but the most rudimentary tasks.

We need to build meaningful relationships, bond with co-workers and clients, align people around key messages and directions, nourish collaboration and innovation, share information and knowledge with one another, and encourage each others’ contributions and accomplishments. Right?

Over the last 40 years, the human journey from the Industrial Age to the Information Age has spawned national economies that are at once more complex and more interdependent. And these economies require more people – across the globe – to work together. At the same time, individuals, families, local economies, and the Earth itself, are struggling mightily to adapt to this increasing complexity and interdependence.

Since the end of World War II, people across the Western world have simply assumed that we can and will travel healthy distances almost every day to work together face-to-face. But both local and global travel are expensive, both in time and dollars spent. And travel fills the air with carbon byproducts. After fifty-plus years of explosive growth in human travel, the specter of climate change grows darker and heavier every day, across the globe.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So, we’re “between a rock and a hard place,” as the saying goes. Human beings need each other’s help more than ever to accomplish complex tasks we cannot do on our own. At the same time, neither our individual pocketbooks, nor our organizations, nor our fragile planet can afford for the whole human race to travel around all the time so we can work together in the same place.

It’s a difficult passage, this transition to the 21st century.

The difficulty of the passage is quite similar, actually, to the difficulty of a passage the classical hero, Odysseus, had to make as he journeyed home to Troy a few thousand years ago. In fact, it was the difficulty of Odysseus’ passage between the Scylla and Charybdis that be the progenitor of our modern phrase, “between a rock and a hard place.”

In case you don’t remember, on his way home to Troy, Odysseus faced – and overcame – many perils. During one of the toughest, he had to pass through a strait flanked by twin terrors. On one side was a whirlpool, called Charybdis, which would sink the ship. On the other side of the strait was a monster called Scylla, the six-headed daughter of Crataeis, who would seize and eat six men. Neither side was going to yield an easy passage for Odysseus.

And, as we journey together into the 21st century, we’re navigating between two equally tough choices, as well. We’re passing between Scylla and Charybdis every time we have to choose between meeting with people face-to-face (incurring the associated costs – both in time and money) and meeting with people virtually (foregoing opportunities to read body language and facial expressions and bond with others – physically and emotionally – in familiar and time-honored ways).

Just as Odysseus had to make one bad choice or another, as we sail deeper into the complex waters of 21st century work, we have to make a sacrifice, too. Odysseus chose to pass closer to the Scylla, allowing her to take six of his men, instead of chancing losing the whole ship in the whirlpool of the Charybdis.

Every time we have to chose between conserving capital and expanding the reach of our services, we have to decide to drop irreplaceable cash and time into the whirlpool or sacrifice a fully-embodied experience with others. And, frankly, there just aren’t any good choices. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or fantasizing.

Face-to-face meetings are absolutely crucial for some social transactions. Online meetings are actually better for some transactions than face-to-face meetings. But, when you’re passing through the choppy, muddy waters between those two extremes, we all simply have to make some tough choices, just like Odysseus.

5 Questions to Sharpen Up Your Virtual Meeting Chops

So, what’s my best advice for those times in the middle? While I’m certainly no Tiresias, I am training my clients to use five fundamental questions to help them make tough choices about how they’re going to use web conferences as effectively as they would once have used face-to-face meetings – so they can pocket time and money for other things.

I urge you, too, to use these questions to clarify your virtual meeting plans and strategies:

These are tough questions. And the answers can’t be finessed. If you’re going to accomplish your goals using virtual meetings, you need to know – and use – the answers to these questions to structure your meetings as well as your between-meeting-communication. Any lack of clarity about any of this will compromise your chances of skirting the dangers.

Don’t kid yourself! People who are not actively developing their skills at using virtual meeting rooms as real-time multi-media communication “devices,” are in real peril as we journey deeper into the 21st Century. The good news is, with good help, developing online meeting skills is not that difficult.

My little e-book, “The Coach’s Short List,” is available if you want a solid set of simple structures to help you get started.

So, what insights does this simple metaphor stimulate for you?

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