A Framework For Productive Consulting Meetings (and Happier Clients)

Aug 2, 2019 by Michael Zipursky in project management, meeting design (5 minute read)

Introducing Michael Zipursky
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Michael Zipursky. Our CEO met Michael when she was interviewed for his Consulting Success podcast. After the interview, Michael shared how implementing the simple meeting process described below helped the consultants he works with reduce drama and retain happy clients.

It's a perfect example of how powerful it can be when you have a consistent structure for your meetings, and how you don't have to over-complicate things to get great results.

In this post, Michael share the 3-step framework that's helped hundreds of consultants build trust with clients.
— Team Lucid

Do you feel nervous before meeting with your consulting clients? If so, chances are you aren’t well-prepared.

With proper preparation and a specific agenda, your meetings will be productive and stress-free. Not only will this make your life easier, but your clients will appreciate it as well. 

In this article, I’ll explain a simple 3-part framework you can use for your client meetings. This framework works especially well if you’re working with clients on an ongoing basis. 

After reading, you’ll know how to run the perfect consulting meeting — and how to leverage meetings into more consulting work.

Before & After Using The Meeting Agenda: Jane’s Story

Jane never felt quite comfortable during meetings with her client.

Sure, she was delivering on the project just fine — but these meetings with the client were a sticking point.  She wasn’t sure what the purpose of the meeting was. She went into them hoping for the best. 

Without a clear structure to the meeting, it was hard for her client to see progress. They even started to doubt her value. 

She could feel the business slipping away.  

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Topics: project management, meeting design

Taking Effective Meeting Notes: Where Technology Meets Organizational Culture

Jun 26, 2019 by Al Chen in meeting technology (6 minute read)

I have worked in technology for 10+ years, and have experienced meetings of all shapes and sizes. Interestingly, the types of meetings and ways of conducting meetings have not evolved as quickly as the technology behind meetings. 

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Generally speaking, the meeting starts with the meeting facilitator announcing the agenda. Everyone introduces themselves. Someone is writing meeting notes and minutes as the meeting progresses. As the meeting winds to a close, the meeting facilitator surveys the room for questions and comments.

“We are the only mammals that can cooperate with numerous strangers because only we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of others to believe in them.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens

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Topics: meeting technology

Fast, Fun, and Powerful: Design Sprints

Jun 17, 2019 by Douglas Ferguson in meeting design (6 minute read)

Introducing Douglas Ferguson
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Douglas Ferguson. Douglas Ferguson is the president of Voltage Control, an Austin-based agency that specializes in Innovation Transformation.

We were introduced to Douglas through our network as the go-to facilitator to bring in when you want to run a Design Sprint.

What's a Design Sprint? In this post, Douglas tells us all about it.
— Team Lucid

We often know what we should do or what we want to do to make our product and services better. But, we don’t. Instead, what we have to do and what’s on fire at-the-moment usually takes precedence. So, when we want to make big shifts, it’s all about carving out time and focus. Design Sprints give you both.

Let me give you an example from one of my favorite Design Sprints: on-demand meal delivery company Favor asked me to facilitate a Design Sprint last year. They wanted to focus on how to improve the earnings of their “Runners" (the people who deliver the meals) by 10% while also cutting the number of Runners who found the job frustrating by half.

Tackling this problem with design had been on their mind, but they just hadn’t gotten to it. By dedicating time for a Design Sprint, they were able to kickstart important improvements.

"We started with all these ideas about what our users wanted and needed in the next version of our app. The design sprint made us rapidly validate these assumptions instead of getting months down the road and realizing we were designing things our users didn’t want or need. In one week, we were able to build a solid foundation for our redesign from real user feedback."

-Meg Nidever, UX Designer, Favor Delivery

Even better, the Sprint experience led to a renewed dedication to prototyping and user testing for the Favor team.

What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint is like an all-inclusive retreat for your next great business idea. This timeboxed, self-contained process allows teams the opportunity to consider an existing problem or a new idea, gather insights on potential or current users, prototype ideas, and validate them all within about five days.

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Topics: meeting design

Want Better Engagement in Meetings? Take Some Tips From This Fabulous Ship Full of Nerds

May 28, 2019 by Elise Keith in meeting design (5 minute read)

I often find inspiration for better meetings from gatherings outside the business world. I'm curious: what is it that makes someone who grimaces through every meeting pony up good money to gather with other people after work? Why do so many people raise their hands claiming to hate meetings when I speak at meetings they had to pay to attend? 

People don't hate meetings. They hate pointless wastes of their time. So what does success look like?

Successful gatherings of all types share several common characteristics. The JoCo cruise is one such successful gathering.

Mermaids relaxing at a JoCo cruise stop. Pic by Steve Petrucelli

Billed as a "nerdy summer camp at sea," the JoCo cruise is an affinity cruise for lovers of sci-fi, fantasy, board games, and all things deliciously nerdy. More importantly, as John Schwartz writes in the New York Times, the JoCo cruise regularly creates a "floating community of friends."

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Topics: meeting design

When More Isn't Merrier: How To Increase Participation When You've Got Too Many People In Your Online Meeting

May 14, 2019 by Judy Rees and Steve McCann in remote work (3 minute read)

“The more, the merrier in meetings. You can now have up to 250 participants! … Just right for that quarterly all-hands get-together.”

The announcement from a leading video conference system supplier made my heart sink.

NO! That's NOT just right. 

Thanks to the magic of videoconferencing, you can instantly talk at all your people, all over the world - and of course that's useful in some circumstances.

But it’s not a get-together. It's not bringing anyone together. 

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Topics: remote work

From the Michigan Woods to Internationally Recognized Facilitator

May 9, 2019 by Beatrice Briggs (3 minute read)

November 1991. Northern Michigan, almost at the Canadian border. Ten people gathered in a rustic inn for a weeklong training in group facilitation and consensus decision-making.

I had recently joined a grass roots, ecological network in which meetings were facilitated and decisions were made by consensus. Until then, my meeting-going experience had been limited to parent-teacher events at my children's school. I had never heard of facilitation, much less seen it in action.

A colleague and I realized that we had a dearth of trained facilitators in our area, so we recruited the most respected facilitator in the movement (Caroline Estes from Oregon) and committed to organizing and attending the training.

Even though I helped organize the training, I was skeptical. I thought, “A whole week? What could be so complicated about this that we need so much time to learn it?”

Short answer: It was an initiation, thinly disguised as training. A life-changing introduction to work that would eventually cause me to move to Mexico, learn Spanish and work in over 30 countries around the world.

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

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6 Reasons Most Efforts to Fix a Bad Meeting Culture Fail and How You Can Beat the Odds

Mar 14, 2019 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, training (13 minute read)

Earlier this week we announced the opening of Meeting School, the world's only online educational marketplace dedicated to meeting skills education. Meeting School offers courses taught by the team at Lucid and by meeting specialists, scientists, and experts from around the globe.

At Lucid Meetings, our mission is to make it easy for teams to run successful meetings every day. Teaching teams the skills they need to run successful meetings seems like an obvious way for us to fulfill this mission, and yet we're just now opening our first courses to students.

For years, when I shared the Lucid mission with new people they would say "Oh, so you do training? Workshops and things?" They assumed that a group looking to run better meetings would need workshops.

But we'd seen too many organizations invest in failed quick-fix meeting improvement programs, and we weren't interested in creating yet another well-meaning but doomed-to-fail batch of meeting training.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, training

How to Prevent the Opinion Wars That Derail Decision Making

Jan 18, 2019 by Beatrice Briggs in meeting design (4 minute read)

One of the most important reasons for holding a meeting is to make decisions.

Yet too often, the decision-making process degenerates into a battle between competing points of view. Participants become polarized, entrenched in their positions and paralyzed by their disagreements. Unable to resolve the conflict, the group often makes a decision that everyone says they can live with, but that no one really supports. Or worse, no decision gets made at all, and the group misses the opportunity to take positive collective action.

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Topics: meeting design

Going from Good To Great: A Case Study on Improving Meeting ROI

Dec 4, 2018 by Tricia Harris in case studies (3 minute read)

About iWMS

iWMS is an international HighJump software service provider.

Since its inception in South Africa 2009, the company has extended its operations into India, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

This global expansion allows iWMS to access the best global resources while also expanding their market share. The combination allows them to blend teams and make sure the right level of experience is available for their customers.

iWMS CEO, Richard Evans, noticed that his internal and customer meetings were going well, but he thought they could use a bit more structure.

He decided to look for a way to improve the company’s management meetings, and decided that it was important to document decisions, formally track action items, and follow up after meetings to make sure everyone was sticking to commitments.

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Topics: case studies

Transforming Expertise into Mastery

Sep 19, 2018 by Paul Dreyer in leadership & facilitation (3 minute read)

The Lucid Meetings team is thrilled to introduce Paul Dreyer.

Our founder Elise Keith met Paul when visiting Zingerman's. At the time, Paul was visiting Zingerman's to see how they'd evolved their training practice, and Elise was conducting research for Where the Action Is.  

They got to talking about the Conscious Competence Ladder, a tool they'd both used for training meetings. Paul shared how he'd developed an updated version of the model for use in his work - and yes, it's way better! He's generously agreed to share this updated model with the Lucid community. Thank you, Paul! 

When I first learned about the "Conscious Competence Ladder” of becoming an expert, I loved it.

I immediately added it to my leadership and communication tool box. Whether I was learning something myself or facilitating a training on leadership development, I would often point to this model as an effective and powerful awareness tool.

Sometimes also referred to as the "Conscious Competence Matrix” or the "Four Stages of Learning," this model helps us  better understand the struggling landscape we must travel when learning something new.

Of course, I was not alone. Since it was developed in the 1970s, the Conscious Competence Ladder has become a widely used and loved tool. From classrooms to boardrooms to best-selling books on communication (i.e. Malcolm Gladwell's Blink), this model seems to show up everywhere.

Unfortunately, it's incomplete and actually not a good model. Let me show you how to transform the model into something better.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation