VoiceAmerica interview: Making meetings magical with Katherine Woods

VoiceAmerica is the online leader in original live talk radio; they more or less invented the format back in the 1990s and have gone on to become the single largest producer, distributor, and online broadcaster of original live and on-demand talk radio programming in the world. VoiceAmerica reaches millions of listeners every month in more than 60 countries worldwide, and in June 2015 their radio host Chris Cooper, whose widely listened-to Be More, Achieve More talk show provides inspiration to thousands of high-achieving  businesspeople and entrepreneurs, interviewed Meeting Magic CEO Katherine Woods. On the agenda: meetings, of course, with all their opportunities and pitfalls, and some insights into what led Katherine Woods to create one of the most successful and longest-running meeting facilitation businesses in the world.

What makes meetings work — or not

In the 40-minute interview, Chris Cooper draws out Katherine on her transition from a corporate career to an entrepreneur building and running her own business. He asks what lessons Katherine learned, and then moves her on to discuss her raison d’être: meetings, what makes them work or not work, and what goes into taking a meeting from a mere gathering of people to a focused activity that gets real work done.

Katherine also fields questions on how she and her team at Meeting Magic go about the design of meetings, the importance of environment, her handling of conflicts and those ‘elephant in the room’ issues that can lead meetings astray. En route, some surprising revelations on the value of conflict in meetings: “I think conflict is a kind of natural thing,” says Katherine. “The ability of a group of people to hold different opinions is actually healthy. If you want a group to genuinely collaborate together they need to be able to hear and manage and discuss a difference of opinion which often means there will be conflicts between those opinions.”

Similarly, on virtual meetings, where Katherine’s thoughts will have you shifting uncomfortably in your seat as you recognise how often you’ve been there: “Most virtual meetings tend to be used very much for just getting information and there’s this sort of overuse of open forum — ‘Has anyone got any questions?’ — which either leads to those tumbleweed moments where it is just silent or everybody fighting to get their question in, neither of which are great.”

And the talk show host also briefly draws Katherine on her personal tragedy, and how dealing with it led her to discover, and eventually become an Ambassador for, the work of the Child Bereavement UK charity.

Katherine Woods’ VoiceAmerica interview in full

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