CTA Seminar on Effective Group Communication through Listening Skills
for Alpha Phi Sorority
Daniel K. Faill
Samuel D. Prestipino
COM 428-Assignment #10
Description of Seminar: Our seminar will be conducted on Monday, November
26, 2001 for Alpha Phi Sorority in Cameron Hall, room 105, at the University of
North Carolina at Wilmington. The seminar should last approximately 45 minutes
and cover effective group communication with a focus in effective listening skills.
How we gathered our Information: We conduced first a preliminary interview with
the sorority President in order to establish some working foundation for further
research. Second, we conducted a survey of the members. Please see
attached for a copy of the survey. Dan visited a meeting on November 5 th, 2001
and distributed the surveys personally amongst the members, of which 44
surveys were completed and returned to us of 78 sisters in the sorority. This is a
58% return. Our follow-up consisted of Dan thanking the group for their time at
the meeting and inviting them to join us for our seminar later in the month. In
order to find more information about the organization, we went to their web-site at
What we Discovered: Through our interview, we discovered that the group
needed some help with group communication in their business meetings. With
this as a start, we designed our surveys and obtained more detailed information.
We know that all of the members are female and that the average age is 20
years old. Out of 4, with 4 being the highest, 22 members said that their
meetings ran effectively, 19 said 3, 3 said 2, and no one ranked their meetings as
having a 1 rating. Using the same scale the members were asked to rate the
listening ability of their fellow members. Four members said 4, 23 said 3, 15 said
2, and 2 said 1. Next, a majority said that their officers easily communicate with
each other and the members of their chapter. In terms of chapter operation, the
members were given an opportunity to write down two things that worked well for
their chapter. The biggest thing that they liked were their agendas, there was a
tie for second with circle talk, voice-mail, and executive meetings. The next
question allowed for them to write down two things that they felt did not work in
regards to chapter operations. The top ranked response was too much talking
during meetings. This was reported by 23 members out of 44who completed the
survey. The second response was lack of attendance and the enforcement of
the attendance policy. Next, 31 respondents reported that their members
communicate effectively, however, those who did not agree said that the biggest
problem was excessive talking during meetings. The members also agreed that
the tone of voice most commonly used was friendly, effective yet firm, and clear
but quiet. Most members said that they liked the arrangement of the room;
however, one third of the respondents did not like the arrangement of the room.
We also learned that not only do they not know what parliamentary procedure
was, but we also discovered that they have their own procedure knows as Alpha
Phi procedure. Finally, all members agreed that their agenda was a useful tool.
Synthesis and interpretation: The interview as a tool was not very useful,
however, it was a good place to start in order to formulate questions for our
survey. The survey on the other hand revealed a lot of information about the
organization and their needs for information from our seminar. We knew from
talking to the President that they needed help with their business meetings, so
we created a preliminary needs assessment and seminar structure based on that
information alone. What we needed, however, was more focused information.
The survey explicated the particular components of what was working and what
needed work. We were able to eliminate the areas of agendas, officer
communication, and group decision making. The areas we found that needed
our attention were excessive talking during business meetings, (as evident from
responses from two separate questions), poor arrangement of the room, and
finally, a large group rated their fellow members as needing help in their listening
skills. We determined that these all tie into effective listening skills, and this will
be the focus of our seminar in terms of effective communication during business
Learning Objectives: Our objective is to conduct an effective seminar for Alpha
Phi Sorority that will allow for a facilitated learning discussion as well as initiative
activities all of which will be centered around effective listening skills as they
relate to better group communication at business meetings. We plan on not only
providing an open forum for communication of the aforementioned ideas, but also
provide informative and useful handouts for the participants to take away. We
would like them to:
1. Learn what active listening is.
2. Learn from each other what to do to listen to each other better at their
3. To have a fun yet useful time with initiatives.
Evaluate Tools: Our evaluative tool will be a survey that will be included in their
handouts towards the end of the seminar. Please find a copy of the evaluation
Design and Method:
Outline Format of Seminar
*Upon entrance, participants will receive an agenda (please see attached) and a
nametag that will be placed on their back with one name of a famous couple on
I. Famous Couples Name Activity
-The name activity will serve as a useful icebreaker initiative. The purpose
of the initiative will be to get the participants to communicate with those
that they might not communicate with on a regular basis and to provide a
foundation for the future discussion of listening skills.
II. Introduction and Debriefing of Name Activity
• Introduction of Sam, Dan, and evaluators
This will allow the members to feel more comfortable with the outsiders
that have come to visit them, and to give credibility to those CTA members
that are facilitating the learning discussion.
• Debriefing of Famous Couples Name Activity in relation to the seminar
-We hope to foster a discussion that explains the purpose of the name
activity and to relate that purpose to what they found doing the activity
and to the learning objective.
-Through the surveys handed in, we found that many of the members
felt a need for us to cover the areas of listening among members,
address the issue of side-talk during business meetings, and the
arrangements of the room. We believe that all of these areas are
directly related to the field of listening skills.
• Learning Objective
-Our learning objective is to conduct an effective seminar for Alpha Phi
Sorority that will allow for a facilitated learning discussion as well as
initiative activities all of which will be centered around effective
listening skills as they relate to better group communication at
business meetings. We plan on not only providing an open forum for
communication of the aforementioned ideas, but also provide
information and useful handouts for the participants to take away.
III. Initiative Activity
- "Constructive Communication"
- Participants will be asked to form a number of groups dependent
upon the number of participants. Each group will be responsible for
constructing the largest structure using only raw spaghetti noodles
and gumdrops. Some members will be asked to close their eyes,
some not to use their hands, and still others, not to speak. This
activity will provide the opportunity to work as a group and to
experience a simulation of what it takes to be an effective group
member through effective listening.
IV. Debriefing Activity
- Members will sit in a circle and will be asked the following
- How did you feel during the activity?
- What was the highlight of the activity?
- What did you get out of the activity?
- How can the positive that happened be taken back to your
- The answers to these questions will lead to a discussion among the
V. Sam and Dan offer some listening skills
- Active Listening-the ability to pick up, define and respond
accurately to the feelings expressed by the other person.
- Types of Listening:
- Discriminatory - only listening to what you want to hear
- Comprehensive - listening and understanding what you are
- Therapeutic - listening for the sake of listening
- Critical - listening to analyze and judge
I. Relate III through V to Alpha Phi business meetings.
-This will be a facilitated learning discussion that will relate the
information we just presented, the earlier initiatives and their
debriefings. The content of this discussion will focus on what they
have learned thus far and relate it back to their business meetings.
Sam and Dan will guide them through their discussions in order for
them to formulate some conclusion about how to listen to each
other at their business meetings.
- Please see attached for copies of the take home pamphlet.
The purpose of this pamphlet is to provide some concrete
information and conclusions for participants to take home with
- Please see attached evaluation. This will be used to let the
facilitators and CEO of CTA know what worked and what did not
work in the seminar.
- Thank You
Justification for Design:
Our seminar is one that is free flowing yet interconnected from one section
to another. We begin with an initiative that breaks the ice and allows everyone to
have something to talk about later. Then, once everyone is comfortable with
each other, we introduce the facilitators and the evaluators and state what we are
going to do. This however is not a mechanical statement that will be done in a
matter of fact way. On the contrary, it will be explained in terms of their
expectations based on the survey that was conducted of their members several
weeks prior to the seminar. This will then move into another initiative followed by
a debriefing to discuss what they were able to get out of the activity. Eventually,
someone is bound to say something about the activity involving listening skills, at
which time Dan and Sam will interject with some listening skills facts that we
derived from our own CTA associates at a previously executed FLD. Once those
facts are brought about, we will help to relate that information and what they
learned from the activities back to their real-world business meetings. It is at that
time that they stop learning because of things we are doing and start learning
because of the dialogue that will ensue. The process will wind down in a simple
evaluation and thank you on behalf of the facilitators. Of course, we do not want
them to leave empty-handed and they will take home a pamphlet and agenda.
This process was obtained through information derived from Jo Sprague
in her article Why Teaching Works….Sprague states, "Real learning begins when
learning fails and assistance begins." Further, we expect to achieve Sprague's
concept of peer learning in that we can learn more from our peers than we can
from our facilitators. This means students come to see each other as sources of
insight and support. We could not however, have even developed a plan without
doing a proper needs assessment. We feel that this was accomplished through
our survey and helped to design and justify a great seminar. As Dr. Isa Ingleberg
mentioned in his article Needs Assessment and the Communications Consultant,
"Needs Assessment provides the essential date for the development of
DeWine, S. (1994) The consultant's craft: improving organizational
communication. New York, St. Martin.
Ingleberg, I. (1984) Needs assessment and the communication consultant.
Largo, Speech Communication Association Convention.
Sprague, J. (1993) Why teaching works: the transformative power of pedagogical
communication. Communication Education, (42).