5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement in Meetings …and Why it Matters

Jul 14, 2015 by Paul Axtell in tips & techniques (6 minute read)

Early in my career, my supervisor did me a big favor, although it didn’t feel like it at the time.

Kurt put me on probation for not speaking during meetings. He stated it very simply—Paul, if you don’t speak, you don’t add value.

I had lots of ways to justify my lack of speaking: I was the newest member of the group, I didn’t have much experience, other people seemed to have more to say, I wasn’t sure I had anything of value to add, and, of course, the blockbuster of all: I was shy.

Fortunately, my supervisor wasn’t into explanations or excuses—just results. And suddenly not speaking wasn’t an option for me.

Now, many years later, during training programs on personal effectiveness and coaching with individual managers, I am working to broaden the amount of participation in meetings and to deepen the level of conversation in group settings.

Two key ideas are at the heart of this issue:

First, participants need to embrace this perspective: If you are invited to speak, you are obligated to respond even if it is simply to acknowledge being asked and saying that you don’t have anything to express that hasn’t already been said. Part of being an effective member of any group is to always be self-expressed.

Second, when leading meetings, you need to call on people directly because you simply can not count on people speaking up on their own.


Topics: tips & techniques

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

Apr 30, 2015 by John Keith in tips & techniques (3 minute read)

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!


Topics: tips & techniques

6 Meeting Metrics to Collect in Every Meeting You Run

Mar 3, 2015 by Chris Higgins in tips & techniques (3 minute read)

Here's an excerpt from our new ebook, Meetings Are Serious Business: How to Minimize Costs, Maximize Value, and Master Your Meetings. It's from the third chapter, when we get into specifics about how to improve the ROI of your meetings by collecting metrics of meetings. It's easier than you'd think. Dive in!

You intuitively know whether your meetings create a sense of communal knowledge and purpose or whether they actually frustrate, bore, and confuse. What you need to do is turn that intuitive knowledge into data, and examine that data over time as you work to improve your meeting culture and the ROI for your meetings.

How to Collect Meeting Data

In your mission to use data as one of the tools for improving your meeting culture, you'll be collecting information that can show trends and patterns for your meetings, so you'll need a system where you can save and add to this data over time (in most companies, this will be an ongoing process lasting years). Most meeting productivity systems will automate much or all of this data collection for you; if you have access to one of those, that's the easiest way to get detailed records you can analyze later.

Alternatively, you can collect data in a spreadsheet. Nonprofit management consultant Mark Fulop wrote a great article on tracking meeting performance, including a sample Meeting Effectiveness Excel template (.XLS file), that provides a helpful starting place for creating your own tracking system.


Topics: tips & techniques

Free Tools for Scheduling Your Next Meeting

Feb 3, 2015 by Elise Keith in meeting technology, tips & techniques (5 minute read)

You're in charge of arranging a meeting that includes people from different companies in different time zones. Thanks to the ready availability of online meeting services, you no longer need to worry about travel times or budgets - you simply have to find a time to meet and send out invitations.

That's the good news: meeting online makes it easier than ever to meet with people spread across the globe.

Still, that's easier said than done. When you meet with the people in your company, you simply check their shared calendar to find an open slot and send out the invitation. That won't work this time because you have no idea what the other attendees already have on their schedule.

The challenge: meeting with people outside of your corporate network and local timezone increases the complexity of scheduling.

Related: Free tools for organizing meeting agendas and taking notes

So it begins - the long exchange of email as you try to find a mutually agreeable meeting time. You need a time that everyone has free with a little bit of padding just in case the conversation goes long that isn't during anyone's lunch, not too early, not too late, not on a holiday (accounting for the different holidays for each country and religion involved in the call). The more people involved, the longer this takes.


Topics: meeting technology, tips & techniques

2 Fast and Easy Ways to Get Meeting Feedback

Nov 5, 2014 by Chris Higgins in tips & techniques (4 minute read)

We all sit in meetings. But how often do we examine how well those meetings go? In this post, we'll walk through two simple ways to assess meeting effectiveness, so you'll know how to make your meetings better.

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s cover a few general tips:

  1. Let people know you’ll be asking for feedback
    The easiest way to do this is to include “Feedback” in the agenda as part of your last item. When you don’t let people know you’ll be asking for feedback in advance, they won’t have a chance to gather their thoughts and may resent the extra time - not the best situation for getting useful comments.

    Side note on this one: After every Lucid Meeting, people can provide feedback using an online survey, or they can skip it. If the meeting leader asks the group to fill out the survey, most people provide feedback. On the other hand, if the meeting leader says nothing and the survey just appears automatically, most people skip it.

  2. Keep it short
    Both methods described here can get meeting feedback in 5 minutes or less, although your group can take longer if you all find the conversation productive.

  3. Ask for examples of ways to improve, not about problems.
    We’re all naturally good at pointing out flaws, even when the supposed flaw can’t be fixed or didn’t really matter. You don’t want to ask questions that encourage a negative rant at the end of a meeting.

    Use “what can we improve?” instead “what went wrong?” By asking how to improve, you focus the group on improvement and solutions rather than criticism.


Topics: tips & techniques

5 Icebreakers for Distributed Team Meetings

Sep 30, 2014 by Chris Higgins in remote work, tips & techniques (9 minute read)

When you run online meetings with people who are located in different parts of the world, it's crucial that you help your team make a human connection. "Icebreakers" are just the ticket: short team-building exercises conducted at the beginning of a meeting.

Because you don't have a physical way to get people moving around the same room, you have to adapt traditional icebreakers to work over distance.

Here are some practical tips for introducing an icebreaker activity into your next meeting... and a little advice on pitfalls to avoid!

When to Use or Not Use an Icebreaker

Icebreakers fit into a larger strategy of team-building and establishing team culture. Knowing your team, and knowing your plan to build team culture, is crucial to succeeding with any such exercise. Here are some scenarios in which icebreaker activities may be a GOOD idea:


Topics: remote work, tips & techniques

Meetings Taking Too Long? 6 Tips for Shorter Meetings

Sep 9, 2014 by Chris Higgins in tips & techniques (4 minute read)

We've all been in meetings that take longer than they should. But if you're leading a meeting, how can you streamline that meeting and share the load with your team? Here are six practical, simple ways to cut your meetings down to size.

1. Clarify the Goal

The number one way to fix meetings taking too long? Get clear about when they should end.

This is simple, but often overlooked. When you schedule your meeting, tell everyone: "When we achieve [the meeting's goal], this meeting is over." It's up to you to define your meeting's goal. For instance: "When we agree on the features to include in the next release of the software project we're working on, this meeting is over."

By setting the criteria for meeting success up front, you achieve alignment within the group, and you make it clear what it will take to finish. Both of these help streamline discussions -- you're driving toward a clear goal.

Clear goals = shorter meetings.

2. Simplify the Agenda

If you have a lot of material to cover, remove the smaller stuff and consider breaking your meeting up into multiple sessions. While there's no simple guideline to know precisely how many agenda items your team needs (every team is different), ask yourself: Do I need everyone in the room to deal with every one of these agenda items? Wherever the answer is "No," cut that agenda item and deal with it elsewhere.

You may find that some items require the attention of more than one person, but not all the people in your meeting. When this is the case, it's your call whether the item should be in your agenda or should be handled in a sub-group and the result brought back to the team. The key point is to examine your agenda items with this criteria in mind before you go ahead with your meeting. Your attendees will thank you.

Also, be sure to assign time for each agenda item, and track to that time. If you're going over time on a given agenda item, make a choice in the moment: either stop the discussion and deal with the issue elsewhere (in a next meeting or separate discussion), or commit to spending extra time. If your key priority is to make your meeting shorter, that decision is easy to make.


Topics: tips & techniques

How to take notes in meetings

Apr 22, 2014 by Tricia Harris in leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques (3 minute read)

Have you ever been asked to take meeting notes? We've all been there, and usually no one is thrilled about it.

However, taking meeting notes is a critical step in moving work forward, and everyone should know how to do it well.

Not clear why you should even take a note? Then by all means start by reading our previous post - we've got 5 good reasons for ya.

What notes should I take?

The skill of how to take notes in meetings sounds easy, but it actually takes practice. Team members may talk quickly, and you want to make sure to capture the important points:

  • Meeting minutes should be comprised of important facts. Basic example: "Ted is flying to Denver on Tuesday.” The sentence captures who, what, when, and where.
  • Issues and decisions are also important to record. For example, “we need to ensure the hotel has a working internet connection for the meeting” (issue to be resolved) or “Sally will accompany Fred to the conference” (decision made by the team).
  • Make sure to capture any action plans that result from the issues raised or decisions made. Example: "Sarah will book the flights and hotel, and Sally will purchase conference tickets.
  • Lastly, record any questions raised and their answers, as well as ideas provided by the team. Once you get into the habit of reviewing notes from previous meetings, this will become valuable.


Topics: leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques

Infographic: 7 keys to successful client meetings online

Mar 25, 2014 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques (2 minute read)

Project managers with training and experience know that there's more to running a project than simply writing down some dates and hounding people for status updates.

Scrum masters and Agile coaches who have worked with more than one kind of team also know there's a big difference between getting that certificate and actually knowing how to do the job well.


Topics: leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques

How We Work Remotely - Our Best Gear and Productivity Hacks

Feb 12, 2014 by Tricia Harris in remote work, tips & techniques (5 minute read)

Most of our blog posts center around how to best work together as a team. We thought we’d change gears a little and talk about how we work remotely and what boosts our productivity as individuals.

Occasionally we meet in the same place, but for the most part, our team works from everywhere, literally. One of our team members spent last summer working from the south of France. And why not? We make meeting software that supports this, so working remotely we’re able to test out how it works every day.

Even though we are a virtual work team, we get a lot done. Sometimes it's even a bit crazy how far and fast we move - inspiring our friend Chris to put together this sketch based on what it's like to work on our team using Lucid. And yes, Tony is a real guy who really is on a plane.

Items we *all* can’t live without


Topics: remote work, tips & techniques