better meetings

Which of These 5 Common Meeting Problems Would You Like to End?

Think to the last meeting you had. How did you feel when you left? Was it everything you imagined (and more)…or not so much? Today I’ve pulled together some of my least favorite meeting situations, AND, because I’m a big fan of being proactive, there are a few ideas to help address these issues.

Someone keeps bringing up the same point over and over again.

This tends to be one symptom when someone doesn’t feel heard, so making sure everyone can see how their ideas fit into the bigger picture of the conversation often nips this behavior quickly and easily.

You leave with your head spinning and you have no idea what you just did for the past 55 minutes.

When content is complex or there’s uncertainty about moving forward, conversations can quickly get convoluted. Partnering with a graphic recorder who visually maps the conversation in real time illuminates connections, questions, and momentum. The map also shows the group exactly how much they DID accomplish over the course of the meeting, and where more work is needed to move forward.

You can’t get a word in edgewise because someone dominates the conversation.

Graphic facilitators can help you design creative and engaging meeting agendas to include different ways of communicating. They also have smooth strategies for making space for all voices to be heard and valued (see also: first bullet).

You had a ridiculously collaborative, creative, breakthrough meeting…Then everyone scatters and nothing happens.

This one is tricky and deceptive, because it’s difficult to track and recognize. Ask your visual partner to work with you to create ways to continue leveraging the charts after the meeting. One way to clarify next steps and expectations is to include time to map out who’s doing what by when.

You don’t know why this meeting is necessary.

Help you team be clear on exactly what you plan to accomplish by creating a visual agenda that you can send out ahead of time and/or hang up during the meeting; Having clear goals and expectations will set you and your meeting up for success. For example, if someone thinks the goal is brainstorming but their ideas keep getting shut down, they’ll probably shut down too. Or, if your team needs to prioritize and make decisions, but new ideas keep getting thrown in the mix, people will often get jaded or confused about what you’re doing and, you guessed it, shut down.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

What are your meeting pet peeves? Let’s hear ‘em, then craft some solutions to get your Meeting A Game back!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Lamar, Colorado:  Rural Philanthropy Days was all about connecting organizations and rural communities with resources and support. We launched the event with a World Café to hear what matters most to participants.

Lamar, Colorado: Rural Philanthropy Days was all about connecting organizations and rural communities with resources and support. We launched the event with a World Café to hear what matters most to participants.

Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming:  Working on visioning with a multi-generational family of wealth with a 100+ year family business and history of philanthropy.

Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming: Working on visioning with a multi-generational family of wealth with a 100+ year family business and history of philanthropy.

How to Explain the Value of the Graphic Recorder to the Folks Making the $$$ Decisions

Are you planning an event that you think could use some graphic recording, but the decision isn’t up to just you? Here’s a few ways you can help your team or leadership understand why it’s a great idea to get visual.

Start Planning Early: We all know there’s a million ways to spend an event budget. Make sure to reach out to your visual partner early on so you can be sure to have engaging, thought-provoking visuals to support your group!

Thought Partner: Find a visual practitioner who can help you understand your options about what’s possible and will help you craft custom elements and even processes that will make the most of your time together.

Science Rules: Graphic recording and facilitation isn’t just mesmerizing and fun, there’s a heap of science behind why it works! For example, did you know that the brain processes a visual 60,000 times faster than text (Semetko & Scammell, 2012)? Here’s a blog I wrote about the science behind graphic recording. And here’s a list of my favorite resources online and published, and if you want to geek out even more, ask me about my master’s thesis work around using graphic recording to help communicate complex science.

Money Matters: …and not just the operating budget for the event. Think of the value of the time (and salary!) of each person in the room. Why WOULDN’T you pull in someone who can help you make the most of your participants’ time? Bringing in a graphic facilitator to design a custom-tailored process or capture content visually can support your people as they make connections more quickly, think big, and collaboratively!

learn-to-draw-cash-money-graphic-recording-conversketch

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Now you’ve got ‘em all convinced, let’s talk about your event!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Boulder:  Working with startups and seasoned executives in the optics business to co-create and brainstorm ways to foster success on the leading edge of the industry. Thanks to  Sanitas Advisors  for the photo!

Boulder: Working with startups and seasoned executives in the optics business to co-create and brainstorm ways to foster success on the leading edge of the industry. Thanks to Sanitas Advisors for the photo!

Windsor:  Supporting the Town Board and municipal leadership as they envision and plan for their future!

Windsor: Supporting the Town Board and municipal leadership as they envision and plan for their future!

Should You Hire a Graphic Recorder? Ask Yourself These Questions to Decide

As tempting as it is to impress upon you, my lovely readers, that really there’s never a bad time for a graphic recorder, some events and meetings are better suited than others to have visual support. So, to help you decide if bringing in a graphic recorder is a good idea, here are some guiding questions for you and your team:

What are my goals for this event?

Do you want to co-create a strategic plan? Brainstorm and prioritize new ideas? Bring together a new group and hope they leave as a team? Share the state of the science for your field?  If there’s complex information, you want to get a group on the same page, or keynote presentations that can inform future discussions, graphic recording is right for you.

It may not be a good fit if there will be back-to-back presentations with lots of slides and little or no time to discuss the content*, or you’re only looking to get caricatures of everyone on the team. A graphic recorder’s number one goal is to capture key content in a way that makes it more accessible to the group, which often means an illustration, but not always. And if there will be simultaneous sessions you want captured, then plan to hire a team of recorders.

*An exception would be if you plan to build on the content later.

Why am I considering a graphic recorder?

Do you want to engage people during technical discussions? To keep them collaborating after the event? To work through a complex challenge? To make your event or meeting stand out amongst a sea of others? Finding someone who has the right amount of technical understanding and can design work that will truly support the group as they move forward can be integral to the success of the group.

Will we need to look at or build on this later?

Graphic recording provides succinct maps of the conversation or presentations that are actually interesting to look at and build on. I also work with each of my clients to create a tailored list of suggestions for how to leverage the charts after the event. What action (if any) is desired after the event? How can you keep people engaged and motivated around the meeting ideas? How will people communicate what they’ve learned to those who weren’t there? Graphic recording can be an extremely powerful tool not only during, but long after the event when used well.

How well does this group know each other? Are they good at collaborating already, or are they newly formed? Is there history?

Graphic recording can be a power boost tool for established groups, and can be even more powerful for new groups just forming. When people see their ideas and know others in the group also see them, they feel heard, and move from thinking of it as “my idea” to “our ideas”. Facilitating this kind of collaborative thinking early on in the team’s existence can save time, build trust, and get things moving faster, even if there is “history” or “baggage” between some group members.

Am I looking for someone to design the process & be a neutral lead in the discussion too?

If so, you’re looking for a facilitator, which is great! Graphic recorders are wonderful team players and work well with facilitators to more deeply understand the process and create visuals to support the group.

should-i-hire-a-graphic-recorder-decision-chart

One more thing…

Keep in mind that if you’ve roped in a good graphic recorder, the sooner you engage with them in the meeting design process the better as we can help you figure out where in the agenda graphic recording can provide the most for your participants. Of course, we’re really flexible and good at adapting on the fly, so if it’s a last-minute decision, we can usually roll with it and still rock your world.

At this point, if you happen to be wondering what the difference between a graphic recorder and a graphic facilitator is, you’re in luck, because that’s what I’ll be writing about in a couple of weeks!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Sounds like I could use a graphic recorder for my next event!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Bikablo – One More Spot!   We’ve just opened one more spot for the 2-day immersive Bikablo Visual Facilitation training August 15-16 in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Click here  to find out more and register!

Bikablo – One More Spot!

We’ve just opened one more spot for the 2-day immersive Bikablo Visual Facilitation training August 15-16 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Click here to find out more and register!

The Cache la Poudre Canyon   Last week I had the distinct pleasure of a new experience with my US Forest Service clients – I got to camp out with them before graphic facilitating a mostly-outdoors retreat! An inspiring and beautiful location can go a long way for inspiring innovative and collaborative ideas!

The Cache la Poudre Canyon

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of a new experience with my US Forest Service clients – I got to camp out with them before graphic facilitating a mostly-outdoors retreat! An inspiring and beautiful location can go a long way for inspiring innovative and collaborative ideas!

How to Make the Most of Meetings

No matter who you are or where you work, you go to meetings. There is a spectrum of how you feel about meetings. It looks like this:

graphic-recording-feelings-about-meetings-spectrum

My goal with this post is to move you, at least a little, from the eel side to the OMG side of things by sharing some tips on how to make your meetings effective, useful, and fun.

Purpose.

  • Always have a clear goal or purpose for the meeting, and make sure everyone knows.
  • Always have an agenda (even if it’s just “5-minute update from both teams”). Again, make sure everyone knows.

Timing.

  • Create an expectation that meetings start and end on time, and stick to it.
  • Limit meetings to 30 minutes and see what you can actually do with that focused time.
  • Start meetings at an unusual time, like 1:36 pm.
  • How do you make sure to stay on time? Read on…

Technology.

  • Place a Phone Basket by the door and have everyone, including leadership, put their phones in there.

Consequences.

  • To ensure these guidelines are respected, institute consequences – positive or negative – for behaviors that support or undermine being on time.
  • For example, if you’re late, do 10 pushups for every late minute or you have to sing a song in front of the group.
  • If you are the reason a meeting goes long, you have to buy a round of drinks for everyone, or bring coffee for everyone next time.
  • If a phone rings during the meeting, the person needs to make a donation to a non-profit of choice.

Bring in a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator.

  • Your team will be able to wade through complexity more quickly and easily by seeing the conversation take place in front of them.
  • People stay engaged and better remember key ideas from the meeting.
  • Seeking connections and working collaboratively become second nature to the group.
  • Having a tangible map of what was achieved helps keep people focused and action-oriented after the meeting is over.

To me, the key for success here is building these behaviors and expectations into the organization’s culture.

graphic-recording-how-to-make-meetings-beter

For more great tips on effective meetings, read this article from Fast Company.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Interested in hosting the most interesting meetings in the world?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I’m out East in the DC area with the NSA again. We’re talking leadership, resiliency, and management styles and how to help teams work better together.

This week I’m out East in the DC area with the NSA again. We’re talking leadership, resiliency, and management styles and how to help teams work better together.