Read the text and complete the following chart
Discuss the following questions.
1. What are the main reasons for holding a meeting?
2. What is the role of the chairperson?
3. Why are so many meetings unsuccessful?
2 Describe a meeting that you have attended recently. How effective was it and why?
Complete the following sentences with appropriate words from the list.
agenda casting vote consensus minutes circulate
apologies chairperson items arising conduct
1 In all formal meetings and most informal meetings, there is a ……………. Whose job it is to …………… the business of the meeting and to ensure that the meeting’s objectives are achieved.
2 It is helpful in both formal and informal meetings to have an ……….., listing the points that are to be discussed. It is usual to ………. This in advance so that participants can prepare adequately for the meeting.
3 If there are too many ………….. on the agenda, it is inevitable that the meeting will be over-long and so less effective.
4 After formal meetings, the secretary writes up the ………… , an official record of the discussion that has taken place.
5 If you cannot attend a meeting, it is customary to send your ………… to the chairperson, who reads out the names of any absentees at the beginning of the meeting. After naming absentees, the chairperson may ask if there are any matters ………… out of the minutes of the last meeting.
6 When decisions must be taken, the chairperson hopes there will be a …………on what should be done. Otherwise, a vote must be taken and sometimes the votes for and against are equal. If this happens, the only way to break the deadlock is for the chairperson to give his or her …………. .
Text 1. Make meetings work for you
Do you dread meetings more than Monday mornings? Do you find them boring, unproductive and far too long? Meetings are central to most organizations; people need to know what their colleagues are doing and then take decisions based on shared information and opinions. How well you present yourself and your ideas, and how well you work with other people, is crucial to your career.
Running a meeting
Only call a meeting if you (and your colleagues) are quite clear about its purpose. Once you are certain of your objective, ask yourself whether it could be better achieved through alternative means, such as memo. Meetings called on a routine basis tend to lose their point. It’s better to wait until a situation or problem requires a meeting. If in doubt, don’t waste time having one.
If you’re sure a meeting is the solution, circulate a memo several days in advance specifying the time and place, objectives, issues to be discussed, other participants and preparation expected. Meetings should be held in the morning, if possible, when people are usually more alert, and should last no more than an hour. Six is the optimum number of participants for a good working meeting. Inviting the whole department (more than 10) increases emotional undercurrents such as, ‘Will my suggestions be taken seriously?’ Larger meetings can be productive as brainstorming sessions for ideas, provided participants can speak freely without feeling they will be judged.
A successful meetings always leads to action. Decisions should take up the bulk of the meeting minutes, including the name of the person delegated to each task, and a deadline for its completion. Circulate the minutes after the meeting and again just before the next one.
Draw out quieter members of the group. Encouragement helps create a relaxed and productive atmosphere. Do not single out any individual for personal criticism – they will either silently withdraw, upset and humiliated, or try to come up with excuses rather than focusing on the problem in hand. Save critical comments for a private occasion.
If you’re talking for more that 50 per cent of the time, you’re dominating the meeting.
Attending a meeting
However informal the meeting, it always pays to prepare a few key points in note form to put across or discuss. If you’re unprepared, you will not be able to concentrate on what your colleagues are saying and others are less likely to listen to you because you will either waffle or sound hesitant.
Don’t memorize notes or read them out like a sermon. This inhibits your natural gestures: the eye contact and body language that is essential to effective communication. If you cannot answer a question, don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out and get back to you by …’ (give a definite date). Phrase your criticism and proposals positively. Seek to offer solutions rather than to complain.
Arrive early and sit close to the chairperson to ensure that you aren’t ignored. If you’re late, apologize and find a seat quickly and quietly. Don’t try to sneak in as if you are invisible.
Read the text and complete the following chart.
Text 2. Meetings
The group meeting as a method of informing and decision-making is as old as a man, and has existed ever since people began to work in groups. However, during the last decade or so, it has become increasingly prevalent. This growth is due mainly to the fact that organizations have become larger and more complex, which has led to such a level of specialization that all the information needed to make decisions in this increasingly complex business society can no longer be adequately assimilated, evaluated and decided by one person or specialized area, without reference to other areas in the organization.
Furthermore, research on attitudes and motivation of people at work has shown that they need to be involved, informed and be able to participate in the decisions that affect them. Group participation is in vogue; and the wheels of modern industry are turned by committees.
And yet, according to experts, of all the thousands of meetings that take place daily up and down the country, only 1 in 10 works efficiently. The other 9 presumably cause frustration and cynicism. In fact, many people view the appointment of a committee as a waste of time and energy and as a delaying tactics on the part of those who are willing to pay ‘lip service’ to an idea, but are unwilling to actually do something. Perhaps you have experienced wasted hours in group meetings and agree with them. But the problem is not so much the meetings but the people who attend them – the leader and the participants.
Successful business meetings depend in large on the skillful leadership and participation of everyone involved. In very large meetings, over about 20 members, it is often customary to adopt a fairly formal method of dealing with the items on the agenda and controlling the conduct of the meeting. This formal procedure, sometimes called parliamentary procedure, is intended to help maintain a degree of order. However, any restriction on the interaction of participants is bound to affect the quality of discussion and decision-making. Many bodies are required by law to conduct their meetings according to established conventions, or ‘standing orders’.
Any meeting which makes decisions should certainly record how the decision comes about, what final decision is reached and who is responsible for the action or who the responsibility for the action is delegated to. Minutes provide a useful reference on the history of a committee’s business, reducing the possibility of disagreement. For this reason properly constituted meetings in legally based organizations are required to keep minutes.
Normally, taking minutes is the responsibility of a secretary, but any other person can be responsible for it. Minute writing is not an easy task but there are some basic do’s and don’t’s which make the task much easier. So, during the meeting:
- record the date, place and time of the meeting;
- record who has attended and from whom apologies for absence have been received;
- identify topics of discussion using the agenda as your guide;
- plan your minute-taking on the basis of a short title which summarizes the topic, a brief summary of the discussion, decision taken and action required;
- give each minute a consecutive reference number;
- clear up ambiguous points before it’s too late;
- write in note-fashion, and unless required, avoid word-by-word recording.
in vogue = in fashion
frustration = disappointment
lip-service = not to be sincere, honest
agenda = a list of matters/questions to be discussed
to be bound to = should
body = organization
established conventions = established rules, order
standing order = a rule or order governing the procedure (ðåãëàìåíò)
to keep minutes = keep an official record of the proceedings of a meeting, conference etc.
a minute = an item in a document
consecutive = one that follows
ambiguous point = unclear question
in not-fashion = in the form of notes
Task 1.Comment on the following statements, agree or disagree with them.
1. A meeting brings together a group of the unfit, appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary for the ungrateful.
2. A meeting is a group of people who keep minutes and waste hours.
3. A meeting is a meeting of people to decide when the next meeting will take place.
4. A meeting is a group of people who singly can do nothing and collectively decide that nothing can be done.
Task 2.Study a sample of the formal minutes, refer to it in the next task.
Board Meeting of Greenwood Ltd
Wednesday; 10 December, 2007; 10.30 a.m.
Present: Mr. Ashley (in the Chair) Ms. S. R. Cilgroy
Mrs. B. Coulgate Mr. N. W. Langram
Mr. T. A. Thorn Mr. R. G. Sheddon (Secretary)
Apologies for absence were received from Mr. P. Green and Miss Shelton.
01 Minutes of the last meeting
Minutes of the meeting held on 13 August, 2007 were taken as read, and signed by the Chairman.
02 Matters arising from the minutes
02.1 Mr. Thorn reported that all supervisors had been issued with leaflets outlining the details of the Employees Share Option Scheme. They had been asked to ensure that all employees received a leaflet, and to explain the scheme to all members of their section. This should be completed by 15 January, 2008 as requested by the Board.
02.2 Mr. Sheddon reported that all the necessary alterations had been made to the Pension Scheme and that each employee would be seen personally by the Personnel Department. These interviews were scheduled to start on 16 January, 2008.
03 Reaction to the Employee Share Option Scheme
03.1 Noted that the only real opposition received had been submitted by employees absent from work during the week that the consultative meetings have been held.
03.2 Resolved that these employees should be seen personally by their Department managers.
04 Staff restaurant construction
04.1 Noted that the building work on the restaurant and snack bar would begin on 31 January and it was expected to be completed by the middle of February. Resolved that both restaurants should be redecorated, in view of the architect report. Redecoration would begin immediately upon the building work was completed.
05 Date of next meeting. The date of the next meeting of the board of directors would be Wednesday, 15 January, 2008. In the absence of any other business, the meeting closed at 11.45 a.m.
Managing Director 10 December. 2007
Task 3.Divide into two groups. Each group will use one of the situations below. In each group decide on a chair and a secretary, complete the agenda with necessary data, and have a brief meeting. Use a sample of minutes as a model to compose yourn own minutes. Compare the results of your meeting with the other group.
To identify ways to reduce company costs
1. Staff cuts.
2. Reducing the research budget.
3. Cutting salaries and running costs.
Tips fore the Chair
· Start and end on time
· Introduce objectives, agenda and speakers.
· Define time limits for contributions.
· Control discussion, hear all views.
· Summarize discussion at key points.
· Ensure that key decisions are written down by the secretary.
· Define actions to be taken and individual responsibilities.
Tips for Participants
· Don’t talk at the same time as someone else is speaking; pause for a second or two to make
sure the other person has really finished.
· When asking a question, make it clear whom you are addressing it.
· If someone asks a question, always reply, even if you don’t have immediate answer.
· Don’t hold side meetings with other people.