Meeting Cancellation Policy

Established September, 1992

Meeting Archive

Topic: April 2013
Date: Tuesday - April 16, 2013
Topic: Managing Virtual Meetings for Real Results
Speaker: Rick Brenner


Managing Virtual Meetings for Real Results

In many organizations, virtual teams are now officially the way of things. Everything about such projects or operations is more difficult than face-to-face teams — including participating in and leading meetings.

What's a virtual meeting? You'll find various definitions if you surf around a bit, but the main features of a virtual meeting are what make them so difficult to manage — the people are dispersed geographically, they meet in person infrequently or never, and they might even come from different cultures. And these three factors conspire to make what's usually easy, difficult — and what's usually difficult, impossible.

But on top of all of that, there is organizational politics. Project sponsors and managers must learn to navigate the politics of all organizations that host project team elements. And they must understand the politics of managing team elements that lie outside their own organizations.

This program helps people who lead or participate in virtual meetings.

Participants learn to appreciate the true challenges of the dispersed environment. They learn how the economics of the dispersed environment differ from the economics of the face-to-face environment, and how this affects preparation for and participation in virtual meetings.

Most important, they learn strategies and tactics for making virtual meetings productive and effective. Based on attendee interest, topics will include, for example:

  • Dealing with virtual conflict
  • Techniques of remote facilitation
  • Virtual sidebars, interruptions, distractions, and inattention
  • Relationships and lack thereof
  • Agendas are not enough
  • Choosing a time to meet
  • Choosing substrate technologies: audio, video, and Internet
  • Language issues
  • Virtual negotiation
  • The importance of scheduling breaks
  • Tailoring exhibits for virtual meetings
  • Dealing with late arrivals and absentees
  • When power attends the meeting
  • When power attends the meeting incognito
  • Controlling attendance
  • Sarcasm and other risky communication patterns

Whether you’re a veteran of virtual meetings, or a relative newcomer, this program is a real eye-opener.

Back to top

About the Speaker

Photo - Eric P. Bloom

Rick Brenner

Rick Brenner is principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting. He works with people in dynamic problem-solving organizations that are making products so novel or complex that they need state-of-the-art teamwork and stronger relationships among their people. In his 25 years as a software developer, project manager, software development manager, entrepreneur, consultant, and coach, he has de-veloped valuable insights into the interactions between people in complex dy-namic environments, and between people and the media in which they work.

As a coach, he works with managers at all levels, emphasizing development of in-terpersonal skills, especially in fluid, high-stress contexts, such as organizations that are moving from a strict operational orientation to one in which ongoing op-erations must compete for resources with special enterprise-scale projects. Such a mixed environment creates organizational stresses that leaders must under-stand, not only because of the change-related issues that arise, but also because of the challenges to managers that they create, even when equilibrium is at-tained.

Over a period of seven years, he attended or assisted in numerous workshops under Jerry Weinberg, Dani Weinberg, and Jean McLendon. It was during this pe-riod that he acquired his skills in designing and facilitating experiential education. He was a founding member of the AYE Conference.

Mr. Brenner has held positions at Symbolics, Inc., and at Draper Laboratory, both of Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Symbolics, he was responsible for development of products based on Macsyma, a computer algebra system. At Draper, he was a principal investigator in a DARPA program, the Evolutionary Design of Complex Software, where he conducted research into advanced concepts for software de-velopment environments based on dynamic object-oriented programming lan-guages. Since 1993, he has taught Spreadsheet Models for Managers, a course he devised, at the Harvard University Extension School.

He serves as the facilitator and group administrator for a discussion group he created at Office Politics, Workplace Politics, and Organizational Politics. Discussions there are energetic and enlightening. The group now has over 750 members.

Mr. Brenner holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Boston Software Proc-ess Improvement Network, and the Agile New England Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has served in various leadership roles ranging from board member to vice president to chair (president) in local chapters of these so-cieties. He was selected Chapter Member of the Year for NSA New England in 2001 and 2007.

His current interests focus on improving personal and organizational effectiveness in abnormal situations, such as dramatic change, enterprise emergencies, and high-pressure project environments. He has written a number of essays on these subjects, available at his Web site,, and writes and publishes a weekly email newsletter, Point Lookout, which now has just over 3,000 subscribers.


Back to top