Meeting Skills


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Meeting Skills

  1. 1. MEETING SKILLS Table of contents Page Introduction 1 Objectives 2 1. Meeting : an explanation 3 1.1 Definition of a meeting 3 1.2 Meeting – the aim 4 1.3 Meeting – the roles 5 1.3.1 The chairperson 5 1.3.2 The secretary 6 1.3.3 The participant 6 1.4 Meeting – the rules 7 1.5 The convocation 8 1.6 The agenda 8 1.7 The minutes 9 2. Checklist meeting skills 11 Annex: example of a convocation
  2. 2. 000000001. INTRODUCTION000000001 This reader is part of a series concerning general professional skills. The aim of these readers is to provide information concerning subjects like project management, team work, meeting, presentations and the like. This information can be used when preparing and presenting assignments and projects . The subject "meeting" is presented from three angles. First we will discuss the important aims of meeting, then we will look at the tasks and roles of the participants in a meeting. Finally a number of rules for the preparation of an invitation, agenda, etc. will be provided. Added to the reader are a checklist and two annexes. Drs. M.G. Altena Drs. W.G. Bekkering Ir. J.J. van Veldhuizen Translation: K.M.L. Slot-Lim Revised version: Brian Thompson 2009 2
  3. 3. OBJECTIVES General: The person is able to participate in a meeting effectively, efficiently and correctly and if required fulfill the role of chairperson or secretary in the proper way. Specific: The persons knows: * this reader's definition of a meeting, * the UDDI model, * the rules for meeting, * the tasks of a chairperson, * the tasks of a secretary, * the tasks of a participant. The person is able: * to participate in a meeting in a constructive way. * to take responsibility for the execution of decisions taken by the meeting. * to write a convocation and agenda for a meeting. * to chair a meeting in such a way, that its aims are achieved, making use of contribu- tions of all participants. * to write the minutes of a meeting in a correct way. 3
  4. 4. 1. MEETING : an explanation Many people are of the opinion, that the number of meetings, which they have to attend, is too large and that the results of the meetings are not sufficiently measurable. It is also felt that many meetings last too long. If however, the aim of a meeting is clear and participants want to achieve this aim effectively and efficiently, it must be possible to realize useful and pleasant meetings. People who participate in a meeting must have insight in the processes, which may take place in a meeting and they must develop the skills to handle these processes. They must learn to fulfill their role during meetings. This reader aims at providing a contribution. 1.1 Definition of a meeting A definition could be: meeting = a. an intended communication b. between a number of persons c. to make decisions together d. and to check the execution of the decisions A. an intended communication: It is of great importance to set aims for a meeting. If this is not done, the participants probably will not see the benefit of the meeting. As soon as the aims of a meeting are set, it is possible to obtain good meeting results. This requires a good communication in which people speak frankly and listen to each other. B. between a number of persons For a meaningful meeting there should at least be three participants. The number of partici- pants influences the working method during a meeting. A meeting with a small number of participants has the advantage that each participant can get sufficient time to elucidate his point of view, which is not possible with a larger number of participants. In such cases fixed speaking times for each participant can be set. C. to take decisions together This is very important in meetings. Often, things must be decided. In those cases it is necessary to have clear procedures that everybody knows about. Be sure that there is no indistinctness about procedures. D. to check the execution of the decisions Participants must be alert on the implementation of decisions. The minutes of a meeting or a list of action points can be helpful to check whether decisions are being implemented. 4
  5. 5. 1.2 Meeting – the aim The aim of a meeting is, after finishing a number of standard agenda points, to deal with specific subjects. Such specific agenda points can be there for different reasons: - for information, to make the participants of a meeting understand - for discussion, taking into consideration eventual alternatives or the different opinions of the participants. - for decision: after having gone through the phases of information and discussion, a decision on a certain subject can be taken. Sometimes it is possible -with regard to a subject- to go through the three phases mentioned in one and the same meeting, sometimes the subject has to come back on the agenda several times before all the phases have been gone through. It is useful to indicate for what reason a certain subject is on the agenda. In the UDDI-MODEL the above mentioned phases that lead to taking decisions in a meeting, are worked out. PHASE AIM ACTIVITIES 1 Understanding * problem identification * supply of information (by specialist) * opportunity to pose questions "for information" * problem analysis (facts, limiting conditions for solutions) 2 Design * possibility to exchange ideas and to discuss these ideas * brainstorm to formulate solutions or alternatives for a "for discussion" given problem * discuss these solutions and alternatives 3 Decision making * select best alternatives * decide upon these alternatives following predetermined "for decision" procedures * summarize what has been decided * agree upon further implementation 4 Implementation * check the list of action points * check on the basis of minutes and action list what has "list of action points" been done with reference to the decisions taken and what was achieved. 5
  6. 6. As was mentioned earlier, it is possible that within one meeting, in relation to one subject, more than one phase can be passed. It is also possible to convene one meeting for each phase. This depends on the subject, foreknowledge, available time, etc. In order to obtain optimal results, all phases of a subject must be passed. 1.3 Meeting – the roles Each participant to a meeting has its own role to play, with specialized tasks. These roles could be: chairperson, secretary and participant. Each of these positions will be explained hereafter. 1.3.1 The Chairperson The quality and knowledge-level of the chairperson are decisive for the success of the meeting. This means that the chairperson carries responsibilities. These responsibilities are: a. preparation * Set procedures. * Decide who will be invited. * Consult with the secretary * Prepare the subjects/agenda points * Think over the introduction of the subjects. * Prepare for reactions of participants and how to handle these reactions. b. during the meeting * Clear and complete introduction of each agenda point. * Watch over the aims of the agenda points. * Stimulate discussion and participation by participants. * At regular intervals summarize the discussion for clarification. * Point at similarities and contradictions in the discussion * Defend subjects / avoid straying. * Keep track of time. * Formulate proposals to put to vote. * Proper wording of results of votes and decisions. * Indicate how results will be implemented. c. the work after the meeting * Keep track of implementation of action points. * Contribute to the implementation of decisions. * Verify that the minutes are distributed within 1 week. * Signal signs of unrest after a meeting and react properly upon them. 6
  7. 7. A good chairperson has an eye for task-oriented activities and for group-oriented activities. It is of great importance what the role of a chairperson is: is he allowed to participate in the discussion in order to influence the result of the meeting or is he supposed to be neutral and in particular only defender of procedures ? 1.3.2 The secretary The secretary is responsible for the practical preparation of the meeting. He is responsible for the following points. It must be mentioned, that execution of the various tasks must be subject of mutual agreement, which implies that the following listing of tasks could also be different. a. preparation * Decide on the agenda together with the chairperson. * (eventually) Decide on the date of the meeting. * Reserve meeting place. * Formulate invitation. * Summarize incoming mail. * Send invitation, agenda and annexes. b. during the meeting * Make notes for the minutes. c. work after the meeting * Prepare the minutes. * Prepare action- point list. * Send minutes and action-point list to participants. 1.3.3 The participant The participant of a meeting is himself for a large part responsible for a good meeting by preparing himself and constructively helping to think of solutions, and co-operate in the implementation of the decisions taken. a. preparation * Read minutes and action list of previous meeting. * Read the agenda. * Study annexes, which have been sent. * Make notes, questions, etc. b. during the meeting Participants in a meeting influence each other with words, gestures, an attitude, by status or interests which may play a role during a discussion. Everybody's contribution is determined 7
  8. 8. by a complex of factors: the level of being informed and the person's position, but also if one is tired, angry or dull or amusing. In order to reach good results in a mixed group, two principles are of great importance: attention must be paid to mutual understanding and that terms and definitions used are clear. There again there must be respect for the opinion of other participants. Participants can contribute to a proper meeting climate by listening to each other, if required ask for additional explanation and to react to contributions by others. The contribution by participants can be process oriented or task oriented. Process oriented means: directed at enhancing communication, see to it that people get a chance to speak, contradistinctions or compromises must be pronounced. Task oriented means: orientation towards acceptation of meeting-aims, by for instance the formulation of solutions or arguments in a discussion. Both contributions are serving a good meeting if they are well balanced. c. the work after the meeting * Co-operate in the implementation of the action-list items. 1.4 Meeting – the rules12 When we described the roles in a meeting a number of tasks were mentioned, which have to follow certain rules. Hereafter follows an explanation of a number of tasks: Setting the procedures Not only aim and content of meetings are important, also certain procedures. In order to avoid confusion or worse during a meeting, it is of importance to set procedures. Which are the important points to be set: * Who participate in a meeting and what is the status of those present (members, con- cerned and interested parties) * The minimum required participants: if the required minimum amount is not present, the meeting can not take decisions. * The distribution of information: to whom and when. * Who may make proposals. * Who may speak and how is the available time distributed. * Who chairs the meeting. * Who participate in decision making. * How is decided. In view of the last mentioned point there are several possibilities: * Every participant must agree. This may be of importance in case everyone must contribute to the implementation of a decision. * The majority decides. (Eg. the half + 1, or 2/3 of those present agree). * No one is opposed. Often taken in situations of consultation. 8
  9. 9. ∗ One person decides, after hearing the meeting. This procedure is followed, in case one person bears the responsibility for the execution of the decision. ∗ A proposal is defeated, if one person is against. This person makes use of his veto- right. This form of decision making is useful if the decision may have great consequences for the participants in the meeting. Often there are statutes available, containing procedures. If not, then each meeting they have to be formulated. The chairperson then plays an important role. 1.5 The convocation In order to organize a meeting, an invitation is necessary. This convocation has to include the following items: * Who are the participants to the meeting. * The location where the meeting will take place (address, if possible also tele- phone number). * The date and year on which the proposed meeting will be held. * The beginning and closing time of the meeting. * The aim of the meeting. * Subjects to be dealt with. * Agenda and annexes. 1.6 The agenda The agenda is a list of subjects which have to be dealt with during a meeting. The agenda should contain the following items. 1. Opening (with name) 2. Determination of the agenda 3. Minutes of last meeting - editorial - referring to.. - action points list 4. Incoming mail 5. Communications and information - chairperson - participants After these fixed agenda points follow a number of "content" agenda points. Urgent points are placed on top of the list. Such important points do not need to be postponed to the next meeting, in case of lack of time. Also consider the logical order of the subjects. 9
  10. 10. It is of great importance, when preparing the agenda, to estimate the time needed per subject. Thus an over full agenda can be avoided. 6. The subject of a meeting must be introduced with a short explanation. It must be indicated what the aim is of this type of agenda points: image forming, design or decision making. Reference must be made to information and documentation provided for discussion at these points. 7. Questions before closure. 8. Set date for next meeting. 9. Closure (indicate target time). 1.7 The minutes A number of tips for making good minutes: * Copy the agenda points. * Take care of the different points of view which have been mentioned. * Take care of the various points of view. * Try for the main lines and not for literal reproduction. * Use present tense. * Use names selectively: it makes sense to indicate who made a proposal; also names must be indicated in case different parties participate. It must be made known which party makes certain remarks. In most other cases names need not to be mentioned. * Do not correct facts. Only what has been said during the meeting may be reproduced in the minutes. * Do not add new facts. * Do not indicate in the minutes your private opinion. * Do not provide procedure descriptions. Minutes may serve as: * Aid to memory for participants. * Preparatory material for the new meeting. * Confirmation of taken decisions. * Proof, in case of conflict. * Source of information for interested parties. * Material for justification. The form of the minutes may vary from literal reproduction (of importance if justification is required) to a simple list of decisions/actions for instance in a work group. 10
  11. 11. It is useful to add to the minutes/decision list an action-point list. With the help of this list, one may remember one's tasks. With such a list control is facilitated as far as timely achievement of the implementation. The action-point list An action point list looks like this: DATE ACTIVITY WHO ? WHEN ? 11
  12. 12. 20. CHECKLIST MEETING20 CHECKLIST MEETING Yes More or No less PREPARATION CHAIRPERSON * has deliberated with the secretary * procedures and conditions are clear * has prepared himself on the agenda points SECRETARY * has fixed agenda and date * convocation and agenda are correct and on time * meeting documents and annexes have been sent * location has been reserved * summarized incoming mail PARTICIPANT * has read agenda and minutes * has read meeting documents and annexes * made notes of questions and remarks EXECUTION CHAIRPERSON * opens the meeting * guards the aims of the agenda * encourages participation in the discussion * summarizes and clarifies * brings proposals to the vote * formulates agreements and decisions SECRETARY * is prepared for his task * selects form of the minutes after consultation * makes short notes * checks decisions and agreements PARTICIPANT * has sight on his proper role * is active and oriented on the atmosphere * support the chairperson when necessary * aim and phase of problem solving are taken into account FOLLOW UP CHAIRPERSON * checks amply the action points * signals bottlenecks and unrest * sees to timely distribution of minutes SECRETARY * decides who (else) should receive the minutes * sends minutes within one week PARTICIPANT * carries out his action points * checks minutes 12
  13. 13. ANNEX : example of an agenda Agenda for the meeting of ..........................., to be convened at.................. (day, date, year) in ....................., starting..........hour 1. Opening (Mrs. A.H. Johnson) 2. Determination of the agenda. 3. Minutes of the meeting .............. - editorial - referring to... - action point list 4. Incoming mail (secretary) 5. Communications - chairperson - commission A - advisory group B - others 6. Increase in contribution, for information, see annex 1 7. Reconstruction cafeteria, for discussion, see annex 2 8. Member recruiting action, decision, see annex 3 9. Questions before closing. 10 Date next meeting 11 Closure (app. .... hour) Mr. M.J. Thompson, secretary 13