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Effective Communication In A Business Meeting

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Effective Communication in a Business Meeting

It probably started with the juice of some wild berries, a stick, a cave wall and an artistic Cro-Magnon hunter presenting his ideas to his tribe for the next day's hunt. 2.5 million years later, we still conduct meetings to bring everyone up to date, gather feedback, or invite suggestions. The business communities have embraced the teamwork mentality of coordinating projects and the sharing of ideas. Business meetings can range between two people to a major conference. The advent of microchips has enabled meetings to be carried out via teleconference, videoconference, or online on the information super highway. Despite all these modern amenities and the teamwork mindset, businesses still have some setbacks during meetings.

Traditionally business meetings are held in a boardroom or conference room. Conference rooms are not the only place an effective business meeting can be held. Office lunchrooms can be just as effective for a more informal meeting. For instance, in small businesses, there is no need for a spacious conference room so in essence a lunchroom can double as a conference room. This informal environment can make it easy to have what is known as a "working" lunch. Working lunches can provide valuable time between employee and employer to communicate any concerns pertaining to the work place (New Mexico Business Journal, 2007). Having working lunches can break the monotony of a stiff business meeting.

We all have sat through meetings that either took too long or achieved too littleÐ'--or worse yet, both. Some businesses, big and small, set up meetings for the sake of having one to make use of their conference rooms. This practice should be frowned upon given that the main purpose of meetings is to communicate. After all, communication is the livelihood of any corporation. Without communication skills, there would be no successful business meetings. The point of the meeting would be lost on its participants. Communication skills help to relay a clear and concise message verbally and visually.

Before setting up a meeting, be sure that the objective cannot be achieved by other means. These could be a simple conversation between a co-worker, a quick phone call, or sending a speedy e-mail. Don Goldman (2007) of Salem, MA once said, "Remember, the purpose of the production meeting is to plan ahead and solve problems, not a place to first learn about them." If that objective is not fruitful, then a "call to order" is required.

The idea is to have a prepared agenda ready to be discussed when having a business meeting. Going into the meeting with ideas for solutions instead of more problems is much more desirable. For example, a profitable private mailbox company in downtown Chicago wants to branch out into other areas. Once the perfect location is found and shop is set up, the owner soon finds out that the rural part of town he opened his shop in is comfortable with the local post office they have been dealing with for years. This tells him he must persuade people to use his services instead. He decides that he needs to set up a meeting with an advertising company, and does so with a local advertising company.

The owner of the private mailbox company expects a selection of marketing strategies the advertising company had brainstormed upon meeting them. If they do not have any ideas or solutions to his predicament then the meeting would have been in vain. By going into a meeting with nothing viable to discuss, then there was no point in taking the time to have the meeting. Wasting time is never a good business strategy.

When preparing for a meeting we have to keep in mind that it is work related, therefore, its work. Some simple steps to follow when putting together a meeting are preparation, facilitation, inspiration and results (Meeting Wizard, 2006, Ð'¶ 3).

The first step in preparing for a meeting would be to make sure that the purpose for the meeting is clear to all who attend. This can be done by creating an agenda. How important is the agenda? [The] agenda is critical for running organized meetings (Niederman & Volkema, 1996, p. 193). Having an agenda can move along a meeting by saying, in a few words, the points that will be covered. An agenda can be looked at as instructions. As with any instructions, it should be clear and concise. This could be accomplished by writing things down in an orderly fashion as to ensure that the message was understood by all (Lee, 2007). An agenda can also be used to set time limits to each point as to ensure everything will be covered. A setback on setting time limits is that not all of the audience gets an opportunity to give input.

Feedback from the attendees is an integral part of business meetings. Feedback reinforces that the speaker has the audiences' attention. Getting participant's feedback can create a sense of togetherness within any team or work place that could potentially spill out into other aspects of the job. Giving or getting positive feedback creates pride in ones self that is evident in the job performance and can help with staying on task. Facilitators counter this by scheduling time near the end of the meeting to address such issues.

The facilitator regulates the meeting assuring that there is order and the points categorically covered. Although the facilitator steers the meeting on the right course, the participants decide on how to get there. Therefore, it is imperative that the facilitator hand out or display the agenda prior to the start of the meetingÐ'--preferably, a day prior (Niederman & Volkema, 1996, p. 196). Thus guaranteeing that the direction is set and the participants are aware of the meeting's purpose. Another important tip that the facilitator has to retain is that the any physical presentation included within the meeting can alter the meetings length (Bishop, J. 2007). In short, facilitating a meeting is ensuring that the meeting runs fluidly from one item to the next.

Even in the instances where there is a successful facilitator, this does not guarantee that the meeting will be a success. Communication is after all the key to keeping the meeting a success. A tip in helping a meeting go smoothly is to "understand the different communication styles of people, considering how best to deliver the message to the individual concernedÐ'--they may be a visual learner and need a diagram rather than a long verbal explanation" (Lee, 2007). Since everyone learns differently, the presenter needs to think of ways to address the entire audience and not just one individual. PowerPoint presentations are a great way to get the entire audience involved with the meeting. The visual learners can see



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