Feb 20 2012
via Strange Meeting – YouTube.
Fun to see, and slightly ironic as my work travel schedule is about to, um, take flight. Now I travel to facilitate longer form meetings — 3-5 day things that would be painful online, but I have to say, I wish we were progressing with our telephone and web meeting practices and tools a bit faster. I have been beta testing MeetingBurner (I have a future blog post in draft form) and had such high hopes, but in practical use I’ve run into some problems which I think are fundamental. Is it because I have “weird” online meeting habits or that tools and practices are still stuck in broadcast mode?
Here are a few of the areas that I’ve been working on that have improved my synchronous online meetings… and they seem to be to be both fundamental to healthy meeting practices as much as about technologically mediated meetings.
1. Make the meeting matter. Don’t have a meeting to broadcast information; it should be for meaning making, relationship building, working on challenges or thinking TOGETHER. These all imply active listening and response (a.k.a “conversation”) and full on interaction.
2. Be interactive. Don’t bore me PLEASE!!! There is a place for broadcast “webinars” but ONLY ONLY ONLY if the tool enables meaningful participant interaction and the presenter wants to and has the skills to interact. Otherwise send me a link to a video or audio, thankyouverymuch. And by interaction, that does NOT mean just a Q&A tool or the ability to chat with the person controlling the platform (GoToMeeting, I am not your fan.) It means open chat rooms where participants can know who else is participating, chat with them, and if there are a lot of chatters, someone to help weave the chat with what the presenter is doing. (Edit: See this post from EEKim about meaningful conversations at meetings.)
3. There is facility for joint artifact creation. This means joint note taking (a la http://www.meetingwords.com) and, in my personal ideal, a shared whiteboard with good writing tools that everyone can access (whether that permission is turned on or off selectively is again a process question.) I could write tons more about the generative practice of both shared meeting note taking and drawing together. I’ll spare you this morning…
4. Be embodied. There is facilitaty for images or video of the participants. Now I’m not a video fan. I work at home, often at dreadfully early morning hours and you do NOT want to see me. But a picture of me does bring a bit more humanity. And there are times when video is really useful. And times when it is distracting so we need to be smart enough to discern when to use it!
Four is probably enough for one blog post. Where do you stand on online meetings?