Is Video In an Idea-Sharing Meeting Appropriate?

Camera lens

I sat with some friends at lunch yesterday right after our Social Media Mastermind Roundtable meeting. We got on to the topic of videos and live blogging in mixed company.  I voiced an observation to my friend, Eric, that I “missed” him at our last couple of meetings.  Oh, he was there alright. My point was that since he started taking up live blogging at the last couple of events, I’ve noticed that his contributions to the group have dropped off significantly. He has been much quieter lately, I complained.

My thoughts turned to video. (Surprised?)

I suggested how video might be a solution to the “I miss Eric’s contributions” issue because video basically captures all the dialog in such meetings.  Hit the record button and then fuhget-about-it.  He would then be free to participate in the conversation without having to worry about missing a beat in the act of recording the moment.

Video Isn’t Always Welcomed

But, hold on, suggested my friend Stacey. Video carries its own baggage in such meetings.

I saw her point immediately: with video running in the background and capturing everything that’s being said in a forum that I, myself, have billed as a “safe environment in which to fail”, the question is: wouldn’t video actually have the effect of stifling the very uninhibited brainstorming and idea-sharing activities that make such mastermind forums so valuable? If attendees were aware of video hanging on, literally, their every word, then it stands to reason that attendees may not be so forthcoming with their most controversial opinions and fringe ideas. I’d actually feel cheated.

I mean, I get up every Saturday morning to attend these meetings just so I can brainstorm and bounce around new and potentially controversial ideas that I may not otherwise be willing to state publicly in other forums.

It’s a great point Stacey raises; ‘definitely something to consider. I don’t have the definitive answers on this. (Does anyone?)

Get Permission

Off-the-cuff: my inclination is to reconsider my ideas about bringing video into those kinds of forums. (Though my lunch friends didn’t say as much, my thoughts naturally drifted over to the “Any Given Saturday” piece I shot last weekend.) No matter how well-meaning the motivation is to benefit outsiders with visual evidence of the value of our mastermind meetings, the right thing to do is, I would say, to always ask permission.

And, while the group leader did kindly give permission before I shot that piece, in retrospect I’d have to say that if you were to find yourself in a similar scenario, it would probably be appropriate to first seek permission–not just from group leader–but from the meeting participants, themselves.

Should Video Be Banned Entirely For Some Meetings?

In fact, I might even go so far as to say that, because of individual pressure to conform to group norms, and for individuals to not want to come across as a snarky naysayer when someone asks, “can I video the meeting?”, I might go so far as to say that maybe some meetings should probably just not be recorded in any case. No matter what the members might otherwise feel pressure to give with a head-nod.

What do you think? Should video be allowed to run in mastermind-type idea-sharing meetings?

(Photo courtesy: Andy Rennie, flickr, creative commons.)

6 Group Dynamics Of a Successful Social Media Mastermind Roundtable

The Social Media Mastermind roundtable of Orange County (SMMOC) is a cohesive group of professionals in the Costa Mesa, CA (North Orange County area); we discuss topics related to the impact of social media upon businesses, communities and society at large.  The video above shows a “day in the life” of a “typical” Saturday morning at the SMMOC.

If you’ve thought about starting a similar group in your area, then you’ll want to take a look at the video above and the list of 6 success tips below that will help your own group get started on the right foot.  Feel free to contact Bob Watson, Kathy Klingaman or any of the other members on the SMMOC Facebook Fan page, if you have questions about additional success criteria.

6 Group Dynamics For Social Media Mastermind Group Success

1.  Check Your Egos At the Door.

You know what I’m talking about here; you and I have participated in business meetings that were attended by ego-driven “professionals” who spend more time waiting for their turn to speak, than they do actually listening to what their colleagues have to say.  That’s not a desired character trait in a social media mastermind.  A phrase I use a lot when I conduct live training sessions is:  “A safe environment in which to fail.”  That’s more like the group norm you want for your own social media mastermind.  No question is a dumb question, as they say; no topic too controversial.  But then you have to mean it and demonstrate commitment to that philosophy by having those who emerge as group leaders reinforce them through their actions and responses to others.

2.  Set Some Ground Rules.

Ground rules don’t have to be draconian.  Nor should they be.  Rather, ground rules should be simple, group-driven (created by group consensus in the first meetings) and positively oriented.   For example, some of the ground rules we have established at the SMMOC are the following:

  • No pitching.  (i.e., No sales pitches.  ‘Nuff said.)
  • No question is a dumb question.  (Again, reinforcing the idea of a “safe environment in which to fail.”)
  • No acronyms.  Or, explain all acronyms.  (This closely relates to the third point I’ll make below about keeping things at a level that allows everyone to participate without feeling threatened about not being current on the lingo.  Terms like HTML, API, RSS, and such, get batted around so much by those immersed in social media day-in and day-out that it’s easy for others to get mired in the minutiae and lose the bigger message.)

3.  Appeal to the ‘Lowest Common Denominator.’

Always be aware of the new folks in the group.  Your micro-community (micro-tribe?) should be welcoming and not threatening to new attendees who are there to “kick the tires.”  At the beginning of each of our SMMOC sessions our group leader/facilitator Bob Watson (Twitter: @TopBrokerOC) goes through great lengths to make introductions when people arrive at the meeting.

Tip:  Start every meeting with a round-robbin of 10-second introductions.  (Name, company [but no pitching], and perhaps have each attendee share one “little known fact” about themselves.)

4.  Seed Your Initial Group With Established Social Medians.

Seeding your group initially with about 1/3 being established bloggers or social networkers who have established visitors or followers will help get the word out that your group exists.  So, let’s say you start a group of 12 attendees, having just 4 of them be established social medians, as I like to call them,  will likely find your group being the subject of some of next week’s blog posts, Facebook or Flickr photo streams or YouTube videos.  Additionally, if your starter set of ringers are the helpful sort, you can grease the skids even more about getting the word out by having these folks help the newer participants get established with their own blogs.  Or, if they already have a blog, then to give tips about helpful techniques or plugins that can help their blog get even more visibility.  That act alone could pretty much guarantee that your fledgling social media mastermind group will be the subject of more than just a few blog articles.

5.  Setup a Fan Page.

In other blog articles I’ve spoken about “Hub and Spokes” in social media.  This is the same idea:  Your fledgling group will need a “hub.”  A Facebook Fan Page can work really well here because it acts as both an outpost (spoke), as well as a hub.  Open it up and allow participants on your page to post comments, photos and videos.  It’s a community.  So allow members of the community to participate and link back to their blog articles, flickr photos, YouTube videos, and so on and you’ll give your community a boost in visibility and attendance.

6.  Have Skilled Facilitator(s) Lead Group Discussions.

I can’t emphasize this enough.  You need a group leader who knows how to tease the topics out of the attendees in a way that private concepts become public mindshare.  Bob Watson (@TopBrokerOC) does this very well by:

  • actively listening (rather than waiting for his turn to speak),
  • asking leading questions about various topics (even though he already knows the answers to those very questions),
  • working the whiteboard. Summarize and paraphrase discussion threads in a visual manner on a whiteboard or flip chart.  This helps keep everyone oriented while allowing them to “piggy-back” new ideas and new topics onto those they see in written form.
  • and making others heros.  It’s not all about “me.”  Not a session goes by where we don’t have our facilitator–whomever it may be at any moment–touting the accomplishments or successes of another.

Your Turn.

Do you have a similar group that you participate in?  What kinds of tips would you be willing to share that will help others succeed with a startup social media mastermind group in their town?