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Thread: Meeting Dynamics

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    May 2003
    Northwestern Ohio

    Meeting Dynamics

    This Bear has to attend a number of in-house meetings as well as initiate and conduct meetings. Meetings that are without some sort of structure drive me up the proverbial wall.

    For the meetings that I conduct I always develop an AGENDA and ask that attendees stick to the agenda. But, even with that rule, I have lost control of some meetings. This usually occurs when participants start talking over each other and (often) break away into side conversations.

    Years ago, when I was at the manufacturing plant, our VP Ops was from a New Jersey facility. He was rude and opinionated, but if a meeting he was conducting ever split into multiple meetings (side-talkers) the offenders were closer to walking the looking-for-a-new-job sidewalk. I am not that tough.

    Today I was at a meeting that exhibited these characteristics. It wasn't my meeting and I did not join the rude side conversations that were taking place, The meeting's moderator was very ticked. I don't blame her.

    You folks attend a fair number of meetings. Are they structured? What are the dynamics? What say you?


  2. #2
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
    Dec 2005
    Wishing I were in Asia somewhere!
    Blog entries
    Mostly agenda driven and the agenda is printed and distributed. It sort of works to keep people on point. Most of the meetings I attend outside of work are pretty civilized and keep to the task at hand. The most unruly meetings I've had were during my restaurant manager days. Once I asked to give a bit of a best practices presentation about managing labor and one fellow restaurant manager many years my senior was peeved about it. He kept interrupting and making rude remarks loud enough I could hear them. I asked that questions be delayed til the end and he made a wiseass crack and I turned and said loudly "Thank you for your runny commentary, if you would like to come give this presentation by all means please do. If not, please do us all a favor and shut up." He turned beet red, shut up, I finished up in a few minutes and announced now would be a good time for a break. My area manager came up to me and said it was the funniest damn thing he ever saw in a meeting. The old guy never gave me any crap after that.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  3. #3
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    May 2005
    Blog entries
    I am very much about organization and structure and absolutely hate talking over people or having to repeat myself over and over. In college, I was a leader of several organizations and the meetings almost always had agendas. I was often one to embarrass people that were rudely having side convos, like a teacher to a student, "Johnny, is there something you'd like to share?" During my work experiences in planning, every meeting I attended (or led) usually had an agenda as well. Whether it was a committee metting, a Board meeting, or a staff meeting.

    If people want to talk about un-related things, that's what the agenda items "old business" and "new business" are for. If people want to chit-chat or discuss things one-on-one, that's what socializing and discussing things after the meeting is over is for.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break
    The most efficient meetings as far as planning is concerned are always the ones with defined agendas. This won't guarantee everyone sticks to the script, but if there's a manager running the show who understands how to use the proverbial gavel, it certainly can help keep things shorter and to the point.

    Brainstorming sessions for artistic endeavors (radio, tv, movie etc. scripts) are different sorts of meetings in my experience because they're usually associated with people whose minds work differently than the administrative brains we normally associate with. There are different rules at play for managers when trying to encourage creative thinkers input, yet not allowing them to 'hog the show' too much once they start rolling. With several competing artistic egos, it can become a balancing act and study in tact deciding when to say 'okay, let's run with this idea' or 'damn, that's a really dumb idea you fool'.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    Number 1, the structure of the meeting should depend on the purpose of the meeting--is it purely informative or is there a creative element (Maister was aluding to this).

    My city manager, while an effective leader, kind of sucks when it comes to managing meetings efficiently (he is not the most organized guy). He doesn't have an agenda for meetings, etc., which causes them to take about twice as long as they should. The good news is that he knows this is a weak area and has hired an administrative assistant to put together meeting agendas and generally keep him organized.

    I had a boss that liked to hold meetings with everyone standing up and with a written agenda. It seemed to keep us on-task and concise, and led to very efficient meetings.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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