Elise Keith

Lucid Meetings Co-Founder, based in Portland, OR
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Recent Posts

How To Establish an Effective Decision-Making Process for Your Team in 5 Simple Steps

Sep 16, 2019 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design, strategy (24 minute read)

Many teams lack a clear process for making decisions. Others create decision-making processes that are plenty clear, but take forever. Most employ a confused mix, running some decisions through an agonizing gauntlet of analysis but leaving others up to the leader-of-the-day's whims.

These teams waste money and time. They also undermine the group's confidence and trust.

Who wants to work on a team where nothing gets done, because no one ever makes a decision without first checking and re-analyzing 97,000 times? Not me. Not you, I'm guessing.

None of us wants to work with a leader who makes arbitrary decisions based on secret criteria, either. While executive mandate sounds powerful, in reality it means that the leader couldn't get anyone else to back that decision with them, so they chose to bully it into being instead.

What works? And if your team doesn't have great decision making habits, how do you get started?

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design, strategy

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

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

Maturing The Meeting Performance Maturity Model

Sep 5, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (11 minute read)

The Anna Karenina phenomenon builds on the first line of Tolstoy’s novel, which states:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

When it comes to how an organization meets, we find the opposite to be more true.  Unhappy organization are all alike; every happy organization meets in its own way.

The organizations that provide the case study examples for organizational excellence, cultural cohesion, and that achieve the enviable combination of economic performance and a healthy workplace have all discovered ways to meet that are both effective and tailored for them.

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Topics: meeting design

Meetings and Productivity: Driver or Drain?

Aug 24, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (9 minute read)

Looking at the ROI (Return on Investment) of meetings provides insight into which parts of the business need to take meeting performance more seriously, and which parts are already working well.

In a recent webinar (click here to see the recording), I shared the four main areas of organizational performance that are most impacted by meetings.

Some of these, like sales and new business development, directly impact our ability to generate new top-line revenue. The ROI of training sales people to run excellent meetings is no-brainer obvious; trained sales people sell more stuff and make more money.

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Topics: meeting design

5 Steps to Improving Engagement in Meetings

Jul 30, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (29 minute read)

Note: This post is an excerpt from Chapter 8 in Where the Action Is: the Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization, available now on Amazon.com

Participation propels perceived meeting quality. We call it participation when we are attending a meeting—as in, "I had a chance to participate." Meeting leaders often use the term engagement to describe the same thing.

The Spectrum of Meeting Engagement

Engagement is about getting the individual into the meeting, about breaking through the noise and fog of whatever may be going on for each person so they can focus their will on the collective goals. Meeting engagement is observable behavior; you can see whether or not someone engages in a meeting. This engagement falls across a spectrum of behavior that looks something like this.

At the bottom end of the spectrum, you have the Disruptive behavior— things like:

  • Arriving late or not at all, or leaving early
  • Side conversations
  • Interrupting
  • Complaining
  • Excessive negativity and personal attacks

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Topics: meeting design

Battle Axes to Boardrooms: A Discussion with Wilbert Van Vree

Apr 13, 2018 by Elise Keith in book review, fun with meetings (11 minute read)

Meetings, Manners, and Civilization: The Development of Modern Meeting Behaviour, written by sociologist and meeting expert Wilbert Van Vree, was originally published in 1999, but I just finished it this March. Of the five meeting books I read this spring, this was by far the most thought-provoking, so I asked Dr. Van Vree if he'd be willing to discuss it with us here on the Lucid blog. He agreed!

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Topics: book review, fun with meetings

The Real-Time Agenda Technique

Mar 22, 2018 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (15 minute read)

I was enjoying lunch at a technology conference with a group of CTOs from high-powered companies when the conversation turned from blockchain to meetings.

It’s funny how that always happens.

First, we heard about the awful meetings held at a large manufacturing company. Then, it was the CTO for an NFL team's turn.

“My team meetings are terrible!” he exclaimed. “My problem is my co-manager. If it were up to me, we’d have an agenda for every meeting and a report afterwards. I’m an orderly type of guy. Like, you should see my sock drawer. It’s amazing! But my partner thinks that’s all too formal and stuffy, so whenever I bring an agenda he just ignores it. Then of course the meetings always go long, we never get through what we wanted to talk about, and we just end up having more meetings to hash it out again. I guess I should put my foot down and start forcing him to use an agenda.”

He sighed.

There are easily five things you could pick out of that statement as problems worth addressing, but the big one is the conflicting beliefs between the managers. One wants to “follow rules," the other sees rules as needless constraints.

“Have you heard of a real-time agenda? Or Lean Coffee?” I asked. He hadn’t, so I explained the concept.

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Topics: tips & techniques

Using Ground Rules to Improve Engagement and Run Excellent Team Meetings

Feb 4, 2018 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (10 minute read)

You get what you tolerate.

I’ve heard this adage many times when complaining about my dog’s behavior, and occasionally regarding my children too. The person sharing that wisdom is telling me that my dog’s and my children’s poor behavior persists because I allow it to; because I’m creating the conditions where that kind of thing can occur not just once, but repeatedly.

Recently we hosted a webinar on how to increase engagement during team meetings, and we asked people who registered about the number one meeting engagement problem they hoped we could help solve.

Several registrants asked about how to deal with the person who won’t stop talking, making it hard for anyone else to get a word in. Several others asked about how to get people to show up on time, or even to show up at all.

I shared some specific techniques for helping with these situations in the webinar, but as more and more of these replies kept coming in, I couldn’t help but hear that adage echo in the back of my head.

You get what you tolerate.

While I believe that’s true to a degree, I never found it particularly useful!

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Topics: tips & techniques

What Makes a Meeting Worth Attending? (And How to Fix Yours)

Jan 5, 2018 by Elise Keith (17 minute read)

When asked what they want most from the meetings they attend,
people ask for clarity.

We asked this question at the start of our most recent meeting survey–

“What do you feel makes a meeting worth attending and a good use of your time?”

–and the replies included 136 detailed answers to this question. Of those, 62% included the descriptors “clear”, “specific”, “defined”, and “concrete”.  “Relevant” was another popular adjective.

On the noun front, “agenda” was neck-and-neck with “outcomes”, as in “clear agenda” and “concrete outcomes”, suggesting that people not only want to know why they’re meeting, they also expect to get something out of the deal.

Leading to the question that drives nearly everything we do:

How can you achieve this clarity in your workplace meetings?

In 2017, we published several in-depth articles about understanding the business function of meetings.

Working with experts from several disciplines, we published comprehensive guides for running specific kinds of meetings. We shared a glossary, a taxonomy, and resources galore. It’s a start at answering this question.

In this vast realm of meeting possibilities, we’ve scratched the surface. It’s a nice, deep, keyed-your-car kind of scratch, but there’s still much more to key into.

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