CG #46 – The Truth About Icebreakers, Part One

Icebreakers don’t build teams.  That’s why you can’t get enough of them. 

Word Count: 657

Reading Time: 2.5 mins

 “You can’t get enough of what you really want.”

–Author Unknown

“We want to do some team-building over our 3-day meeting. We’ve allowed 20 minutes for that. How about an icebreaker?”

I hear this a lot, and although I’m sympathetic about time constraints, I’m not encouraging.  The truth?  Using icebreakers as a team-building Hail-Mary Play doesn’t work.

Because icebreakers don’t build teams. They don’t break down silos. Icebreakers do not, in fact, break ice.

Asking an icebreaker to do any of these things is folly.   Even worse:  Planning a moment of group enlightenment that will finally, finally, finally make the team function as though they are a single unit is…how can I say this?  It’s mental.  Madness.  Utter lunacy.  This extends to the longer team-building activity that is expected to create intimate and resilient bonds amongst co-workers who may not even like each other.

This takes me back to an outdoor team-building activity I was in:  The log walk.  I topple off balance beams, even when they are lying on the ground, as this one was.  (Just typing the word “balance beam” makes me feel unsteady, and I’m sitting down.) When I looked like I was about to fall off the “log”and screw up the team score, one of the Directors reached out her hand to me and I grabbed on.  But it was our eye contact that steadied me.  And it changed our relationship completely, just like these intense team-building activities are supposed to do:  I’d have trusted her with my life after that, and smiled warmly at her when I saw her at work, which felt good.

So far, so good.  The problem?  It was impossible to translate that good feeling into workplace effectiveness.  There was too much in our way:

1. No one else on the team had that experience with her, so they continued to distrust her and talk badly about her behind her back.

2.  This isolated me from my peers, because, when I defended her, they started mistrusting me.

3. Eventually, our connection backfired, because this director needed to be seen as interacting with everyone equally.  Our bond became politically dangerous and awkward.  We’d spent 3 days at an offsite creating that.

Another problem with this just-add-water, instant-intimacy approach to team-building is one of calibration.  It’s hard to know how much togetherness a team can handle.  Artificial, intense experiences do not build resilient, enduring relationships.  It only feels like they do.   Some of your team may find a big slug of togetherness too much to assimilate, while others thrive on it and are profoundly affected.   Can your group build deep bonds out of this difference or will it splinter them?  It’s enough to make you ignore team-building altogether.

Which would be sad.  It’s better to remember the two cardinal rules of workplace intimacy:

1. Intimacy you can trust is intimacy that matches the context.

Teams exist to get work done, not to heal your childhood wounds.  So, what use can we make of icebreakers?  They are great warm-up exercises to help people arrive in the here and now, and learn about each other in tiny, bite-sized pieces.  Tiny pieces they can digest without choking.

Peak emotional experiences are hard to sustain for the same reason a boa constrictor can’t move after swallowing a pig:  Digesting takes center-stage, rather than chugging along in the background.

2. Intimacy is like sweat:  It’s the by-product of hard work, not its focus.

And, like building muscle, strengthening your team is happens in tiny increments over time, not in a single event.

You can build your team by the way you do you work, without adding any time or heavy loads of indigestible intimacy.  This works better than a 10 minute, lively and participatory icebreaker followed by 50 minutes of presentations that promote passivity and the lopsided involvement of open discussions.

I’ll list tips for how to do this in next week’s Collaboration Genius.

CG #44 – Why Your Boss Has Stopped Listening

Word Count: 727

Reading Time: About 3 minutes

Welcome to the leader’s dilemma:  Staying open to input without dying from all those tiny cuts.

+  +  +  +  +

Leader:   “It’s time to plan the annual Christmas party.  Where would you like to go?”

Staff 1:  “Can we really afford to do this?’

Staff 1:  “I want to have a Hawaiian theme this year.”

Staff 4:  “I don’t have any Hawaiian shirts.”

Staff 2:  “I don’t like Hawaiian food.”

Staff 3: “I love the music though.”

Staff 5: “If we’re going to do a Christmas party, I want to veto country-western music.”

Staff 6:  “Can we have a dunk tank?”

Staff 7:  “I want to bring my family this year.”

Staff 2 to leader: “We’re discussing the Christmas party and you’re looking at your Blackberry.”

Leader: “Sorry about that.  Have you decided where you want to go?”

+ + + + +

Is it any wonder the leader reaches for her Blackberry as soon as she can?   She opens a conversation, knowing she needs input.  But the conversation like being stabbed with 1000 tiny knives:  an irrelevant comment, a complaint, a suggestion from left field, everybody has their agenda to advance.  It’s no surprise that an open discussion goes this badly:  Groups don’t do well with so little structure, and leaders are exhausted by the amount of complaining they are subjected to.

The surprising thing is that this despair-inducing volley continues to play out in meeting after meeting when there are much more effective choices.

Let’s replay this with a more skillful approach from both the whine-resistant leader and the complaining staff.

+  +  +  +  +

Leader:  “It’s time to plan the annual Christmas party.  Is everybody willing to spend the next 20 minutes agreeing on a venue an approach?

Staff 1:  “I can spend 20 mins on this, but no more.  Let’s go.”

Staff 2:  Me too.”

Staff 3-6:  <head nods>

Leader:  “Staff 1, can you watch the time for us?  Thanks.  Let’s start by looking at the plus-delta list from last year:


  • The DJ was very popular
  • The food was great
  • The location was convenient


  • Can we bring spouses?
  • The music was too loud
  • Can it be shorter?
  • Can we skip the speeches?

Leader:  “Can someone summarize the themes for us?”

Staff 3: “A speech-free dinner with our spouses and some eclectic, quiet music.  Good food in an easy-to-get-to location.”

Staff 2:  “I also hear we shouldn’t structure it and we should keep it short.”

Leader: “What else?”


Leader: “Do you want to add anything to the list for this year?”

Staff 5: “Can we go back to the same place?  The food was fantastic!”

Leader: “Here’s the trade-off:  If we include spouses, we’ll need to go someplace less expensive.  How shall we decide which is most important?”

Staff 1:  “That’s a tough one.”

Staff 6: “Can we ask employees to pay for their spouses dinner, or drinks, or something to defray the expense of bringing a spouse?  I’d hate to penalize single employees by going to a lesser restaurant.”

Staff 1: “We’re at 15 minutes.”

Staff 4:  “How about we ask for some hard numbers so we can make an informed decision?  How many spouses would be coming, what is the cost per person, what was the alcohol tab from last year.”

Staff 3: “How much would we save at a less expensive restaurant.”

Staff 5:  “I like that approach.”


Leader:  “Excellent.  I’ll ask Admin 1 to get this for to us for next week’s meeting.  Thanks everyone.”

Staff 1:  “18 minutes.”

Leader:  “Thanks, Staff 1.  Well done, team.”

+ + + + +

Staff:  You don’t have to fawn over your leader.  Just help them get their decisions made. Help them help you.

Leaders:  You don’t have to let every discussion go free.   You don’t have to let any of them go free.  Using a meeting process like plus-delta, starting a conversation with brief, relevant data, asking for help, and keeping your group tightly focused on achieving a result are all welcome.

And here’s a tip for both staff and leaders:

When every option is met with an objection or criticism, it sucks the energy from the room.  Instead, ask each objector for a suggestion.

Even better, make “If you oppose, you must propose” a standing ground rule, and watch your leader put away that Blackberry.








CG #43 – 5 laws of fearless collaboration

Collaboration isn’t complicated.

You don’t need to wait until you attain enlightenment or become the person you’ve always dreamed of being.  You can collaborate with everyone, every time if you keep in mind these 5 laws:

1. Letting go isn’t failure.
2. Influence isn’t persuasion.
3. Listening and understanding (paraphrasing) isn’t agreeing.
4. Exploring options isn’t committing
5. Collaboration isn’t consensus.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be fleshing out these laws and describing the practices that bring them to life.  For this week, I’m asking you to think about these.  If you are a Collaboration Genius subscriber, we’ll be talking about these on our monthly call. If you have a moment, I’d appreciate your thoughts about these 5 laws.  My aim is to take the deluge of tips and tricks and skills and show that there is an elegant, simple, and unifying way to work easily, creatively and happily with other people, no matter their rank.

I’m working on another list of the 5 skills that act like a collaboration passport:  With only these 5 skills, you can cross any interpersonal border.  We’ll be working on those skills in upcoming editions of Collaboration Genius and on our future monthly calls.

CG #42 – Persuasion or Influence?

I’m not saying persuasion has no place in collaboration…or am I?

Word Count:  521

Reading Time:  1.5 minutes

Eric is well-spoken, dapper and energetic.  I’m watching him home in on and slowly tear apart a point someone has suggested that he disagrees with.  He never raises his voice, never gets personal and never utters a judgmental word, yet he conveys his distaste with every syllable he utters. His boss nods, apparently agreeing with Eric.

The rest of the team freezes when Eric starts his relentless campaign.   You can see them wilt, feel the energy go out of the room.  It’s hard to believe this is the same team who had just engaged in an electrifying give and take.

Candace cocks her head to one side and looks interested as she follows the conversation of her teammates.  When she speaks, she asks a thoughtful question that ignites the conversation and knits the team together.  Even when she expresses a difference of opinion, it increases the connectedness of the team.  By the time the team has reached a decision, it feels inevitable.  If asked who’s decision it was, no one would say “Candace,” yet it’s impossible to imagine this particular decision without her involvement.

Eric and Candace are real people.  The dilemma we share with them is also real:  How does a group of people with wildly different ideas come to an authentic agreement that everyone will fully support?

Persuasion is domination.  Persuasion values the “right answer” over any other consideration, and relentlessly eliminates options.  Persuasion feeds the ego. I’m not knocking it:  There are times when I’ve made the choice to be persuasive and ignore all other considerations.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I have always regretted it.

Influence creates more and better alternatives.  It’s a 2-way street:  all parties to a decision influence and are influenced by each other.  Because Influence generates power for everyone, it’s a better platform for collaboration than persuasion.  It stands the best chance for getting a unanimous agreement.

When I find persuasive language coming out of my mouth, I make the following changes to shift myself back to a more collaborative place:

I change:  “You’ll want to do this,” to “I’m liking the second alternative.  What do you like?”

I change: “I think you should do ______,” to “The way I make a decision like this is by thinking about what would give me the most peace of mind.  Which choice would do that for you?”

I change “What are you waiting for – confront them?” to “What have you done so far??”

In every case, I go from giving advice (telling someone what to do) to getting back in my own business with an “I” statement and an open-ended question.  When I’m really on my game, I say the the “I” statement to myself and go right to the open-ended question.

Persuasion and advice narrow options; staying in my own business and inviting others to stay in theirs expands alternatives.  More alternatives means we’re more likely to find one that does the job best.

I’m working hard on this right now. It requires constant vigilance.  I want to be the kind of person who leaves others with more power, not less.  Join me?

CG #40 – Complaining Got You Down? Let’s Change That.

 Productive complaining makes improvements; bad complaining feeds the ego and withers the brain.

Word Count: 483

Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

My partner came home from a week-long retreat with a tidbit of information that astonished me:

75-80% of conversation is complaining.

If it’s all the productive kind, that means most conversations are focused on solving problems, which is…not at all what’s happening.  At least not to me.

Most of the time I’m not trying to solve a problem, I’m kvetching.  And here’s the part that made me cringe:  That kind of complaining is all about the ego.  I complain to prove that I know more than the person I’m complaining about.  That’s so true it makes me cringe.  (Not that I’m complaining about being caught out.)  Even worse, bad complaining wears deep, unproductive grooves in the brain.  If you’re a manager or executive, it’s probably wearing deep grooves in your patience too.

We’ve been laboring under the crazy idea that complaining – “venting” – is somehow good for us, or at least an necessary evil.  But unproductive complaining just leads to more unproductive complaining, and that’s not good for anybody.

3 Ways to Get Bad Complaining Out of Your Meetings

Anthropologist Angeles Arrien tells the story of a Native American elder appearing before Congress to discuss a problem they’d come across.  After presenting the problem, the elder said “I must apologize.  It is our custom to propose 10 possible solutions when we point out a problem.  I regret that we were only able to think of 3.”

The goal is to convert bad complaining to the good, problem-solving kind, not to shut people down.

Strategy #1

“If you oppose, you must propose” is a meeting ground rule that eliminates negativity without shutting down conversation about what needs to improve.  You’ll need everyone’s help to enforce it.  It’s a big relief to give a group the freedom to watch its own negativity.

Strategy #2

When someone is going on and on (and on and on and on) about why your idea is the worst idea they have ever heard and probably the worst idea since the dawn of time and really you must be mad to think anyone would like it, why not stop them and ask them what they suggest.  I do this in meetings I facilitate when the group can’t seem to stop criticizing ideas.  I do it in 1-on-1 conversations too.

Strategy #3

Go first.  When you catch yourself complaining, give people around you permission to ask you for 3 possible solutions, then let them press you for action steps.

Bonus Strategy #4

This is not for the fainthearted, but it will shift you from bad complaining to problem-solving instantly.  Recruit someone to stop you when you are complaining or ranting by asking “What are you anxious about?”  Asking this question is like giving your ego a little hug.



CG#34 – How About Some Examples?

Word Count:  682

Reading Time: Under 2 minutes

Sometimes an example is the best way to learn.  Here are responses to sticky situations you might have encountered.

I’ve gotten feedback about putting more examples about in these newsletters (thank you and please keep the feedback coming).  Here are several real situations and how to respond to them, without the theory.  Let me know if this format is helpful.  I’m aiming to put examples in all future editions.  If there is interest, I can also publish an all-example edition from time-to-time.

If you’ve got other situations you’d like a response for, please send them my way.  I like a challenge.

The All-Example EditionThe All-Example Edition pt 2



CG #30 – The Value of Interrupting

On the East coast “Don’t Interrupt” is never a meeting ground rule.  On the West coast, it often is.  What’s up with that?

Word Count:  552

Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

“We never used to line up, we just formed a clump and walked toward the doors.  It was wonderful to see!”

I’m in New York visiting family and we’ve got tickets to a play.  After a long career as a theatre manager, my Uncle’s partner, George is a treasure trove of theater lore. Today I’m being instructed in the old ways of getting into the theatre.

“But George, it’s rude to cut in line.”

“There is no line.  Just join the clump and keep your feet moving.  It’s much more efficient.  You’ll see.”

I can’t explain how it happens, but my entire clump flows effortlessly into the lobby like a giant organism.   And, it’s fun. Much better than standing in line.  I’m grinning when George looks over at me.

Growing up, I was taught that cutting in line was rude, boorish behavior.  Interrupting was simply the verbal version of cutting in line. It wasn’t done.

For many years I was a true believer in the “One conversation” meeting ground rule.  It ensured that everyone had a voice and that no one dominated.

Then I facilitated a meeting in New York City.

When I asked about a “no interruptions” ground rule, the room went still for a bit.

“Whadda you talkin’ about?

How’re we supposed to talk to each other?

Kenny, you know what she’s talkin’ about?”

Suddenly everyone was talking at once.  Then, just like the clump, it became clear that everyone was listening too.

“We want to interrupt each other.”

Everyone was nodding their agreement.

“Yeah, that’s how we do it.”

I got a master class in interrupting that day.  The conversation was faster, livelier and more inclusive than I believed possible, and the group was cohesive, even when split on an issue.  Here’s what I learned about interrupting:

— When someone isn’t making their point clear, interrupt them to ask what they are trying to say.  Keep interrupting until they can spit it out in a phrase.  “We ain’t got all day here.”

— When someone is hemming and hawing, interrupt to encourage them. “Just say it, already.”

— When someone uses the words “Everybody/No one” “Always” or “Never,” interrupt them to bring them back to stop the hyperbole.  “I don’t know, so it can’t be ‘everybody.’

“– When you have stopped listening, interrupt them to let them know. “You keep saying the same thing.”

— When you feel confused, interrupt them to paraphrase what they just said.


Deciding that interrupting is off-limits, bad or wrong means you lose access to a valuable tool.  Making interruption neither good nor bad frees you to reap the benefits of interrupting:

— shorter, pithier conversations

— faster agreements

— more cohesion, co-creating and fun

Just Do It

There is no right time to interrupt, no formula that will ease the discomfort of a lifetime of politeness training.  That means that every time is a good time to interrupt.

Try This

In your next conversation or meeting, designate a time for allowing interruptions and see how you like it.  Consider the possibility that it might be a joy to interact so freely with teammates.  And let me know how it goes for you.

CG #29 – How to Avoid a Dreadful Meeting

Knowing what you want gives you all the power you need to avoid unproductive meetings.


“Discipline is knowing what you want.”

–Steve Chandler


Word Count: 700

Reading Time: Under two minutes

A consulting firm I work with asked me to join a 2-hour discussion on issues of culture and coaching at a client site.  I was relieved to have conflicts on both of the dates they offered.  I’ve never been able to talk about culture for more than 90 seconds before my mind drifts away.

“Go ahead without me,” I breezily suggested, and thought I was well out of it.

Nope.  The next email offered three more dates.  I was free for all of them.

Oh, (Expletive deleted.)

I switched to plan B, but my “May I please see an agenda with outcomes for the meeting?” yielded “ The client wants us to come and discuss culture and blah, blah.”  This was going to be harder than I thought.

I got two things from their response:  The sense that I was being difficult and would be blamed if we lost that client, and new information I could act on –  It was the client that wanted the meeting.

I sent the next email directly to the client and laid out my dilemma:  My time is at a premium right now because of – ironically – a program I’m writing about running productive virtual meetings.  While I didn’t want to appear uncooperative or unhelpful, I would need to see an agenda and outcomes for what would be a 4-hour time commitment.

That’s the nicest way I know to say “Prove this is a valuable use of my time.”

Then I offered to help with that agenda.

The client responded immediately with “That makes total sense.  I’d feel the same way.  And I’d love the agenda help.”  She went on to explain more about what she wanted out of the meeting.

“Great!  I think we can cut the meeting in half if we survey people ahead of time.  I’ll draft both today.”

You might be thinking “Liz, you got stuck with the meeting and the agenda – where is the good part?”  For me, this is a good trade-off.  Here’s my thinking:  I want to help my harried, hyper-busy client get what she needs.  She was about to eat up 4 hours of my time, not to mention the time I’d spend irritated about it before and after the meeting, so let’s say 6 hours.  I want to avoid that.

My “win” in this situation is to get to a better outcome in half the time.  In addition, I’ll have strengthened our relationship, my boundaries and my self-respect.

As of this writing, I’ve drafted a brief survey and suggested that surveying was a better next step than a meeting.  It took ten minutes to do and if she agrees it will save me most of a day.  Sending out this survey and tabulating the results beforehand will make the meeting much stronger.  It’s a win either way.

It’s Your Turn: Say No to Bad Meetings

Know what you want and need.   I want to be of service.  I want to protect my time and energy.  Therefore I need an agenda with outcomes.  I need clarity.  H.B. Karp defines power as “the ability to get all of what you want from the environment, given what’s available.”  Knowing what you want happens inside you.  Getting all of what you want is in your power

Say what you want without blame or judgment.  You don’t know what’s available, so why not ask?

Don’t settle for resentful compliance.  A friend recently told me about research that says resentment takes more of a toll on the body than guilt.  It’s always better to feel guilty or vulnerable than it is to simmer in resentment.  Take the chance to explore what is available.

Offer to help.  Decrease the distance between you with an offer.  I’ve turned nightmare meetings into fun founts of productivity this way.  Trading time for more energy is a win in my book.


CG #28 – Feedback is Connection

Unless you are both leaving the conversation strengthened, it isn’t feedback.

Word Count: 575

Reading Time:  About 1 minute

“Your swearing is offending people.  It’s got to stop.”

My boss seems kinda mad.  His face is red and he’s spitting a little as he talks.  We’ve just gotten out of a meeting where I apparently offended people without noticing, which I find horrifying.  I want to make it right.

I get two names and dash off to talk to offendee #1. She has a funny expression on her face as I apologize and blurts: “Liz, what the f— are you talking about?”

Offendee #2 looks perplexed, then says “Oh, sh–!  Are you telling me we can’t swear in meetings anymore? “

I’m confused.

Two days later, I hear about offendee #3.  “You swore in front of Kathy.  You probably don’t know that she’s a devout Christian and a church-goer, but she is.  I know for a fact that she hates swearing.”  Here’s a fact my boss doesn’t know:  Kathy and I talk on the phone most evenings and Kathy swears like a sailor.  So I tell him.  And then I invite him to come clean with me:

“Jerry, none of the people you identified are offended by my language, but I wonder if you are.   Is that it?  Do you find it offensive?  Because that would be enough for me to stop it.  You don’t have to make a case against me. Just tell me.”

He couldn’t do it.  In fact he, er, swore up and down that it didn’t bother him at all.

The key to effective feedback is admitting you are affected by someone else’s behavior.

Feedback connects people.  When it goes well, you both learn something. Giving feedback makes you vulnerable, even when you are the boss.

I think that’s why we avoid it.  We either avoid giving any feedback or we do what Jerry did, and armor ourselves with “proof” that what we are saying is “true,” as if there were some objective standard for behavior of which we are the lone guardian.

Which misses the point.  Giving feedback isn’t about holding someone to an objective standard of behavior,  because there isn’t one.  It’s not about fixing someone or remodeling their personality, because they are perfect just as they are.

Feedback is helping someone find a way of being that’s a better fit for their situation.

Feedback knits together a fabric that has become torn and improves everybody in the bargain.

How to give connective  feedback:

1. Paint yourself into the picture.  Either say how you’re affected, or how you’ve contribution to the problem.   It’s always true, and it will open your heart.

2. Watch out for the shame and manipulation of the “royal we.”  It’s common to want to sound more powerful, just like the Wizard of Oz.   You don’t need to be perfect or to be right or to be joined by a group of imaginary friends.  Just be you.

3. Invite the person receiving feedback to paint themselves more fully into the picture.  Feedback first connects a person to themselves.  This will make them your partner.

4. Remember that there is no such thing as abnormal behavior, there is only situation-inappropriate or age-inappropriate behavior.  Every behavior has its appropriate situation or chronological age.   This will help you let go of judgment.

5.  Say clearly what is appropriate behavior for the situation.

6.  Listen for ways to help them connect and align themselves and for ways you can stretch your perceptions.

I still wonder what would have happened if Jerry’s feedback could have been connective rather than corrective.

CG #27 – The 4 Laws of Screen-Sharing

Screen-sharing is to productivity like kryptonite is to Superman.  Here’s how to beat it.

Word Count:  693

Reading Time:  1.6 minutes

It’s my first meeting with screen-sharing and I don’t know what to expect.

I’m watching someone mouse around a powerpoint deck as a colleague talks me through the day-long training we will soon be leading.  My colleague interrupts himself frequently to redirect the person handling the mouse.  My attention switches from watching the torturous progress of the cursor across the screen, listening to my colleague talk, and my own internal dialog, which sounds like this:  “There must be very few slides if he’s going into this much detail now.  This is just a prelude to the meeting, right?  Just some tiny adjustments before we get into what we said we’d do.”

Nope.  By the time I see there are 96 slides, the meeting is almost over and we haven’t accomplished any of our stated outcomes.

Meanwhile, the meeting slows to the speed of one person editing while another types.  I am being driven mad by the movements of mouse and cursor. I can feel my brain begin to stutter; hear my sentences becoming fragmented.   My interest in the meeting has turned into a fierce need to do something, anything else.  My mind runs for cover.

“What do you think, Liz, are there any slides we should eliminate?”

I try to answer, but my brain cannot come up with a sentence.  My mouth opens and no sound comes out.  Part of me thinks this is funny.  Part of me is worried about disappointing my colleague.  Another part of me wonders if this is what it’s like to have a stroke.   Which snaps me out of my torpor.

“My brain just locked up and I can’t answer that question.

“Oh.  Er…”  Silence.

“Jimbob, I can’t form an opinion about goes or stays without seeing an agenda with times.  And I’ll need to be able to page through the deck myself so I can match it to the times in the agenda.  Then I can answer your question.”

There is an ocean of silence on the phone.  When it ends, I’ve been promised both documents.  We schedule another screen-sharing session which scares me, because screen-sharing seems to affect my brain the way kryptonite affects Superman.

The screen-sharing meeting minus the kryptonite effect

This next meeting starts like the last one.  The horrible melting sensation in my brain kicks in the minute the mouse begins to meander across the screen, but this time I’m ready.  I announce that I’ll be using my own copy of the deck; could everyone please call out page numbers so we can stay in synch?

Which brings me to the first law of screen-sharing:  Get all documents ahead of time.

There is silence, which I interrupt by confirming our meeting outcomes and starting to drive through the agenda, eliciting feedback and getting agreement as we go.  I am going at the speed of thought, which is light-years faster than the speed of watching someone type.  With only 3 days before I am to deliver this material, I do not have time for the speed of typing.

The second law of screen-sharing is this:  Move at the speed of agreement, not the speed of typing.

That’s when Jimbo says to his assistant: “Maybe you should take notes and correct the slides later.”

Well, yes.

The third law of screen-sharing is:  Do not write in groups.   Ever. 

Group writing is not improved by technology.  It will always be a travesty to waste        expensive, high-leverage group time that way.   Instead, capture group feedback and assign someone to wordsmith the document later.

Back at the screen-sharing meeting, we accomplish our meeting outcomes and I close the meeting early.

The fourth rule of screen-sharing undergirds all the others:  Commit to meeting outcomes rather than meeting activities. 

When you’ve gotten the result you were after, stop.  Most meetings drag on because groups get bogged down in finishing an activity long after the flavor has gone out of the gum.   I’ve been in meetings where everyone was so focused on finishing the activity, they didn’t notice they’d already achieved their outcome!  Define the end point and drive to it.

Have a different experience of screen-sharing?  Tell me about it in the comments.