ED 078 252 AC 014 A30
REPORT NO '
Better Group Meetings: An Aid to Better Management.
Supervisory Development Conference Series* Training
Veterans Administration, Washington, B.C.
♦Conferences; Federal Programs; ♦Group Dynamics;
Guides j ^Leadership Training; *Management Education;
Professional Personnel; *Supervisory Training
A guide to conducting group meetings is presented* It
contains the following sections. I. Participating in Meetings! A*
Purposes: (1) to discuss the uses and benefits of the meeting as a
tool of group participation and get an appreciation of meetings as
dynamic situations; (2> to define the word "meeting" and discuss the
uses of meetings; and (3) to examine the responsibilities of meeting
manbers; B. content of Session: Introduction; What Is a Meeting?; Why
Meetings?; Responsibilities of Meeting Members; and Closing; and C.
Appendices: A. People in a meeting are not static, but DYNAMIC; and
B. Responsibilities of Meeting Members. 11. Leading Meetings: A.
Purposes: (1) to discuss the role of the meeting leader; and (2) to
examine the various steps in a meeting, tracing them through the
determination of need, the preparation, the conducting of the
meeting, and the tollo%#*up; B* Content of Session: The Functions of
the Meeting Leader; Meeting Steps; Planning tne Meeting; Leading the
Meeting; and Closing; and C* Appendices: Planning the Meeting; and
Leading the Meeting. Ill* The Progress of Meetings: A. Purposes: (1)
to discuss methods that are effective in influencing the progress of
meetings — statements, visual aids, questions, and the gxoup; and (2)
to discuss the characteristics of VA staff meeting; B. Content of
Session: Introduction; Statements; visual Aids; Questions; The Group;
Characteristics of VA Staff Meetings; and Closing; and C. Appendices:
A* Self -Appraisal List for Meeting Leaders; B. Bibliography on
Meetings; and C. Suggestions for Practice Meetings. (For related
documents, see AC 014 (CK)
FILMED FROM BEST AVAILABLE COPY
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EOUCATION 4 WELFARE
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STATED DO NOT NE^'ESSABlLV REPBE
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EDUCATION PDSIT.ON OR PDHCV
BETTER GROUP MEETINGS
^ OFFICE OF PERSONNEL 7
> VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
General Information and Suggestions for the
Conference Leader - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- iii
SESSION I Participating in Meetings- - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- I
n Leading Meetings - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 13
HI The Progress of Meetings - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 25
GENERAL INFORMATION AND SUGGESTIONS
FOR THE CONFERENCE LEADER
The information in TG 5-18, Guide for the Supervisory Development Conference Series»
applies to the three sessions of **Better Group Meetings: An Aid to Better Management**.
In addition, the following information should be noted*
1 ♦ Use of the Film» **All I Nee d Is A Conference* *
The film, **A11 I Need Is A Conference**, which is available in the VA Film Library,
may be integrated with the training sessions* Two methods of use are ao follows:
a* Three Sessions
If three sessions are used, the presentation and discussion of the film may be
used in place of Session III as outlined in this guide. The following time schedxile
(1) Introduction: 5 to 10 minutes. Tell the members to watch for different types
of personalities and the way the leader handles them*
(2) Presentation of film: 25 minutes
(3) Discussion: Devote the remaining time to discission of the Cilm* Because
the film is being used as an alternative form of Session III center the dis-
cussion on the problem of dealing with the personalities around the meeting
table* Use pages 26 through 37 of the manual accompanying the film*
b. Four Sessions
If four sessions are used, the film may be presented in a fourth session* A time
schedule similar to that above ca*i be used* The discussion portion can be used
as a general summary of the first three sessions with emphasis on the human
2» Practice Meetings
As the guide itself stresses » only with experience can you acquire the art of meeting
participation* Practice in taking part in meetings is an essential part of this unit*
Appendix III-C gives suggestions for conducting such practice meetings*
PARTICIPATING IN MEETINGS
1. To discuss the uses and benefits of the meeting as a tool of group participa-
tion and to get an appreciation of meetings as dynamic situc tions*
2. To define the word **meeting** and to discuss the uses of meetings,
3* To examine the responsibilities of meeting member s«
B. CONTENT OF SESSION
Topics for discussion
I-A People in a meeting are not static,
I-B (HO#l) Responsibilities of Meeting
PARTICIPATING IN MEETINGS
The series of conferences we are starting today are for the
purpose of exploring the general topic **Better Group Meetings:
An Aid to Better Management".
BETTER GROUP MEETINGS:
AN AID TO BETTER MANAGEMENT
Explain your role
My function as the Conference Leader will be to assist by par-
ticipating with you in the discussions and attempting to stimxilate
discussion by submitting questions to the group*
In this first session we shall be concerned with the problem of
how meeting members can participate effectively. But first
let's discuss meetings in general for a while*
WHAT IS A MEETING?^
Uses of meetings Q. What are some of the uses to which meetings may be put? )
- To present a body of new information
- To answer questions
- To commvmicate purpose and attitude
- To explain procedure f
- To show operations
" To develop new skills* habits» and attitudes
- To solve problems
- To formulate programs
- To develop policy
- To get ideas
- To exchange opinions
Definition of a Q. In the light of these uses how would you define a meeting?
Give the members time to out a definition on v^hich
there Is fairly general agreement . An example of the tyne
of definition vhich they may develop is as follows:
- A meeting is a group of people brought together under leader-
ship to accomplish one or more of the following purposes:
to receive or exchange information, to receive instruction, or s
to solve a problem.
People in a meeting
afe not static, but
Q. What benefits can be obtained from meetings?
- They use the knowledge and experience of the group
- They assure better understanding of what is to be done and
how it is to be done
- They increase employee cooperation
- They build job and organizational loyalty
- They increase employees* sense of belonging
- They create feelings of importance and stiengthen self-
- They contribute toward development of employee abilities
To illustrate the benefit of vsin^ the knov^leafic nnri experi-
ence of the ^rovp you may wish to use the visual nia foe/ow.
Area of Common Agreement
These benefits emphasize the point that, regardless of the pur-
pose of the meeting, there should be as much group participa-
tion as possible. There will be certain limitations imposed by
the topic and the nature of the meeting. However, the more
closely the goal of maximum possible group participation is
approached, the more likely will be the success of the meeting.
As an illustration of the tendency to forget this principle there
is the story of the Hollywood executive who assembled his staff
for a **meeting*\ Alter talking for a very long time, without a
word having been said by anyone else during the session, he
sighed happily and said, **Thank you, gentlemen. It always does
me good to get together with you and exchange ideas'*.
Q. It has been said that people in a meeting are not static, but
dynamic. What are some of the ways in which people at a meet-
- They differ in the feelings and attitudes they bring to a meeting
- They differ in the way they participate
- They differ in the ability to communicate and to receive com-
dynamic aspect of
- They differ in their ability to work with others etfectively
- Groups of three or more persons tend to breaK nto sub-
- Group atmosphere differs frcm one group to another
- Members and groups are not constant in feelings, attitudes,
etc. They change even during the course of a meeting
- Members are affected by outside influences
If the h'ist noint JSn'f hrouiiht out by the firoun, mention it
Q. These outside influences are sometimes referred to as the * 'in-
visible committee and the hidden agenda''. What are some of
these outside influences?
- Type of supervision under which a person is working, i.e.,
restrictive or permissive
- Resistance to change
- Desire to dominate group
- Dislike of other persons at the meeting
- Fear of a member that taking part in a group discussion may
lessen his influence
- Financial problems
- Family problems
- Health problems
To illustrnte the voini that people m ri meetm^^ nre not
sintic, but dynamic^ you may \^ish to use the visun! ma nna
expl nnat i on shown in Appendix I 'A. It cnn he or opened m
advance or developed on the blackboard.
Not understanding the people around the table and not knowing
how to work with them are common causes for the failure of so
many meetings. The dynanuo aspect of groups makes it more
difficult, but not impossible, to obtain the benefits of meetings
and the advantages of group participation.
Q. What should a meeting member or leader keep in mind about the
dynamic aspect of groups?
- Don't try to be a psychologist or sociologist
- Try to be sensitive to group behavior
- Try to realize that his attitude toward other members of the
group will largely determine the success of a meeting
RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEETING MEMBERS
sibility of the
Ways of partici-
For our next area of discussion iet*s change from considering
the meeting as a whole and concentrate on the responsibilities
of meeting members*
We have stressed the meeting as a group effort. Its success
rests not only on the meeting leader but on the meeting member
Q* What would you say is the primary responsibility of the meeting
- Willingness to work with others
Q. What can a member do to prepare himself to attend a meeting?
- Note down the time and place in a way to be reminded of it
before the meeting
- If requested to bring certain charts* data, etc* « make arrange-
ments to gather them before the meeting. Keep them simple*
- Come prepared to di -^s the topic* Have questions and
suggestions in mind
a* Make noteff of points ne does not understand
b* Think of questions he wants to ask or disagreements he
wants cleared up
c* Make notes of ideas he wants to present
- Arrange his schedule so he will be on time for the meeting
O. What are the different ways in which a meeting member par-
- By speaking
- By the way he listens
- By the attitudes or manners he shows
- By the ways in which he thinks
Q* What can a member do to be a good listener?
- Give undivided attention to the discussion
- Listen thoughtfiilly
- Try to get the meaning the speaker is trying to convey
- Listen before he questions
- Taking action
Q« What are the prefer attitudes or manners for a member to bring
to a meeting?
- Remember that he shares the responsibility for the success
or failure of th^ meeting
- Discuss problems invob'ing* his work without becoming de-
fensive and touchy
- Subordinate individual interests to the common goal
- Try to understand the other fellow^s point of view
- Be tolerant of opinions with which he disagrees
^ Remember the unseen audiience which each member brings
Q« What are some of the ways of thinking that make a good meeting
- Consider his opinions and ideas, not his emotions
- Integrate into his t^dt^kiug worthwhile new ideas ivanced by
* Use his thinking to help the leader keep the discussion lively,
balanced, and forward moving
a« Develop ideas and questit^ns that keep the discussion mov-
ing toward the objective
b Consider causes, difficulties, and results of past actions
c« Seek common areas of Agreement and find ways to recon-
d« Develop recommendations and possible solutions and con-
Q« W)sd are some of the things for a member to remember when
- Give the group the benefit of his experience. Don^t clam up -
- Speak his mind freely, clearly, amd concisely
• Keep to the point
- Speak to ifhe group and not only to the meeting leader
- Avoid monopolizing the discussion
- Ask questions when there is something he doesn*t understand
If he doesn't understand, there are probably others in the
- If he disagrees, say so and state hi$ reasons* This helps to
identify ^e points of difference
Q* What are some of the follow*ups that might take place after a
meeting and what would they require on the part of the members?
- Taking action ; The group has decided that a certain action is
to be taken* Do the members understand what is expected of
- PlanninR: The Krouu ha« decided that certain planning mii»t
be done* Do the members know what their participation in
this planning will be?
- Recommending: The sroup decides to recommend a c^^rtain
course of action* Have the ir^mbers consideredwhat will have
to be donet if the recommendation is accepted?
-* Discus sinR further: The sroup is unable to reach & decision
and decides on further discussion* Do the members know
what common agreements^ if any, were arrived at? Do they
have- sufficient information to try to work out possible ac-
ceptable solutions before the next meeting?
Ask one or more members to stmmnri zc the s. "s/on, if time
We have seen that the task of a neeting member is far from a
simple one* The things we have discussed in thij session will
helpt but they are not rigid rules or formulas* The important
thing is actually trying them out. Only through experience can
you acquire the art of being a good meeting member*
distribute HO Kl (Apvenaix l*H), "Kesponsihi 1 i t ics of Jfoof.
in< Jfemhers". The handout prohnhly aiffer in some ro-
spects from the ai^cassion. Point out that the conclusions
in thrs ana other hnndouts thnt y^ill be drstributea ore not
necessarily more correct than those the fkroup rc/iclied, hut
ore intenaea to stimulate furthfir thought.
In our next session we will discuss the role of the meeting
Announce time ana pt/ice of next session. Close session.
Pcqpke in a meeting are not static, but DYNAMIC
^ (Sets next page for explanation of chart*)
This chart illustrates the fart that people in a meeting are not static, but DYNAMIC.
!• Members differ in feelings and attitudes : Mr. A has come to the meeting with a
closed mind; Mr. B, on the other hand, is the * initiator ** type who keeps bringing up
2. Group members differ in the way they participate: As indicated by the size of the
circles Mr. C contributes very little while Mr. D tries to monoplize the discussion.
3. Members differ in the ability to communicate and to receive communication: Mr. E
has come to the meeting with sealed lips and communicates very little. Mr. B, the
initiator, communicates quite a bit but, as the arrows indicate, the reception varies.
4. Groups differ in their ability to work together effectively: Mr. T is the foul ball in
this meeting and is keeping the group from getting started.
5. Groups of three or more persons tend to break into sub-groups ; Mr. G is an expert
in the field the group is discussing. He has rallied a little sub-group of his own, as
indicated by the line which separates £, F, and G from the rest of the group.
^» Group atmosphere differs from one group to another : This atmosphere depends a
great deal on the leader, Mr. H.
7. Members and groups are not constant in feelings, attitudes, etc. : They change during
the course of a meetingi For example, if tiie topic should change one of the other
members could become the expert it place of Mr. G.
8. There may be an invisible committee and a hidden agenda: In addition to the in-
fluence of the persons sitting at the table, there are outside influences which represent
an invisible committee. These are shown by the words outside the big circle. These
outside influences cause feelings and motivations which the members bring with them
and which result in members, or even the entire group, approaching the task with a
certain slant. This creates a hidden agenda.
APPENDIX I*B HO #1
i RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEETING MEMBERS
A meeting is a group or cooperative effort. Its success rests not only on the meeting
leader but upon the meeting members as well. The responsibilities of the members in-
clude preparation, listening, attitudes, manners, thinking, and speaking.
a. When notified of a meeting note down the time and place in a way to be reminded
of it before the meeting.
b. Gather necessary materials before the meeting. Keep them simple.
c» Come prepared to discuss the topic. Have questions and suggestions in mind,
d. Be on time for the meeting.
a. Give undivided attention to the discussion.
b. Listen thoughtfully. Try to get the meaning the speaker is trying to convey.
c. Listen before you question.
3. Attitudes and Manners
a- Remember that you share the responsibility for the success or failure of the
b. Discuss problems involving your work without becoming defensive or touchy.
c. Subordinate individtial interests to the common goal.
d. Try to understand the other fellow *8 point of view.
e» Be tolerant of opinions with which you disagree.
f. Remember the unseen audience which each member brings with him and which
may cause reactions you didn^t expect.
a. Consider your opinions and ideas » not your eniotions.
b. Integrate into your thinking v/orthwhile new ideas advanced by other members.
c. Use your thinking to help the leader keep the discussion lively, balau'.ced, and
(1) Develop ideas and questions that keep the discussion moving toward the
(2) Consider causes, difficulties, and results of past actions.
» (3) Seek common areas of agreement and find ways to reconcile conflicts.
(4) Develop recommendations and possible solutions and conclusions.
#1 APPENDIX I-B
a. Give the group the benefit of your experience. Don*t clam up contribute*
b. Speak your mind freely, clearly, and concisely*
c* Keep to the point.
d. Speak to the group and not only to the meeting leader*
e* Avoid monopolizing the discussion*
(1) Give others an opportunity to speak*
(2) Subdue any desire to show off or make a speech*
(3) Don*t interrupt others*
(4) Shun private side discussions*
f* If there is something you don*t understand, ask questions* If you don*t understand,
there are probably others in the same boat*
g* If you disagree, say so and state your reasons. This helps to identify the points
^ LEADING MEETINGS
!• To discuss the role of the meeting leader*
2. To examine the various steps in a meeting, tracing them through the deter-
mination of need, the preparation, the conducting of the meeting, and the
B. CONTENT OF SESSION ^
Topics for discussion
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE MEETING LEADER
Discussion is of
value to both
The functions of
the meeting leader
In the first session we were concerned with the responsibilities
of the meeting members. In this session we shall be concerned
with the role of the meeting leader and how he prepares for,
participates in, and leads a meeting.
Q. Discussion of this topic can, of course, be of value to those who
are called upon to lead meetings. In what ways can it also be of
value to those who participate in meetings as members?
- It enables them to understand better the role they play as
- The member can occasionally become the leader, as when he
says, **What have we agreed on up till now?", or when he asks,
**Aren't we getting off the track?"
Q. What are the functions of the meeting leader?
- To motivate each member to think of the group as sharing
responsibility foi the success or failure of the meeting
- To stimulate members to think and discuss
- To encourage members to be active contributors rather than
- To assist the group to convert diverse thinking into unified
ideas and plans
- To promote and secure group effort
Q. These functions apply, of course, to the problem solving type of
meeting. Do they also apply to the type where information or
instruction is given?
- They do apply - although in lesser degree - because even in
the informational and instructional type of meeting the leader
should encourage as much group participation as possible
Q. In carrying out his functions what is the most important thing
for the leader to remember?
- He should remember that he is dealing with people, and that
his attitude towards these people will largely determine the
results he gets
Let*s trace the steps you go through in planning and leading a
meeting. Then we'll go back and discuss them in more detail.
Q. What are the steps in planning and leading a meeting?
Determine need for meeting
Prepare for meeting
Present the topic
Present or get facts and ideas
Evaluate facts and ideas
Q* Do all of these steps apply to the informational and instructional
- The informational meeting normally stops after the presenta-
tion of facts and ideas
- The instructional meeting normally stops after the evaluation
of facts and ideas
The ^rouD mcty, of course, aecide on ri di fferent set of steps
from those above. Jr. such case cidjvst the quest ions that
follov^ in accoraarice with the particular steps selectea by
the ^roup. Jn any event point out that aiscuss ioh^^won* t
always follovi the logical order of the steps, hih more
likely will skip around.
PLANNING THE MEETING
Going back to the first step, what questions might you ask your-
self about the topic in order to determine whether to hold a
- Is there a need or a problem? Is the information already
available or has a study already been made?
- Does it, i.e., the topic, lend itself to the meeting method? For
example, does it require long study and factfinding? A meet-
ing cannot economically do this sort of th\ng. Am I sure that
calling a meeting is not simply a way of postponing a decision
which should not be postponed?
- Does it lend itself to a less expensive method? Meetings are
expensive and I must balance this cost against the potential
- Has the right climate for productive meetings been estab-
lished? For example, if participation has previously been
discouraged, suddenly asking the group to work together on a
problem will probably yield little or no results*
- If the problem solving meeting is indicated, am I willing to
accept or consider the thinking of the group? If I first solve
the problem to my own satisfaction, and then try to lure the
group to the same conclusion, the deceit will usually be
obvious, and the results will be bad.
- Is the topic timely? Is this the appropriate time to tackle it
or should it be deferred? Can the action be postponed until
the recommendations of the meeting group are obtained?
- Is the topic workable? Can it be adequately covered or should
I limit it to certain phases or portions?
- Is the topic one that I and the members can do something
about? Can we take action, make a decision, make recom-
mendations, or even decide that nothing should be done?
What are the things you should do in preparing to lead a meet-
- Prepare yourself
U Assemble and screen information
2. Prepare outline in such detail and in such manner as the
particular meeting may require* This may include one
or more of the following:
a. The topic or over-all objective
b. Immediate objectives
d. A prepared opening statement
e* Points which may be discussed
f* Questions which may be asked
g* Examples and board work
3. Assemble material* This may include the following:
a* Written materials - instructions, orders, pamphlets,
handouts, case studies, skits, etc*
b* Graphic materials - charts, diagram s, graphs. Posters,
c* Films, film strips, and slides
- Prepare the members
1* Select the members
2* Notify the members and give them the necessary details,
such as date ana time, place, persons attending, topic of
- Prepare the meeting place
1* Check the room facilities - availability of room, heating,
light, ventilation, arrangement of tables and chairs
2* Check arrangements for demonstration materials -black-
board or chart pad; chalk, eraser, or crayon; film, film
strips or slides; projection equipment
3. Check the facilities for convenience of members - pen-
cils, papers, ash trays, name plates
- Adjust the preparation in accordance with the meeting. Many
meetings are informal and the preparation will not usually
take very much time* However, it is important and should not
LEADING THE MEETING
What are some of the things to keep in mind in presenting the
- Start on time
- Put the group at ease by
1* using a friendly, informal manner,
2. speaking in a normal, conversational voice,
3* greeting the group cordially.
4. making sure the members are acquainted, and
5* telling an appropriate story.
- Explain the plan of procedure, if it has not been established
by previous meetings
- Arouse the interest of the members
1* Appeal to the members in terms of their own self-interest
2. Appeal to the members* loyalty to the organization, to the
groui>, and to the objectives being served
3* Show need and desire for their thinking and cooperation
4. Make it clear that the meeting is tobe a group effort
5* Chart the amount of experience and show the amount of
experience that is being brought on the topic
6* Show interest* To gain the interest of the members the
leader must show enthusiasm himself
In presenting facts, as in an informational meeting, what are
getting facts and
some of the points to observe?
- Emphasize important facts and ideas
- Show the relationship between ideas
- Use expressive words which are within the vocabulary of the
In getting facts and ideas what are some of the things to do?
- Start the discussion by
1. asking a question on which someone is sure to have some-
thing to say
2. using demonstrations* illustrations* examples » motion
pictures, film strips, slides, posters, etc.
3* using an interesting case
- Keep the discussion moving and on the beam by
1. using questions that will keep the discussion forward
2* restating and rephrasing opinions or thoughts expressed,
when necessary, for emphasis or clarity
3. summarizing or having the group summarize frequently
4. analyzing the progress of the discussion
- Use the thinking of all the members
If this point is mentioned, tell the ^roup that it wi// he
ai scvssca in more aetail at the next session,
- Use the blackboard
Q. What are the points to observe in evaluating facts and ideas?
- Avoid obvious experting
- Encourage the group to weigh and analyze facts and ideas
- Get group agreement
- Summarize frequently
Q* How do you go about drawing conclusions?
- Consider possible alternatives
- Select alternative
Developing a plan
Q. What are some of the things to consider in developing a plan?
- Determine plan of action
- Determine responsibilities in carrying out the plan of action
- Final summary
- Close on time
1* If there is important unfinished business, defer it for
2. If the purpose of the meeting is achieved before the end of
the scheduled period, bring the meeting to a close* Don't
protract it simply to fill in the allotted time*
Q. What are some of the actions that might be required in follow-
■ Prepare a report if it serves a usefull purpose and only in
such detail as indicated by the meeting
• Complete foUow-»up assignments such as taking action, plan-*
ning, recommending, or discussing further
Ask one or more members to summarize the session, if time
We might sum up this session briefly by stating that the job of
the meeting leader is to help the members to apply coopera-
tively their experience and knowledge or, to promote and secure
group effort* Even in those meetings where the conclusions are
largely predetermined, the leader should encourage the mem-
bers to develop the topic as much as possible* The caution
mentioned at the end of the first session applies to this session
also - that is, the things that we have discussed are guides, not
rigid rules or formulas*
Distribute HO HI (Appenaix ll-A), "Planninf^ the Keetinf^**,
and HO #J (Appendix II-B), "Leadinfi the M^etin^".
In our next session we will discuss the progress of meetings*
Announce time and place of next session. Close session.
PLANNING THE MEETING
!• Is there a need or a problem?
2. Does the topic lend itself to the meeting method?
3. Does it lend itself to a less expensive method?
4. Has the right climate for productive meetings been established?
5. If the problem solving meeting is indicated, will the thinking of the group be ac-
cepted or considered?
6. Is the topic timely?
7. Is it workable?
8. Is the topic one that the members can do something about?
K Assemble and screen information.
2. Prepare outline in such detail and in such manner as the particular meeting may
require. This outline may include one or more of the following:
a. The topic or over-all objective.
b. Immediate objectives.
d. A prepared opening statement.
e. Points which may be discussed.
f. Questions which may be asked.
g. Examples and board work.
3. Assemble material. This may include the following:
a. Written materiais-instvuctions, orders, pamphlets, handouts, case studies,
b. Graphic materials ^charts, diagrams, graphs, posters, etc.
c. Films, film strips, and slides.
PREPARE THE MEMBERS
1. Select the member&i
2. Notify the members and give them the necessary details, such as date and time,
place, persons attending, topic oi :neetingi etc.
PREPARE THE MEETING PLACE
1« Check the room facilities - availability of room, heating, light, ventilation, ar-
rangement of tables and chairs.
2. Check arrangements for demonstration materials - blackboard or chart pad;
chalk, eraser, or crayon; film, film strips, or slides; projection equipment.
3. Check the facilities for convenience of members - pencils, papers, ash trays,
APPENDIX n*B HO #3
LEADING THE MEETING
PRESENT THE TOPIC
1* Start on time.
2. Put the group at ease*
3. Explain the plan of procedure, if ithat not been eiUbliihed by previous meetings.
4. SUte the objective.
5. Arouse the interest of the members.
PRESENT OR GET FACTS AND IDEAS
1. In presenting facts, as in an informational meeting.
a. emphasize imporUnt facts and ideas,
b. show the relationship between ideas, and
c. use expressive words which are within the vocabulary of the group
2. In getting facts and ideas
a. start the discussion,
b. keep the discussion moving and on the beam,
c. use the thinking of all members, and
d. use the blackboard.
EVALUATE FACTS AND fflEAS
1. Avoid obvious experting.
2. Encourage the group to weigh and analyze facts and ideas.
3. Get group agreement.
4. Summarize frequently.
1. Consider possible alternatives.
2. Select alternative.
1. Determine plan of action.
2. Determine responsibilities in carrying out plan of action.
3. Final summary.
4. Close on time.
HO #3 APPENDIX n-B
1. Prepare report if it serves a useful purpose and only in such detail a* indicated
by the meeting.
2. Complete follow-up assignments.
THS PROGRESS OF MEETINGS
!• To discuss methods which are effective in inHuencing the progress of meet-
ings - statements* visual aids, questions » and the group*
2* To discuss the characteristics of VA .ntaff meetings*
B« CX)NTENT OF SESSION
Topics for discussion
Introduction - -- -- -- -- --
Statements - -- -- -- -- -- -
Visual Aids - -- -- -- -- --
Questions - -
The Group - -- -- -- -- -- -
Characteristics of VA StAff Meetings
Closing - -- -- -- -- -- --
III-A (HO #4) Self-Appraxsal List for
Meeting Leaders -------
III-B (HO #5) Bibliography on Meetings
UI-C Suggestions for Practice Meetings
THE PROGRESS OF MEETINGS
In the first two sessions we discussed the responsibilities of
the meeting members and the role of the meeting leader* In
this session /e shall be concerned with the question of the
progress of iie meeting*
THE PROGRESS OF MEETINGS
Q. Certain methods have been found effective in influencing the
progress of meetings in such ways as starting discussion or
changing the direction or speed of discussion. What might these
What could we include under the term "statements"?
Uses of statements
What are some of the ways in which statements can be used in a
- To start discussion
- To channel discussion
" To end discussion
- To summarize
What are some examples of visual aids?
- Blackboard work
- charts and graphs
What are some of the uses of visual aids?
- To focus attention
When this use is mentionea, you can dramatize it by displaying
a small object which you have placed in your pocket before the
beginning of the session. Point out hovt all eyes focused on
- To make points clear by showing a real object, showing mo-
tion, showing actual operations
- To save time
- xo gain varieLy
- To stimulate and organize discussion
- Tc^ keep discussion on the track
Hints for use of
The blackboard is the most readily accessible and inexpensive
visual aid available to the leader. Can you suggest some hints
for use of the blackboard?
- Try out blackboard work in advance
- Plan proper sequence of board work
" Place blackboard in best position
- Condense material, at the same time making sure that the
meaning is clear
- At first opportunity erase material no longer needed
- Avoid talking to blackboard
- Pon*t stand in front of blackboard work
" Write, print, or draw quickly, neatly, and legibly
- Develop the board material while talking
- Allow time for group to copy, where desirable
- Keep board work flexible, so that adaptations can be made
- Don't have too much board work
Q. What cautions should be kept in mind about visual aids?
- They are auxiliary devices
- Showing them -s not the primary purpose of a meeting
" They are a means and not an end
Uses of questions
Hints for effective
Q. What are the uses of questions in influencing the progress of a
- To start discussion
- To stimulate interest and thinking
- To obtain information
- To emphasize particular points
- To change the direction of the discussion
- To keep on the track or get back on the track
- To clarify the thinking of the group
- To summarize
Q. The framing of questions that stimulate thinking and discussion
and that bring forth significant responses is quite difficult, but
there are a number of things that will help you to avoid the pit-
falls that await the unwary. What are some of the things you
can do that make for effective questioning?
- Show by the questions that you are interested and enthusiastic
about the subject matter
- Ask questions in a natural manner that indicates confidence
in the members* ability to answer them
- Don*t antagonize
- Don't put members on the spot. Try to ask questions which
members will have the knowledge and ability to answer or
which at least will not cause them embarrassment
- Word questions clearly
to the leader
- Ask questions which will be thought provoking* They shouldn't
be so easy as to encourage slovenly thinking, nor so difficult
as to discourage effort* Avoid questions that can be answered
with a simple **yes" or **no"
- Ask questions with a definite purpose in mind
- give the group time to answer the questions
- If, after allowing sufficient time* the question isn*t answered,
- Listen to the answers* A good meeting leader is a good
- Preserve a neutral response to the answers* **That's one
thought" rather than "That's right" or "That's wrong"
- Don't insist on being the switchboard through which all ques-
tions must flow* It is better for the group to be as self-
sustaining as possible
To i I Ivstrate the caution on not being the "switchboard" you
may wish to use the visual aid belov^.
NOT LIKE THIS-
Q. A Looint which arises, particvlarly in the problem solving meet-
ing, is that of questions directed to the meeting leader. What
should the leader do with such questions?
- In nnost cases he should direct the questions back to the group
- There are some situations when it is suitable for the leader
to answer a question
Q. What are the situations when it is suitable for a leader to answer
a question directed to him, and what are the cautions that should
- When the leader has some special knowledge about the subject
The meeting leader can and should become a meeting member
when he has special knowledge about the subject. However,
he should first give the members an opportunity to offer the
When the topic has been fully explored and a conclusion
The leader should emphasize, however, that it is only one
man^s opinion and that it is the opinion of the group which is
When it becomes unavoidable, as for example, when there is
closely divided opinion in the group
In such cases the leader should stress that it is his personal
opinion, emphasize the merits of other positions, and try to
turn the situation into judging what^s right rather than who^s
Types of groups
The quick group
- The slow group
The last method is by using the characteristics of the whole
group and the individual group members.
Q. Are there any types into which groups fall?
- The quick group
- The slow group
- The resistant group
Q. What can the leader do with each of these groups to assist them
to work effectively?
- The quick group
a. Slow down group without squelching, if they are going too
b. Give it to them fast.
c. Ask tough questions.
d^ Don^t pit yourself against them.
e. Let them argue ideas out with each other.
- The slow group
Explain topic thoroughly.
Do more telling than usual.
Don^t go too fast.
Ask easy questions.
Ask provocative questions; try to get them arguing.
Find points of common agreement.
Show enthusiasm yourself.
Use effective aids to understanding.
The resistant group
a. Indicate sympathetic understanding, but not necessarily
Types of individual
2* Highly argu-
3* Quick-* helpful
5. Side conver-
Try to find out the cause of resistance. If necessary, face
issue frankly and ask **Why?''
Find responsive members and use them to swing the group
Seek angles of the topic that affect personal interests of
Of course a meeting group will not usually be consistent within
itself, and the problems which arise, therefore, may be those
due to individuals. You have probably met some of these problem
children at meetings.
Q. Who are some of these problem children, and what can you do
to get them working with the group?
As each type is suggested list iWn the board. Ask for a
brief description of the type and the things that the leaaer
can do, A number of types are listed below to serve as back^
ground material for the discussion.
1 ♦ Overly-talkative
Show-off; eager beaver; or just
- Ask him difficult questions
- Cut across his talk with a summarizing statement and
direct a question to someone else.
Combative personality; profes-
sional heckler; or upset by emo-
- Try to find merit in one of his points and get agree-
ment on it; then move on to something else.
- As a last resort, talk to him privately and see if you
can win his cooperation*
3. Quick -helpful
Has right answers, but keeps
- Cut across him tactfully by questioning others.
- Suggest, **Let's get several opinions**.
- Use him to summarize.
- Be sure he understands you appreciate his help.
Talks about everything except
subject; gets lost.
- When he stops for breath, thank him, rephrase one of
his statements, and move cn.
- Ask direct questions of others.
- Indicate in friendly manner that he is off the topic.
- Last resort - glance at watch.
May be related, but is always
Pause and let others listen; it may be pertinent.
First call him by name, then draw him into the dis-
cussion by asking for his opinion.
First call him by name, then ask by direct question
if he has something to add to the general discussion.
6. Poor voice or
choice of words
9. Wrong subject
6. Poor voice or
choice of words
Voice not clear; can't find proper
words; ideas mr.y be good, but
he can't convey them.
- Repeat his ideas in your own words t but say, **Let me
repeat that'* rather than, **What you mean is . . ."
- Protect him from ridicule.
Won't budge; prejudiced; may
simply not see the point.
- Try to get others to help him see the point.
- If time is short, tell him frankly that it is necessary
to get on with the meeting.
Pet peeve; professional griper;
or may have legitimate complaint.
- Tell him the problem is how best to operate under the
- Direct attention to topic of discussion.
- Indicate pressure of time.
- Direct attention to topic of discussion.
- You might say, **Something I said ma,y have thrown
you off the subject, but the question we are considering
at the moment is • . .'*
10. Definitely wrong
- Say ** That's one way of looking at it", and go on.
- Ask additional questions, such as **Would we be able
to reconcile that with . . •?"» but don't embarrass
II. Personality clash
A clash be t w e e n two or more
- Emphasize points of agreement as much as possible.
- Cut across with direct question on topic.
" Bring a sound member into the discussion.
- Ask that personalities be left out.
Not disposed to help; attitude ex-
pressed by, ''I had to find out the
hard way, son. Youdo the same".
- Sell him on the fact that the meeting is a cooperative
- Flatter him by te:Iing him how much the others could
benefit by his experience. Don*t overdo it or the group,
will resent it.
13* Won't talk
13 ♦ Won't talk
Bored; indifferent; hesitant; in-
secure; afraid* Try to determine
what is motivcting him, and use
one of the following approaches*
- Find his interest*
- Call on him for his experience or opinion*
" Use direct, provocative questions*
" Ask a direct question, which you are sure he can
- Ask for his agreement*
" Compliment the sensitive person the first time he
talks; be sincere*
- If the sensitive person is seated near you, ask his
opinion so that he^li feel he is talking to you rather
than to the group.
CHARACTERISTICS OF VA STAFF MEETINGS
of the VA staff
The typical VA staff meeting is the one with which we will be
mostly concerned in our day-to-day work* What are some of
th^ characteristics of the VA staff meeting?
- They are usually a mixture of types*
- They are usually held on a regular basis* They should not be
scheduled so often that they become thin or routine, nor so
rigidly that they can*t be skipped when there is no real need*
- Usually it is known who will attend* This is an advantage for
the leader, but he must be even more alert for personality
clashes or problems which may be intensified by a series of
- Generally they are less formal than the pure type of meeting*
- Preparations generally need not be extensive* However, any
meeting requires some preparation, and planning should not
- The notice of the meeting need not be elaborate* The most
important thing is for the members to know in advance, when-
ever possible, the items to be discussed*
- In the staff mixed-purpose meeting the job of the meeting
leader is more difficult than in the pure type of meeting* He
must be able to adjust methods quickly* He will also be the
supervisor of the group and will have special knowledge
about the subject* To a much greater extent than usual he
must be both a meeting leader and a meeting member* He
mustnH dominate; but neither can he abdicate*
Ask one or more members to summarize the session if time per-
Remember t^at meeting participation, for both the members and
the leader cannot be reduced to a rigid formula* The meeting
techniques require adaptation depending on the experience and
capabilities of the individuals and the circumstances of the
Af. we mentioned before, only with experience can you acquire
the art of meeting participation, either as a member or a
leader. To help you make this experience more fruitful we
have two handouts* One is a "Self -Appraisal List for Meeting
Leaders*** This list is designed to help you improve as a
meeting leader; many of the questions also indicate what to do
to improve as a meeting member* The other handout is a
bibliography in case you want to do any further reading*
Distribute HO %4 (Appendix JJJ-A), ^Sel f-Appraisal List for
Meeting Leaders'', and If Oi^ 5 (Appendix III-B), ''Bibliography on
Make necessary announcements for practice meetings,:
pendix III-C for suggestions on practice meetings.:
SELF-APPRAISAL LIST FOR MEETING LEADERS
This scale will not give you a numerical score, nor will it tell you whether you are an
excellent or a good meeting leader* Rather, it is designed to help you find out for yourself
the areas where you need improvement. The scale may be used for periodic self-appraisal.
Such self-examination may prevent you from becoming routinized in meeting practice,
periodic checks may also disclose errors or prevent the developing of habits of which you
might otherwise be unaware. (In addition to self -appraisal the scale may be us«d for
evalaating others. Many of the questions also indicate what to do to improve as a meeting
For each question place a check in the appropriate column. A check in column 1 means
that you feel you need improvement; one in column 2 means that you consider yourself
satisfactory or better. A check in column 3 means that you feel that the question does not
apply to the particular meeting on which you are rating yourself.
Did the notice of the meeting contain the necessary
In particular did the notice give the topic and
subordinate topics in enough detail to allow
Were the room facilities (heat, light, ventilation.
Were the members aware of a real problem
Was I able to keep the discussion moving and
Did I encourage the group to analyze points as they
18* Did I avoid expressing my own opinions and
dominating the situation? - -- -- -- -- -- -
19» Did I display enthusiasm? - - -- --------
20* Did I adapt my vocabulary to the group? - - - - -
21* Did I prevent a monopoly of the discussion
by a few members?- - -- -- -- -- -- -- -
22« Did I check side tracking and lack of attention? - -
23* How well did I handle, or let the group handle »
other individual situations, such as the griper,
the rambler, personality clashes, etc? ------
24* Did I present pertinent and interesting case
material? - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
25* Were my questions well framed?- - -- -- -- -
26* Did my questions provoke discussion? ------
27* Were my questions well distributed? -------
28* Did I refer questions back to the group, rather
than answer them myself?- - -- -- -- -- --
29« Did I make effective use of charts and other
visual aids? - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
30* Was my board work well planned and organized?- -
31* Was my board work neat, legible, auid quickly done?
32* Did I budget time wisely during the meeting? - - -
33* Did I summarize periodically?- - -- -- -- --
34* Was there general acceptance or agreement by the
group of the proposed action or solutions reached ?-
35* Was a plan developed to put the group agreement
into action? -
36* Did I summarize, or have the group summarize at
the conclusion of the meeting?- - -- -- -- --
37* Did I close the meeting on time?- - -- -- -- -
38* Did I prepare a report of the meeting? ------
39* Did I check to determine that the follow-up
assignments were completed? - -- -- -- -- -
BIBUOGRAPHY ON MEETINGS
AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION. A Guide toSuccetiful Conference Leadership.
New York, 1948.
BUSCH» HENRY M. Conference Methods in Industry. New York: Harper and Bros., 1949.
Conference Leadership. Civilian Personnel Pamphlet No. 32, Departnrient of the Army.
Washington, D. C, 1949.
Conference Leadership. Esso Standard Oil Company, Esso Training Center Publication,
1947. (Digests appear in Personnel 24:328-340, March 1948, and Personnel 25:31-46,
DALE, EDGAR and SPAULDING, SETH, editors. How to Have a Successful Conference.
Columbus, OhioSUte University, 1950.
FISHER, WALDO E. Conference Leader's Guide. Pasadena: California Institute of
GLASS, JOSEPH G. How to Plan Meetings and Be A Siuccessful Chairman. New York:
Merlin Press, Inc., 1951.
HANNAFORD, E. S. Conference Leader ship in Business and Industry. New York: McGraw-
Hill Book Company, 1945.
HEGARTY, E. J. How to Run A Meeting. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1947.
HEROLD, DON. How to Harness A Conference. Hammermill Paper Company, Erie, Pa.,
NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL CONFERENCE BOARD, INC. Techniques of Conference Leader-
ship. Studies in Personnel Policy, No. 77. New York^ 1951.
STRAUSS, BERT and STRAUSS, FRANCES. New Ways to Better Meetings. New York:
The Viking Press, 1951.
UTTERBACK, WILLIAM E. Group Thinking and Conference Leadership. New York:
Rinehart and Company, Inc., 1950.
These are just a few of the books and pamphlets on meetings. Through your local library
facilities you can refer to these and other sources*
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICE MEETINGS
The following suggestions mre offered for conducting the practice meetings:
I. PRACTICE ON THE PREPARATION OF A MEETING OUTLINE
1. PUce on the board the item headings for the meeting outline below and review
The topic or over -all objective.
Points which may be discussed*
Questions which may be asked.
Examples and board work*
2. Ask the trainees to think of a suitable topic or to choose one from a list of sug
gestions* A topic which poses a problem is preferable for the purpose of the
practice meeting. A list of suggestions couldinclude such items as the following:
a. What should the supervisor do to orient new employees?
b* What should be included in an inventory of the duties of a supervisor?
c. How can time and effort be budgeted?
d. How can the supervisor best carry outhis responsibility for on-the-job train-
3. Have the trainees prepare a meeting outline using the material on the hoard as a
guide* Caution them that the outline is a guide and should be prepared only in
such detail as required by the topic.
4. Circulate among the trainees and assist them during this preparation*
5. Call for volunteers to lead the practice meetings at the next session or make
6. Schedule the renuining trainees.
7* Suggested time: 1^ hours*
n. PRACTICE MEETINGS
1* Have trainees c<mduct meetings in order determined above. If practice in pre-
paring meeting outlines is not used, prior arrangements should be made for
selection of leaders and topics*
2* Sttggetted time: 15 minutes for practice meeting and 15 minutes for evaluation*
Cut off both the practice meeting and the evalux.tion when the allotted time has
3. Participatioo of group members: Request the group members to participate as
helpfully as possible to carry out their member responsibilities and to enhance
the confidence of the leader* Ask them also to keep certain points in mind so that
they can offer constructive criticism of the conduct of the leader.
4* Evalxiaticm: Before each practice meeting select 6 to 10 points from the Self-
Appraisal List for Meeting Leaders » Appendix in- A* Ask the members to con-
centrate their post-meeting criticism on these points* This will make it eas^.er
for the members to perform their dual function.
Explain that the practice meetings will be too short for most of them to reach the
objective* Point cut that the primary factor is the progress of the meeting toward
the objective; the secondary factor is the use of the techniques* As an example,
evC' ybody may be participating furiously, bui this is uselesp if the discussion is
standing stilL Ask the group to keep in mind that criticisms of the leader should
also be examined to determine whether they »e criticisms of the members*
5« Problem situation s : If desired, role playing may be used in the later practice
meetings, provided the group agrees to this experiment* Ask for volunteers to
play the roles of ''problem children**, such as the very talkative member, the
shy person, or the employee with a gripe* It is suggested that leaders be rotated
for each drmonst^ration of a problem situation* The group should thendisct:>s
what devices the leaders used, which were successful, and what other devices
might have been used?
6* Number of prachce meetings: It is strongly rvconuneaded that eac' person in
the group be allowed to lead at least two practice meetings* More, uf course,
can be arranged, when necessary*
7* Other variations :
a* Use of observers: It is difEcult for a person to participate in a meeting and
to observe the meeting at the same time* One way to avoid this problem
,o ask two or three trainees to act as bservers* Affer the practice meeting
is Hnished they are called upon to evaluate the performance of both the
leader and the members*
b. Use of recording devices: A device can be used to record the practice meet-
ing* After it is played back the trainees can evaltute themselves as 'veil as
the other persons* The ev/iuation should be in terms of the "Self- Appraisal
List for Meeting Leaders*'* rather than in terms of diction or other matters
relating to public speaking*
c. Use of "bugg groups* *: Alarge training group can be split into "bugg groups**
and several practice meetings held at the same time* The entire training
group can be reassembled for the evaluation portion, If this tech:^i<iue is
used, be sure that enough space is available so that the "bu2£ groups** con*t
interfere with one another*