Technology Brief: Augmented Meeting Services (2021 update)

Aug 18, 2021 by John Keith in meeting technology, communication architecture (13 minute read)



Way back in 1996 I decided to quit my high tech job and start an internet software company with a couple friends, because ... Internet right?! Sounds like a lifelong dream come true—but right off the bat I made a big mistake.

See, you think you're going to be building products and delivering services (okay, you are), but as a company founder and leader you're really building a business. And in particular you're building the foundations, processes, and systems that support the business over time. Of course we didn't quite realize that, so instead we mainly focused on building out our product development systems, with scant attention on the accompanying business support systems. That was an error.

Because we hadn't really developed or standardized our communication architecture, people filled the gaps for themselves. One day we woke to discover we were rife with disjointed, informal systems—leading to pockets of isolated information that kept our teams in the dark and separated from each other in their own silos. A lot of that mess showed up in our meetings.

Through this tortuous experience we learned a very important lesson: our meetings were indeed "where the action is" — all the good, bad, or ugly in the organization showed up there. And once we had that idea firmly in mind we began to explore what it meant to develop a truly professional approach to meetings as part of a larger business communication plan.

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Topics: meeting technology, communication architecture

Tips for Taking In-Person Training and Workshops Online

Apr 7, 2020 by Elise Keith in meeting technology, leadership & facilitation, remote work, meeting design (11 minute read)

If you're a trainer, workshop facilitator, faith-community leader, event planner, or consultant, you convene groups for a living.


You've probably designed your work assuming you'll be in the same room with the group you're serving.

Now, like everyone else, you need to figure out how to deliver your services online.

You're working fast and feeling a lot of pressure to have an answer for your clients now. You also want to keep your existing contracts intact as much as possible. It was hard enough to get these sessions scheduled in the first place, so you really don't want to have that discussion again.

Unfortunately, this desire to keep the transition from in-person to virtual as simple and direct as possible is driving many experts to make some poor choices. They're also missing some big opportunities.

Here are three of the most important mistakes we see experts make when they first redesign in-person events for online delivery, and some tips about what to do instead.

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Topics: meeting technology, leadership & facilitation, remote work, meeting design

Taking Effective Meeting Notes: Where Technology Meets Organizational Culture

Jun 26, 2019 by Al Chen in meeting technology, guest post (7 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, guest post

How We Created an Open API (and Added 1,000 New Integrations with Zapier)

Jan 10, 2018 by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement (7 minute read)

 

Originally Published: July 16, 2016 when Zapier had 500+ Applications!

We began planning our public API implementation in late 2015. We had numerous requests for full Read/Write API access to the data model and were responding to stated customer needs.

By early 2016 we had the first version of the API tested and preview-ready. But an interesting thing happened -- we started hearing that people wanted a "simplicity layer" on top of the programmer-level API. What form would that take, exactly?

We started hearing that people wanted a "simplicity layer" on top of the programmer-level API

Well boy howdy, were we ever glad to find Zapier! Here's the thing, Zapier provides a "point solution"-oriented approach that addresses specific needs that real people in the real word have identified—needs that were outside our direct experience.

The core trigger-action model implemented by Zapier is super easy for non-technical users, and the promise of building a simplicity layer was compelling and real. With Zapier's codeless integrations ("Zaps"), extending Lucid Meetings with workflow automation became easy as pie.

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Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

Smarter Meeting Planning: The Process Approach

Aug 18, 2016 by John Keith in meeting technology (3 minute read)

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

Technology That Makes Meetings Effective

Feb 9, 2016 by John Windsor in meeting technology (4 minute read)

Let’s start with a brief history . . .

Dawn of Time: Cavemen gather to plan their hunts. Details are painted on walls of caves. Best practices are non-existent, but the species survives.

1560s: Sir Thomas Smyth begins writing down the accepted practices for meetings in England’s House of Commons. “Parliamentary procedures” are now codified, and best practices become set in stone (or really thick books).

1876: U.S. Army Major Henry M. Robert publishes a book entitled Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, which is wisely shortened to Robert’s Rules of Order (now in its 11th edition). Robert’s approach follows parliamentary procedures, with some modernization in newer editions.

The past 50 years: A growing collection of books attempt to define a less rigid approach for business meetings, while providing guidance on best practices.

The past 10 years: Thousands of blog posts every year on how to have better meetings — or how to avoid them. There are common themes about best practices, but clearly the message isn’t getting through, because each year brings thousands of new blog posts.

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Topics: meeting technology

The Missing Guide to Troubleshooting Audio & Video Conferencing Problems

Nov 18, 2015 by Elise Keith in meeting technology (15 minute read)

Just want the highlights?
Get the key tips minus all the commentary in the PDF version of this guide.

Contents

A Little Background

ReadyTalk says that "The number 1 enemy of online conferences is poor audio quality", and I agree with that.

When we first released Lucid Meetings, we didn't include support for audio or video conferencing. We figured everyone already had something they used - WebEx most often, or maybe a Freeconferencecall.com number - so we didn't need to worry about that part and could just focus on helping people organize their agendas and capture minutes.

But time after time, we'd get support complaints from people who had trouble running a meeting because the audio failed, begging us to please add audio to Lucid so they could cancel their existing service. Without easier audio, they couldn't run successful online meetings.

So, we began integrating audio conferencing into Lucid. We started with a simple web-only audio feature, but soon found it too limiting. Next, we integrated a full-on conferencing service: toll dialing, toll-free numbers, call recording, international, the works.

Pretty soon we were running meetings that really needed video. We added integrations with Skype, Google Hangouts, and appear.in. Then, our big clients with expensive contracts through Adigo, Verizon and InterCall demanded we support their private conferencing in our meetings, and we added ways to set up custom audio profiles.

Every time we set up a new way to run audio or video conferencing, we'd test it and run into problems. Every time.

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Topics: meeting technology

35 Tools for Online Brainstorming and Decision Making in Meetings (2020 update)

Sep 25, 2015 by Elise Keith in meeting technology, decision making (51 minute read)

Including step-by-step instructions, screenshots, short reviews, and our top recommendations

Last updated April 14, 2020
For this update, we added several new tools and removed a few that are no longer in business. You'll find helpful replies and information from the companies listed here embedded in the full list at the end of the post.

This list was originally published in 2015. Every tool listed below is active as of April 2020, but the descriptions below may be out of date.

  • Technology companies: contact us if you have updates you'd like to see here.
  • Technology customers: be sure to visit each tool's website to see the most current information.

You may also want to check out our all-encompassing post on making decisions in meetings -- it's a great companion piece to this article.

How exactly do you do this online?

 

The Strategic Planning Meeting Essentials Pack designed by Anna O'Byrne includes a series of online brainstorming and decision-making exercises. If you run these meetings face-to-face, you'll use sticky notes, markers and a whiteboard for those steps in the process.

But, how do you do the sticky-note thing online? You can find dozens of online sticky note and brainstorming applications, but not all of them work well as part of an online meeting.

We decided to test out all the online sticky-note, brainstorming, and decision-making tools we could find to figure out just which ones work best for quick collaborative sessions during a meeting.

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Topics: meeting technology, decision making

How to select the right online meeting platform for any meeting

Dec 11, 2014 by Elise Keith in meeting technology (20 minute read)

Download this article as a PDF

Today we're taking an in-depth look at how to match software features to the type of meeting you're running, which is the first item in our Top 10 Things to Consider When Purchasing Meeting Software checklist.


Have you ever walked into a meeting where there weren’t enough chairs? Those people shuffling in the back of the room distract everyone and make the group rush through the conversation.

Ever tried to map out your big idea on the whiteboard, only to find that none of the pens work? No matter how vigorously you wave your hands around, you just can’t get your idea across without the picture.

Remember the time you worked so hard to prepare that important presentation, only to fumble about and eventually discover that you had no way to connect to the projector? I still get a sick feeling in my gut about that one.

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Topics: meeting technology

10 Tips for Running Online Meetings with People in Other Countries

Oct 16, 2014 by Chris Higgins in meeting technology, remote work (7 minute read)

We meet with international teams all the time -- our own company spans three timezones and two countries, and we work with clients around the world.

When you host international conference calls with people living in different countries, you run into special challenges. Here are 10 tips to help you plan and run international meetings successfully.

1. Use an Online Meeting Scheduler

If you live in one country but have participants from others, it gets very messy trying to figure out all the holidays, weekends, timezone "work day" overlaps, and so on.

Your best bet is to use an international meeting scheduler that allows participants to mark which meeting times work for them. Lucid Meetings includes the option to ask participants to select good times from a list; that's useful even if your team doesn't span countries.

If your meeting software doesn't support this kind of "ask the participants" function, try the World Clock Meeting Planner. It requires you to plug in the locations of all your participants, but gives you a reasonable idea of what might be a feasible time (or set of times) for your meeting.

2. Share the Inconvenience

I occasionally meet with a team including participants in these locations: the west coast of the United States, Israel, and Taiwan.

If you plug these locations into a timezone calculator, you'll see that there is no "good" time to meet. Inevitably, somebody on the team is up very early or very late to attend the meeting.

When you encounter this situation, rotate the meeting times so that each participant gets a "good" time slot once in a while.

In other words, if you're on the U.S. west coast, go ahead and schedule a meeting for 10pm Pacific Standard Time, so that the other participants will be in their offices during normal work hours. Then rotate it next time so you won't be in your pajamas.

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Topics: meeting technology, remote work