Guided Insights

Want Virtual Learners to Stay Engaged? Insist They Multitask, and Other Big Tips

Just about all of the participants who took one of my recent Virtual Leadership workshops gave it high marks. Most reported that the combination of video, verbal conversation and electronic flipcharts kept them engaged the whole time and helped them to learn a lot within a short time. All except for Mark, who reported having …

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Head Off Problems Up Front, Before Cultural Differences Can Get in the Way

What are the toughest challenges you absolutely need to conquer when it comes to leading global teams? That’s what I asked a few of my clients, all seasoned leaders of cross-cultural teams, as I sat down to create scripts for a series of training vignettes I was about to deliver for a national training firm. …

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How to Make Introverts and Extroverts Happy, and How to Drive Them Crazy

“We suspect that our team can be a lot more effective if we can do a better job of acknowledging, appreciating and accommodating the introverts among us. We also want to acknowledge what our extroverts need to operate at their peak potential.” That’s the challenge my client recently asked me to help solve for her …

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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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Why Conversations Sometimes Feel Impossible and How to Bring Them Back

The kids in our high school were shattered when news spread last month that a popular senior took his own life.  Everyday life for these kids screeched to a halt as they struggled to process how such a tragedy could have happened to one of their own. This was the first time many experienced the …

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Combat Rude Behavior with Radical Civility

Everyone knew that Jim was a real jerk. With an arch of his brow or the curl of his lip, this senior VP could reduce anyone to tears. And he did, frequently. As a junior staff writer at the time, I was a frequent target of Jim’s scathing derision. One day I decided to confront …

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To Get People Talking, Try Asking the Right Questions

It’s happened to all of us: You pose a carefully-worded question, pause and wait for someone to respond. Anyone. Please? And then you hear nothing, other than an awkward, prolonged silence. You start to panic and make assumptions like: “They must be multitasking! Maybe they’re all on mute. I guess no one cares about this …

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The Impossibility of Designing a “Perfect” Virtual Meeting in a Multicultural World

When I run my “Leading Engaging Virtual Meetings” workshops, I can’t always tell when certain concepts resonate with participants. That’s because most of the time I deliver my workshops virtually. Last week, however, I delivered my workshop in person to more than 100 savvy marketing consultants and analysts from more than 25 countries around the …

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Fire Up Your Communications Mojo in a Virtual World

John has always been great at playing to the crowd. With just a subtle arch of his eyebrow or a sly half-smile, John can bring the house down or rev people up. He’s a communications superstar who knows exactly what every audience needs to hear and delivers it perfectly. John is justifiably proud of his …

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Managing Performance from Afar Made Easier: 10 Tips for a Happier Outcome

It can be awkward to give someone tough feedback when they’re miles away. And that’s the least of it. Without visual cues, the delivery of even the most well-meaning and thoughtful performance feedback can have the opposite effect. It can damage relationships, erode trust, sap motivation, and in reality, it can actually weaken performance, instead …

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It’s What People Aren’t Saying That Leaders Most Need to Hear

We’ve seen many leaders win promotions simply because they excel at managing upwards. You know the type: They grab the plum projects for themselves, doling out the routine work to others. Since they want to demonstrate their effectiveness to their managers, they pressure team members to achieve performance targets at any cost. They spend little …

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Avoiding the High Cost of Ambiguous Decisions

Imagine this: You are leading your weekly team meeting, and you have just five minutes left to galvanize people around a critical decision that will affect thousands of people. After quickly summarizing the various positions, you declare that you believe the group has decided to move ahead. When you solicit final comments or concerns, not a …

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Just Because You’re Silent, You May Not Be Really Listening

Chances are, you probably think you’re a pretty good listener. Most of us do. We aren’t the type to interrupt our colleagues, trounce on someone else’s ideas, or whip out a mobile device in the midst of a conversation (at least not in plain view!). So we must be good listeners, right? Well, maybe not. …

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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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Using Technology to Transcend Cultural Barriers

“I followed every best practice about running great virtual meetings, and bam! The whole thing still blew up in my face, and I have no idea why!” My client Jim, a senior leader for a F500 oil company, left this panic-stricken voicemail right after his kick-off meeting to launch a major new global project. I …

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How to Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours

There’s something about the blank slate of a brand new year that makes it a perfect time to get your group together and lay down plans for the next 12 months. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but it can be near impossible to persuade people to hunker down in a meeting room for …

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7 Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Maybe it’s a complete system replacement, a complicated reporting structure or a new business process. Whatever the change your organization is rolling out, dozens  (if not thousands) of lives may be upended. You know that to make sure everything goes smoothly, you must reach out to those most affected by the change. Trouble is, most …

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7 Tips for Avoiding Another Epic (Project) Fail

I really hate it when one of my projects doesn’t exactly go as planned. Happily, this rarely happens, so when it does, I tend to obsess over it, replaying the events ad infinitum. When a recent project seemed to fall short of expectations, I devoted countless hours (okay, maybe a few days) to understanding what …

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Prevent Thoughtless Habits From Squandering Your Team’s Time

We are scrupulous about managing our budgets, jumping through hoops (and filling out countless forms) to get approval for every expenditure, whether it’s for a $300 printer or a part-time contractor. And yet, even though we may say that time is money, few of us show the same kind of scrutiny when it comes to …

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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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8 Steps for Facilitating Constructive Conflict, Virtually

Your team is under pressure to make a decision that will make or break your big project. You are shocked when all of your colleagues agree to what you believe will be a disastrous decision. When you regain your powers of speech, everyone is waiting for you to weigh in. (Thankfully, no one can read …

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Taking the Pain Out of Consensus-Building in Virtual Meetings

“I assume that everyone is good with this proposal, since I don’t hear anyone opposed, right? Okay, next topic!”  Ah, but if this project manager could only see the body language of the people sitting around that virtual table, she would know that many people are most definitely not good with that proposal! In fact, …

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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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From Jaded to Jazzed: Quick Tips for Sustaining Happy, Healthy Virtual Teams

Have you ever been part of a team where you’re inspired and energized by your work, really enjoy the people, feel like you’re making some great contributions, and have meaningful opportunities to learn and grow? If you’re lucky, maybe it’s been once or twice. If you work virtually, attaining this kind of “team nirvana” is …

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