The Big Thinkers in Meetings I Rely On

Everyone struggles with meetings, and I am certainly not an exception. As a fan of finding and leveraging expertise, I’d like to share the big thinkers in this space that I rely on and three books that I recommend everyone read.

Elise Keith and Lucid Meetings

Elise, and her company Lucid Meetings, should be on everyone’s contact list. Elise’s book Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization is one of those books I’ve bought at least five times because I keep giving my copy away!

Elise’s practice, and her book, are all about the best ways to make it easy for people to enjoy meetings that get work done. She emphasizes that the whole point of a meeting is to gather people for a purpose and shares different meeting types to help us get to the why.

The amazing thing is how her book and her company’s practice are all about clear, practical tools and methodologies. Her workshops are well-run and can be transformative.

Everyone should read the book. And when your organization says “Meetings are horrible” then do yourself a favor and leverage Lucid Meeting’s offerings. Trust me, you will be happy you gave Elise a call.


The book Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers literally changed my career trajectory when I read it back in 2010. This book by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo taught me methods of meeting facilitation and having fun in meetings, which have made me happier in my professional growth, and hopefully a better leader. I’ve written about this before, and I continue to believe that visual meetings lead to better results and we all need to do more.

GameStorming is a beautiful resource webpage. As a company, they lead some great workshops. The Expeditions I attended, run by Dave Mastronardi, was one of the two best virtual events of 2021 – and yes, the other one was run by Elise! I strongly recommend signing up for an Expedition, and look forward to new offerings from Dave and his team.


I love this team’s books. Co-founders Alex Osterwalder and Alan Smith have built a set of tools and methodologies to drive innovation in an organization. The 2021 High-Impact Tools for Teams is one of the must-reads in this area, and presents a powerful, highly visual approach to building teams.

Quality Book Shelf – Data Story

Every quality professional needs to read Data Story: Explain Data and Inspire Action through Story by Nancy Duarte.

This book does an amazing job of giving you the tools of transforming a boring management review into a compelling narrative. Following the step-by-step recommendations will give you a blueprint for effective telling the story of your organizations quality maturity and help you execute into action.

For example, this table is the start of an amazing section about crafting a narrative that then goes into an amazing discussion on structuring a slide presentation to get this done.

 Argumentative Writing (Logical Approach)Persuasive Writing (Emotional Appeal)Writing a Recommendation (Blend of Both)
PurposeConstruct compelling evidence that your viewpoint is backed by the truth and is factualPersuade the audience to agree with your perspective and take action on your viewpointUse the data available, plus intuition, to form a point of view that requires action from your organization
ApproachDeliver information from both sides of the issue by choosing one side as valid and causing others to doubt the counterclaimDeliver information and opinions on only one side of the issue, and develop a strong connection with a target audienceDevelop a story supported by evidence ad also include any counterarguments your audience may have, so tat they feel you have considered their perspective
AppealsUse logical appears to support claims with solid examples, expert opinions, data, and facts. The goal is to be right, not necessarily take actionUse emotional appeals to convince others of your opinion and feelings, so the audience will move forward on your perspectiveStructure the appeal as a story, support your recommendation with data and solid evidence that sticks by adding meaning
ToneProfessional, tactful, logicalPersonal, passionate, emotionalAppropriate tone based on the audience

Another great takeaway is when Nancy presents results of her extensive analysis on word patterns in speeches, right down to the choice of effective verbs, conjunctions, adjectives, adverbs, interjections, and rhetorical questions. The choice of “process or performance verbs” is connected to whether the recommended course of action is continuity, change or termination.

This is a book that keeps giving.

I found it so invaluable that I bought a copy for everyone on my team.

Surviving the Horror of Online Meetings (Book Review)

Surviving the Horror of Online Meetings

Written by Brian Tarallo

Illustrated by Mark Monlux

A fun read this week has been Surviving the Horror of Online Meetings, which brings a great deal of fun to a very pertinent topic in a pretty short page count (70 pages). As a fan of classic monster movies I can’t recommend the art enough.

Tons of good survival tips. Some of my favorite were:

  • Plan five minute sprints – for every 5 minutes of slide presentations or briefings include something that will engage participants – for example a poll or a breakout session.
  • “I Like, I wish, what if” – participants type feedback into chat about idea share
  • Hide self-view – I instantly did this and it makes such a difference

And then each of the silver bullets was worth the price of admission.

We are all fatigued from constant online meetings, and they are not going anywhere. This book is a fun bit of medicine and I definitely recommend giving it a read.