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Effective Communication In Business Meetings

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Effective Communication in Business Meetings

Effective communication in business meetings consists of several factors. Careful planning and preparation are essential to maximizing meeting effectiveness. The people who participate in meetings usually have a very hectic schedule. People may be more willing to become involved in meetings, if they know their time will be well spent. There are several key factors that play a part on how to effectively conduct business meetings; such as; planning, use of materials, communication skills and conflict management. “Let’s declare war on meetingsвЂ"time wasting, poorly run, unnecessary meetings that none of us feels should be required as part of our work lives.” {Smith, G (2003). Meetings cannot, and should not be completely eliminated, even in a small company. There are ways to spend the time more effectively.

First of all, meetings should have a goal or objective. Having a goal or objective may sound trivial, but if there is no specifically stated desired outcome of the meeting, there is no point in having the meeting. There are plenty of reasons why people should meet including, but not limited to: communicating information, problem solving, and team building. Planning, communication, conflict management and follow-up can do a number of things to ensure that meetings are productive and efficient. Advance planning by everyone involved in the meeting is the key to achieving this goal. Productive meetings can improve individual and organizational dimensions of communication. The meetings, in turn, foster collaboration, manage conflict, and reduce stress.

Planning is a key component in conducting an effective business meeting. Planning a meeting requires visualizing in advance how the meeting will unfold. Some things to consider are: who will stand where, how long the presentations will last, and how the meeting will be organized. The meeting location should be able to accommodate all guests, have a convenient location, technological capabilities, and a comfortable atmosphere. Finkel (2005) Research found that the ambiance of a meeting room can be a key component in a successful meeting (Ð'¶ 1). Once the location has been determined, it is important to start researching the information needed for the presentation. Research is an important piece of planning an effective business meeting. The investigation process is important in preparing for an effective meeting. Researching will help discover, narrow and organize the topic of the meeting. By making inquiries on the topic, the participants will be able to provide facts, examples, and definitions to support the subject.

There are four main sources that that can provide information for presentations. The first source is personal experience. A personal experience has to be our own experience; the experience can not be another person’s. The second source is written and visual resources. For example, magazines, journals, newspapers, books, broadcasts, and documentaries that can be consulted for information, arguments, and evidence for the speech (Pearson, et al., 2003). The third source is referencing the internet. Using a search engine is becoming more and more common in finding research; however, search engines can lead to irrelevant sites. Instead of using search engines, virtual libraries are also available online. The fourth source is other people. In order to accurately use other people as a source, do an informational interview with the person. Research can make the presenter feel more confident in communicating the presentation, and as a result, the presentation will be more powerful.

Effective communication skills are essential in conducting a successful business meeting. An effective communicator is taken seriously. People listen to what is being said and engage in dialogue. Communication skills include: influencing, negotiation, making an impact, dealing with conflict and dealing difficult people. Business research has identified communication apprehension (CA) as a problem for improving communication skills (Aly & Islam, 2005, Ð'¶ 2). The Journal of American Academy of Business (2005) defines communication apprehension as an individual’s level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons (Ð'¶ 3). When a speaker gives a speech, anxiety seems to produce “interfering, off-task thoughts” that inhibit skill development (Pearson et al., 2003). This tends to happen to me whenever I have to speak to a large group of people. I find myself fumbling over my words and fidgeting with my nails.

The first way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to want to do so. Once there is determination, overcoming the fear can be done by making sure the topic is known, analyzing the audience competently, knowing the speech content well, recognizing value and uniqueness, and focusing on communicating with the audience instead of on the fear. Some other strategies that can ensure the meeting is effective are clarifying, confirming and summarizing. Making sure that the purpose of the meeting is clarified will reduce any chances of the audience misunderstanding the content. By asking the audience questions, or answering their questions, we can confirm that everyone understands. Remember the saying, “third time is the charm” this clichÐ"© is true when summarizing is used. By summarizing all the information at the end of the presentation, the presenter is, once again, making sure the information was understood.

The speaker is not solely responsible for effective communication in meetings. Those who attend the meeting share the burden. An active listening communication strategy will help ensure a successful meeting. Jody Urquhart (2004) suggests these four steps to become a more active listener: Hearing, feedback and interpretation, evaluation and response. Hearing involves paying attention to what the speaker is saying and being sure it is heard (Urquhart, 2004). The feedback and interpretation step consists of the listener repeating back what the speaker has said. This type of feedback allows the speaker the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding. Questions should be asked by the listener until the listener is sure that what the speaker is saying is what the listener understands (Urquhart, 2004). Evaluation is the step when the listener decides what to do with the information given by the speaker.

Although following these steps may take more time initially, time can be saved that would have been wasted by misconstrued expectations. For example, I had a supervisor whose style of communication was different than mine. The supervisor is an excellent example of active listening skills.

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