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Effective Communication

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Effective Communication in Business Meetings

Learning Team C

COMM/102- Communication Skills for Career Growth

Terry Carlyle

December 20, 2004

What is effective communication in business meetings? Are there guidelines to be followed or are they free style? Communications in business meetings have several components that can make it ineffective or effective. First step, make sure expectations of the meetings are being met, second is getting to know who your audience is going to be. Depending on what your meeting is about, the content will set what format or style of communication should be used.

What roles does management play in effective communication for business meetings include? Management can assist through out the process of preparing for the meeting. Pre-meeting planning will include such things as research to insure all areas of the meeting have been covered. Written documents and visual aides will assist you in the presentation. Speaking and listening skills will assist with some of the pre-meeting anxiety. Major steps of the presentation will include clarifying, confirming, and summarizing. Conflict resolution skills may be require if the question and answer session becomes heated. All of the above, along with others to be mentioned below will insure that effective communication in all business meetings can be achieved.

As you prepare sections of your presentation you may want to ask the management team for feedback, this could be done by sending drafts of the information to be presented. By asking for feedback through out the process, this will insure all pertinent information is covered. Management may also look at this as an opportunity to mentor the presenter. The presenter will gain career development for the next raise cycle.

Some preplanning that should be considered is scheduling the meeting room and making sure all necessary equipment has been reserved, for example; projector, screen, dry erase markers. If there are any people attending the meeting by teleconferencing, the necessary arrangements must be made for phone numbers to be included in the invitation. The phone number information can be sent out with the invitation. It is also good to send out the slide presentation along with the written out presentation, asking if there are any questions please send them in and you will be able to include the answers in the actual presentation. This way attendees may have a chance to look over the information and you may get a feeling for what kind of questions will be asked The preplanning process should also include all research efforts about the presentation subject, the more information you have on any given subject the more confident you will feel at presenting the information. Another important part of the step in the process is practice, from my own personal experience, the more a presentation is practiced the better the presentation. Preplanning and research will set the foundation for the presentation.

The use of written documents plays an important role in achieving effective communications during business meetings. Written documents reinforce the topics and ideas discussed during business meetings. Written documents may include everything from simple statements and contracts, to elaborate employee handbooks. Written documents serve to reinforce the spoken words and synthesize these topics in to a tangible form. This tangible form allows the individuals and groups who are communicating during a meeting to reference back to the information which was recorded. Additionally, formulating concrete documents avoids situations in which confusion may arise about a topic which was discussed during a meeting. The minute information becomes written down, it becomes "unforgettable" or "concrete". Once the information becomes concrete, it serves as evidence for the future. There is no question what was said, since it is recorded.

Written documents are so important that most state governments, and the federal government, require businesses to maintain specific records during the meetings businesses are required to hold. These records are known as minute books. Minute books contain written documents which validate the actions and procedures of a business, as well as providing written consents for these actions and procedures. For example, a corporation must hold a mandatory annual meeting. The decisions and actions which are made during these meetings are recorded in a minute book. If an issue arises in which a government branch must investigate or audit a corporation, the information recorded in the minute book may be used as evidence in the investigation.

The use of visual aids continually proves to be a tremendous asset for delivering communication effectively during a business meeting. Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, and Harter (2003) noted that "Apparently, people retain information longer when they receive the message both through their eyes and through their ears" (p. 499). We can see from this statement that individuals and groups retain information much more effectively if the spoken information is combined with a visual aid. Bray (2004) notes that "Good presentations are those where the primary focus is the presenter and their interaction with the audience" (p.19). Additionally, visual aids serve to break down the complexity of many types of information. By breaking down the information, it becomes much easier to understand, especially if an individual or group is able to visualize the information. Visualizing information makes it more digestible to the end user and increases the amount of time such information may be retained.

There are many types of visual aids that may be used during business meetings at the disposal of the speaker. Examples of the types of visual aids a speaker is able to use includes; chalkboards, dry erase boards, posters which include graphs and charts, projectors, films, photographs, drawings, models, handouts, and electronic presentations such as PowerPoint and Flash. As long as these types of visual aids are used strategically and kept simple, these tools have the ability to reinforce topics and allow information to become more memorable.

The increasing amount of visual aids becoming available to speakers has spurred a tremendous growth in the production of these materials, and the tools used to create the materials. Companies have devoted entire departments to create such presentation materials for use in business meetings. Additionally, many manufacturers are continually designing presentation specific products

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