Guided Insights

You say you want to be more inclusive? Prove it.

Well-meaning people (yes, I am referring to myself here, too!) talk a lot about the need to be more “inclusive” when it comes to important conversations, but how many of us are really living up to our virtuous proclamations? If we were completely honest, I bet most of us would admit we could be doing much …

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Seriously, Here’s How Improv Techniques Can Liven Up Any Virtual Meeting

Can you picture yourself in any of these scenarios? You’re about to launch a virtual conversation where everyone’s perspectives are needed, and you look out to a screen full of pixelated faces that reflect skepticism, boredom, fear, frustration, or any combination. You’ve designed a virtual learning program where deep conversations are required to build needed …

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Virtual Strategic Planning: The Silver Lining

When news of Covid hit about eight months ago (or was it eight years ago?) many of us thought we’d be back to “normal” within a few months. Workers would be returning to offices, groups could meet again in person, and conferences and events scheduled for 2021 could go on as planned. But of course, we were …

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Energize Your Next Virtual Meeting!

The very word “energizer” can scare some people away. (Typical responses: “Energizers? Nah, our teams hate those things.” Or “We don’t have that kind of time to waste in our meetings.” Or: “Too risky. If it backfires, I’ll be blamed.” Or, “We have a bunch of introverts. Energizers are just too painful for them.”) Now …

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Virtual Meetings: Why Bother Showing Up If You’re Not Really Present?

You’re trying to pay attention to your third video meeting in a row, where your colleague is making an impassioned case for getting the team much-needed resources. Despite the fact that you’re desperate for this request to be approved, you’re struggling to focus. In part, it’s because you didn’t bother to review the documents she sent so …

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How Video Meetings Mess with Your Head and How to Make it Better

I could tell by the glowing yellow line that framed Amy’s video image that she was saying something. But for the life of me, I couldn’t absorb the meaning of her words, even though I could hear her just fine. Maybe it was the fact that this was the third Zoom workshop that I facilitated …

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When You’re Suddenly Forced to Go Virtual – An Essential Checklist

* This is a special edition of Communique to help those who must suddenly shift their face-to-face meetings, events and training sessions to a virtual space. These tips should help ease the transition.* By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights, and Jesse Bibbee, Gazelle Interactive After months of planning, everything is finally in place for next week’s two-day meeting …

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Now That’s Radical! Build a More Collaborative, Productive Team With More (Yes, More!) Meetings

You’re sitting around the table, listening to one person after another drone on and on about topics that you find irrelevant and frankly boring, while the work you really should be doing has to wait until this interminable meeting is over. Adding to your frustration is the fact that earlier in the day, your boss blew you …

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Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours, With a Little Bit of Magic

There’s something about the start of a new year that makes it a perfect time to get your team together to lay down plans and set priorities for the next 12 months. But try getting them to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. …

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Coping With Travel Restrictions: When Meeting Face to Face Matters, and What To Do When You Can’t

When the stakes are high and pressure is on, I recommend in-person meetings. That’s because we forge connections more easily with people we can see. But the reality is, meeting in person isn’t always possible. Business travel often gets dropped, due to pandemics, weather, budget, politics, injury, family, or other pressing priorities. Joining me in …

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Create the Ideal Virtual Meeting Space with this Handy Checklist

If you were creating a checklist for the ideal meeting room, what would be at the top? Maybe comfortable seating designed for interaction, natural light, space to move around, good ventilation, easy-to-use temperature controls, acoustical privacy and plenty of wall space? You might add a good A/V system, a variety of music, and continual access …

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Virtual Meeting Makeover – From Pretty Good to Simply Great with a Few Simple Changes

When people engage me to help “fix” their virtual meetings, they’re usually in pretty dire straits. Not so with Rick Friedrich, Director of Sales in the Americas and General Manager North America for Jiffy Products, who invited me to help him make his virtual team meetings even better. To do this, I sat in on …

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Stop Squandering Time With All Talk and No Action

True or false: If a meeting ends with no actions, you didn’t really need the meeting in the first place.  My vote: Mostly true. Although some meetings may be held simply to cross-pollinate information or brainstorm new ideas, the goal of most meetings is to get something concrete accomplished. A resulting list of actions is …

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Turn 9 Common Virtual Meeting Misconceptions Inside Out

When people evaluate the quality of their typical virtual meetings on a scale of 1-10, the average response we get tends to hover somewhere between 3 and 4. (And that’s progress, compared to a few years ago!) After all this time, why do virtual meetings still have such a bad rap? Are they really that …

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Flip Your (Virtual) Meetings – Learning from Our Best Teachers

To stave off boredom and stimulate learning that lasts longer than a class period, my kids’ teachers are experimenting with “flipped classrooms.” Rather than lecturing at kids with a bunch of PowerPoints during the precious classroom time, the teachers assign the content in advance, usually by having the kids view content online, whether in the …

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Making Virtual Meetings Come Alive: It’s Everyone’s Job!

Some topics are just way too important to relegate to a virtual meeting. You can’t have critical conversations if you’re not eye-to-eye. If you need to make real progress, you’ve got to sit down together, roll up your sleeves and just get it done. If any of these statements ring true, then this edition of Communiqué …

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Breaking the Wall of Silence in a Virtual World

If you have ever led a virtual meeting, this scenario is familiar: You pose a brilliant provocative question, hoping to trigger a flurry of insightful responses. And instead, you hear….Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. (Apart from crickets, that is.) So what’s your next step? Do you ask the same question again, louder? Beg people to stop …

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8 Ways to Stop Interruptions from Derailing Your Next Virtual Meeting

Virtual meeting etiquette is universal, right? Pretty much everyone knows that it’s rude to interrupt, disrespectful to openly multitask when someone’s speaking, and inconsiderate to allow background noise to disrupt the conversation. Or do they???? In this edition of Communiqué, I explore practical steps that virtual meeting leaders can take to anticipate and effectively handle interruptions …

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Don’t Leave Remote Participants Hanging: 8 Tips for a Meeting of Equals

Let’s face it: It’s almost impossible to make remote callers feel like they’re on equal footing with people who are gathered in the conference room for the big meeting. But with some thoughtful planning, you can come pretty close. I felt compelled to write this  Communiqué after a dismal experience I had recently as a remote …

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10 Tips for Uber-Efficient Meetings – Making Every Minute Count

No question: We waste a lot of time in meetings when we could be getting more important work done. But sometimes there’s just no substitute for real-time conversations. Emails, instant messages and shared portals can only take you so far, especially when you’re pressured to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. How we …

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10 Tips for Overcoming Facilitation Fears

If you’d rather walk through fire than facilitate a virtual meeting, you’re not alone! (Come to think of it, leading virtual meetings can actually feel a bit like walking through fire!) Whether you’re a project leader, group manager, subject manager expert, or individual contributor, sooner or later, you’ll lead a meeting where some or all participants are …

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The Real Costs of Persistent Multitasking: 9 Tips to Minimize Damage

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who can’t concentrate when people around me tap away on their tablets as though no one else at the meeting notices. Do these people even realize how distracting and disrespectful their behavior can be? Or do they just not notice or care? Or maybe I just don’t …

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10 Tips for Picking the Best Tech Tools for Your Next Virtual Meeting

With so many ways to connect virtually, you’d think we’d all be experts by now. In fact, the opposite may be true: Because we have so many choices, finding the best combination of virtual collaboration tools has actually become tougher. And even when we are convinced we’ve chosen wisely, participants inevitably show up unprepared or unable to make …

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To Keep People Focused, Insist That They Multitask

Are you put off when people tune out during your virtual meetings? I know I am! After all, my clients hire me to run virtual meetings that keep people focused and on track. (And I teach this effective virtual meeting stuff, too!) So when people drift away during my meetings, I realize I need to …

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Eight essential ground rules for great remote meetings

  Ground rules are a lot easier to enforce when you can make eye contact or use body language to keep people in line. But when you can’t see people and can’t hear what people are doing on the other end of the line, it’s much harder to keep people focused and on track. This …

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Cutting to the Chase: 8 Essential Steps for Faster, More Engaging Meetings

“Most meetings are poorly-planned, badly-managed and attendance is often mandatory. If you’re forced to sit though a meeting that’s running way too long and the agenda is nothing of concern to you, then using a mobile device will allow you to salvage at least a little of your productive capacity. But the real answer is …

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Dealing with Disruptive Participants, Virtually

We’ve all suffered when the bad behavior of just one person can derail a whole meeting. Maybe it’s been the know-it-all who steamrolls over anyone who tries to speak. Or the person who folds her arms and rolls her eyes without a word. It could be the guy who has nothing good to say about …

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Designing a Distraction-Proof Virtual Meeting

We try to pay more attention during virtual meetings. We really do! But then something diverts our attention (it doesn’t take much!) and we find ourselves tuning out, despite our best intentions. It could be that a teammate just IM’d us with an urgent SOS for help. Or that our workload is too crushing to …

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Virtual Meetings: Design for Worst-Case Scenarios for Best Outcomes

Normally, I ascribe to the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning meetings or designing training. That is, I know I can’t possibly predict every single situation that might arise, so I do my best to anticipate what I think will happen 80% of the time for 80% of the participants. As far as the …

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Structuring Successful Virtual Meetings: A Counterintuitive Approach

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do to run a great virtual meeting is to use the exact same structures and techniques that we use for face-to-face (FTF) meetings? Great for the meeting leader, maybe, but not so great for the meeting participants who have to muster every ounce of energy to …

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