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Meeting Failure and Participant Frustration

From conference organization for well-behaved participants

Meeting Failure and Participant Frustration
Conference dynamics summarized
Some indicators that current conference organization is inadequate
Index of inter-participant communication effectiveness
Participant communication checklist
Implication of augmented meeting dynamics for conference organization

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6th International Congress on Congress Organization (Kyoto, 1975): Technical facilitation of meeting dynamics and participant interaction (Part 1).
Published in International Associations, 31, 1976, 1, pp. 34-37 [PDF version]


This is the first of three articles based on a presentation to the session on Technical Equipment at the 6th International Congress on Congress Organization. The second article (Meeting Types: Old and New) is concerned with the types of meeting for which these remarks are particularly relevant. The third article will be concerned with specific possibilities for the technical support of improved conference dynamics.

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 physical technical, and administrative facilities and services are used competently with the guidance of experienced personnel;
  2. the programme of the conference is well-planned 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.

A frequent source of participant frustration within a well-organized meeting is the lack of adequate contact between participants in terms of their professional interests and commitments (namely other than purely social contact).

Little attention has been devoted to he technical support of contact formation and the facilitation of the associaed 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.

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