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Overcoming friction in online meetings — interview with Michael Santarcangelo, The Security Catalyst

March 26 2018 / by Roger Courville

Filed under: Collaboration, Expert Interviews, Online Meetings, Online vs. Offline, Podcast

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How do you get past friction in online meetings and get down to the real value of the problem being solved? Michael Santarcangelo specializes in working with IT organizations to get teams and projects unstuck.

This interview covers a lot of territory, all around connecting and communicating, especially when virtual meetings and presentations are involved.

  • Identify how friction exists beyond just “conflict”
  • Learn the three critical questions Michael uses to get clarity
  • Understand how to position structure with your team to improve outcomes
  • Understand how the medium helps and hurts – when you should turn on your camera or not worry about it?
  • Learn Michael’s “stare a blank wall” exercise (great for virtual presenters!)
  • Learn which headsets and mixers Michael and Roger use to improve audio richness

Learn more about Michael at SecurityCatalyst.com

Transcript (auto-generated, unedited)

well hey welcome another coffee chat
just kind of hanging out and looking
over our shoulder while we talk about
today's question of the day but before
we get started tell me who you are and
what is it you do my name is Michael
Sant Arcangelo and I've been known for
years as a catalyst not because I chose
it but because it was given to me based
on the ability that I that I work with
people and the way that we've evolved
after 20 years of experience in
information security what we
fundamentally do what I fundamentally do
is help people overcome friction and
their organizations in a lot of times
that means working with individuals to
translate their value into understanding
it's essential today in security so it's
kind of neat because I still get to do
security but I get to focus on something
that is really passionate for me a point
not the only point but a point of
intersection because obviously has
something to do with the
telecommunications infrastructure that
we have in our in our organizations
including just today's focus question
around this cup of coffee which is how
do we overcome friction in a virtual
meeting and I don't I'll just kick it
off actually right where we were just
talking before we kicked on the recorder
Michael which was the the engagement
that happens with a webcam and yeah to
me it's amazing you know our
organization we produce about 2,400
events a year right and it's amazing to
me how many presenters don't want to
turn on their webcam and I know from
stuff that I know under NDA with
organizations that I work with in the
industry that many companies in the
conferencing space right web video audio
are still amazed at the low adoption
rate of people turning on their webcam
now here's one thing I know and this is
your it's gonna be your turn to talk but
here's one thing I know that which is
five six years ago when I did a 1200
person videoconferencing study for then
Citrix to go to meeting people that one
of the responses was
for why don't turn on my webcam in a
virtual meeting is because I'm plan to
multitask because yep boring ass meeting
is a boring ass meeting yep and they
were just about that blunt so how many
people are blunt when you're talking
about friction especially when it comes
to communicating through some medium not
unlike what we're doing right here what
are you experiencing what do you see him
well yeah let's go back for a second to
talk about friction because what I find
is when I when I throw that out people
go oh yeah yeah friction got it but a
lot of people take it to the end result
so the end result of friction is you're
pissed off you're fustrated you're
burning out you don't trust the people I
got to go to the stupid meeting anyway
right but the problem is friction creeps
in a lot sooner than that and you know
in technology we like to look at things
in terms of people process and
technology you can do that with friction
but when we're talking about
communicating we're talking about
communicating virtually let's just take
a look at the challenge of communication
overall you know you and I talk about
this all the time people say oh the only
way you could communicate in person I
don't see that I see that people fail to
communicate in person the other thing
that drives me just as crazy and this
ties directly to friction there was a
thing I want to say like maybe the first
part of like the first decade after 2000
there was a whole concept of well if
you're a good leader you need to
communicate effectively so I'm the
person who'd raise our hand and go cool
what's that mean and they go well you
know communicate effectively like no
that's the car that's the question I'm
asking and you'd get all these
convoluted answers and so I spent about
five years really distilling everything
I could around communication and I
actually fashioned the model because I
learned something really important and
it's gonna matter here too if you're
trying to overcome friction on a virtual
meeting if you say to somebody man you
suck at virtual meetings that doesn't
make them want to get better if you say
to somebody proof every time I'm around
you it's like friction factory again
they're not enjoying it and I got so
excited early in my career looking at
I'd be like Roger Roger I figured this
thing out I can help you communicate
better and and if you were polite about
it you'd say well that's nice
I know people who could probably use
that when I learned to start to model it
and start to ask questions
people say oh wait I want to
stand if I'm effective communicator or
not and so all of a sudden they want to
get better so I think when we start
looking at it one of the things is how
we identify friction now the other thing
that's happened on the tale of that
though and this is actually just
creating more friction because people
never stop to define a effective
communication they now say well you know
good leader over communicates just stop
that's the worst advice ever in the
world now I can parse it what they're
trying to say is make yourself more
accessible communicate more communicate
more frequently try more and because if
you do that it'll be better it's like
saying if you go to a buffet with
everything you eat some of more of it
and you'll get what you want and it
doesn't work that way
and some of you probably like buffets
and that's great but the point to it is
if you over communicate in you're over
communicating in a way that has friction
you just end up with more friction so so
that the challenge here then is that
when we say how do you overcome friction
in a virtual meeting the first thing is
understand where the friction comes in
and it's fundamentally that second part
of what I said in what I do it's
translating our value in understanding
think about this Roger because you spent
a lot of time looking at how we connect
and how we communicate and how we
collaborate with people but most of us
if we think about and I'm watching I've
got kids that are in high school now if
we take a look at how they do school
projects team projects we're actually at
the point where parents will step in and
say nope I don't I don't want little
Sally and little Johnny doing team
projects they'll just do it by
themselves when does hat work in the
world today
it doesn't everything we do is based on
collaboration but everything we learned
about collaboration was you got the
loafer you got the type-a driven you got
to take charge person you get the person
doesn't really know what they're doing
but the pretends they do and then you
got a couple workhorses and and nobody
feels good coming out of that so if you
start looking at that the challenge has
been it's a my way or the highway kind
of an approach and we've never really
looked at how do I take what's valuable
to me and translate that so that you
understand it that matters in a virtual
meeting as much as it matters anyplace
else because in a virtual meeting is you
already pointed out people are authen
you know the great thing about I can
multitask wait a minute
the problem with friction is we're not
paying attention to each other and we're
not doing the work to distill what's
important and how to bring that to
somebody else when you add a virtual
component to that real-time face to face
is great but even if it was just email
or chat or whatever else if you don't
set the context if you don't understand
if you don't ask those questions it
doesn't tend to happen and so the first
thing to overcome friction your virtual
meeting is to understand frictions not
unique to virtual meetings virtual
meetings just allow more friction to
creep in faster if you're not careful
presenting online is just gonna mean you
suck farther and faster oh that's true
but it's it's funny though because you
know it but like think about this
because you and I have been in a
speaking industry for a long time and we
spent a lot of time on about you but I
used to do exercise that a great
speaking coach and I would do exercises
where I'd literally go in a like a dark
basement and look at a gray wall and
record my voice but I'd have to be happy
and I'd have to show excitement and
energy looking at a blank wall you'd
have to figure out how to bring that
emotion up and when you think about how
many times people do stuff that's
virtual now there's a difference between
a virtual presentation and a virtual
meeting if we're talking about virtual
meetings people tend to be a little bit
more colloquial and they tend to be a
little bit more loose with their
language and with their approach and I
think that that's that's a real benefit
but it does to your point it requires
you require some level of focus so it's
actually a good thing let me answer the
question I think you're gonna just
energy good as I want to keep diving in
under this friction and identifying and
talking about it in a way that it helps
people go oh ah that's me there or not
me whatever right yeah and then the
second is then how does let's be more
it'll get more specific about how the
medium either exacerbates it or even
where the medium can help us do things
that we could do online maybe even
better than offline yeah all right so
the two parts are the great first part
I'm actually gonna do some more work on
better ways to identify friction it's on
my short list of things for the next 90
days but I give people a couple tips
right now you've--you've think about it
in your own experience first you go to a
meeting and they're talking and you're
hearing the words
you're thinking to yourself I don't
actually know what the hell they're
talking about that's that's a sign of
friction it means that they haven't
translated an understanding for you now
it doesn't mean they they didn't do the
work they haven't tried or whatever else
it just means didn't connect but when
you just nod your head go okay got it
that's that's a sign of friction on your
part and that happens consistently now
the reason that starts to build up is
friction then is they left under the
impression that you've got the message
and you left going I don't know what the
hell they're doing or whatever I agreed
to but I'll kill it later and we see
that all time I call it the torpedo the
torpedo meeting or the boomerang
you know the boomerang yes yeah sounds
great we're gonna do it in a day later
yes I've been thinking about it I don't
think that's gonna work other signs of
friction you start a new project
everybody shows up to the first meeting
half the people start dropping off by
the second third fourth meeting two
weeks down the road everything is
grinding to a halt if it takes longer to
get a response if people yeah I don't
know you know a lot of times with people
hem and haw and I don't know I'm not
sure if that sounds right to me yes
because it literally doesn't sound right
to them it doesn't it didn't connect
those are all signs of friction and what
most people do it's kind of like getting
your car stuck in the mud just jamming
the accelerator that usually ends up
getting stuck in the mud mud everywhere
and something breaks and this exact same
thing on organizations now I want to
answer the question real quick though of
what can we do with the medium how does
it make it better worse one of the
things I love about being able to
collaborate virtually is the ability to
show people exactly what you're talking
right it's done what we always learned
is the five wise or the five Wi-Fi voice
is a technique to answer problems we
always learn it's the five the five W's
and the H right who what where when why
how start with what what brings you
together and the common mistake I see
Rogers people will say well I mean we
all know what no we don't we might we
might we have this really fascinating I
spend a lot of time looking at the
difference between literacy and fluency
right so literacy is a competency and a
fluency is a competency applied and a
lot of us mistake familiarity for
competency for literacy oh I heard about
that okay cool just mean you know it
doesn't mean you understand it doesn't
mean you know the questions to ask
doesn't mean you need to push back and a
lot of us are not comfortable saying I
didn't understand
of online technologies you know and
obviously what you know what we do day
in and day out we see that when
organizations make changes that affect
broad swaths of people like IT goes in
and okay we just switched from from
whatever we switch from GoToMeeting to
Skype for business or whatever that
happens to be right and they shoot at an
email and here's everybody's log in and
then maybe there's a couple training
sessions right I get to what training
sessions right and then wonder why
people don't use it or they go back to
doing what they used to do before that's
right yeah that's where the second wife
comes when somebody implements teams are
slack and then people still email
powerful clouds keep going oh no I think
you've got it exactly right you know and
so what happens is we don't clearly
define effect I've got three questions
that I want people to answer but before
I introduce him what it comes down to is
this what I love about using a
technology special an online
collaborative style technology is that
ability to look at each other and if I
had a buddy call me up last week we both
we both have tablets that allow you to
do drawing on them now and we're both
kind of impressed with and he's like hey
I want to try out using my tablet to
annotate and then I want to try out
using it to draw and in being able to
have that collaborative whiteboard with
somebody Roger it's great because when
you have a whiteboard in a room of
people you know maybe they pay attention
a lot of them will pay attention but
some of them kind of drift away but when
they're looking at it on their screen
and you're giving them a chance to add
or to annotate or collaborate it's great
and I know that this is a slightly
advanced feature but being able to show
people what you're talking about being
able to look at the same document I've
work with an organization now that in
their nit when they review something
with somebody else
they almost always do it virtually and
they pull the document up and they say
hey let's go through this section by
section and I'll answer any questions
you got and they make notes as they go
through it and the other people love it
because they're looking at the same
thing it's not hey Roger I'm on page
three Roger are you on page three hey
could you get two bit no you're looking
at the same thing it's absolutely
fantastic so what that leads us to is
there's a process there's a way right
there's a structure I love structure
buddy always says oh it's so confining
it's the exact opposite
structure is liberating structure is it
right it's I'm sure you and I have
talked about this you probably have a
better example creativity exams just
gonna say for boundary gives you some
context within which to work keep going
I always like to point out there's three
primary colors when you and I were
growing up it was a box of 64 crayons
you were the royalty I think it was I
178 now is the box
Pantone has what three million different
colors based on three primary colors so
constraints are fantastic and structure
can act as a constraint so structure
does two things for us when it comes to
friction structure reveals substance
what that means is by answering a couple
questions or considering the structure
you get down to the substance that you
need to present or that somebody else
needs to understand and that that
becomes really important and that's part
of that prep that people some face I
know I know it I've done this before I
know how to do it no that doesn't mean
you do the second part though that I
love about structure in terms of
overcoming friction is if it's a shared
structure notice the difference between
structure and process if it's a
structure that's defined and people
understand it then they then it defines
the outcome in fact right when I talk
about a framework it needs to do three
tell me the outcome to find the elements
that comprise that outcome you show me
the connection between them it doesn't
tell me how to do it it doesn't tell me
why to do it doesn't there's a system
for those things and everybody can have
their own system so a lot of what I do
we call a straight talk straight talk
framework and this has been 15 years of
work on my part
but the idea Roger is if I break it down
to five questions you consider it from
three perspectives and you work through
a series of rounds then you can get
through different stages depending on
the outcome that you're trying to seek
now the lesson I've learned and where
this comes into getting over friction
virtual meetings is you don't need to
use all of it all the time in fact the
five question I'll go through the five
questions fast because it's the first
three we only need what problem are you
trying to solve what value do we create
solving this problem what's the impact
of the solution how do we measure it and
are we ready each of those has a full
day worth of discussion around it but
just knowing those five questions makes
a difference and then in a full
straighttalk mode where which
to overcome that friction and we're
trying to translate value and bring
other perspectives into it you can work
through perspectives and rounds and
stages the simpler version to that that
we just call it value prop and and what
what kind of fascinated me about this
was maybe about a year and a half ago
and this matters for people in
technology a lot of CEOs and a lot of
CEOs of companies I don't mean a
vendor's of enterprise organization said
we've got to do a better job in security
of understanding the value prop of
security you hear that enough in ego
that's kind of interesting so I did some
research I said all right well what's
value problem and if you go take a look
at it and by the way this is going to
first introduce more friction
most people when I go to value property
do a search on Google they say you tell
me about value problem and then they
just like answer the questions or cut
and paste what somebody else did yeah
and most people yeah and you go well why
how did you come up with that well
because it looked good okay that's not
necessarily value prop right that's not
necessarily how that works so it's
interesting and this is going to come
back to friction in a second if part of
the reason we have friction is we
haven't taken a time to understand what
we're trying to articulate right we
haven't necessarily identified what's
valuable we haven't necessarily talked
the other side figured out so when we
deal with security that's a huge
challenge for us because security is a
huge challenge it's complex there's a
lot of stuff going on with it
most people will classically say value
props got three parts tell me the
problem the value and the differentiate
yourself that last parts crap that's
called positioning and you don't need to
do that it's in fact it's a waste what
you need to do is just answer the first
three questions a straight talk what's
the problem you're trying to solve what
value do you create solving that problem
and what's the impact an impact is the
measure of friction we've all seen this
Roger in fact you already described it
IT comes along and I've got this new
solution here you go everybody and I'm
emailed you the updates or what have you
people are gonna go I don't I don't know
we got training it's good you're gonna
understand it know it that's we jacked
up the friction big-time the impact if
solving a problem and this matters when
we're talking about virtual meetings is
that if solving a problem increases
friction it creates more steps it makes
it harder for people to do their jobs
it somehow screws up your technology it
creates a new screen to look at or
whatever else you have not helped assist
and the problem with that is that then
that erodes value and it destroys trust
which means you're actually increasing
friction not decreasing it which then
means whatever problem you thought
you're solving you not only didn't solve
that problem you created new ones that
matters and when I'm looking at an
online meeting because what I've boiled
down to and I've been practicing about
the last year and I'm about to roll it
out is what we call a simple scorecard
is just answer those those first three
questions what problem are we trying to
solve what value will create solving
that problem and what's the impact think
about it this way what what do I need to
focus on if I focus on it where's the
priority of it and how will this work
right so it's a it's a clarity of your
focus it's a priority of your effort and
it's an execution it's the guidance for
whatever I like to call your best next
step if I'm in a virtual meeting and I
can answer those three questions and I
can answer them fast and people
understand then two things then I'm
going to answer those questions and if
they don't feel comfortable knowing that
they got the answer to those questions
that instead of saying I don't know
Michael doesn't sound right you can come
back to me now and you can say wait so
are you saying the problem is X IIIi
don't see it that way Roger I think the
problems actually this can we talk about
that yeah now I know where to focus I
know that we're not going to worry about
value yet because we are not on the same
page relative to the problem
let's go understand that problem and
when we have that focus so much better
and I guess I I do this virtually all
the time and one of the compliments I
get regularly is we can meet with people
virtually usually to be fair the the
cameras are not on you and I talked
briefly beforehand it's become my new
habit to turn them on more and more but
you know what I've also found if I tell
people right up front hey I'm gonna
answer three questions the problem the
value the impact and then we'll talk
about what our best next step looks like
and I'm really curious what you guys
think so we can talk about it in those
terms I have people twenty-five minutes
later we've had our idle chitchat we
made a joke or two everybody's had their
voice heard we've made a decision
everybody feels good with the decision
we get to the end then they go that only
took twenty five minutes how did how did
you do that
that was awesome and and then every now
and then they'll thrown up and you're
really blunt is that loud me this
straight you look I'm a straight talker
and they go no no it's it's good it's
refreshing I go okay but you know what
Roger those meetings don't get torqued
those mean people will take those
meetings and now I'm good at saying guys
listen I just I need 25 minutes of your
time and I'm gonna tell you the three
things we're going to upfront so what
that structure does so if you want to
overcome friction you don't have to use
my structure but if you over if you want
to overcome friction
you've got to introduce the structure
and just because you did it once doesn't
mean anything like if you consistently
people know people know they see me out
of the I know what problem are we gonna
solve yeah okay well let's start there
by the way despite chiding me on that
most people they still struggle to get
it right that's not a problem I know
that I build that into it because I
always say to people
I'd rather front getting that right in
fact if we got nothing else done in this
call but we walked away with clarity and
a consistent understanding the problem
we're trying to solve we felt that we
understood the consequences of it that
we could evidence it the right way like
we were on the same page and we had
confidence we're on the same page that's
a good meeting for me by the way think
about how many times Roger we do these
online things and it or in-person things
and it's you just walk away shaking your
head going the hell did I just waste my
time on that for so let's take that what
and explore a little more deeply where
and how the medium can affect this
because to be fair there's times when I
don't turn on my camera either right
so our company just in case nobody knows
our company we have 20 employees and we
don't have an office we are entirely
virtual we don't go to work we all work
out of our houses every day and you know
occasionally we will find a comp you
know some spare conference room sometime
when we need to actually connect but but
that's reasonably rare be given the
geographic dispersion of the company so
there's plenty of times we don't turn on
our camera just out of curiosity when do
you do it and when do you not just
dedicate it to be totally fair and and
and because here's what I'm not gonna do
I'm not gonna be a shill for the
conferencing companies saying you should
always turn on your camera because I
know that's their problem because they
know that you're gonna learn something
when you get around to turn it on your
camera right not unlike what you were
just describing
and I know that too right that's why
that's why I always present with my
camera but I'd love one off camera
sometimes because I'll tell you what you
feel my coffee mug because here's what
here's one example yeah you're gonna go
right because if in this context it
seems a little more weird if my cameras
on and I was down here writing something
right yes or if I'm doing that digitally
because I'm taking notes on my phone
the you don't know if I'm multitasking
or if I'm taking notes right and then
that may be a little less clear in this
medium so just out of curiosity wouldn't
you turn on camera to off-camera a word
how to use the tools I'm gonna answer a
question on that first I'm gonna tell
you some of my progression on it what's
interesting is I actually try to take
notes using my tablet a lot I I was an
all paper like I'm a handwritten for
color kind of freak and them as I
upgraded my technology stack over the
last 90 days I challenged myself could I
be productive in any environment even
when I was traveling on an airplane
anywhere else and so you know that led
me a so I got an iPad let me get an
Apple pencil and start testing it and I
found some stuff Roger tree worse so to
that end I turned on the video now
almost all the time now tell you how I
got there and I will say to people if
you see me looking down I promise you
I'm not multitasking being present with
you is important to me and I hope you'd
extend to me the same courtesy when you
see me look downs because I'm taking a
note that's important to me and there's
times I've actually asked people in the
middle of one of these meetings I say
okay hold on a second that's a good
point I want to capture that I'll come
right back to it and we're just like
we're so afraid of silence that we don't
do that and we're so afraid of what
people see that I'm like oh if they see
me looking away I mean Roger look right
now I've got you up on a screen I've got
a secondary camera that I use for that
and then I have a laptop here I'm still
glancing down I've got some notes that
for us to talk about and it's
interesting because I do a lot of
presentation on camera I'm on camera a
couple times a week now I understand
camera sense I understand looking at the
camera and making the point in talking
but I also see the value of scanning
down looking at my notes and checking
the time and doing that type of stuff
and that's not multi-time I'm not
researching anything else and so what
I'm learning is I'm okay with that I'm
okay but I'm okay stating it with people
and eluding them that opportunity
let me put
exclamation plug behind that very point
right there because one of the things
that I know from my research is that
people do not in this context people do
not expect you to have a background or
an environment that looks like the
national news and they don't expect 100%
eye contact because that's frankly weird
what I'm looking at the camera
yeah I'm still looking down right I get
it but to your point about stating it
right in the in the virtual presentation
model called that virtual body language
which is using words to help guide how
you direct attention right so when I'm
the one delivering and directing
attention hey over on the right hand
side of your good webinar yeah exactly
right because interrogatives and
imperatives in neural linguistic
programming direct attention to your
point instead of it saying you do this
you're saying here's what I'm doing and
I just wanted to put a big exclamation
point behind that because if you say
here is how I am honoring you you know
I'm taking notes or whatever I think
that is a really useful thing to
compensate for the fact that I see you
from the chest up I don't see what
you're doing that's right
yeah I'll tell you what then to how I've
used this a couple different ways I've
done and it's interesting I've done some
stuff so well I do a lot of work with
teams virtually and in fact I'm gonna
step that up more and I'm exploring
other uses of not just virtual
technology but ways to help remove bias
and help people communicate better and
stuff but I had a team I work with last
year and I kind of set those parameters
so going into the virtual meeting I'd
say guys listen
we've only got 60 minutes together I'm
gonna display my screen and I turned on
my camera the way that they were set up
there was no easy way for them to turn a
camera on for me to see them but what I
say to them is I'd really appreciate it
if your laptops were down for the 50
minutes that we're gonna be together now
if you need to take notes in school you
got taken off that's a what Roger they
police themselves like you hear someone
say hey hey hey turn that laptop off
we're talking to Michael right now we
got to get through this and what I would
do so you talk about the technology I
love mind mapping I'd throw a mind map
up and that's what I would display and
as I'm typing I'd say did I get that
right did I do this you know or we go
through a document and I
annotate it for them real-time and get
and give them that chance to take a look
at it and it worked exceptionally well
now in terms of me turning on the camera
versus not um you know I I don't think
I'm different from a lot of people in I
don't like looking at myself and so it's
always felt kind of awkward into your
point you know what's what does the
background look like or I'm in security
so for me I'm always curious like what
does the background look look like what
what do we have there not and what
should be there and you know and like
right now I'm in a slightly different
way than I normally am so my camera
angles are off today and because I do a
lot of more broadcast oriented stuff
like I'm actually planning on kind of
building a mini studio and stuff behind
me okay so I'm a typical in that regard
but what I started the notice was I had
a couple people that I interacted with
that always wanted to turn on the camera
and kind of like you I didn't because I
was like but I'm taking notes and I was
walking over to the whiteboard and I was
kind of doing this I wasn't multitasking
I I've always honored people to be
present but what I noticed was when we
were online it made a lot more sense and
and I could see their facial expressions
and I could look at them and I could
give him like a what the hell are you
talking about and it started to work
better and then I started to experiment
with with some of the technologies
themselves to say well can we can we go
face-to-face can we can we turn on the
video and what I've learned is some of
the technologies make that easier than
others and some almost induce you to do
it but what I've done now is I almost
always lead out with it and and then
give somebody the chance to back off now
I also have a pair of affirmation point
yes if you do it they will feel a little
sense of obligation to do it and then
sometimes they're like oh you caught me
by surprise they may not say that right
but you figure out you have caught me by
surprise and I don't feel like I'm ready
to be on camera and then you let them
down easy
yeah I just want to do I I'll tell you
the other time I don't sometimes is um
sometimes I still I do if I do some
international stuff we'll get some
bandwidth challenges and there's just
enough lag that if we turn the video off
it works okay yeah and it always
frustrates me because I actually now
prefer the face to face and we're going
to be in radio
get up we get a lot yeah that's why we
okay commitment before the end of our
are a little bit of time here in the
next couple minutes we'll hold up our
relative mixtures and should tell ya
what our what our setup is here yeah but
not everybody is an oral personality
type right so right I just personally
just learned to listen and learn a lot
by listening and in terms of how I use
my voice and of course when I started
the conferencing industry in 18 years
ago we were happy if people still knew
if people had actually upgraded into a
56k modem from a 28 right so there was
nothing there was no video or if it was
it was streamed on real media and had
about a 90 second latency so a couple of
the thoughts though with regard to the
medium helping or hurting me let's just
do a quick survey of the other types of
tools that you have available here's one
for instance that I've seen commonly not
used because of some form of
misunderstanding which is the which is
private chat amongst those in the
meeting right so if you're in a meeting
there's eight people in a conference
room and Michael's sitting right next to
me I could lean over to Michael or go
pizza for lunch great and and that's
that chat so to speak is just between
Michael and I I just said pizza for
lunch right it's not public it's just
between the two of us and to me private
chat in an online meeting facilitates
behavior like that when we say how does
our offline behavior map to our online
behavior and can that be done as
effectively or is it worse is it better
sometimes it's better and one of the
things I've seen people do is like oh no
we don't we want people paying attention
so we'll turn off chat and to me that's
like so they just go I'm really glad you
brought that up so let's let's bring it
back to friction on two fronts one of
the things I've noticed is that when
you're in a in-person meeting and you
see some really over talk the other
it's a quick like pizza yeah Pizza okay
cool but when they start having this
whole sidebar conversation there's a lot
something like yo what are you guys
doing stop one meeting
bring your focus back to ear because
that stuff's insanely distracting
because everybody wants to know what
they're talking about where I think then
you get around that is you can do that
type of a chat in an online setting if
you keep it enabled or let's be fair a
lot of people are gonna move over to
slack or text or whatever else they like
and you can have those side chats and a
lot of people say oh that's no good it's
great you know why because a lot of
people even in a virtual meeting they're
so afraid of the power structure they're
so afraid of the bias they're so afraid
of the groupthink or the group ridicule
that they don't speak up they don't
share their minds and I think that when
you have this type of a technology where
I'm showing people things and I'm giving
them the ability to voice a concern in a
small place or to do a test balloon or
whatever else not always go right Roger
that's great you gotta bring that up
dude you gotta bring that up all right
all right hey I so I was just talking
about this idea I think it's great you
know there's a it's kind of like it they
call it the back-channel and there's
been some research that came out earlier
this year that basically said if you
think you don't have a back channel then
you're not part of it and that makes you
part of the problem you live in Oregon
and it's legal to smoke that stuff that
that is back channels aren't a problem
they're only a problem if you let them
be a problem and if you if you
acknowledge them and you say look I know
you guys got to socialize this so you
can try to be an iron fist and drive it
down and this is again where I'm gonna
come back to this is why I like having
just the three questions what problem
are we trying to solve if you're trying
to get your head wrapped around it and
you don't want to seem like an idiot I'd
rather just shoot a quick note to you
Roger and go Roger I'm totally not
trying this is it me you really get it
this is exactly we talked about what are
you not getting okay you do that
virtually put that up visually what I do
I absolutely do I absolutely different
visually than yeah you know it's
interesting because I you know you and I
grew up in a time especially in the
learning and education industry where we
were taught alright you're either
kinesthetic a visual or an auditory
learner they've now done enough
researching that to debunk it completely
except for here's the footnote this will
we continue to learn a different ways
shocker right so we know that we that
some of us can hear better than others
some can see different things or can get
it but what I've learned is if you can
give them yes the full package and I
love the motion that's why I like typing
as we're doing it so I do two things
when I'm especially to overcome that
friction I've learned cuz I you know you
and I went through I don't know if you
went to this I went through a phase
where I was like well I see a lot of
really good speakers that don't even use
slides I'm not gonna use slides and you
can do it you and I having a great
conversation those lines but what I've
learned is people especially technology
they're used to having something as an
anchor and to take that anchor away is
just that's you being a jerk and and so
I stopped being a jerk and what I've
learned is I give people that anchor so
yes minimally I kind of give them that
roadmap like here's the question we're
trying to answer if I got time I'm fancy
I bowled the one we're on I grew out the
ones we've already talked about etc but
I started doing something different
recently and this is kind of crossing
the mediums but what I wanted I wanted
to make sure that when we came together
virtually because what I love about
virtual meetings you don't have to book
a whole day one of the things that my
clients love about working with me
virtually is it's not well we got to
bring Michael in for a day because if
you're bringing me in for a day then you
want to maximize your investment for the
day so you're changing everything around
and there's still times that I like
getting to meet people face-to-face but
what I'm loving about the virtual stuff
especially now being able to turn on the
video and being able to see each other
and being able to have that conversation
is that we can do it in 50 minutes we
can do it 90 minutes we can do it in 25
minutes and we can get something
executed faster so what I started doing
was prepping ahead of time Roger I asked
people the questions that we're gonna
talk about three days in advance and
then the day before I actually share
everybody else's answers now different
groups do different ways I actually
offer to sanitize them but let's be fair
if they're if your colleagues you
already know what somebody else is
writing about but here's what I did I
took to mysticism out of it you no
longer worried what Sally is gonna say
or what I'm gonna say or where the
meetings gonna go I've been very clear
with you upfront that in our brief time
online cameras are gonna be on we're
gonna be in the room together
sometimes I even do it like people will
have a lunch
we've got that little bit of banter and
we're eating together like we would
normally would cameras are on we're fine
we're joking and who's spilling what on
what but then when we get down to it
they already know the answers to the
questions and they've already had time
to think about everybody else's answers
to the questions and we don't waste any
time at all
and we can put it up I can put up what
people said and did we can highlight
things we can write we can sketch we can
annotate and it's really I'm I'm loving
it more and more because I can get more
done in less time my clients feel the
same way I'm not traveling I'm not away
from the kids so you know but the way to
overcome friction is to understand it
exists and then to spend the time with
you know a basic set of structure right
for me a lot of times that's questions
and then introducing it and using it
consistently people now know I'm gonna
ask about the problem the value the
impact and if you get through those I'm
gonna ask about measurement and
readiness that's it they know that they
they know that's what I'm gonna do every
single time and so they come prepared
for it all right a lot less friction
driving toward the end gonna do two
things the last thing we're gonna do is
show off our headsets yes and teach
somebody something they're okay but the
next to last thing you should say is is
it would it be fair if I summarized the
idea of friction or removing friction as
as the diligence to have and stick to a
framework yeah it's the system right so
so without us getting into a whole
nother conversation the way I look at it
if anybody's ever studied Bruce Lee and
looked at his methods he borrowed a
little bit for everything so it's the
the disciplining is a framework and the
diligence to devise the system that
works for you
I don't care Roger how you answer what
problem we're trying to solve I don't
even care what your answer is but
there's certain criteria in the
framework that would help us know if we
got to the right place or not that's
what I'm interested in so yeah it's the
discipline of the framework that exists
at an organizational level at the
individual level it's the desire it's
the it's that ability to build your
system to be able to consistently answer
those questions and make sense of other
people's answers love it I know that a
lot of
people love to bitch about meetings and
yeah same time they should and at the
same time what do we do about it and we
have meetings to plan me too that's the
problem we bitch about them but butts
listen I I hate stupid meetings and not
not to go off on it because I'll bring
it right back to all of this the reason
we hate meetings is because most people
didn't do any of that planning Roger
they didn't they there's no there's no
outcome from those meetings he said for
more work and so if you're in an
organization today where you're in eight
hours of meetings what the hell did you
get done that's my numbing I cancel
stuff all time but gets back to purpose
right you there's a difference
behaviorally between a presentation the
act of presenting that I don't mean a
PowerPoint decorate a presentation and a
collaboration or a meet right right and
or which is why personally I try to set
up the context of this as coffee shop
chat both they both have structure even
this has structure you and I talked
beforehand I got a couple thoughts
worked out this is an area I spent a lot
of time on but even this morning I was
like wow if I had more time I'd go
figure out this and this and this and
this and this because those are the
things that set us apart so yeah so look
we don't like meetings because meetings
beget meetings meetings beget somebody
who introduces friction somebody who
doesn't pay attention who then creates
more work and then I got to have another
meeting about it
yeah you went over a copy of the slides
I missed all the time right all the time
and it doesn't drive us to an outcome if
you want to overcome friction in your
virtual meeting define your outcome
explain to people you know dearly
beloved we are gathered here today and
get to the point people don't really
care if you're funny or not they it's
always people say oh you know it's we
got to be funny
no you have to be useful you have to not
waste people's time be be of value don't
waste your time give them what they need
in the way you do that was structure and
then and then let everybody develop the
system that works for them to get to the
structure that's the last piece because
if it's a this is the only way we do it
it doesn't work out well which is great
cuz you and I the same headset but we
have different ways of getting that code
in right yeah so framework is simpler
let me point out actually something
that's a distinction between kind of in
a sense what Michaels been talking about
and if you have read Patrick Lencioni
death by meeting which by the way is a
he talks about the time into place four
types of meetings longer strategic
meetings the you know the the typical
weekly meeting and then the you know the
agile scrum type of daily stand-up kind
of thing which is different than the
context of the framework in the
discussion or the content inside of any
one of those meetings which is here's
what what Michael's been talking about
but you've probably noticed it we've
each got the same kind of headset I went
hey I got one of those yeah and then we
started talking about our mixer so how
about if we just kind of leave off
because one thing people often ask is
hey what kind of head said do you use
and this is an audio technica and I'm
gonna read it out loud while I do this
it is a BPHS one mist h1 like what were
these 200 bucks 250 bucks 200 bucks
hundred and ninety bucks yeah I get the
exact same one and I feel like Amazon's
100 hundred somewhere between 150 200
yeah so let's talk let's talk about why
why did you why did you get it I'll tell
you why I got it why did you what did
you like about it first of all I was
looking for a pro level headset and I
didn't want to spend 800 bucks at the
time right yep Sennheiser has some nice
stuff I'm a I'm a hardcore about having
an inline mute button which is not
available on the kinds of unpro mics
like this they have them on USB mics but
by Pro I mean with an XLR kind of
connection so XLR meanings the same kind
of the same kind of professional
instrument connection that literally
professional microphones use so I use
the Yamaha a go6
it's got some built-in compression and
effects I use it because I also it has
an aux input where I can take an output
from my iPhone so I've done things were
like I've played in oh that's nice
template yeah yeah plays an output from
my iPhone in and that just makes it
really made it really simple if you want
to do sound effects or add some music or
something real time on the fly so I'm
happy with post-production because I
personally don't wanna spend a lot of
time applause no Jean I don't have time
for it yeah and I mean and and the mixer
is USB so beautifully intergate
integrates with like you know if in my
case is an Apple user logic or
GarageBand or something like that when I
want to use this as an interface for
something going in which which model was
that Roger a go6
that's very cool I I used to early in
when I started doing the podcasting I
had I had a Yamaha it was all analog
back fence and then you had to get a
converter and all sorts other stuff so
here's what I got now I'm using
something called the Focusrite it's um
it's very it's very basic yeah it's
called a - I - the scarlett interface
these interfaces are bulletproof they're
absolutely fantastic low latency which
is the big thing and so what's nice is
and the latency is it's got a monitor
onboard so a lot of times that you would
try to monitor yourself like having a
Skype conversation and you'd be like I'm
hearing myself twice this doesn't have
any of that it gives me two XLR inputs
both with preamps both can go phantom
power now that that matters the people
you condenser mice what Roger and I
haven't talked about yet is that the
microphone on these is what they call a
condenser microphone which means it
doesn't require any power it's two
magnets when I recorded my audio book
they had a $7000 condenser mic in a
sound booth and I will tell you that was
awesome it was delicious I don't have a
sound booth and I'm not spending seven
thousand dollars on a microphone for me
a dynamic is the way to go it's just got
a couple magnets and it picks it up
better it gives you better bass quality
and it doesn't pick up all the noise
around you so when we're doing stuff
like this it's great and on a headset
like this you put it slightly off access
like Roger and I have a little bit off
and then if we turn our heads especially
if we're doing a webinar or we're
narrating a slide deck the sound is
always consistent it's always with you
you can see stuff you can hear it I
think it's actually the right way to go
what I like we both went for an XLR
input I've had USB mics I know people
like them but I wanted to be able to
make this work with other stuff as I go
and so the scarlett for me is just easy
to get it in I trade-off I have no
I have no effects I have no anything
else which is why I wrote down that the
version you've got because I might look
for some other options as I go now they
have other ones for me too so this one I
could put one other person on it they
make bigger ones so like I could for
example take this small portable it runs
a bus power so it runs off of plugging
into the laptop I could go to a
conference Roger I could sit down and I
could throw when I travel I use the
Sennheiser the e85 mics they're
fantastic through dirt cheap and they're
great some portable stands and suddenly
I've got you know four microphones and
we have a great conversation everybody
gets their own channel so that's kind of
how I built it
whereas I thought this is used to travel
within a mixer by the way total number
of times I've travel with it equals zero
so you know I think they make a smaller
one that doesn't have the onboard
effects as a musician I knew I would
probably also use it to do stuff but
given that I was in the Pro Audio
industry a long long long time ago still
on keyboards and pas and guitars and
stuff so you knew it
Yamaha makes just awesome or core I
always have this stuff it's it's it's
it's high quality you can always find in
any given category somebody that makes
that something that's just that little
nudge better but in terms of just
workhorse stuff for a very fair price
that you can feel comfortable
recommending right oh yeah I'm not gonna
break the bank
I mean Yamaha has stuff that you can
break the bank on if that's your
business but and for you and I we spend
a lot of time doing stuff like this so
yeah I always love these conversations I
come away smarter after talking to you I
really appreciate that it's mutual hey
well Michael tell people how they can
get in touch with you should they
security catalyst comm best place to
find me security catalyst dot-com and
you'll find most of my stuff will apply
if you're in technology security you're
gonna it's gonna make a lot of sense and
if you're not it's gonna make a lot of
sense because I've been looking at just
how to how we communicate better and
shortly if you go to security Calais
scorecard I'll have up that simple
scorecard it's actually got those three
questions plus two filters to help you
rapidly clarify and prioritize and
figure out some next steps awesome
like rapidly like five minutes or less
Mike appreciate your time always a
pleasure brother thanks brother Cheers

Topics: Collaboration, Expert Interviews, Online Meetings, Online vs. Offline, Podcast

Roger Courville

About Roger Courville

Chief Aha! Guy | Good dad | Bad guitarist | Loves habaneros |

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