24 June 2010


Participation in meetings
When you attend a meeting you should:

Attend only if needed. Some use meetings as a weapon in their office politics arsenal. They attended to be seen and heard whether they need to be there or not. If you’re not going to contribute to the discussion or if the outcomes do not affect you, don’t attend. Too many non-essential participants can extend the length of the meeting.
Get There On time. I refuse to start a meeting late for the sake of the person who wanders in five-minutes past start time; mostly to prove they are too busy and important to get to a meeting on time. It is discourteous to the chair and to those who make the effort to be on time.
Be prepared with your contribution. If you’ve given up attending meetings where your contribution is not needed, it stands to reason all the meetings you attend require participation. Prepare whatever information you anticipate needing. Go overboard. Bring twice as much data as you think you’ll need. Just don’t spew the whole works. If you have information to hand out, get it to participants a day or two before the meeting.
Pay attention. There will always be those at a meeting so focused on their opinion that they are not really listening to what the others are saying. Listen actively to the discussion. You don’t want to merely parrot or repeat another participant’s contribution.
Get involved in the discussion. Review the agenda and clarify your thoughts prior to the meeting. Make some notes. Being prepared will make it more likely that you will have some energy behind your points of view and, therefore, be more likely to express them.
Be courteous. You’re not likely to agree with everything said at a meeting. Never interrupt anyone – even if you disagree strongly. Note what has been said and return to it later with the chair’s permission. The point of most meetings is to reach agreements. If the participants are combative, the meetings will drag on. Look for ways to build consensus.
If you are attending a meeting, ensure that you respect the time of other attendees by being well prepared, attentive, concise and respectful..

Chairing sessions

The following brief information for chairing sessions at meetings are provided to ensure a smooth running conference. An attentive, well-prepared Session Chair can help ensure that the speakers give high quality, trouble-free talks and that the audience appreciates the entire session.
In the unlikely event that one of your speakers cancels at the very last minute, you might have available a short talk of your own to help maintain the continuity of the session. Perhaps a talk you’ve previously delivered at another venue, or one you would like to “take out for a spin” to gauge audience reactions, or a short movie clip showing something about your company or installation……this can prove very helpful to the program. At issue here is maintaining the published schedule. When a speaker drops out after the schedule is published, and attendees have made plans as to which talks to attend, a disruption caused by an empty slot can snowball across different tracks and disappoint people who really wanted to see your second speaker. So, rearranging the order of presenters should not be done lightly without consideration for the effect on attendees
Recognize that you are the leader of the session. You are the one everyone will turn to if there are problems among your speakers or within your audience. Thank you for agreeing to assume high responsibility. Much of the success of the conference will rest on the efficient and consistent execution of our technical presentation sessions. As important as running the session well is the critical ear. If you pick up on something that causes a stir or is particularly controversial, jot it down and make a point of informing someone from the Program Committee, the Board of Directors, or the Chairs as appropriate. Feedback is an essential aspect.