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12.5 Summary

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

In this chapter we have reviewed mechanisms and approaches to handling meetings. We have explored the purposes of meetings and discovered that alternatives to meetings can often yield satisfactory results within a group. We have reviewed specific steps in planning, facilitating, and following up after meetings, including the use of Robert’s Rules of Order. Meetings play a large role in the life and development of most groups, so acquiring tools for putting meetings to the best possible use can be of great value to their members.

Review Questions

Interpretive Questions

  1. Search the website of the Congressional Record at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/LegislativeData.php?&n=Record&c=111 for a legislative topic of your choice and locate 3–4 transcriptions of comments entered into the Record concerning it. What terminology or structure do you see in the text which differs from day-to-day conversational norms? What purposes do you believe these communication features might be intended to serve?
  2. If you’ve participate in a virtual meeting which reached a decision of some sort, what elements of the medium do you feel contributed positively to making the decision? What elements, if any, made it more challenging for you to achieve your aims?

Application Questions

  1. Think of a problem at your college that you and some of your fellow students feel needs to be addressed. Imagine that you’ve been told you have two weeks to present a proposal to the president of the college for remedying the problem. Draft an agenda for as many meetings as you feel would be necessary to involve the proper people in confronting the problem. Describe how the meetings would take place, including what rules you would follow, who would be invited, and what specific items would be dealt with in what sequence.
  2. Review the minutes of 3–4 recent meetings of a local governmental agency such as a city council or parks commission. What portion of the text in each set of minutes, if any, do you feel could be eliminated without diminishing the effectiveness of the documents as records of the meetings? Write up a revised version of one of the sets of minutes which most efficiently conveys what was important in the meeting.

Additional Resources

Books and Articles

Mosvick, R.K., & Nelson, R.B. (1996). A guide to successful meeting management. Indianapolis, IN: Park Avenue. Includes information about business meetings, along with suggestions on how to improve them.

Silberman, M. (1999). 101 ways to make your meetings active. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Provides fun activities and exercises to help prepare people to conduct meetings effectively.

Streibel, B.J. (2003). The manager’s guide to effective meetings. New York: McGraw-Hill. Includes advice on conducting virtual meetings, as well as useful examples and checklists related to meeting management.

Facilitation at a Glance; Ingred Bens

A wonderful pocket guide to facilitation, filled with tools and techniques useful to both novice and advanced facilitators. Great set of tools for problem solving.

Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making; Sam Kaner

An excellent resource for ideas on facilitation, with a focus on decision-making tools and techniques. The book includes excellent illustrations, which can be reproduced to help explain facilitation concepts to others.

Other Meeting Design and Facilitation Resources

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF)

The IAF promotes, supports and advances the art and practice of professional facilitation through methods exchange, professional growth, practical research, collegial networking and support services.

Interaction Associates

Interaction Associates is the creator and distributor of the Mastering Meetings: Tools for Collaborative Action and Essential Facilitation classes which MIT is licensed to teach. The Tips and Techniques section at their Web site is particularly useful.