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Business Communications


This lesson is on listening skills, effective team work and the features of teams. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Business Communications

Business Communications
  • Lesson Two
  • Dr. M. Connor
  • Based on Excellence in Business Communication,5/e
    Thill and Bovée

  • Team work has become an important part of both
    the academic world as well as the corporate

What is a team?
  • A team is a unit of two or more people who work
    together to achieve a goal.
  • Team members have a shared mission and are
    collectively responsible for their work.

What kind of jobs?
  • Team members may be responsible for writing
    reports, giving oral presentations, and attending
  • Whether the goal is to solve a problem, monitor a
    process, or investigate an opportunity, team
    members must communicate effectively among
    themselves and with people outside their team.

Popular workstyle
  • In a recent survey of Fortune 1000 executives,
    83 said that their firms are working in teams
    or moving in that direction.

  • One reason is performance.
  • A recent study of 232 organizations across more
    than eight industries showed that companies that
    worked in teams showed the highest improvement in

Another reason is creativity.
  • Teams encourage creativity in workers through
    participative management, which means involving
    workers in the companys decision making.

Types of teams
  • The type, structure and composition of individual
    teams vary within an organization.
  • Companies can create formal teams that become
    part of an organizations structure.
  • Or they may establish informal teams that arent
    part of the formal organization, but are formed
    to solve problems, work on a specific activity,
    or encourage employee participation.

Problem-solving teams and task forces
  • Informal teams that assemble to resolve specific
    issues and disband once their goal has been
  • Team members often include representatives from
    many departments so that those who have a stake
    in the output are able to provide input.

  • A committee usually has a long life span and may
    become a permanent part of organizational
  • Committees usually deal with regularly recurring
  • For example, a grievance committee may be formed
    as a permanent resource for handling employee
    complaints and concerns

Virtual teams
  • Bring together geographically distant employees
    to accomplish goals.
  • A company may have plants and offices around the
    world, but it can use computer networks,
    teleconferencing, e-mail and global
    transportation to build teams that are as
    effective as those all in the same building.

Always a good idea?
  • Teams can play a vital role in helping an
    organization reach its goals.
  • However, they are not appropriate in every
  • When deciding whether to use teams, managers must
    weigh both the advantages and disadvantages.

At their best . . .
  • teams can be extremely useful for making key
  • The interaction of the participants leads to good
    decisions based on the combined intelligence of
    the group.

  • Increased information and knowledge.
  • Increased diversity of views.
  • Increased acceptance of a solution.

Increased information and knowledge
  • By pulling together the resources of several
    individuals, teams bring more information to the
    decision process.

Increased diversity of views
  • Teams bring many different perspectives to the
    decision process.

Increased acceptance of a solution
  • Team members who participate in making a decision
    are more likely to enthusiastically support the
    decision and encourage others to accept it.
  • Because they share in the final product, they are
    committed to seeing it succeed.

More benefits
  • Teams generally exceed performance levels that
    would have been accomplished had the members
    worked independently, perhaps because teams have
    the potential to unleash vast amount of
    creativity and energy in workers.
  • Motivation and performance are often increased
    because workers share a sense of purpose and
    mutual accountability.
  • Teams also fulfill the individual workers need
    to be part of a group.
  • They can decrease employee boredom, increase
    feelings of dignity and self-worth and reduce
    stress and tension between workers.

  • At their worst, teams are unproductive and
    frustrating, and they are a waste of everyones
  • Some may actually be counter-productive, because
    they may arrive at a bad decision.
  • A team may develop groupthink, the willingness of
    individual members to set aside the personal
    opinions and go along with everyone else, even if
    everyone else is wrong, simply because belonging
    to the team is more important to them than making
    the right decision.
  • Groupthink can lead to poor-quality decisions and
    ill-advised actions, even inducing people to act

Hidden agendas
  • Some team members may have a hidden
    agendaprivate motives that affect the groups
  • George may want to prove that hes more powerful
    than Lili Lili might be trying to share the risk
    of making a decision and Sam might be looking
    for a chance to postpone doing real work.
  • Each persons hidden agenda can detract from the
    teams effectiveness.

  • Team members who dont contribute their fair
    share to the groups activities because they
    arent being held individually accountable for
    their work.
  • Their free-ride attitude can mean that some tasks
    dont get done.

High cost of coordinating group activities
  • Aligning schedules, arranging meetings, and
    coordinating individual parts of a project can
    eat up a lot of time and money.

Teams arent effective for every situation.
  • "When the ship goes down, you dont call a
    meeting. The captain gives an order or everybody
  • Peter Drucker, management expert

Group dynamics
  • The interactions and processes that take place in
    a team.

More effective than others
  • Some teams are more effective than others simply
    because the dynamics of the group facilitate
    member input and the resolution of differences.

  • To keep things moving forward, productive teams
    also tend to develop rules that are conducive to
  • Often these rules are unstated.
  • They just become standard group practice or
    normsinformal standards of conduct that groups
    share and that guide member behavior.

Strong identity
  • When a team has a strong identity, the members
    observe team rules religiously.
  • They are upset by any deviation and feel a great
    deal of pressure to conform.
  • This loyalty can be positive, giving members a
    strong commitment to one another and highly
    motivating them to see that the team succeeds.
  • However, an overly strong identity could leave to
    negative conditions such as groupthink.

Group roles
  • Members of a team can play various roles, which
    fall into three categories.
  • Members who assumed self-oriented roles are
    motivated mainly to fulfill personal needs, so
    they tend to be less productive than other team
  • Far more likely to contribute to team goals are
    those members who assume team-maintenance roles
    to help everyone work well together.
  • Task facilitating roles help solve problems or
    make decisions.

Which role?
  • To a great extent, the roles that individuals
    assume in a group depend on
  • their status in that group, and
  • their reasons for joining the group.

  • Status depends on many variables including
  • personal attractiveness,
  • competence in a particular field,
  • past successes,
  • education,
  • age,
  • social background, and
  • organizational position.

Status varies
  • A persons status also varies from team to team.
  • In most teams, as people try to establish their
    relative status, an undercurrent of tension can
    get in the way of real work.
  • Until roles and status have stabilized, a team
    may have trouble accomplishing its goals.

Five Phases of Team Decisions
  • While teams grow and evolve in their own ways,
    research shows that most teams typically reach a
    decision by passing through five phases.
  • Orientation
  • Conflict
  • Brainstorm
  • Emergence
  • Reinforcement

  • Team members socialize, establish their roles,
    and begin to define their task or purpose.

  • Team members begin to discuss their positions and
    become more assertive in establishing their
  • If members have been carefully selected to
    represent a variety of viewpoint and expertise,
    disagreements are a natural part of this phase.

  • Team members air all the options and discuss the
    pros and cons fully.
  • At the end of this phase, members begin to settle
    on a single solution to the problem.

  • Team members reach a decision. Consensus is
    reached when the team finally finds a solution
    acceptable enough for all members to support,
    even if they have reservations.
  • This consensus happens only after all of the
    members have had an opportunity to communicate
    their positions and feel that they have been
    listened to.

  • Group feeling is rebuilt and the solution is
    summarized. Members receive their assignments
    for carrying out the groups decision, and they
    make arrangements for following up on those

Developing an effective team
  • In effective team collaborations, all team
    members recognize that each individual brings
    valuable assets, knowledge and skills to the
  • They are willing to exchange information, examine
    issues, and work through conflicts that arise.

Trust is important
  • They trust one another, looking forward to the
    greater good of the team and organization rather
    than focusing on personal agendas, making
    unilateral decisions or pulling power plays.

Characteristics of effective teams
  • Clear sense of purpose
  • Open and honest communication
  • Decision by consensus
  • Creative thinking
  • Focused

Clear sense of purpose
  • Team members clearly understand the task at hand,
    what is expected of them, and their role on the

Open and honest communication
  • The team culture encourages discussion and
  • Team members speak openly and honestly, without
    the threat of anger, resentment, or retribution.
  • They listen to and value feedback from others.
    As a result, all team members participate.

Decision by consensus
  • All decisions are arrived at by consensus.
  • No easy, quick votes are taken.

Creative thinking
  • Effective teams encourage original thinking,
    considering options beyond the usual.

  • Team members get to the core issues of the
    problem and stay focused on key issues.

This all takes time
  • Learning team skills takes time and practice, so
    many companies now offer employees training in
    building their team skills.

Understanding conflict
  • Conflictclashes over differences in ideas,
    opinions, goals, or procedures.
  • Conflict can be both constructive and destructive
    to a teams effectiveness.

  • When it increases the involvement of team members
    and results in the solution of a problem.

  • When it diverts energy from the more important
    issues, destroys the morale of teams or
    individual team members, or polarizes or divides
    the team.

Conflict can arise for many reasons
  • Teams and individuals may believe that they are
    competing for scarce or declining resources, such
    as money, information, and supplies.
  • Team members may disagree about who is
    responsible for a certain task (usually the
    result of poorly defined responsibilities and job

Conflict reasons
  • Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings
    and misperceptions about other team members, and
    intentionally withholding information can
    undermine member trust.
  • Basic differences in values, attitudes and
    personalities can lead to arguments.

Conflict reasons
  • Power struggles may result when one party
    questions the authority of another or when people
    or teams with limited authority attempt to
    increase their power or exert more influence.
  • Conflict can also arise when individuals or teams
    are pursuing different goals.

Resolving conflict
  • The following measures can help team members
    resolve conflict
  • Proaction
  • Communication
  • Openness
  • Research
  • Flexibility
  • Fair play
  • Alliance

  • Deal with minor conflict before it becomes major

  • Get those directly involved in the conflict to
    participate in resolving it.

  • Seek factual reasons for the problem before
    seeking solutions.

  • Dont let anyone lock into a position before
    considering other solutions.

Fair play
  • Dont let anyone avoid a fair solution by hiding
    behind the rules.

  • Get parties to fight together against an "outside
    force instead of against each other.

Overcoming resistance
  • Part of dealing with conflict is learning how to
    persuade other people to accept your
  • In business situations, usually reason prevails.
  • However, you sometimes encounter people who react
  • When you face irrational resistance, try to
    remain calm and detached so that you can avoid
    destructive confrontations and present your
    position in a convincing manner.

Four steps to resolving conflict
  • Express understanding
  • Make people aware of their resistance
  • Evaluate others objections fairly
  • Hold your arguments until the other person is
    ready for them

Express understanding
  • Most people are ashamed of reacting emotionally
    to business situations.
  • Show that you sympathize.
  • You might say, "I can understand that this change
    might be difficult, and if I were in your
    position, I might be reluctant myself.
  • Help the other person relax and talk about his or
    her anxiety so that you have a chance to offer

Make people aware of their resistance
  • When people are noncommittal and silent, they may
    be tuning you out without even knowing why.
  • Continuing with your argument is futile.
  • Deal directly with the resistance, without being
  • You might say, You seem cool to this idea. Have
    I made some faulty assumptions?
  • Such questions force people to face and define
    their resistance.

Evaluate others objections fairly.
  • Dont simply repeat yourself.
  • Focus on what the other person is expressing,
    both the words and the feelings.
  • Get the person to open up so that you can
    understand the basis for their resistance.
  • Others objections may raise legitimate points
    that youll need to discuss, or they may reveal
    problems that youll need to minimize.

Hold your arguments till the other person is
ready for them
  • Getting your point across depends as much on the
    other persons frame of mind as it does on your
  • You cant assume that a strong argument will
    speak for itself.
  • By becoming more audience-centered, you will
    learn to address the other persons emotional
    needs first.

Collaborating on Team Messages
  • Collaborative messages, or team messages, involve
    working with other writers to produce a single
    document or presentation.
  • For instance, you might sit down with your boss
    to plan a memo, work independently during the
    writing phase, and then ask your boss to review
    the message and suggest revisions.

Using technology to collaborate
  • Videoconferencing allows people in several
    locations to "meet via video and audio links.

Software options
  • One form of videoconferencing technology is
    decision-making software (also called groupware
    or electronic meeting systems).
  • This software offers distinct advantages. For
    example, participants can anonymously type any
    message they want, and it flashes on the screen
    for all to see. Such anonymity allows people to
    be brutally honest without penalty.
  • In addition, this approach is up to 55 faster
    than face-to-face meetings because chitchat is

  • You must be a good typist.
  • Also, those with the best ideas dont get credit
    for them.
  • Finally, you miss out on vital face-to-face
    nonverbal feedback.

Web technology
  • Also allows team members to collaborate.
  • More and more companies are developing
    large-scale work spaces on the internet for
    online discussions, video conferencing, and data
  • The primary benefits of Web-based collaboration
    are that its easy, cost-effective, and allows
    you to do multiple functions in a seamless manner.

Preparing effective team messages
  • You must be flexible and open to the opinions of
    othersfocusing on your teams objectives instead
    of your own.
  • You must also get organized.
  • Select a leader and clarify goals.

First step
  • Before anyone begins to write, team members must
    agree on the purpose of the project and on the
  • Your team must also plan the organization,
    format, and style of the document.

  • Select team members wisely.
  • Select a responsible leader.
  • Promote cooperation.
  • Clarify goals.
  • Elicit commitment.
  • Clarify responsibilities.
  • Instill prompt action.
  • Apply technology
  • Ensure technological compatibility.

Select team members wisely
  • Choose team members who have strong interpersonal
    skills, understand team dynamics, and care about
    the projects.

Select a responsible leader
  • Identify a group leader who will keep members
    informed and intervene when necessary.

Promote cooperation
  • Establish communication standards that motivate
    accuracy, openness and trust.

Clarify goals
  • Make sure team goals are aligned with individual

Elicit commitment
  • Create a sense of ownership and shared
    responsibility for the document

Clarify responsibilities
  • Assign specific roles and establish clear lines
    of reporting.

Instill prompt action
  • Establish a timeline and deadlines for every part
    of the project.

Apply technology
  • Use electronic tools to communicate quickly and
    effectively with other team members.

Ensure technological compatibility
  • Use the same word-processing program to make it
    easier to combine files.

Speaking with team members
  • Given a choice, people would rather talk to one
    another than write to each other.
  • Talking takes less time and needs no composing,
    keyboarding, rewriting, duplicating or
  • Even more important, oral communication provides
    the opportunity for feedback.
  • When people communicate orally, they can ask
    questions, and test their understanding of the

Think before you speak!
  • However, speaking is such an ingrained activity
    that we tend to do it without much thought.
  • This casual approach can cause problems in
  • You have far less opportunity to revise your
    spoken words than to revise your written words.
  • You cant cross out what you just said and start
    all over.

To improve your speaking skills
  • Be more aware of using speech as a tool for
    accomplishing your objectives in a business
  • Break the habit of speaking spontaneously,
    without planning what you are going to say or how
    youre going to say it.
  • Before you speak, think about your purpose, your
    main idea, and your audience.
  • Organize your thoughts, decide on a style that
    suits the occasion and your audience and edit
    your remarks mentally.

Focus on your audience
  • Perhaps the most important thing you can do.
  • Try to predict how your audience will react, and
    organize your message accordingly.
  • As you speak, watch the other person and judge
    from verbal and non-verbal feedback whether your
    message is making the desired impression.
  • If it isnt, revise it and try again.

Listening to team members
  • Because listening is such a routine, everyday
    activity, few people think of developing their
    listening skills.
  • Unfortunately, most of us arent very good
  • We may hear the words, but that doesnt mean
    were actually listening to the message.
  • Most of us face so many distractions that we
    dont always pay full attention to whats being

Effective listeners
  • Effective listeners welcome new information and
    new ideas.
  • The payoff is that they stay informed and
  • Good listening gives you an edge and helps you be
    more effective when you speak. It strengthens
    organizational relationships, enhances product
    delivery, and allows the organization to manage
    growing diversity, both in the customers it
    serves and in the workforce.

Most people listen poorly
  • In fact, people
  • listen at or below a 25 efficiency rate,
  • remember only about half of whats said in a 10
    minute conversation,
  • forget half of that within 48 hours,
  • when questioned about material theyve just
    heard, people are likely to get the facts mixed

  • Because effective listening requires a conscious
    effort and a willing mind.
  • Learning to listen effectively can be a
    difficult skill, but its one of the best ways to
    improve your communication skills.
  • It enhances your performance, which leads to
    raises, promotions, status and power.

Types of listening
  • Three types of listening differ not only in
    purpose, but in the amounts of feedback or
    interactions that occur.
  • You can improve your productivity by matching
    your listening style to the speakers purpose.

Types of listening
  • Content listening
  • Critical listening
  • Empathic listening.

Content listening
  • Goal of content listening is to understand and
    retain the speakers message.
  • You may ask questions, but basically the
    information flows from the speaker to you.
  • Thats what youre doing right now. It doesnt
    matter if you agree or disagree, approve or
    disapprove, only that you understand.

Critical listening
  • The goal of critical listening is to understand
    and evaluate the speakers message on several
    levels the logic of the argument, the strength
    of the evidence, the validity of the conclusions,
    the implications of the message for you and your
    organization, the speakers intentions and
    motives, and the omission of any important or
    relevant points.
  • Critical listening often involves interaction as
    you try to uncover the speakers point-of-view
    and credibility.

Emphatic listening
  • The goal of emphatic listening is to understand
    the speakers feelings, needs and wants so that
    you can appreciate his or her point-of-view,
    regardless of whether or not you share that
  • By listening in an emphatic way, you help the
    speaker vent the emotions that prevent a
    dispassionate approach to the subject.
  • Avoid the temptation to give advice.
  • Try not to judge the individuals feelings.
  • Just let the other person talk.

The Listening Process
  • Listening involves five related activities, which
    usually happen in sequence
  • Receiving
  • Interpreting
  • Remembering
  • Evaluating
  • Responding

  • Physically hearing the message and taking note of
  • Physical reception can be blocked by noise,
    impaired hearing or inattention.

  • Assigning meaning to sounds according to your own
    values, beliefs, ideals, expectations, roles,
    needs and personal history.
  • The speakers frame of references may be very
    different from yours, so you may need to
    determine what the speaker really means.

  • Storing a message for future reference.
  • As you listen, you retain what you hear by making
    notes or by making a mental outline of the
    speakers key points.

  • Applying critical thinking skills to weigh the
    speakers remarks.
  • You separate fact from opinion and evaluate the
    quality of the evidence.

  • Reacting once youve evaluated the speakers
  • If youre communicating one-on-one or in small
    groups, the initial response generally takes the
    form of verbal feedback.
  • If youre one of many in an audience, your
    initial response may take the form of laughter,
    applause, or silence.
  • Later on, you may act on what you have heard.

Giving Constructive feedback
  • There are a number of things to keep in mind in
    order to give constructive feedback
  • Focus on particular behaviors
  • Keep feedback impersonal
  • Use "I statements
  • Keep feedback goal-oriented
  • Make feedback well timed
  • Ensure understanding
  • Direct negative feedback toward behavior that is
    controllable by the recipient.

Focus on particular behaviors
  • Feedback should be specific rather than general

Keep feedback impersonal
  • No matter how upset you are, keep feedback job
    related, and never criticize someone personally.

Use "I statements
  • Instead of saying, "You are absent from work too
    often, say "I feel annoyed when you miss work

Keep feedback goal-oriented
  • If you have to say something negative, make sure
    its directed towards the recipients goals.
  • Ask yourself whom the feedback is supposed to
    help. If the answer is essentially you, bite
    your tongue.

Make feedback well timed
  • Feedback is most meaningful when there is a short
    interval between the recipients behavior and the
    receipt of feedback of that behavior.

Ensure understanding
  • If feedback is to be effective, you need to make
    sure the recipient understands it.

Direct negative feedback
  • Direct negative feedback toward behavior that is
    controllable by the recipient.
  • Theres little value of reminding someone of a
    shortcoming over which he or she has no control.

Barriers to effective listening
  • Prejudice
  • Self-centeredness
  • Listening selectively

  • One of the most common barriers to effective

Difficult to overcome
  • It is an Automatic process.
  • To operate in life, people must hold assumptions.
  • However, in new situations, these assumptions can
    often be incorrect.
  • Moreover, some people listen defensively, viewing
    every comment as a personal attack. To protect
    their self-esteem, they distort messages by
    tuning out anything that doesnt confirm their
    view of themselves.

  • Causes people to take control of conversations,
    rather than listening to whats being said.

  • If a speaker mentions a problem (Perhaps the
    manager is trying to deal with conflict between
    team members), self-centered listeners eagerly
    relate their own problems with team conflict.
  • They trivialize the speakers concerns by
    pointing out that their own difficulties are
    twice as great. And they can top positive
    experiences as well.
  • No matter what subject is being discussed, they
    will know more than the speaker doesand theyre
    determined to prove it.

Listening selectively
  • Also known as out-listening.
  • You let your mind wander to things such as
    whether you brought your dry cleaning ticket to
  • You stay tuned out till you hear a word or phrase
    that gets your attention once more. The result
    is that you dont remember what the speaker
    actually said.
  • Instead you remember what you think the speaker
    probably said.

Fast brains!
  • One reason our minds tend to wander is that we
    think faster than we speak. Most people speak at
    about 120 to 150 words per minute. But depending
    on the subject and individual, studies show that
    people can process information at 500 to 800
    words per minute.
  • You should be using this difference to pull the
    argument together, but some people let their
    minds wander and tune out.

Understanding non-verbal communication
  • Good listeners pay attention to more than just
    verbal communication.
  • Such non-verbal communication consists of all the
    cues, gestures, facial expressions, spatial
    relationships and attitudes towards time that
    enable people to communicate without words.

Actions speak louder than words.
  • Thats a saying in English.
  • It is certainly true.
  • It has been said that up to 80 of communication
    is non-verbal.
  • But you have to know the culture of the speaker,
    as non-verbal clues change from culture to

In the same culture
  • Because nonverbal communication is so reliable,
    people generally have more faith in non-verbal
    messages than in verbal messages.
  • If a person says one thing but transmits a
    different non-verbal message, people will
    inevitably believe the non-verbal message

The types of non-verbal communication
  • facial expression
  • gesture and posture
  • vocal characteristics
  • personal appearance
  • touching behavior
  • and use of time and space.

Facial expressions
  • The face and eyes command particular attention as
    sources of non-verbal messages.
  • But remember, this is highly contextual to

Walters and Qaddafi
  • After her interview with Col. Muamar el-Qaddafi,
    Barbara Walters, an American journalist said, He
    wouldnt look at me. I found it disconcerting
    that he kept looking all over the room but rarely
    at me.
  • Like many people in the United States, Walters
    was associating lack of eye contact with
    trustworthiness, so when Quadaffi withheld eye
    contact, she felt uncomfortable.
  • But in fact, Quadaffi was paying Walters a
    compliment. In Libya, not looking confers
    respect, but looking straight at a woman is
    considered nearly as serious as physical assault.

Gesture and posture
  • By moving your body, you can express both
    specific and general messages, some voluntary,
    some involuntary.
  • Knowing how to read people helps you be a more
    effective communicator.

Personal appearance
  • Grooming, clothing, accessories style all
    modify a personas appearance.
  • If your goal is to make a good impression, adopt
    the style of the people you want to impress.

Touching behavior
  • Touch is an important vehicle for expressing
    warmth, comfort and reassurance.
  • Perhaps because it implies intimacy, touching
    behavior is governed in various circumstances by
    strict customs that establish who can touch whom
    and how.

Norms vary
  • The established norms vary, depending on the
    gender, age, relative status and cultural
    background of the persons involved.
  • In business situations, touching suggests
    dominance, so a higher-status person is more
    likely to touch a lower-status person that the
    other way around.

  • Touching has become controversial, however,
    because it can sometimes be interpreted as sexual
  • It is also taboo in some cultures.
  • It is never OK for a strange woman to touch an
    Orthodox Jewish man and vice versa.
  • The same goes for strict Muslims.

Use of time and space
  • Like touch, time and space can be used to assert
    authority. Some people demonstrate their
    importance by making other people wait (which I
    think is rude and arrogant, but sometimes a
    gesture of authority is needed, so this is good
    to know)
  • Others show respect by being on time.
  • People can also assert their authority by
    occupying the best space.

  • In US companies, the chief executive usually has
    the corner office and the prettiest view.
  • Apart from serving as a symbol of status, space
    determines how comfortable people feel talking to
    one another.
  • When others stand too close or too far away, we
    are likely to feel ill at ease.

Cultural differences
  • Personal space varies from culture to culture, so
    its always good to do some advance reading
    before meeting people from a different culture.
  • There are a myriad of different books out there
    on international business etiquette, many of them
    culture specific.

Increasing meeting productivity
  • Meetings help teams solve problems by providing
    the opportunity for giving and getting feedback,
    whether your goal is to develop ideas, identify
    opportunities or decide how to maximize

Many meetings are unproductive
  • In a recent study, senior and middle managers
    reported that only 56 of their meetings were
    actually productive and that 25 of them could
    have been handled by a memo or a phone call.
  • Meeting productivity is affected by the way you
    prepare for them and the way you conduct and
    participate in them.

Preparing for meetings
  • The biggest mistake in holding meetings is not
    having a specific goal.
  • So before you call a meeting, make sure that you
    really need one.
  • Perhaps you could communicate more effectively
    through a memo or individual conversations.
  • If you decide that you do need the interaction of
    the group, make sure you plan enough time to
    achieve your goals.

For successful meetings
  • The key to productive meetings is careful
    planning of
  • purpose,
  • participants,
  • location, and
  • agenda.

Decide on your purpose
  • Although many meetings combine purposes, most are
    usually informational or decision making.
    Informational meetings allow participants to
    share information and perhaps coordinate action.
  • Briefings may come from each participant or from
    the leader, who then answers questions from the
  • Decision-making meetings usually involve
    persuasion, analysis, and problem solving.
  • They often include a brain-storming session,
    followed by a debate on the alternatives, and
    they require that each participant is aware of
    the nature of the problem and criteria for the

Select participants
  • Being invited to this or that meeting can be a
    mark of status, and you may be reluctant to leave
    anyone out.
  • Nevertheless, try to invite only those people
    whose presence is essential.

Participant logistics
  • If the session is purely informational, and one
    person will be doing most of the talking, you can
    include a relatively large group. However, if
    youre trying to solve a problem, develop a plan
    or reach a decision, try to limit participation
    to between six and twelve people.
  • The more participants, the more comments and
    confusion you are likely to generate. But even
    as you try to limit participants, be sure to
    include key decision makers and those who can
  • Holding a meeting is pointless if the people
    with necessary information are not there.

Choose an appropriate location
  • Decide where youll hold the meeting and reserve
    the location.
  • For work sessions, morning meetings are usually
    more productive than afternoon sessions.
  • Also, consider the seating arrangement. Are rows
    of chairs suitable or do you need a conference
  • Plus, give some attention to details such as room
    temperature, lighting, ventilation, acoustics and
  • These things may seem trivial, but they can make
    or break a meeting.
  • You might also considering meeting in cyberspace.

Set and Follow an Agenda
  • Although the nature of a meeting may sometimes
    prevent you from developing a fixed agenda, at
    least prepare a list of matters to be discussed.
  • Distribute the agenda to participants several
    days before the meeting so that they know what to
    expect and can come prepared to respond to the
    issues at hand.

  • Include the names of the participants, the time,
    the place, and the order of business.
  • Make sure the agenda is specific.
  • For example, the phrase development budget
    doesnt reveal much, whereas the longer
    explanation Discussion Proposed reduction of
    2006-2007 development budget due to our new
    product postponement helps committee members
    prepare in advance with facts and figures.

Starting and ending on time!
  • Agendas help you start and end your meetings on
  • Starting and ending on time sends a signal of
    good organization and allows attendees to meet
    other commitments.
  • In fact, one solution for improving meetings is
    simply telling people when the meeting will end.

Agenda questions
  • A productive agenda should answer three key
  • 1) What do we need to do in this meeting to
    accomplish our goals?
  • 2) What conversations will be of the greatest
    importance to all the participants?
  • 3) What information must be available in order to
    have those conversations?

Conducting and participating in meetings
  • Whether youre conducting a meeting or just
    participating, there are behaviors of which you
    should be aware.

Keeping the meeting on track
  • A good meeting is not a series of dialogues
    between individual members and the leader.
  • Instead, its a cross-flow of discussion and
    debate, with the leader occasionally guiding,
    mediating, probing, stimulating, and summarizing,
    but mostly letting the others thrash out their

Leader jobs
  • Thats why its important for leaders to avoid
    being so domineering that they close off
  • Of course, they must not be so passive that they
    lose control of the group.

More leader responsibilities
  • Youre responsible for keeping the meeting moving
  • If the discussion lags, call on those who havent
    been heard from.
  • Pace the presentation and discussion so that you
    have time to finish the agenda.
  • As time begins to run out, interrupt the
    discussion and summarize what has been
  • However, dont be too rigid. Allow time for
    discussion, and give people a chance to raise

Follow Parliamentary Procedure
  • One way you can improve the productivity of a
    meeting is by using parliamentary procedure, a
    time-tested method for planning and running
    effective meetings.

What can it do?
  • Used correctly, it can help teams
  • Transact business efficiently
  • Protect individual rights
  • Maintain order
  • Preserve a spirit of harmony
  • Accomplish team and organizational goals.

Roberts Rules of Order
  • The most common guide to parliamentary procedure
    is Roberts Rules of Order, available in various
    editions and revisions.
  • Also available are less technical guides based on
    Roberts Rules.
  • You can determine how strictly you want to adhere
    to parliamentary procedure.

Encourage participation
  • As the meeting gets underway, youll discover
    that some participants are too quiet and others
    are too talkative.
  • To draw out the shy types, ask on their input on
    issues that pertain to them. You might say
    something like, May, youve done a lot of work
    in this area. What do you think?
  • For the overly talkative, simply say that time is
    limited and others need to be heard from.

The best meetings
  • The best meetings are those in which everyone
    participates, so dont let one or two people
    dominate your meetings while one or two doodle on
  • As you move through your agenda, stop at the end
    of each item, summarize what you understand to be
    the feelings of the group, and state the
    important points made during the discussion.

For participants
  • Try to contribute to both the subject of the
    meeting and the smooth interaction of the
  • Use your listening skills and powers of
    observation to size up the interpersonal dynamics
    of the people, and then adapt your behavior to
    help the group achieve its goals.
  • Speak up if you have something useful to say, but
    dont monopolize the discussion.

Close and follow up
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, tie up the
    loose ends.
  • Either summarize the general conclusion of the
    group or list the suggestions.
  • Wrapping things up ensures that all participants
    agree on the outcome and gives people a chance to
    clear up any misunderstandings.
  • Before the meeting breaks up, briefly review who
    has agreed to do what by what date.

Be sure to follow up
  • As soon as possible after the meeting, make sure
    all of the participants receive a copy of the
    minutes or the notes, showing recommended
    actions, schedules and responsibilities.
  • The minutes will remind everyone of what took
    place and will provide reference for future
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