Business Communications (lecture 23) Effective Business Meetings
1. Business Communication MGT 3201Effective Business Meetings
2. What is a Meeting?In effect, a meeting is an exercise in applied
communication…or, simply “communication in
Much of what we have learned this semester
can be used to improve the effectiveness of
business meetings. For example:
Speaking skills; active listening; body language;
communication planning; giving feedback; dealing with
difficult people; team communications etc
3. The Cost of MeetingsIt is estimated that in the average company 20%
of the payroll is spent for people attending
meetings – often ineffective meetings
At senior levels many managers spend nearly all
of their time in meetings
Meetings stop people from doing real work
Many meetings happen even when there’s
nothing to discuss – just because the meeting
has been scheduled every Monday for the whole
4. Your ExperienceThink about meetings you attend in your
workplace. What things make them ineffective?
How many meetings do you attend each week
and how much time spent in meetings?
Why do you think organizations seem so
attached to so many useless meetings?
5. Rules for MeetingsThere are many things we can do to make
meetings more productive…what would be your
6. The Management MeetingRead the “Management Meeting” handout (also
save on the L Drive in class activities folder)
What things are contributing to this being an
What “meeting rules” would you suggest should
exist for meetings in this company?
7. Top 11 Reasons Meetings are Ineffective1.
People come late which wastes everyone’s time…and
latecomers don’t know what is going on
Meeting minutes are: not taken; not taken competently;
not distributed; not distributed on time
There is no written agenda (or it is not distributed prior
to the meeting)
The meeting is not chaired by anyone so there’s no
control or structure
Some people never say anything in a meeting; others
will not shut up
8. Top 11 Reasons Meetings are Ineffective6.
Some people use meetings as an opportunity to push
personal agendas / attack people they don’t like / raise
irrelevant issues / complain about things
Some people interrupt others continuously
In long meetings people get distracted / restless and
frustrated so they stop listening
People take phone calls during meetings which
Some people just criticize / speak negatively / are
sarcastic which brings down everyone’s mood
The meeting has no fixed, agreed finish time
9. Dealing with Irritating People in MeetingsBefore the meeting
If someone has a fixed position on a subject, and has often argued
tediously from that position before, ask for their co-operation just
for this one meeting. Try to get their agreement to "back off" from
this fixed position just this once to see how the discussion develops
without it. Point out futility of debating around and around a subject
and how it wastes everyone's time, including that of the disruptor.
Afterwards, hold a private discussion with the person and debrief on
the effect on the meeting process.
Open the meeting with a discussion of the process to be
followed for the meeting itself, including the length of time any one
person will be allowed to speak at a time.
10. Dealing with Irritating People in MeetingsLine up an ally for the meeting, with the intent of
reducing or eliminating the disruptive behaviour. This
person can refuse to argue with the disruptor, or
alternatively confront the behaviour directly. This can be
more effective if the ally is someone who is not usually at
Give the disruptor a role in the meeting, such as
posting decisions and points of view on flipcharts.
Disruptors are often energetic people who like to be the
centre of attention. Making them responsible for an
important, high profile task will often make them a useful
11. Dealing with Irritating People in MeetingsDuring the meeting
In setting the ground rules at the beginning of the
meeting, agree on the type of language that is and is
not acceptable. For example, people must express their
opinions in terms that solve problems rather than lay
blame. When this is clearly set out at the beginning, it
becomes easier to identify and stop disruptive behaviour
before it takes root.
Many organizations have published “meeting rules” that
govern how all meetings in the organization must be
conducted. Sounds childish? It saves millions of dollars.
12. Dealing with Irritating People in MeetingsDuring the meeting
If someone makes personal attacks on another, firmly
point it out. You might say, "Jessica, please confine your
comments to the issues --- personal comments like that
are not appropriate or acceptable.“
Any other business Keep any issues that are not core
to the meeting until the end (Any other business). If
disruptors want to get to their own issues they will have to
be constructive or there will not be time.
13. The Elephant in the Room
14. The Elephant in the RoomThis is a metaphor for people pretending not to see a big
issue right in front of them. This way they avoid
confronting what is important and so they don’t have to
deal with difficult or uncomfortable topics
Politicians might avoid talking about global warming
because it is hard and expensive to solve.
A married couple might avoid talking about a problem or
a disappointment that has come between them because
it is hard to confront.
In business meetings we often avoid sensitive or divisive
issues and hope they will go away. In fact, they block
15. The Elephant in the RoomIn business meetings we often avoid sensitive or divisive
issues and hope they will go away.
In fact, avoiding tough issues damages open
communication and progress. Issues rarely just go away
by ignoring them.
Effective meetings are meetings that discuss the tough
“Elephants” don’t just affect meetings. Whole
organizations sometimes have elephants which hang
over everybody like a dark cloud.
16. The Elephant in the RoomHow can you tell when there is an ‘elephant’ present in a
business meeting or organization generally?
17. How to Spot an ElephantThe real conversations happen in the hallways or office
after the meeting. There the elephant or issues are
clearly named and discussed.
Team members complacently agree to a consensus at
the meeting – then go off and do their own thing. They
don't voice their disagreements for fear that they'll be
labeled as not being team players.
Commitments aren't kept and deadlines are missed. It's
considered whining or copping out for a team member to
give his or her real opinion about the feasibility of the
18. How to Spot an ElephantOnce the team leader gives his or her opinion, everyone
else stays quiet or falls in line behind the executive.
Team members suck up to the leader and pretend the
moose doesn't exist.
Sudden surprises often come "out of the blue" –
especially from within the organization. The team leader
is frequently surprised to see a simmering problem
suddenly erupt into a full blown crisis.
The team leader dominates meetings and most
conversations. If he or she wants any of your ideas, he
or she will give them to you.
19. How to Kill an ElephantHow can meetings or whole organizations deal
with their elephant and make it go away?
20. Killing the ElephantGetting rid of an elephant may require:
Some people having to open up and speak more honestly
Dealing with emotions like fear; resentment; anger
Some people admitting they were wrong
Putting aside personal feelings and being more objective
Reversing decisions; compromise; new directions
Making hard decisions
Accepting blame or responsibility; admitting you were wrong
Saying you are sorry
Listening to things that are hard to hear
Making a new agreement with people
Dealing with prejudices or biases about people or issues
21. The Elephant in the HospitalRead the short story “The Elephant in the Hospital” (also
saved on the L Drive in class activities folder).
Discuss the issues with the people sitting around you.
What advice would you give to help these people
address and resolve the issue?
We will discuss your ideas together after.