A common recommendation on how to improve meetings is to ensure that they have a clear agenda. Other bits of good advice then include sticking to that agenda and making sure that you deal with the most important items first. But here’s a further suggestion that can make a huge difference when it comes to making meetings more productive.
As a coach I’m often asked to have a ‘chemistry meeting’ with a prospective coachee.
Chemistry Meeting is a phrase that has come into fashion in recent years, but it’s never been very clear what it actually means. This piece offers some clarification and some advice.
Personally, I find the notion that you can ‘have’ any sort of meeting rather strange. It suggests that meetings are something you can possess, rather than what they really are, which are somewhat unpredictable interactions created as they go along by the people taking part. Meetings are essentially dynamic, their qualities emerge from the process; we should not expect their outcomes to be fully within our control. So when someone says, ‘It’s my meeting,’ that doesn’t give them control; it only gives them the primary responsibility for facilitating the interaction to make it productive.
vp-adminHow coaches can make Chemistry Meetings useful
A look at the Voices at Work for a Hotel Receptionist
Claire is a hotel receptionist. She works in the West of Scotland, but listening to what she is saying, you could be in a hotel lobby anywhere in the world.
‘Good afternoon, how can I help?’
‘I need the credit card you intend to use and I need you to sign this form here and here.’
‘If you’re planning to dine with us this evening, may I suggest you make a reservation, as the restaurant is expecting to be quite busy.’
The Inquire, Direct and Advise voices: the stock-in-trade of the hotel receptionist’s interaction with guests.
This is speech which might sound too straightforward to hold much interest. But when you pause to reflect on what makes it seem so ordinary, you start to notice how it highlights important features and differences in how talk can be used.
This is the latest in our series of blogs about helping young people to find the voices they need. It takes the form of an interview with Junaid Hameed, a school student and alumnus of the English-Speaking Union’s public speaking programmes. It shows how teaching oracy skills can develop the range and impact of a young person’s VoicePrint profile.
vp-adminLiteracy and Numeracy are not enough – we need Oracy too
Duncan Partridge is a VoicePrint Practitioner with a particular interest in developing the communication skills of young people.
His expertise lies in the fields of International Education, Teacher Training and Educational Leadership. An experienced teacher himself, with first-hand experience of working in Africa, South America and Western Europe, he was formerly Head of the Halcyon London International School, shortlisted for the Innovative school of the Year Award by the Times Educational Supplement.
vp-adminDuncan Partridge – International Educationalist & VoicePrint Practitioner
Duncan Partridge, Director of Education at the English-Speaking Union, on how being more aware of our speaking styles can help us to communicate more effectively
We are living through an age where we’ve never had more information or more opportunity to debate the issues of the day. At the same time, somewhat paradoxically, many would say that the quality of public discourse around the world is at an all-time low. Why is this?
Has overload led to dysfunction? Are we living in digital echo chambers where we only ever hear our own views repeated back to us? Or are we becoming naïve and passive consumers of information, manipulated by peddlers of fake news and sophistry? Whatever the case, perhaps a more important question to ask is: what can be done about this?
vp-adminIt’s the way that you say it: young voices in action
All organisations have the problem of communications, but what sort of communications problem have you got?
It’s an inevitable by-product of sub-dividing effort. Splitting work into different functions, departments and roles creates differences of priority, attention and concern. It not only produces unintended barriers to the flow of communication, but also real inter-personal tensions and active differences of opinion, arguments and conflicts that need to be recognised and resolved.
The other reason why all organisations have a problem with communications is that individuals differ enormously in how they go about these things. While there is only a limited number of different ‘voices’ – or modes of expression – that we can use (VoicePrint identifies nine useful voices and a further nine dysfunctional ones), individuals tend to draw on them selectively and then exhibit many, many different ways of deploying the particular ones that they prefer to use. The result is that we often talk at crossed purposes.
vp-adminWhat sort of communications problem have you got?
Yes, I know. There’s been a surge of interest in internal communication in the last couple of decades. There are now around 50,000 people in the UK alone involved in developing employee communication. Employee attitude surveys are commonplace whereas they hardly existed until the early 1990s. A new vocabulary has emerged encouraging managers to think in terms of ‘internal marketing’, ‘aligning’ employees with Mission and Vision statements, ‘empowering’ them and most recently ‘engaging’ them. But the fact is much of this internal communication directed at employees has been a lightly disguised form of progaganda.
vp-adminFive Trends Raising the Importance of Employee Voice
SUE WARMAN – HR STRATEGY CONSULTANT, LEADERSHIP COACH AND VOICEPRINT PRACTITIONER
Sue is a senior HR leader with a strong reputation for building and leading highly effective and engaged teams.
With extensive experience in global organisations, predominantly in technology and telecoms, Sue has coached and developed leaders at all levels and has a successful track record for building strong bench strength and succession pipeline.
How would you feel, if you heard a boy loudly and publicly telling his Mother to shut up? Shocked? Embarrassed at his rudeness? Proud of his precocious manliness? Empowered to respond or powerless? Perhaps the answer depends on who you are and with whom you identify: the Mother, the boy himself, his Father?
Each of us has a personal but largely unconscious profile of ‘voices’ which shapes the way we talk and the impact we make. We each favour some voices, and often over-rely on them, while neglecting others.
The effect is not only to leave us less versatile than we could be and need to be, but also deaf and blind to our own inflexibilities and to the consequences of some of our actions.
By bringing your personal pattern of voices, and its impact on others, into conscious awareness, VoicePrint makes your personal, inter-personal and organisational skill-set more complete, more agile and more effective.