Why Meetings?

Why Meetings? related articles

Why Meetings?

01.04.2008 ob 08:21

What is a meeting?

According to old definitions, a meeting is a gathering of people who meet to discuss a certain matter, or a gathering, a public convention of people with a specific purpose. The recent, more modern definitions, however, describe it as a gathering of a group of people, most commonly a bigger one, with the purpose of discussing, agreeing upon or concluding a certain matter.
A definition that comes closest to our notion and our perception of a meeting as an event is the one defining it as a gathering of two or more people with common goals where verbal communication is the basic approach to achieving these goals. A meeting is therefore a goal-oriented activity, which differentiates it from other types of gatherings.

Certainly, a meeting should include goals and which it should realise. Otherwise, it serves no purpose and can even be a nuisance. Thus, meetings without specifically defined purposes or goals count among those types of gatherings or events that should be avoided or at least limited to the greatest possible degree.

The advantages or positive aspects of a meeting are as follows:
informing, analysing, and resolving matters, discussing different views, encouraging, minimizing disagreements, giving feedback, persuading, qualifying and developing, solidifying the present state-of-affairs, promoting changes in knowledge, skills, and approaches.

The disadvantages or negative sides of a meeting are:
wasting time, wasting money, taking attention away from more important matters, hindering progress and postponing action, causing division and discord among participants, impairing their moral values, using them for gossip and unconstructive work, constituting fertile soil for interests in an organization, bringing about chaos and disorder.

Purpose of meetings

One person alone can only do little, while people united in harmonious action can achieve a lot. Meetings should be the path towards such action and therefore represent an indispensable ingredient of the managers’ and their colleagues’ work in an organization. The results of a research conducted in a computer company show that executive managers spend 17 hours per week on average in meetings and 6 hours preparing for them, which is 38% of the average 61 hours they spend at their workplace each week.

Meetings can serve various purposes:

Meeting of two parties. The parties involved meet at a pre-arranged time and place, whereby one party talks the other into holding a meeting. It can also mean an unplanned meeting that the involved parties turn into an opportunity to discuss business matters.

Chance, informal meeting. It is usually organised by a person of greater authority who proposes to a few interested members to meet with a certain purpose.

Brainstorming. It can develop from an informal meeting and can be very successful if it involves generating ideas that are by their very nature creative and require mutual collaboration of several people.

Ad hoc committee. It somewhat resembles the chance meeting, but, as a rule, includes an agenda and a previously determined schedule.

Regular board meetings. This group comprises meetings with different titles: operating committee, management board, etc. As a rule, these meetings are formalised and planned in advance; they have a permanent assignment and attend to current duties, occasionally also special issues.

A formal meeting. It normally deals with routine and uncontroversial matters. These meetings frequently have the last say on the matters conceived at other meetings.

Presentation. It differs from a meeting where all its members hold more or less the same function in that the relation between the members of a presentation resembles more the teacher-student relationship.

Public meeting. This is not strictly speaking an actual meeting, as the convenor normally convenes such a meeting in order to disclose his/her views or information and not necessarily to receive response.

What is particularly important is that meetings cannot be replaced equally by other forms of communication. Since a meeting is represented by its members forming a formal group with limited duration, special attention should be paid to their behaviour. A meeting convened for the purpose of resolving matters entails discussions and decisions. Therefore, the convenor or the person conducting a meeting should be acquainted with the way potential decisions are developed and discussion conducted, as well as with how to resolve conflicts, disputes and other difficulties often arising during meetings.

Urška Č.

Summarised from “Poslovno komuniciranje: Evropske razsežnosti” (Business Communication: European Dimensions), Maribor 2004

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