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Meetings - Preparation for the meeting

managements

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Meetings - Preparation for the meeting
Meetings

1.      Preparation for the meeting



Language Checklist

Chairing and leading discussion

Opening the meeting

Thank you for coming …

(It’s ten o’clock). Let’s start …

We’ve received apologies from …

Any comments on our previous meeting?

Introducing the agenda

You’ve all seen the agenda …

On the agenda, you’ll see there are three items.

There is one main item to discuss …

Stating objectives

We’re here today to hear about plans for …

Our objective is to discuss different ideas …

What we want to do today is to reach a decision …

Introducing discussion

The background to the problem is …

This issue is about …

The point we have to understand is …

Calling on a speaker

I’d like to ask Mary to tell us about …

Can we hear from Mr. Passas on this?

I know that you’ve prepared a statement on your Department’s views…

Controlling the meeting

Sorry Hans, can we let Magda finish?

Er, Henry, we can’t talk about that.

Summarising

So, what you’re saying is …

Can I summarise that? You mean …

So, the main point is …

Moving the discussion on

Can we go to think about …

Let’s move on to the next point.

Closing the meeting

I think we’ve covered everything.

So, we’ve decided …

I think we can close the meeting now.

That’s it. The next meeting will be …

Skills Checklist

Preparation for meetings

Chair

·         Decide objectives.

·         What type of meeting (formal or informal, short or long, regular or a ‘one off’, internal / external information giving / discussion / decision making)?

·         Is a social element required?

·         Prepare an agenda.

·         Decide time / place / participants / who must attend and who can be notified of decisions.

·         Study subjects for discussion.

·         Anticipate different opinions.

·         Speak to participants.

Secretary

·         Obtain agenda and list of participants.

·         Inform participants and check:

Room, equipment, paper, materials.

Refreshments, meals, accommodation, travel.

Participants

·         Study subjects on agenda, work out preliminary options.

·         If necessary, find out team or department views.

·         Prepare own contribution, ideas, visual supports, etc.

The role of the Chair

·         Start and end on time.

·         Introduce objectives, agenda.

·         Introduce speakers.

·         Define time limits for contributions.

·         Control discussion, hear all views.

·         Summarise discussion at key points.

·         Ensure that key decisions are written down by the secretary.

·         Ensure that conclusions and decisions are clear and understood.

·         Define actions to be taken and individual responsibilities.

Practice 1

Suggest phrases which could be used by a chairperson in the following situations in a meeting.

a.       To welcome the participants to a meeting.

b.      To state the objectives of the meeting.

c.       To introduce the agenda.

d.      To introduce the first speaker.

e.       To prevent an interruption.

f.       To thank a speaker for his/her contribution.

g.       To introduce another speaker.

h.      To keep discussion to the relevant issues.

i.        To summarise discussion.

j.        To ask if anyone has anything to add.



k.      To suggest moving to the next topic on the agenda.

l.        To summarise certain actions that must be done following the meeting (for example, do research, write a report, meet again, write a letter, etc.).

m.    To close the meeting.

Practice 2

1. In groups, work out a brief agenda, with an appropriate order, for a meeting of the marketing department of Axis Finance Ltd., a medium-size financial services company. Your agenda should include the points listed here:

Any other business                                                     

New products

Minutes of previous meeting  

Marketing plans for next year

Date of next meeting

Review of marketing performance in the current year

Personnel changes                                                                  

Chair’s opening address                                              

Apologies for absence.

2. In pairs, prepare a brief opening statement by the chair to introduce the meeting above:

Think about what the opening statement from the chair needs to say

Use your agenda as a guide

Refer to the Language Checklist

Practise in pairs

8. Participating in meetings

Language Checklist

Discussion in meetings

Stating opinion

It seems to me …

I tend to think …

In my view …

We think / feel / believe …

There’s no alternative to …

It’s obvious that …

Clearly / obviously …

Asking for opinion

I’d like to hear from …

Could we hear from … ?

What’s your view?

What do you think about …?

Do you have any strong views on … ?

Any comments?

Interrupting

Excuse me, may I ask for clarification on this?

If I may interrupt, could you say … ?

Sorry to interrupt, but …

Do you think so? My impression is …

What? That’s impossible. We / I think …

Handling interruptions

Yes, go ahead.

Sorry, please let me finish …

If I may finish this point …

Can I come to that later?

That’s not really relevant at this stage …

Can we leave that to another discussion?

Skills Checklist

Participating in meetings

Types of meeting

·         Decision making meeting

·         Information giving meeting

·         Spontaneous / emergency meeting

·         Routine meeting

·         Internal meeting

·         Customer / client / supplier - first meeting / established relationship

Structure of decision making meetings

·         Study / discuss / analyse the situation

·         Define the problem

·         Set an objective

·         State imperatives and desirables

·         Generate alternatives

·         Establish evaluation criteria

·         Evaluate alternatives

·         Choose among alternatives

The DESC stage of meeting

D         Describe situation

E          Express feelings

S          Suggest solutions

C          Conclude with decision

Goal of decision making meetings

Objective: to get a consensus in a time-efficient and cost effective manner

Importance of communication

·         Two-way process

·         Participants must be aware of others’ needs

·         Full communication and understanding is essential

·         Four elements in communication: awareness – understanding – empathy – perception

Reaching a consensus

·         Discussion leads to consensus

·         Consensus is recognised and verbalised by leader

·         Decisions checked and confirmed




Practice 3

Use the skeleton outline below to recreate the entire dialogue with a partner. Choose alternative interruptions and ways of handling interruptions.

‘The fall in sales is mainly due to

 the recession affecting world markets.’

                                                Interrupt: ask for clarification.

Polite response.

(general fall of 5 % / most product areas

 / especially oil processing sector

/ also due to sale of Anglo, UK subsidiary)

                                                Interrupt: ask why Anglo was sold.

Reject interruption:

No time / discussed before.

Try to move on to future prospects.

(the outlook is just good now)

                                                Interrupt: disagree.

Respond: you disagree.

Forecast are much better.

Interrupt: you want to talk about new markets.

Promise to discuss this later.

But first …

                                                Interrupt: suggest a break.

Reject the idea.

·         Reading

1.      Read the following extract and answer these questions.

a.       What kind of meeting is the text about?

b.      What structure does the text describe?

c.       What key points is made about communication?

2.      Read the text again. Do you agree with:

a.       The first sentence? Give reasons for your answer.

b.      Hayne’s suggestions for the steps involved in decision making?

c.       The view that communication must be a two-way process?

d.      What the writer says about consensus in the final paragraph?

The reason for having a meeting is to make a decision. Information may be given in a presentation followed by questions or discussion, but it is to get a consensus that the meeting has been arranged in the first place. Achieving this in the most time- and cost- effective manner possible is a goal that everyone attending (the meeting) must share.

Marion Haynes (1988) maintains that decision-making meetings need to follow a specific structure. The rational decision process includes the following steps:

·         Study / discuss / analyse the situation

·         Define the problem

·         Set an objective

·         State imperatives and desirables

·         Generate alternatives

·         Establish evaluation criteria

·         Evaluate alternatives

·         Choose among alternatives.

One other aspect of decision making is the necessity for participants in the meeting to be aware of one another’s needs and perceptions. If these are not effectively communicated, if there is an insufficient degree of understanding of one another’s requirements, then an acceptable conclusion is unlikely to be reached. There are four essential elements in decision-making: awareness, understanding, empathy and perception.

It is only when we accept that communications are a two-way process that any form of communication, including decision making, will become genuinely successful and effective.

Decision-making is not always an identifiable activity. Frequently the discussion can evolve into a consensus which can be recognised and verbalised by the leader without the need to ‘put things to the vote’.

3.      Find words or phrases in the text which mean the same as the following:

a.       common agreement

b.      economical use of resources

c.       aim

d.      fix a goal

e.       what one must have

f.       what one would like to have

g.       consider other options

h.      way of seeing things

i.        seeing things as others see them

j.        develop

k.      express through speaking.

Interruptions can have different intentions:

To ask for clarification

To add opinion

To ask for more details

To change direction of the discussion

To disagree.

Handling interruptions:

Promise to come back to a point later

Politely disagree with an interruption

Say the interruption is not relevant or that time is short

Politely accept the interruption and respond to it before continuing

Reject a suggestion

9. Ending the meeting

·         Reading

Read the following text and identify:

a.       three recommendations on how a meeting should end



b.      what should happen after a meeting.

Regardless of the type of meeting (information or decision making), it is important to close with a restatement of objective, a summary of what was accomplished, and a list of agreed action that needs to be taken.

After the meeting, it is essential to follow up with action. A brief memorandum of conclusions should be written and distributed. Inform appropriate people who did not attend the meeting about essential decisions made.

Finally, each meeting should be viewed as learning experience. Future meetings should be improved by soliciting evaluations and deciding what action is required to conduct better meetings.

Language Checklist

Ending the meeting

Asking for clarification

Could you be more specific?

Can you explain that (in more detail)?

What do you mean by …?

Clarifying

This means …

What I mean is …

What I want to say is …

To explain this in more detail …

Checking that the clarification is sufficient

Is that okay? / is that clearer now?

Referring to other speakers

As Peter has already told us …

I’m sure Mr. Kowski knows about this …

Later we’ll hear a report from Neil on …

Professor Gilberto is certainly aware of …

Delaying decisions

I think we need more time to consider this.

I think we should postpone a decision …

Can we leave this until another date?

It would be wrong to make a final decision …

Ending the meeting

·         Summarising

I think we should end there. Just to summarise …

We’ve covered everything, so I’d like to go over the decisions we’ve taken …

So, to conclude … we’ve agreed …

·         Confirming action

We’ll contact …

John will …

We’ve got to …

We need to look at …

·         Referring to next contact

We’ll meet again next month …

We look forward to hearing from you …

It’s been a pleasure to see you today and I look forward to our next meeting …

Skills Checklist

Ending meetings

Two general rules

Meeting should end on time!

Decision making meetings should end with decisions!

The Chair should close the meeting with:

·         A restatement of the objectives

·         A summary of decisions taken

·         A summary of the action now required

·         Reference to any individual responsibilities.

After the meeting

·         A memorandum should be sent to all participants summarising the decisions taken and the action required.

·         The memorandum should be sent to any interested individuals who were unable to attend.

·         The Chair should seek feedback on the meetings to try to improve future meetings.

Improving meetings

·         Motivation to change

·         Gather information on present situation

·         Identify specific areas needing improvement

·         Identify alternative courses of action

·         Practise new techniques

·         Improvement model.

Practice 4

You are at an internal meeting to discuss increases in the price of your products. With a partner, use these prompts to make a dialogue. Try to use new language from this unit.

Participant A                                      Participant B

Ask if the meeting can

 reach a decision on this.

Respond that we need more information.

Ask for clarification.

Say we need to know more about the effects of a price increase.

Suggest doing market research.

Agree. Suggest contacting a friend who knows about market consultancy firms.

Suggest first looking at previous

experience of price rises –

then later going to a Marketing Consultancy.

Ask for general agreement.

Move to next item for discussion.

Practice 5

In pairs use the outline below to create a chair’s closing remarks for a meeting. To make this more realistic, add names and other details as required. Practice your closing remarks together.

Indicate that the meeting is almost over.

Check that no one has  anything else to say.

Restate the purpose of the meeting.

Introduce a summary of the decisions taken.

Ask if everyone is happy with your summary.

Indicate that a colleague will organise a presentation next week.

Fix a date for a new meeting.

Thank people for coming.








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