Making your mark in meetings

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Jan Golding reviews: Going to a Meeting From: Video Arts
Format: VHS videos with ice-breaker. Package contains disks of: the
course leader’s guide, delegate worksheets, PowerPoint slides, OHPS and
self-study workbook. There are two separate titles: Messing up a meeting
lasting 20 minutes and Meeting Menaces lasting 21 minutes
Price: £995 per video with 20 per cent discount when bought together. Rental
per title £185 plus VAT and delivery for two days
Tel: 0207 400 4800
E-mail: sales@videoarts

It must be a lucky manager who survives a day without attending a meeting of
some description, so most organisations will have a ready audience for this
programme.

It is spread over two similarly-styled video tapes providing a
high level of flexibility to the trainer. Both use the somewhat ubiquitous John
Cleese as narrator, interacting with meeting attendee Jeremy. In each case,
actors at a meeting react plausibly to the behaviour of one another. After each
scene Jeremy’s contribution or reaction is analysed and corrected, with a
re-run highlighting techniques for increased productivity.

Messing up a Meeting is an introduction to the basics of
meeting contribution, covering preparation, making a point and constructively
adding to the debate. It would be ideal for new supervisors or managers with
limited experience of meetings, but die-hard meeting-goers will wryly extract
pertinent points too. I particularly liked the helpful narrator breakdown,
reinforcing the points around the concept of adding to the debate, which for
most learners will be the most challenging aspect of this tape.

Meeting Menaces identifies five typical types of character
encountered in meetings and provides techniques for resolving potentially
blocking or unproductive situations. More experienced meeting-goers will
recognise and relate to the behaviours outlined, although I would anticipate
some credibility issues with the format of this tape among senior managers.

The video works at an awareness level, bringing home generic
points such as keeping your cool and resolving conflict. However, trainers will
need to provide further exercises to ensure the techniques outlined are
mastered by their delegates.

As this programme points out, good practice in meetings never
goes out of date, but the same lessons need to be learned by each new
generation of managers and supervisors. The content is topical but not
time-bound, the dress of the actors modern but not high fashion. While the
style is solid, almost predictable, the recycling factor makes this programme a
good investment for refreshing the managers of today and training those of the
future.

Jan Golding is training and
development manager at Hilton Birmingham Metropole

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