Normally, of course, these three segments might occur in one meeting, depending on the issues involved. Here, however, the three meeting types are considered separately in order to bring out instructional details inherent in each type. In the first meeting described, you will learn presentation skills, structuring information for an oral delivery, and writing a meeting agenda, including a meeting objective. In the problem-solving instruction, you will learn more about planning an interactive meeting, delegating meeting roles for those in attendance, and influencing groups. In the decision-making meeting, you will learn how to frame a decision so that a problem can be examined from several angles, establish criteria for quality decisions, and deal with various types of people who impede the meeting process. You'll be given guidelines for performance in each meeting type, plus observer sheets and critique forms. Since efficiency is a concern along with effectiveness, limit information meetings to ten minutes, problem solving to twenty minutes, and decision making to thirty minutes.
For fast improvement, videotape yourself conducting meetings. Initially people balk at this, but most literally see the benefit. This will teach you more than any other thing about your effectiveness as a meeting leader. Most people discover that they come across far better externally than they felt internally during a videotaped meeting. Remember that you're not trying for broadcast quality performances here! You're using a feedback technique for self-improvement. An interesting closure step after completing the three segments is to view your videotape in one sitting. You'll be amazed at your improvement! A comment form to solemnize your achievement is included.
The meeting process described here has been field tested for a number of years with students at Purdue University. Their comments and feedback have been in-corporated into this text and the methods presented here. Their classroom performances have improved incrementally as they developed into public speakers and meeting leaders . Invariably, near the end of this coursework, students smile more and act very much at ease during their meetings. A standard answer on a class evaluation question, "What will you take with you from this course?" is this: "I feel so good knowing how to set up meetings and then carry them out. I'm really confident I'll be able to do this well in the future." And so will you!
In summary, then, we've established that students should get a broad education as well as having a specialty area to be a well-rounded employee. Employers look for evidence of your ability to lead, which you can show through meeting management. Meetings are important to organizations and give company-wide notice of your professional competence. This book illustrates three types of meetings: information giving, problem solving, and decision making.