The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Posts Tagged ‘virtualmeetingcoach.com’

Making the Transition from Teleseminars and Telephone Coaching to Fully Interactive Multimedia Virtual Meetings

Friday, May 21st, 2010

virtual meeting coach dream

On a dark winter evening back in January, a group of Rogue Valley women business owners gathered in the living room of a “Prosperity Web” member’s home to hear “The Virtual Meeting Coach” talk about virtual meetings.

As I finished my presentation, gathered up my notes, and returned to my seat, I glanced around the room, taking in the looks on people’s faces. They were at once excited and wistful. My presentation had told and shown them things about virtual meetings that these women had never considered. At least not in relation to their small businesses and business processes.

I could see one here, one there, reflecting on the possibilities – and the realities – of time and financial commitments they would need to make to take advantage of my coaching services. And I could see that despite their considerable interest, most of them thought the time and money involved were going to be too big a stretch this year. Or longer.

Like so many small business people across the nation still hanging on by our fingernails during this economic downturn, these women had been nixing every “non-essential” expenditure for at least the last 18 months. And transitioning even one service product from face-to-face delivery to a virtual meeting format wasn’t on their list of “things-I-have-to-do-now.”

My eyes fell on Carolyn Shaffer, an experienced hypnotherapist, coach, and author of a terrific book on community building I had read a decade before when I was living in Austin, Texas. I could see that Carolyn was really pondering the possibilities of expanding her reach beyond our local market. But I could also see her wistfully beginning to dismiss any thoughts that she could do more than just buy a copy of “The Coach’s Short List.” She didn’t think she could afford the time or money for my high-end coaching program.

As I took in the look on Carolyn’s face, a voice in my head said, quite clearly, “Meri, come on! There’s got to be a faster, less expensive way to help Carolyn – and other women like her – take advantage of virtual meetings. They can’t afford what you’re offering and they need help now – not two or three years from now.”

So, I went home that evening, continued ruminating on what I’d heard in the privacy of my mind, and fell asleep wishing I could be of better service to Carolyn and other women business owners. When I woke the next morning, I bolted upright in the bed, grabbed paper and pen, and started scribbling down what I’d seen in a dream. In my sleep, I had completely redesigned my high-end coaching program! As I began writing and drawing little diagrams before I forgot them, I heard the same voice from the night before say, “Now, that’s more like it! Get this down on paper. And make it so – now!”

It’s important to say that I don’t often hear voices ;^). I’m just a regular middle-aged woman who’s always been a little wacky, but I’m not someone who hears a lot of voices. So, the voice was a little distracting. But not enough to keep me from continuing to capture the plan… and…

Long story short, the next thing you know, The Madhatters Tea Party Group Coaching Programs took shape and 5 Madhatters signed up and brought their friends, fans, and followers into the Virtual Meeting Camp and… Today’s post here in The Virtual Meeting Coach Blog features a debriefing conversation after last Monday’s Virtual Tea Party. Participants are Tom Carroll, of Evolutionary Learning, me, and Carolyn Shaffer, hypnotherapist, author, coach, teleseminar leader and blogger at The WhyWorryGuide.

It’s close to the end of May, the first cohort is 9 weeks into the Madhatters Group Coaching Programs, and Carolyn is deep into the process of transitioning some of her coaching services from telephone and teleseminar work into fully interactive multimedia virtual meetings!

Please take a listen as we discuss some of the challenges and successes Carolyn encountered this week as she hosted her Virtual Tea Party.

I’m so proud of Carolyn I can hardly stand it! I’m also really pleased with the way the Madhatters Group Coaching Programs are working for the Madhatters and Virtual Tea Partiers. In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have imagined the speed of the multi-level learning taking place in the parties or the kinds of synergies and synchronicities that are showing up throughout the sister programs.

Except wait a minute! That’s not true! It’s all part of a wild dream… that’s actually coming true…

The Challenge of Balancing Different Channels and Ways of Connecting Using Web 2.0 Collaborative Tools and Live, Interactive Virtual Meetings

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

After this week’s Madhatters Tea Party, Julie Lockhart, Tom Carroll and I debriefed in the live video chat above.

Because I’m traveling today, I have less time that I wish I could take to write up a bit of the context. That said, I want to make this conversation available to the 6-Week Virtual Meeting Campers and anyone else listening in, so I’m just posting it today with a brief intro.

Julie is an experienced classroom teacher and meeting facilitator with twenty plus years in a traditional higher education setting. Her first foray into hosting her own “outside the academy,” live, fully interactive, online meeting illuminated a host of issues for her. Tom and I were both struck with how well she managed the complexities of the tools and the ways she referred and deferred to her team around issues of expertise. It’s hard to jump from one cultural context to another and the Web 2.o tools not only allow us to share the stage with each other – they just about demand that we do so. And this is a whole new arena for people who’ve had academic enculturation about expertise and authority.

The new opportunities for 2-way communication and interdependence that collaborative writing/editing tools offer us, for instance, can be truly paradigm-shifting. The primary value we have to offer others is no longer fixed to us knowing something that others don’t…and transferring it to them. Exchanges of value are potentially complex, depending not just on providing others with new concepts or ideas, but on our skillful hosting of contexts where safe, trusting, creative dialogue and relationships occur on a regular basis.

Welcome to the 21st Century! It’s a wild and crazy world out there… What do you think?

Bringing the Whole Body/Mind into Virtual Meeting Rooms – The Madhatters Tea Party – Facilitator Review #2

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Madhatters Virtual Tea Party #2, was another wild ride for the Madhatters and their friends, fans, and followers. It was hosted by the inimitable Gretchen Wegner – Interplay leader, academic coach, blogger, and inventor of MuseCubes.

I admire Gretchen’s commitment to bringing the whole body/mind into even the most intellectual of human pursuits – like writing and other academic pursuits.

I also admire her commitment to keeping play at the front of the mind.

It’s been my personal experience that these two commitments yield work experiences that provide human beings with deep satisfaction – not just paychecks. And, when work enables human beings both to express the skills we have mastered and to experience our fathomless human creativity, then it becomes the highest expression of our humanity. While also producing something of value.

Gretchen’s Virtual Tea Party gave participants an opportunity to see, hear, and begin to imagine a whole new range of possibilities for using live, real-time virtual meeting rooms to faciliate whole body/mind interaction – at a distance. It was a fabulous first-time demonstration of Gretchen’s potential for adding authentic telepresence to her skill pack.

Here’s a recording of a video chat that Gretchen, Tom Carroll of EvolutionaryLearning.com, and I had Thursday, April 29th, as we debriefed our experiences and talked through some of the background issues Gretchen found herself dealing with during the party. We talked for a little over 28 minutes. As I did last week, I’m posting the recording here in the hope that it provides some additional value to participants in the 6-Week Virtual Meeting Camp - and to anyone else who’s lurking in the shadows, peeking through our Virtual Tea Party windows, listening for tips and tricks you can use to improve your virtual meetings.

As always, I welcome your comments below, anytime you’d like to contribute to this conversation…

The Language and Culture of Virtual Meetings – The Madhatters Tea Party Launch

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Opening day of the Madhatters Tea Party 6-Week Virtual Meeting Camp went just about as I’d imagined it would. Wild. Crazy. Full of surprises. And a little on the chaotic side for the first 15-20 minutes.

How else would you expect things to go with a gang of mostly inexperienced virtual meeters, coming from a dozen different frames of reference, with wide-ranging computer literacy, using both PC and Macintosh computers, and connecting through a free teleconferencing line and a full-featured multi-media virtual meeting room at the same time? And did I say most of them were middle-aged women?

As the Madhatter of Madhatters, I was utterly delighted by the whole event! It was the quintessential Virtual Madhatters Tea Party!

When it was over, participants’ feedback reflected various levels of cognitive overload … and excitement …and curiosity …and a desire for more!

I had a debriefing conversation about the first Madhatters Tea Party today with my colleague, friend, and former client, Tom Carroll, founder of EvolutionaryLearning.com.

Tom’s lifetime of research mapping human excellence and designing strategies to rapidly transfer that excellence from one human to another (and another and another…) has inspired me since we met a decade ago in Austin, Texas. When I first met Tom, he was a Senior Performance Consultant at International SEMATECH where he and his colleague, Mike Bown, helped semiconductor engineering and wafer fabrication teams make the most of their full human capacities in a high pressure, multi-company, multi-cultural consortium whose mission was to ensure that the US get ahead – and stay ahead – of the rest of the world in the development of semiconductor technologies.

These days, Tom has moved into his own consulting practice where he continues to research and test ways to help human beings perform better, faster, and cheaper in a variety of industries where the competition is tough and stakes are high.

At my request, Tom was a participant/observer during the first Madhatters Tea Party and I’ve asked him to continue observing. I’ll be publishing a series of our “behind the scenes” debriefing conversations here on the blog to help the Madhatters and the Virtual Tea Partiers – and anyone else who’s interested – get some background context for the experience-based-learning they’re doing.

I hope you findĀ  something useful for yourself in this dialogue and, as always, I’m interested in your thoughts and feelings. Please feel free to comment below.

This first conversation is focused on Tom’s perceptions about the Virtual Tea Party and explores some of my assumptions about the language and culture of virtual meetings. Out of my training in educational psychology and anthropology, my personal experience teaching ESL and cross-cultural communication, and my research and testing of hundreds of virtual meeting technologies over the last three years, I have come to believe that immersing people in a learning experience that is both safe and serious is the only sound way to help human beings quickly build the literacy and fluency each of us needs in order to make the most of new, online meeting tools.

In this economy, the stakes couldn’t be higher – particularly for independent business people with high-value services to sell.

I’m completely convinced that once we understand how to use them, virtual meetings can allow teachers, trainers, coaches and consultants to lower costs while providing more and better service.

Give a listen. And by all means, feel free to share what you think…