Two Front Teeth

20111011-220110.jpgGabby lost her two front teeth last week. They were basically flapping in the wind they were so loose. She was just fine to wait patiently until they fell out… Yeah Right!

She asked everyday. Sometimes, twice a day. Finally I had enough. After we finished brushing our teeth, I decided to tie a little “tooth noose” with dental floss around her two front teeth. I left her a little slack and told her that all she needed to do was to ….

Just then, a hand comes out of no where and snatches the string, the slack, and the two front teeth right out! One tooth hit the sink and the other hit the floor. The funny thing is that second tooth on the floor was right next to mine and Gabby’s jaws!

Amber obviously had enough too.

5 Tips to Facilitate a Great Meeting


5 Tips to Facilitate a Great Meeting

Meetings. Does anyone like meetings? I’m sure someone does, but we have to have them, right? The answer is yes. As part of the leadership for a company, I know that meetings are necessary for a business to run well. They should not be the primary or only source of communication, but if used well and DONE WELL they can be a valuable part of your company’s communication strategy.

Try these tips for putting together and running a fun AND meaningful meeting.

Open with a RELEVANT Exercise

We’ve all been there. You are asked to do some exercise that has nothing to do with the meeting topic or your company’s goals. In the name of “Leadership Building Skills” the facilitator decided to play “follow the leader” when your meeting topic was on the “The Cost of Communication Breakdown” The point is, the meeting isn’t on Leadership. So why have a leadership exercise if the meeting is on communication.

There are times when these activities are appropriate. When they are relevant is the ONLY time though. For example: If your meeting is about asking better questions, have the group play a game of 20 questions. If your meeting is about having or changing your perspective or point of view, then you can play a game where everyone stands on a desk and says “oh captain, my captain” (love Dead Poets Society by the way).

The point is make it count. Put some thought into what your meeting is really about and only add an ice breaking game that is relevant to the meeting topic. Then do it first to get people’s juices flowing and set the tone that this meeting is going to be fun.

So here’s where you ask, “So what exercise would you do to illustrate communication breakdown?”
Have everyone line up according to birthdate without talking. After the struggle, give them the ability to use their hands to communicate. Then relate it to how easy it is when we communicate and how difficult it is when we can’t. If you can, relate it to recent incidents within the company and give it a number to go with the exercise.

Avoid Death By Power Point

Power Point presentations are great… when used the right way. If you want to see the right way, check out Seth Godin’s TED Talks.

Think pictures. Lots of pictures and no words on the screen. That’s right VERY LITTLE words at all. People tend to remember the pictures on the screen and they associate them with your 20110930-161856.jpgwords. That helps them recall the information later. The alternative is to have them written out for them in your power point. Do you remember any of the stuff from the last meeting you attended where you were given a power point hand out? If you do this, your power point usually ends up in a drawer until spring cleaning and then ends up in file 13.

Use great pictures and be descriptive in the way you talk. Use the presenter notes on power point or better yet, Keynote if you MUST read the information. Try not to show spreadsheets. Instead, print and pass spreadsheets out. Then put an illustration on the power point that SHOWS what your spreadsheet is trying to tell the reader.

Ask Questions

The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.
~Claud Levi-Strauss

In the first grade I had a school librarian that would read a book like this.
“The brown bear had a what?” Where she would replace the real word with a “what?”

That does work, but you don’t want your audience to feel like you are treating them like a 1st grader either.

Nope. What I’m talking about is asking open ended question and closed ended questions in the right places to “guide” your presentations.

“Brenda, tell me what kind the control we have over our Customer Service Scores.”
“Mark, if you had to name something… what do you think could change the numbers you see?”

Questions are powerful. If you don’t use them your audience will be napping. If you do use them well your meeting becomes interactive and informative.

Recap Something to Take Away

Recaps are a great way to help people remember that the meeting was “worth their time”, but don’t make people feel silly.
One of the best Recaps I’ve been involved in was also very simple. Go around the room and have people fess up. “Tell me one thing you took away from today’s meeting that you will use for [topic]”

Here’s the kicker… Make it ok to say “nothing”. That’s right. Encourage people to tell you the truth. Even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts. If people didn’t get anything out of your meeting, you as the facilitator better know. This puts the pressure on the meeting organizer to build a meeting full of take-aways.

Send a Thank You eMail with a SurveyMonkey Link

Thanking people is free and is always welcome. We have forgotten as a “fast-paced and busy” race of humans that it is essential to business to build goodwill. More importantly to a meeting facilitator it reinforces the key message from your meeting. Be sincere and specific.

I appreciate your opinion on our broken title filing process. Your input is going to help us fix the issue for the future.

Use a Survey Monkey survey to find out how people really felt about the meeting. Encourage honest and candid feedback and offer a prize for the first to complete it. You can do this while reminding people that it is still anonymous.


Happy Birthday Mom – Lake Rabun 2011

Happy Birthday Mom – Rabun Beach Campground 2011

(picture gallery at the bottom of the post)

Do you remember your first family camping trip? Camping has always been a part of our family. That’s why I couldn’t wait to get my kids out in the woods exploring nature on their first overnight trip. When you have kids that are almost 6 and almost 2 it is challenging. Not just challenging once you get there and start setting up a tent with a 2-year-old stealing tent pegs. I mean challenging from the planning stage on…Rabun Beach

This year we celebrated my Mom’s Birthday with a family camping trip at Rabun Beach at Lake Rabun Georgia. Ole Phyl had a great time. In fact, Friday she, Evan, and I drove up to the campground 1st to claim a great campsite. Once we got there it did take a few minutes to decide because each of the sites had it’s own unique reason to choose it. I won’t post which one we chose, because I can’t give away all of my secrets, but they all were very good.

Mom spent the afternoon following Evan around and laughing at him. The wonder in his eyes, the amazement in his face, and the craziness coming out of his mouth. I don’t know if I have every heard her laugh as much as she did that afternoon.

The rest of the weekend was amazing too. Amber, Andria, Bradley, and Gabby arrived that night (after dark). There was an incident with Daddy Long-Legs (read below) but for the most part a great trip.

Lake Rabun and Rabun Beach

The campground at Rabun Beach is very well kept. There is a “host” that (I think) lives on site. The rental fees are $14 per night for tent campers and $22 per night for RV’s. There are trails running throughout, several bath houses (with hot water), and hiking trails that take you to Angel Falls and Panther Falls. The falls are very beautiful and well worth the walk.

From the trail head, the walk is only about 1/2 mile to Panther Falls and then another 1/4 mile or so to Angel Falls.

We did see a copperhead snake on our way down, so be watchful.

The Kids

Our camping trip was a great experience. When Gabby, Amber, Andria, and Bradley first arrived, Amber took Gabby to the bath house. Gabby freaked out because there were Daddy Longleg Spiders everywhere. I suppose I would freak out too if I hadn’t seen that many of them before and there were 20 of them all in one place!

By the end of the weekend, Gabby was practically picking them up and laughing about it.

Evan was a trip the whole time. His little eyes were amazed by everything he saw. He didn’t want to go to sleep. In fact, he went kicking and screaming to bed each night because he wanted to stay up and have fun.

Amber was apprehensive about going camping. I don’t know why, because she grew up going in California and loved it. Maybe it had something to do with having to small kids in the woods! Anyway, she did great too. Whether she admits it or not, you could tell she had a good time too.

Camping Question:

So. Do you remember your first family camping trip? Tell us about it in a comment.

Picture Gallery