John Keith

Lucid Meetings co-founder, serial entrepreneur, based in Portland, OR
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Recent Posts

Smarter Meeting Planning: The Process Approach

August 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM by John Keith in meeting technology

How do you go about scheduling a new meeting with a group of people? David Coleman writes about his research into more than 200 meeting scheduling tools in this August, 2016 CMS Wire article, Smarter Meeting Planning Tools Try to Save You the Headache.

One of the biggest hassles with meetings is actually setting the meeting up, with multiple emails flooding inboxes deciding who could meet, what the meeting is about, and forget about trying to pin down one time when everyone can attend.

David asks: "But what if there was a better way?"  In David's analysis, the approaches for scheduling a meeting can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Publish and subscribe tools
  2. Calendar scheduling enhancements
  3. Resource management tools
  4. Smart meeting tools

The ordering of that list can be viewed as the evolutionary order of technical solutions to the scheduling problem, with the Smart Meeting Tools section capturing the current AI and Bot zeitgeist. There are quite a few good recommendations in each category, and I think there are some interesting capabilities on the horizon in the smart tools area. Read the full post to get a full sense of David's insight into the scheduling challenge.

The article also talks about Lucid Meetings and our alternative approach based on a holistic view of effective meetings from a complete scheduling, execution, and results orientation.

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Topics: meeting technology

How We Created an Open API and Added 500 New Integrations with Zapier

July 16, 2016 at 8:31 PM by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement

In our article, What is a meeting management platform?, we start with this statement:

"Lucid Meetings is an online meeting management platform for designing, running, and continuously improving the business meetings that power your organization’s success."

When you declare that you're a platform, you better be able to back that up with some reasonable definition about what that means. In the above support article, we list quite a few properties of a Meeting Management Platform (read about them), including one line about how only a few "platforms" connect to your larger business ecosystem:

Only a few meeting management platforms include ... "Open APIs and extensive business system integrations"

This post is about that one line.

Creating an Open API

An Open API, or perhaps better put, a Public API, is the user interface for software developers seeking to integrate an API-oriented application into other business systems. A Public API (application programming interface) provides documented mechanisms for external software developers to safely observe, measure, and control the application (Lucid Meetings). It's a contract of sorts between the people who create software and the people who would extend that software in new and interesting ways. I love Public APIs.

In the modern age, most web software either provides or makes use of internal APIs for connecting the core software pieces to one another. Lucid Meetings certainly does. But having an internal API does nothing for your external developer community; we've long recognized that a Public API would be a great addition for our Lucid customers and partners. Last month we finally fixed that deficit.

See related documentation, The Lucid Meetings REST API, for a programmer's description of the entire API.

Getting Technical

Developing an open, public API for a web service such as Lucid Meetings can be a daunting task. While there is no shortage of best practices recommendations, there is also no single, prescribed approach for doing this work. In short, there are many ways to get this wrong, and no precise way to get it right. To focus our attention, we established a few guiding principles at the outset:

  1. Create a full featured API with read, write, and modify capability
  2. Adopt a pragmatic, RESTful approach that developers could embrace
  3. Use established patterns for resources (nouns) and actions (verbs)
  4. Use established patterns for authentication and authorization
  5. Fully, completely, lovingly document everything about the REST API
  6. Provide a large sample of relevant examples in our documentation
  7. Demonstrate the value of the API with a single, significant integration

It's fair to say we focused a lot of development attention on the correctness and completeness aspects of the API. Essentially, we focused on the first six points in our guiding principles list, researching relevant API theory as well as the current pragmatic thinking about REST API best practices.

And all that work paid off with a well organized, very usable API for technical developers to create new and interesting integrations with other applications.

What About Our Non-Technical Customers?

The last guiding principle, about demonstrating the value, is perhaps the most important. We can create APIs till the cows come home, but if we can't show how they add value then we're pretty much just talking about their potential, rather than their reality.

We needed a way to showcase the value of our newly minted API and we needed a way to directly enable the success for thousands of customers and their people.

Enter Zapier (rhymes with happier!)

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Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

The Lucid Meetings Visual Event Calendar

January 18, 2016 at 3:37 AM by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement

My ice storm-induced, "bonus" project during the 2015 end-of-year holiday break was focused on improvements to the Lucid Meetings visual event calendar. While we've had our visual calendar display for a couple years now, I always intended the calendar to be more fully interactive for people who prefer calendar-style interactions with our meeting platform. With a little time on my hands, it was finally time to tackle this project!

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Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

Key Learnings About Meetings and Meeting Software

January 7, 2016 at 6:10 PM by John Keith in behind the scenes

The only thing that is constant is change.”

Heraclitus

2015, like all the years before it, was a year of big changes for Lucid Meetings. We've had a very good year. Our platform has become more mature and our customer base has grown. We've met new people and created new cooperative relationships with other companies. Business is good.

But we've all been around long enough to know that these external trappings of success can be fleeting; what we can achieve and how we grow both as a company and as individuals will depend entirely on what we do next.

That's why, when we look back at 2015, we pay special attention to what we've learned. Experience and knowledge gained are the key assets that can't be lost due to a shift in the market or any other whim of fate, and that will inform how we go boldly into 2016.

We asked each member of the Lucid leadership team to reflect on the key lessons they learned in 2015, and share them with you here.

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Topics: behind the scenes

Lucid Integrated Audio: Turbobridge Perfected

November 10, 2015 at 3:59 PM by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement

Lucid Meetings is a sophisticated technology platform for running excellent meetings with your (remote) team and clients. The platform addresses three significant pain points for the modern meeting organizer:

  1. How do I create a shared meeting experience when people are not in the same room?
  2. How do I run meetings that consistently get results and favorable reviews?
  3. How do I manage all the audio, video, and screensharing technology needed for online meetings?

We write regularly about "meeting best practices"  that address the first two points, focusing quite a bit on soft skills and organizational methodology. In this post we're taking a different tack by looking deeply at one of the technology issues in point three: managing the conference calling requirements for online meetings.

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Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

Risk-Free Pricing & the Search for the Perfect Pricing Model

June 23, 2015 at 6:45 PM by John Keith in release announcement

Pricing is hard.

As a software-as-a-service company, you want pricing that is:   

  • Easy to understand
    So people can quickly figure out what they’d pay.
  • Competitive
    Not too cheap, not too expensive, and easy to match up when comparing alternatives. 
  • Sustainable
    If you aren’t relying on outside investors or advertising, then you need to establish prices that support your business.

We’ve struggled with this! We tried several different approaches to our pricing strategy, seeking one that works for our customers and for us as a business. Each time we made a shift, we felt like we were getting closer, but it still wasn’t right. We just didn’t feel like we’d nailed it.

Until now.

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Topics: release announcement

Meetings as Competitive Sport

May 14, 2015 at 6:18 PM by John Keith in leadership & facilitation

Many years ago, I met with Michael Harrington, a public speaking coach and trainer. He described his training approach as that of "taking a competitive sports view" to public speaking.

His view was that you could train people with some very specific skills and thereby teach them to win the day, so to speak.

For some reason, that competitive view of public speaking really worked well for me. The task of public speaking became something I really wanted to master, rather than something to be dreaded and endured.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

Question of the Day: How do you track meeting results?

April 30, 2015 at 9:48 PM by John Keith in tips & techniques

Recently we received this question from a Lucid Meetings customer.

What have you found to be the best way to track meeting deliverables and analyze efficiency / value added during meetings?

This is a great question; one that every group should ask themselves. So, we thought it would be valuable to share our answers with everyone here.


Wow, that’s a big question, so here’s a big answer!

Before we get into the specific, let me say up-front that it definitely depends on the kind of projects you run and how meeting-savvy your team is, and we’re always available to meet with people who’d like to talk through their situation.

With that said, here are some general pointers below - hopefully it’s a helpful start!

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Topics: tips & techniques

Improve Meeting and Business Process Efficiencies with "Meet Now"

January 21, 2015 at 4:46 PM by John Keith in release announcement

Quality Matters, But "Easy" Triumphs

We talk a lot about how to do online virtual meetings well. If you've read our blog, you know our perspective:

  • Prepare an agenda in advance
  • Send the agenda and meeting materials to attendees
  • Think about who you're inviting and the purpose
  • Record the important stuff
  • Send a followup

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Topics: release announcement

Book Review: Meet Like You Mean It

May 12, 2014 at 12:31 PM by John Keith in leadership & facilitation, book review

I bought this book because I've been following Wayne Turmel's work on collaboration and virtual meetings for several years.

I was looking for a single reference that provided specific, actionable guidance for leading better VIRTUAL MEETINGS.

This book not only achieves that goal, but exceeded my expectations by going beyond technology and focusing on how to prepare and run great meetings - whether virtual, in-person, or some combination of both.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, book review