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for LEADING & PARTICIPATING in Productive Meetings

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1 for LEADING & PARTICIPATING in Productive Meetings
Tips & Techniques for LEADING & PARTICIPATING in Productive Meetings “Meetings are the only place in the corporate world where minutes are kept and hours are wasted.” To move forward, backward or to a Contents page, move your cursor over the arrows in the bottom left corner of each page and make a selection. You can also use your space bar (forward); or your Page Up/Page Dn keys (backward/forward).

2 Table of Contents Orientation Communication & Interpersonal Skills
Managing Group Process Click on a large colored bullet to go to that section.

3 Orientation This material was developed to help you – a meeting leader or an attendee – communicate clearly and overcome barriers during meetings. You will explore tools and techniques for moving groups forward, managing challenging situations and helping groups reach consensus. Responsibilities of the Meeting Leader Agreeing on the Ground Rules Return to main Table of Contents Click on a large colored bullet to go to that section.

4 Responsibilities of the Meeting Leader
Have you ever considered what the meeting leader is responsible for during a meeting? Here is just a brief overview: moving through agenda starting and ending on time showing respect generating discussion & encouraging contribution capturing & summarizing ideas, decisions, next steps, etc. unblocking the group dealing with conflict & difficult situations reaching agreements & gaining consensus maintaining a positive climate using facilitation tools demonstrating effective communication & interpersonal skills Use questions Listen actively Respond appropriately Orientation

5 Agreeing on the Ground Rules
Encourage and help groups agree on ground rules (or a working agreement) that all meeting members are expected to honor. Ground rules identify how the group will work together during the meeting. Here are a few examples of ground rules: Arrive on time. Put cell phones on vibrate. Stick to the agenda. Participate fully. Be supportive, not judgmental. Listen to what others have to say. Be open to new concepts and to concepts presented in new ways. Share your knowledge. Have fun. Orientation

6 Communication & Interpersonal Skills
In this section, you will explore three “must have” skills for running and participating in effective meetings. You will also gain tips for improving your own communication and interpersonal skills. Skill #1: Authentic Communications Skill #2: Questioning & Listening Skill #3: Constructive Interpersonal Skills Return to main Table of Contents Click on a large colored bullet to go to that section.

7 Skill #1: Authentic Communication
Do you find some people easier to trust than others? Do you ever wonder how you can create that same trust or authenticity in your meetings? Clear communication is critical for encouraging an atmosphere of trust during a meeting. When you are clear, assertive, open and supportive, you create a high trust culture that is essential to your meeting success. On the other hand, communication that is defensive, political and self-serving leads to an unproductive conversation. When people have low levels of trust and high levels of defensiveness, creative problem solving becomes almost impossible. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

8 Words Voice & Tone Body Language 38% 55% 100% 7% Congruent delivery
People judge your believability not only by what you say, but on the manner and tone of your communication. To gain trust, you must align your words, voice, tone, and body language to ensure they all send the same message – your intended message. . Words Voice & Tone Body Language Voice & Tone Body Language 7% 38% 55% 100% Dr. Albert Mehrabian. University of California. Silent Messages. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publications, 1981, pp Communication & Interpersonal Skills

9 Exercise How you communicate non-verbally in meetings has a dramatic effect on: From your own experience, list some of the non-verbal behaviors – positive or negative body language – you have observed in meetings. your perceived image your credibility your ability to foster productive relationships with other group members your ability to influence others Positive Non-verbal Behaviors Negative Non-verbal Behaviors ex. Maintained eye contact with person speaking ex. Began pacing when challenged Communication & Interpersonal Skills

10 Avoid “drop-off” syndrome. Vary pitch and pace of voice.
Confident speaking Do you use unnecessary and annoying filler words when you speak? You will be more believable if you articulate your ideas clearly and confidently without filler words. Identify any repetitive words in your speech and eliminate them because they will detract from your message. Common filler words are words like: um, er, okay, like, you know, to name a few. Make it a habit to rehearse – out loud – key statements, decisions or points of view so that you can deliver them with confidence. Speak loudly enough. Avoid “drop-off” syndrome. Vary pitch and pace of voice. Avoid filler words. Enunciate clearly. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

11 Skill #2: Questioning & Listening
When you master the art of questioning and listening, the quality of the problem solving and decision making in meetings will soar. Asking effective questions Good communicators are skilled at asking questions. Whether leading a meeting or attending one, you will find that good questioning skills are an asset. Let’s take a look at six kinds of questions you may use to achieve your purpose. Open-ended questions Require more than a one-word answer and cannot be answered by yes or no. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

12 Closed-ended questions
Usually elicit a yes, no or some other one word response. These questions usually begin with words like: is/are, do/does, has/have or will. “What-if” questions Encourage groups to visualize a future scenario and to think about the consequences of their actions or decisions. Clarification questions Help you defuse misunderstanding and help your group articulate their ideas more clearly. Test-for-agreement questions Check if the group agrees or disagrees with what is being said. Opinion-finding questions Uncover information about feelings, perceptions and attitudes. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

13 Responding to questions
Take time to provide thoughtful responses to questions from others. Here are a few strategies that will help you respond. Acknowledge the question and the questioner Paraphrase difficult questions Pause before you answer Example: “Thanks for asking that question, John. We all face this issue regularly.” Example: “Let me see if I’ve understood your question properly. You are asking which of the two systems would be better?” By pausing for a second or two, you have time to formulate a well thought-out answer. You indicate to the questioner that they asked a good question worth your full attention and you appear confident. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

14 Defer the question Be honest Example: “Jane, that’s an excellent question. May I hold the question as I am going to cover that issue in the next few minutes.” If you defer a question, be sure that you do not forget to answer it before the end of the meeting. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. If appropriate, you may volunteer to find out the answer after the meeting, or you might ask another attendee to help out. For example: “I have not had direct experience with this method of analysis. But I know that Jim has worked with this system for years. Jim, would you be able to help us here?” Keep a positive tone when responding to questions. Be sure not to show irritability or defensiveness. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

15 Three levels of listening
The impact of good listening is remarkable. When good listening happens, people become more open and articulate. We listen at three levels. At Levels 1 and 2, the intention is to protect, defend or be right. At Level 3, the intention is to learn, connect, build trust and reach understanding. Level 1 Script: “I’m not hearing you.” Associated behaviors: What’s missing: multi-tasking pretending to listen genuine interest focus on the other person Level 2 Script: “I’m hearing you, but you’re wrong.” Associated behaviors preparing response before other person finishes speaking Communication & Interpersonal Skills

16 Associated behaviors (cont’d) topping another person’s ideas putting other person down What’s missing: respect for other person ability to tolerate silence openness to alternative ideas Level 3 Script: “This is what I hear you saying and this is how I sense you’re feeling about the issue.” Associated behaviors: focused attention interested questioning collaborative dialogue When a group member is speaking to you, give him/her your total attention and listen actively – at Level 3. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

17 Skill #3: Constructive Interpersonal Skills
Constructive interpersonal skills will help you reach consensus, provide information or invite others’ involvement. Understanding and using these skills in your meetings will promote and enhance teamwork. When you make constructive behavior the norm, groups feel a greater sense of satisfaction and encouragement. As well, they are almost always more productive and successful. Let’s look at some constructive skills that support successful meetings. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

18 Providing information, thoughts or ideas
Use these constructive behaviors to help get information across in meetings. Constructive behavior Activities supported Propose ideas making recommendations or suggestions Build on ideas adding ideas, thoughts or suggestions Share vision describing a desired future state or outcome Provide details offering or clarifying information, results, data or experiences Give opinions sharing feelings, different points of view, perceptions, experience or beliefs Provide feedback offering relevant comments, results or information about a particular situation Communication & Interpersonal Skills

19 Inviting or seeking information
When you want to involve others, try these behaviors. Constructive behavior Activities supported Ask questions eliciting involvement, seeking information, clarifying results data or experiences, gathering specific information Solicit opinions gathering feedback, points of view, judgements, beliefs or values Challenge raising concerns, asking for more information or clarification about an issue, opinion, decision, etc. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

20 Managing the process Use these behaviors to manage the process.
Constructive behavior Activities supported Check-in establishing whether communication is clear, checking in for meaning or establishing the okay to move on Test consensus testing whether the group has reached a decision/agreement supported by all, determining when more discussion or processing is necessary Summarize reflecting on what has been covered, decided or shared by the group (often done periodically throughout the meeting and particularly at the close) Encourage supporting, agreeing with or recognizing contributions of others, celebrating success Communication & Interpersonal Skills

21 Managing Group Process
In this section, you will explore techniques for managing group process. You will gain tips for recording information, generating discussion and more. Recording Information Generating & Managing Group Discussion Moving the Group Forward Managing Conflict Reaching Consensus Return to main Table of Contents Click on a large colored bullet to go to that section.

22 Recording Information
At some point, you will need to record information during a meeting. To perform your recording role adequately, you need to know what, when and how to record. What to record Develop your “in the moment” recording skills to help the group: Remember what has been said. Organize large amounts of information. Evaluate the information. Stay focused on the topic and objective of the meeting. Here are some habits to develop: Offer to summarize points before writing them down. Ask the contributor to help summarize. Managing Group Process

23 Do not assume points that are similar are identical – check.
Record the contributor’s words verbatim – don’t change to your version. Remember, the notes you capture during the meeting may be written up as formal or informal minutes and shared with the entire group after the meeting. When to record When productive ideas are flowing or constructive problem solving is in progress, you should capture as much as possible. Sometimes, however, a group may be frustrated or feel blocked. They may need to vent their feelings before they can more on. In this situation, stop recording and let the conversation run free for a while. Also, if highly Managing Group Process

24 Here are a few tips for recording on flipcharts:
confidential or sensitive information is being shared, all recording should cease unless the group agrees to a written record and you agree on a plan for keeping your notes secure. How to record The humble flipchart remains the instrument of choice for most meeting leaders. It is cheap, portable, flexible and generally does not break down. Flipchart sheets may be posted on walls, saved for future meetings or transcribed as an informal record of the group’s achievements. Here are a few tips for recording on flipcharts: Stand to the side of the chart and use your whole arm when writing. Use upper and lower case letters. Start each sheet with a heading. Separate each bullet point/item with a symbol (dash, star, asterisk). Number the sheets. Managing Group Process

25 Generating & Managing Group Discussion
You will find that some groups are naturally talkative and enter easily into vigorous discussions. Others will be less forthcoming and will need you to help kick-start, then guide the discussion. Let’s look at three techniques for generating and managing group discussion. Setting a positive climate To set the right tone for your meeting, provide a positive and inviting environment even before the meeting begins. Approach your meeting as though you are hosting an event – your group members will likely rise to the occasion. Managing Group Process

26 Encouraging contribution
Use quick, structured brainstorming techniques to help your group generate ideas and discussion. For example: Structured rounds: Increase participation as well as the volume and quality of ideas After you have assigned a task or posed a problem, have the group members write their ideas down on a notepad. Then, ask them to share their ideas, in a round robin style, collecting one thought from each person until all ideas are recorded. Paired discussion: Quantity and quality of ideas increases. Also allows quieter members to equally contribute their ideas. Divide the group members into pairs and allow them time to discuss the issue before opening up a full-group discussion. Managing Group Process

27 Post-it planning: Gets the energy and creativity flowing.
Flipcharting: Creates a large number of ideas, gives group members adequate thinking time, and increases energy levels by getting members on their feet. Post flipcharts around the walls of the room. Divide the members into groups and ask each group to go to a flipchart and brainstorm their ideas. Ask them to present their findings to the full group after the brainstorming exercise. Post-it planning: Gets the energy and creativity flowing. Give each member some colored Post-it™ notes. Have them write down their ideas and post them under the appropriate heading on the wall or flipcharts. Using facilitation tools Build yourself a repertoire of tools and methods for initiating, guiding and organizing group members’ contributions. Look for tools to assist with decision making, ranking of items and problem solving. They will help you use time productively and often lessen a group’s frustration. Managing Group Process

28 Moving the Group Forward
A meeting leader is expected to keep the group moving forward efficiently towards the meeting goal. However, as an attendee, you should also develop the following skills to help move the group forward: Reading the group Develop your ability to sense how group members are feeling and what they need in order to move forward. Observe facial expressions (frowns, furrowed brows) and body language (slumped posture, doodling). Providing interim summaries Sometimes group members become bogged down in their own process. You can help them re-energize by taking a moment to summarize what has been achieved so far. By focusing on what has been achieved, rather than what hasn’t, you can lift the spirits of the group and help them move forward. Managing Group Process

29 Checking in with the group
Ask the group to take a brief “time out” to express how they are feeling. Use a brief written survey to “take their pulse” and act on the results. Unblocking the group When the group becomes blocked, you must find a way to clear the blockage, refocus the energy and keep egos intact. Use a flipchart to collect individual “forced ranking” or take a straw poll. You could also offer to provide more data, insert an energizing activity or call a break. Using strategic questions Ask thought provoking, insightful questions to help the group see a situation from a different perspective. For example, “What is stopping us from moving forward?” Strategic questions will help the group explore why they are stuck which, in turn, can lead them to realize their own solution. Managing Group Process

30 Managing Conflict Conflict is a frequent by-product of meetings. If you see conflict developing among group members, here are some ideas to try: Take action Do something! If you see conflict developing, don’t ignore it. Mirror the situation You can act like a mirror by explaining what you see happening. Then ask the group to solve the problem you described. Change the dynamics of the group Let tempers cool over a short break. Use that time to figure out a way to solve the problem. Consider using a structured decision-making activity. Managing Group Process

31 Revisit the ground rules
You can often find support in the ground rules. Remind the group that they agreed to these rules at the beginning of the session. No matter how you choose to deal with the conflict or a problem situation, you must: remain calm and objective (don’t take it personally) be courteous maintain the self-esteem of the group member(s) eliminate or reduce the problem behavior keep the climate positive engage in Level 3 listening Managing Group Process

32 Reaching Consensus Consensus is not 100% agreement. You reach consensus when everyone can support a decision 100%. Consensus is… Consensus is not… a point of maximum agreement so action can follow voting a win-win solution a win-lose situation a decision everyone can support 100% compromising everyone agreeing on every point When to use consensus Your group should strive for consensus when the members must decide on a process of how they will operate, or when everyone’s buy-in and commitment is critical to a project or initiative. Managing Group Process

33 When you want the group to reach consensus, use these guidelines:
How to reach consensus When you want the group to reach consensus, use these guidelines: Explore different options and viewpoints thoroughly to avoid missing rich opportunities for sharing information. Build on each other’s ideas with similar or related ideas. Reduce the number of options by eliminating the obvious non-starters early in the process. Focus on the ideas and solutions rather than the people who proposed them. Create action plans that share the responsibilities. Managing Group Process

34 Managing group dynamics to ensure meeting success.
By applying the tips and techniques you have learned in this course, you will be well on your way to: Using communication and interpersonal skills to run or participate in effective meetings. Managing group dynamics to ensure meeting success. “Meetings are the only place in the corporate world where minutes are kept and hours are wasted.”


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