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Technical Facilitation of Meeting Dynamics and Participant Inter-action

From conference organization for well-behaved participants to conference organization for the satisfaction of participants (Part #1)


Paper presented to 6th International Congress on Congress Organization (Working Session 2: Technical Equipment) of the Union of International Associations (Kyoto, 1-4 December 1975). In: New Techniques in Congress Organization: proceedings of the 6th International Congress on Congress Organization. Brussels, UIA, 1977, pp. 68-76. Also in: International Associations 28, 1, 1976, pp. 34-37 and 28, 2, pp. 88-93.
Introduction
Meeting types
Checklist of participant communication requirements
Some indicators that current conference organization is inadequate
Index of inter-participant communication effectiveness
Implication of augmented meeting dynamics for conference organization
Conference dynamics summarized
Possibilities for technical support of improved meeting dynamics
Conclusion
ANNEX 1: Letter from a group of disenchanted conference participants

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Introduction

A significant number of conferences, whether national or international, may be judged a failure or a waste of resources despite the fact that

(1) all conventional technical and administrative facilities and services are used competently with the guidance of experienced personnel;

[2) the programme of the conference is well-conceived and conforms to the interests and priorities of the different groups of participants;

(3) the meeting sessions and the social sessions are well-organized and efficiently run.

This paper is concerned with the types of meeting which risk being judged a failure under such circumstances.

A frequent source of participant frustration within a well-organized meeting is the lack of adequate contact between participants in terms of their special interests (namely other than purely social contact). Little attention has been devoted to the technical support of contact formation and the facilitation of the associated meeting dynamics, and specifically to:

(1) facilitating contact between participants within the conference as a whole who do not realize that they have commitments or professional interests in common;

(2) increasing the quantity and the quality of communication between Individual participants and/or with the chairman or speaker during a particular meeting session.

This is particularly serious when the objective of the conference is primarily the clarification of issues and the formation of consensus rather than the reporting of substantive information or the satisfaction of protocol requirements.

In the following section, the types of meetings to which these remarks refer are clarified. An attempt is than made to develop a checklist of the communication requirements of participants as a guide to assessing the attention given to these matters in conventional meetings.

em>a guide to assessing the attention given to these matters in conventional meetings.


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