“Meeting means change – all need to put real effort to achieve measurable benefit out of it”.
This white paper will discuss – why people hold and attend meetings; what goes wrong in meetings? How people behave in the meeting? Stakeholders of the meeting and communication skills required to run and participate in the meeting successfully.
2. What is a Business Meeting?
A business meeting is an event where 2 or more people come together on a formally agreed and desired basis to discuss issues as per an agenda. All parties involved must have the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making progress and settle-down on an agreement.
3. Why People do Meeting?
People do meetings to move an event forward in an effective and measurable way with a positive tangible difference. Here are some reasons why meetings can be the best and often the only way to build team effort in a decision together:
Observation - Getting a sense of the whole.
Sharing information – Learning and hearing from others to solve problems. Contributing ideas and learning from others.
Being visible to each other –A “Meeting” gives us the opportunity to see and hear from each other physically.
Looking for solutions jointly -“Two heads are better than one”. Our inner thinking is stimulated when we incorporate with others to share point of views. This enhances the quality of the information coming into the meeting.
Developing Consensus and Stimulating ideas – Conflict can be resolved through open discussion. Meeting is an environment where people are hearing possible creative solutions and focusing on one single idea. Individual commitments become an agreement in business meeting.
Overall, the business meeting is an extremely useful tool and absolutely vital in the business community.
4. What goes wrong in Meeting?
Passivity: People often show up to the meeting with the idea that the meeting already has a fixed agenda with a foregone conclusion. As a result, participants barely get involved and contribute their inputs to the agenda.
Boring: When people do not understand their role and how it ties with the purpose of the meeting, they begin to feel bored in the discussion and do not want to be a part of the disconnected issues.
Grandstanding: A few people always dominate and control the whole session – talking too long or too often, leaving others with little opportunity to speak.
Not Useful: Participants become unsure of what to do next and why when the plans of action and how they relate to the outcome are unclear.
Fear of Exposure: Participants often have a subconscious response to avoid public criticism by shutting down than opening-up and giving ideas.
Potential Conflict: By nature; we all like to avoid conflict. In order to stay out of disagreements and arguments, many participants become de-motivated to be involved in the meeting discussion.
5. How People Behave in Meeting?
Many business meetings do not work because there is not enough information, participation and exchanges of information. Many participants even experience polarization and hostility. I will list and discuss some ways to improve interpersonal skills we need either as a meeting leader or participant.
People’s personalities can be categorized as their intrinsic behavior patterns. If we know and understand how people act at a meeting, we could improve the productivity of the meeting. The categories are:
Mover: People with this category usually initiate action. They define, suggest and develop ideas with a way of achieving. Movers are usually called “natural leaders”. They are creative, strong, and self-confident. They enjoy power but also want approval and agreement.
Opposer: People with this category are counter-mover. Rather than performing the initiator role, they push against whatever has been put on the table. Opposers create challenges to the mover by blocking mover’s direction and want others to declare themselves on their side. Opposers are powerful too. They can redirect/redefine the action established by the mover. They say they don’t care about overt approval; they care about the “facts” and “truth”. Even though this category sounds like a negative contributor, they actually serve some useful functions. So we should consider their critiques and checks on original ideas of the mover to get to a better solution.
Follower: People in this category are familiar to any group. Their role is to support someone else’s ideas (mover or oppose) in a meeting. Followers seldom initiate any idea of their own. They do have an interesting power; they can empower others by granting their support. Everyone wants the follower on his/her side to strengthen their ideas. They are very good implementers once they commit to someone’s idea.
Bystander: People with this category have an interesting character that needs specific attention. They stay quiet, observe and keep options to themselves. Initially, bystanders do not express a clear position. They make comments such as “I have to think about it”. Both sides try to get them to declare for them but no one knows what they are thinking. In order to defuse the vacuum, try giving a specific role or job to them.
6. Stakeholders of a Meeting:
Everyone plays a different role at a meeting; leader, idea generator, information tester and mediator. To make it simple let’s divide the meeting behavior in two groups.
Leader/Convener: This group imitates the agenda and they must know how to go about getting group decision on their initiatives and focus.
Participant: This group should have a more objective view; able to add and influence to leader’s initiatives. Even though their role is to participate; they can shape the direction of the meeting by putting their prospective ideas in the meeting.
7. Communication Skills we all need during a Meeting:
Effective communication skills facilitate communication and reduce confusion between one another. We need to adapt and adopt. Here will discuss some ways to improve and develop better communication skills we all needed as a meeting leader or participant.
Our zeal is to tell our ideas to make them known and sometimes we fail to consider the ideas of others. Non-listeners often interrupt or jumping from one subject to another without connection. As a result, there is no flow in the discussion and vital information and good ideas get lost. How do we fix this dilemma? Below are some techniques to improve listening:
Put yourself aside: Since you know what you can think; make yourself aside to discover new idea and hear others statements and think how many solutions there can be to one problem.
Listen Openly: Suspend your judgment; wait until you have heard the whole idea.
Listen Actively: Listen to what the speaker is saying with supportive evidence against what you know. Take notes and when it is your turn, hook into what was just said as a point and make your statements.
Supporting is an interactive skill we need to learn to make a meeting fruitful. Many of us have trouble finding positive things to say when we hear another’s ideas. We become self-protective rather than innovative because of the fear of being threatened and criticism. As a result, the meeting seems to be a waste of time and people expect to be turned down. Here are some techniques to improve supporting skills:
Adding value: Consider there can be some value in any idea – even though it may stimulate us to think again. Everyone has some useful ideas and to support others we need to consider those as important and valuable.
Find positive things and say it: Supporting other’s statements (i.e. I like the part about … Let’s talk about that some more) and adding new ideas to the meeting increases team spirit and develop better interpersonal relation. You also build support for yourself and your ideas.
Many of us afraid to disagree because we do not want to start an argument or be insensitive. But, disagreeing helps to rethink an idea and make the final solution stronger. Here are some techniques to resolve disagreeing:
Respect other’s ideas: Give a gift before you take something away. Be respectful of someone’s idea while you disagree with it. Always ask questions to get more information before you confront with criticism or disagreements.
Offer specific and constructive solution: Select and focus on specific issue rather than talking about different things. Be ready to add what you think is best. Tell why you disagree, and then back it up by giving alternatives.