Transcript How to Plan Engaging Virtual Meetings Part 2

Please excuse our Typos, this episode was transcribed by our friends at

Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of Team Anywhere where CEOs, leaders, and experts are building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co-host on the East Coast, Ginny Bianco-Mathis, and I’m your co-host on the West Coast. Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us to Team anywhere.

Today on the podcast, we continue last week’s podcast with John Chen, founder of Geo-teaming and author of the new book, engaging virtual meetings, my Bible for well, engaging virtual meetings, we explore the role of fun vulnerability and getting over boss ism to create virtual meetings that Build Team relationship and trust. I know you’ll enjoy Johnson foodgasm and his expertise on this week’s segment of team anywhere. So let me let me just point out something else, you know, of all of the executives that I know out there, you are the funniest, okay, I don’t know, I don’t even know funniest is a word. But um, you’re the funniest. And so. So, you know, it’s it’s so funny, you know, people say, Oh, this is not a hope. It’s not a Kumbaya thing, whatever. What is the role? of fun? I sounds like a silly question, john. But what is the role of fun in creating an engaging virtual meeting?

Unknown Speaker 1:44
Oh, wow.

John Chen 1:47
I will tell you this, is that again, before pandemic, my focus was on team building. Yes. And one of the things that I was doing was I was kind of creating a zoom meeting in real life, meaning, when I do a team building event, Mitch knows this. I drop a GoPro on every friggin team.

Mitch Simon 2:04
Yeah, you do. You do? And then yeah, you were giving GoPros to people before even GoPro made GoPros.

John Chen 2:12
I feel like I was putting pinhole cameras on people, right? That’s right. So, but I will take that footage and go backwards through it and take all that extra time to analyze, like, we generate sometimes 600, Garrett gigabytes or more of data from a team building event, and then go backwards, analyze it. And one of the things that were fun really came out of it was I it’s a top seven factor for me of a winning team. So I always, I’m not sure if I do the other videos depends on the client. But I always review the video of the winning team. And one of the top seven factors is the team is having fun. high performing teams enjoy the presence of each other. Yeah, and they’re having fun doing it. So and quite often, you’ll see I go back, I have reviewed the losing teams, losing teams. Number one, here’s this really, really cool, fascinating stuff, which is like number one in a in a winning team. I think you and I agree that in team building that communication is important, right?

Mitch Simon 3:05
Yes. Okay, great.

John Chen 3:07
So what we see in the video is like, the winning teams never shut up, like 90 to 100% of the time, if you listen to audio, they’re just blabbing away. Sometimes even not talking about the game, but finding more about each other personally, in the losing teams. They stopped talking to 510 20 minutes, every manager, every leader, every CEO who’s listening to this, if your team has stopped talking, whether it’s online or in person, you’re in deep trouble.

Unknown Speaker 3:33
I love that.

John Chen 3:36
It’s so true. I have the research now though. It’s true. And I have the science behind my intuition behind it. Yeah. And and it’s amazing when you see this 10 minute, because what happens in that 10 minutes, like when the teams give up, they give up on each other. They give up so they just kind of like you know what’s easier for me, Mitch is to just not talk to you.

Mitch Simon 3:54
You know, it’s interesting, it reminds me john of that experiment that they did with the with the preschoolers and the kindergarteners making the spaghetti structures. And they they would they would time after time after time, they would show these four and five year olds beating a team like an executive team where everyone had gone to an Ivy League school, because the little kids would just go well this might work. This might work. This might work. And this would work. I don’t know this might work and they would always beat it was just just amazing. Yeah, be interesting if you came up with some research on fun, as a as a factor in great teams. What are what are some of the things that you do to to create fun? I know for those of us who are not fun creators, what are some of the things you do because because when I actually saw some of your stuff, I’m like this is this is not gonna work. This this john guy is crazy. This is not gonna work. No one’s gonna really go for it. And then you put it out there and people like boom. You know, even even some silly stuff like you’re The Egyptian thing like this modern edition thing and people like they love it. So how do you get an executive over themselves to engage in fun, crazy stuff with their teams?

John Chen 5:17
I think the best thing I can say is, is a concept that I’ve called leadership through vulnerability, right? Do you know what I mean?

Mitch Simon 5:26
Yeah, well, why don’t you tell everyone what you mean?

John Chen 5:29
Yeah. And leadership by vulnerability is like, leaders go first. And leadership. Obviously, in this year, Jesus we’re talking about, it’s so important. And what I mean by that is that sometimes you’re willing to be vulnerable, such as I’m willing to tell about a story that where I failed, as opposed to succeeded, I’m willing to tell you about something truthful, maybe happening in my house or with my kids. But it’s my reality, and you feel closer to that person, you’re going, Oh, you just humanize yourself, because you’re elevated. No matter who you are. As a leader. I hate this too. I’ve always tried to create the open door policy and blah, blah, blah. But there’s something what I love to call boss ism. And boss ism is where an employee always looks at you different because you’re the boss. Right? And and you can’t get over that that’s not on you. It’s on them. And you can’t fix that. But what you can do is be more approachable. What you can do is be more fun. And so how do I create fun? I mean, number one is again, and one of these factors, super high performing teams, Mitch loves because he’s an improper he the Yes, and is really a key to fun, right? There’s nothing worse than killing the buzz in your in your company, especially if you’re a leader, if you’re like, No, we don’t do that. Right. It’s just like, wait a minute, but we’re all laughing, but you don’t do that. And so, in creating fun and virtual meetings, number one, I think it’s number super important. I’m also a big fan of mental health. And I think that we’re not laughing enough. You know, the virtual piece is actually making people more efficient. You know, your calendar is looking like Tetris, meaning that you don’t have any more travel time. So you actually can have more meetings. But you’re not, you may not be having more fun. And so I’ll do little things, which is like virtual backgrounds. I’ll play music. Like if you come in a one on one meeting with Mitch and I were playing some background music, even if it’s for 10 seconds, and I can’t believe the state change I get with people like I played Abba, Dancing Queen, and all of a sudden, this person then not only like lights up, like in the three seconds, I see them in the video as soon as their audio connects. And they’re always doing this or like dancing left and right. And then they come and tell me and they’re like, my dad loved playing Alba. And so I end up triggering some big, you know, parental memory unknowingly with that and said that, you know, ABA was like my favorite music. So where else is fun belong in this is? How do I create fun? Some of that that is is it the improv, which is like being funny, like a comedian is sometimes responding to the audience, right? This is why I love watching stand up comedians, right? They’re funny when they respond to somebody in the audience, and they nail it right. And that’s what I think you need to do a little bit as a host. The other way to create fun is to play some of these games, there are these games. And again, if you can explain it, as this is an opener to the meeting, we will dedicate three to five minutes of every meeting. Alright, just to do something fun, right? Just so that we can just try to break up your day. And and I have a client actually, there’s actually been pretty smart, getting one of the very few clients but booked in a one hour session for his team every two weeks on a regular basis. And and my job is to make sure that our is fun that there’s almost no work as discussed, but the team is connecting. And it’s just trying to this team is it’s a PR company and PR companies are doing really, really well right now. And they just wanted to counteract how hard they’re all working right now. And and it’s working. They said, you know, they had a little break. And they said they missed me. And now they’re back into it. And they just said this this time is really useful and wonderful.

Mitch Simon 8:43
So what are I’m I love that what are what are the benefits that you’re finding with this team that is bringing you on to play virtual games every What is it every two weeks or every every month? Every two weeks? Every two weeks are playing virtual games with john Why? What are they getting out of that?

John Chen 8:58
JOHN? Number one is there. They’re the team is changing too. So they have some people coming in and out and that you really get to know something about the team member that you may have not known. So for instance, in this last call that they had, we played something called PowerPoint karaoke. Do you know what PowerPoint karaoke is?

Mitch Simon 9:15
I do not know what PowerPoint karaoke is. Why don’t you tell us

John Chen 9:18
PowerPoint? karaoke is where a team I put people into teams. And they randomly they have to present a slide deck they’ve never seen before.

Unknown Speaker 9:29

John Chen 9:30
And I give them only two pieces of training. One is yes. And we basically say whenever your teammate says just agree and go with it. And the second one is, is focus on your transitions, because there’s three of you make sure you do some kind of positive handoffs and the next person knows when to talk and, and they had a blast. And so what they found out was one of the new team members is extraordinary and presenting. Right. It’s like somebody in the side chat while she was presenting going. I know who’s leading all the customer presentations this week from now on. Yes. That’s

Mitch Simon 9:59
great. Right now that that game, I do know, we’ve actually done it in the improv in there actually some, some theaters that are really big on doing a PowerPoint presentation, it is hilarious. And I love that what you’re what you’re doing, and it’s something that I do as well is to Okay, let’s, let’s take something that is a skill that team members still need, right? And then that goes back to team building, and make it really, really fun. And what I think we all know, is that when people are having fun, they actually learned more effectively. And I think that’s really, really important. I was wondering what are what are, were, you know, as we’re recording this, we are very beginning of 2021. Most likely we are going to be, let’s say 100% virtual for a while until we get to the phase where we might be both in office and out of office. What are some words of advice that you would give to executives to team leaders as to what to think about and what to do over the next, let’s say 369 months? Yeah, I

John Chen 11:15
think there’s two pieces here that are really important. I got this question asked by MPI meetings, professional, international TV. And they said, What do you know, what advice can you give for 2021. And I just said this, I said, I’ll give you the same advice that I gave people in March of 2020. Which is planned for it to be this way. Even I don’t have a crystal ball. Mitch, I don’t make vaccines either, right, I can help make your virtual meetings, you know, suck a little less. But vaccines, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know how this is going to work, even when you get a vaccine out there. So what I said is this is I imagine it’s going to be this way and invest heavily in it. And when it all opens up, it’s like gravy bonus, it’s like frosting on a cupcake at that point. And that can be my best advice. Because I I have heard some people who just waited, they said, I’m just gonna wait till it opens. And they’ve lost a 10 1112 month advantage. Yeah. And that’s what I can really say is that, you know, even one of my very good friends who’s a CEO in Seattle, just she doubled the revenue of our company when her her business model was a food tour. It just destroyed, right, destroyed the business model. But she was smart enough to pivot and and this week, she was able to tell us that she got our company bought out.

Mitch Simon 12:34
Wow, wow. Wow. That’s a big round. No, that’s a big Wow. We know it’s it’s it’s interesting. You know, what I what I’m getting from this, john, is you’ve really taken your thinking around the elements of, of strengthening a team’s interactions with each other, I’m hesitant to say the word team building, because a lot of people do think that team building is, you know, as Patrick lencioni would say, you know, falling out of trees, which we don’t do. It seems like what you’ve done is you’ve taken a lot of thinking around how to strengthen teams connections and communications and deepen the relationships that you that you actually did as if as a freaky person at Microsoft, right. And then you did as you as you started your company, geo teaming. And so you think about how teams interact in a different way. For instance, what you brought to my attention was, you know, you’re going to get more done before the meeting. So get people to be there before the meeting, you’re going to get stuff done after the meeting. And what you know, what’s interesting, I was I was listening to Todd Henry this morning on the accidental on the accidental creative, which I got I love the pockets. And, and he was talking about how when you start a meeting, and not everybody’s there, nothing really happens. And I know that you know, so if our meetings at 10 o’clock, and it’s 10 o’clock, I know what you would do, john, you would you would say? Well, you know, as we wait for people, let’s get to know each other, right?

Unknown Speaker 14:20
Yes, and

Mitch Simon 14:21
yes. And right. Yes. And and that that would be the meeting actually.

John Chen 14:28
I actually have a strong viewpoint on this. Now this is actually emerging. So do you mind if I expand on this, please? Which is I feel like something has happened over the this year too, right? And is which is, you know, we hit 10 o’clock, and there’s maybe one person here and you just like, hey, let’s just wait a few minutes for everyone else to just wait. And the problem with that is, right. The problem with this is that it sends a signal ignoring what you’re really saying in disguises, and You don’t have to arrive here on time, because I’m always going to stall. So just be late to my meeting all the time, and I don’t care about you, your presence. So I feel really, really strongly like when I’m presenting, oh, if more wins there, I don’t care, I’ll start. I’ll click record and our start going, Oh, I know it’s gonna do that. And then when people come in, you know, there later other things, then, you know, they’re gonna catch up, and they’ll find out, they don’t want to if I have a regular meeting, they want to do this. And so at Microsoft, just going back there. I started every meeting on time. And as soon as it took one meeting for people to figure it out, because quite often, if they did not show up on time, they got assigned a whole bunch of work. And everybody who was there would be like, would go, Oh, yeah, I agree. And so you were backed up by a group. And so like, almost nobody showed up late, at least at my meetings only because they knew that they would suffer consequences for doing it. And I just think it’s really important to do that. Because the other part is signals is the person that one person who showed up on time, I respect you and your time.

Mitch Simon 16:02
I think that’s and I do think right now that that is so important, that that the message that we send to everyone on our teams is that we really do respect your time,

John Chen 16:13
especially your online time. Yeah. Right.

Mitch Simon 16:17
Right. Right. Because we, we have so many other things that we could be doing, taking care of our kids or dogs or our kids dogs. I did that was my comedy bit about that. But anyways, let’s get to as we as we close up. And if I had a stopwatch out and I said, Okay, you only got one minute each, give us three quick tools that our listeners can use right now, to heighten engagement of their meetings, give me the three biggest ones.

John Chen 16:50
three biggest tools are like to start my own timer. Okay, go. Three biggest tools, take the time to design your meetings, right? Number two, you’re the host, you control the culture of your meeting. So you set the standards, whether it’s, you know, people being acknowledged for whatever is going on. So I think that’s another big piece. What’s the next one, give it a producer for crying out loud, if you have a high value meeting, take one of your other teammates or or hire somebody who’s producing your meeting. So you as the host can focus on your people, and not, you know, admitting people in the chat room and all sorts of other types of things. Number three, I really think now, what’s the quick tip, I’m going to give you 100 tools, there’s only 25 seconds more is that up your game, we’re this far, it was good enough in 2020 to get your virtual meeting to work. Now you need to think how can I elevate my meeting? Somehow, whether it’s learning more virtual techniques or presentation or something else, you need to find a way to elevate your meeting? Because I think people expect more last but not least, you know, look for the best practices, look for what you love in a virtual meeting and borrow it and put it in yours.

Mitch Simon 17:57
That’s great. Yeah, I know, I do think I love the up your game. Because there are companies out there who have upped their meeting game. And I always said the reason why we actually started this podcast in the very beginning was what would be the difference for me working for Company A versus Company B, if all it is is a different URL, right, seriously. So if I want to keep my great employees, then really, there’s lots of other parts of being in on a team. A very important part is that meeting is that meaning and have an engaging and have a demonstrated, we’ve talked about this podcast that you are important. And as we started this podcast, and because of that, I’m going to make sure that you and everyone else in this meeting is going to be attended to at least once personally, if not more, which is with the breakout rooms. Okay, great. Okay, so tell us about your new classes for 2021.

John Chen 19:08
Oh, yes. Okay, cool. All right. So you heard the first one and the first one is turned on the damn camera right now. So that’s all it’s an hour on psychological safety and how you can help create it as the host or facilitator. The next one is, hey, Mitch, you’re on mute.

Mitch Simon 19:23
I love that you’re on mute. Oh my god. Okay, tell me about that line.

John Chen 19:28
So if you haven’t seen the London fireworks, they actually had drones in the air create the you’re on mute symbol. It was awesome. This is the most common problem. And so that class is all around. How do you avoid zoom and other video platforms, most common technical problems, sharing slides playing music, presenting more. And so those are some of the other classes a virtual team building. I’m going to revive that class, which is how to do exercises with your team to really get your team to perform at a higher level. And the next one is the virtual presenter which is how you To use some of the top 1% tricks that people are not using for presenting online. You know, there’s so much presentation that happens here. Let’s just regular stop sharing slide decks. And let’s just really start thinking cinematically and saying what can we do to really give that people that wow, and blow people away with presentations.

Mitch Simon 20:18
That’s great. Now tell us about, again, the title of your book and how we can get your book.

John Chen 20:24
Excellent. The title of the book is engaging virtual meetings, engaging virtual meetings, and you can get it at engaging virtual The website, we also have a set of classes, where you can get for the same price of the book is on Amazon is 29 bucks, you can also get a one hour class in addition with it. Or of course, you can always get it from Goodreads or Amazon, Goodreads goes to all your independent bookstores, which you should support. And Amazon has a Kindle version now for 17 bucks anywhere around the world.

Mitch Simon 20:52
Great in Do you have a Do you have a website in addition to engaging virtual meetings? comm

John Chen 20:57
Yeah, you can go back to my original website, geo Although I gotta tell you right now, Mitch, I got to rewrite that whole website from

Mitch Simon 21:03
scratch. I know. It’s funny, I realized we were rewriting ours as well, because it’s, you know, everything is virtual. Right? It’s so that’s what we that’s who we’re serving on? Well, Johnny knows. Great, great, great, great to reconnect with you at the beginning of 2021. I wish you great success. I’m actually you know, I basically watch you to see what solutions I can provide to my clients. And for those of you who are, who are listening. Yeah, I would just basically say, look, we’re in this for the long run. And if you want the best tools, john is usually six months to 12 months ahead of the curve on what works in the virtual world. So with that, thank you, john. Any any words as we get out of here today?

Unknown Speaker 21:53
Yeah, I’ll

John Chen 21:54
give two words here. Number one, two is Mitch presented in my original engaging virtual meetings conference. Number one, the one the original. And I chose Mitch specifically, because, you know, he really pivoted and figured out how to present virtually. And I appreciate that. So my second conference is going to be in May, Mitch, and so we’re going to present or be on committee of the steering committee for it, but I can tell you that, like one you can buy the replay to see Mitch actually present. So that’s actually currently 97 bucks to watch the replay over 20 hours of virtual engagement, production. And then the new ones gonna come in and kind of have all new material because she’s the world’s, again, the second one, this I’m just going to give this you know, with the numbers that are here in America, One really cool thing about engaging virtual meetings is that they are there is 0% chance to transmit COVID during an engaging virtual meeting. So if you are having a virtual meeting right now, or sometime this week, thank you for your help in slowing the spread. So there we go. Thanks, Mitch.

Mitch Simon 22:53
Thank you, john. And thank you are great listeners who listened to your team anywhere every week, and we will see you next week on another version, another episode of team anywhere.

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