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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 2.11


Meetings are the lifeblood of every organization, big and small. Ideas are exchanged freely during meetings, items to be acted upon are identified, policies are agreed upon or changed, and individuals, irrespective of status, are able to have their voices heard. Meetings may be formal or informal, depending upon the number of individuals attending, the purpose, and the context of a meeting.

Meetings rarely happen spontaneously, however, and are usually planned well in advance, with published agendas circulated beforehand for individuals to consider. Meetings, whether formal or informal, usually also are recorded in a set of minutes, which are circulated sometime after the meeting. You should also be comfortable with using display media such as flipcharts, whiteboards, and chalkboards to run a meeting.

Pacing a Meeting

Effective leaders of meetings know that discussion of items can get bogged down in minutiae and that sometimes an agenda must be dispensed with because a seemingly minor item has been shown to be enormously important. Pacing a meeting effectively means being able to discern when a topic has been discussed enough and when discussion needs to be pressed further.

Pacing a meeting effectively also means making sure that everyone in attendance has had an opportunity to speak, even if this means inviting an especially quiet individual to talk. Good meetings encourage a free exchange of ideas among all participants.

Effective leaders of discussions use flipcharts, whiteboards, or chalkboards to focus discussion.

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