In carrying out our business responsibilities, we may need to communicate verbally in one-to-one conversations, in the task force and committee work, informal meetings, and by telephone which is commonly known as the application of verbal communication. Some special techniques for handling each of these situations are discussed in this section.
Application of Verbal Communication
1. One-to-One Conversations:
Every appointment held between two people (whether between supervisor and subordinate or between peers) may be classified as a conversation. Even the most casual conversation beside the copy machine or in the employees’ dining room can have a significant impact on your career. You should always protect confidence, whether corporate or individual. You must also be aware of the position of the person to whom you are talking.
All one-to-one business conversations should have a purpose and objectives to be accomplished. Before making an appointment to talk with someone, be sure that the purpose of the conversation is clear in your own mind and that you communicate that purpose to others involved.
Once you have established the purpose, objectives, and critical points of discussion, you should consider what background information you will need. Since decisions cannot be made without data, anticipate specific information requirements, and gather information in advance of the meeting to avoid wasting time.
Problems require solutions. If you have requested the conversation then you should be prepared to discuss alternative solutions. All meeting participants share the responsibility of contributing to its success.
The conversation site should be clean and comfortable. A pleasant atmosphere with comfortable lighting and temperature control allows the participants to concentrate on the issues being discussed.
The guidelines for speaking should be practiced. Three of these- (i) know what you want to say, (ii) move from the simple to the complex, and (iii) consider the other participants’ knowledge, experiences, and points of view- are important in the preparation of any conversation.
2. Task Force/Committee Work
Participating in small working groups such as task forces or committees also provides some special communication challenges. Working groups typically focus on particular topics or projects, giving each participant a common goal.
Successful contributions to working groups require the same type of preparation. Although it is important to raise issues for discussion, you should not do so in a complaining tone or from a self-serving point of view. Solutions to problems or changes in policies or procedures must serve the needs of the organization suggesting possible solutions or revisions in policies or procedures; it will help you to establish and maintain a better image.
The guidelines for speaking effectiveness apply also to working group discussions. In addition, you should be sure to speak loudly enough for all to hear. Remember, too, that effective listening skills are important. Let every group member have an opportunity to speak, and evaluate objectively each participant’s contribution.
Personal criticism can “have a negative impact on the group’s ability to work together and may cause you to be described as a negative person.
3. Formal Meetings
You may often participate in formal meetings as a member of the group. Sometimes, however,-you may be asked to chair a formal meeting. The responsibilities of the chairperson differ in some respects from those of a participant.
Post-meeting Activities: You may be responsible for securing a meeting room, notifying participants, arranging to the seat, controlling the physical environment, and generally looking at the meeting arrangements. If you are responsible for all these pre-meeting arrangements, delegate as many of the routine arrangements as possible tactfully and check the room to be sure all arrangements are complete.
As chairperson, you should prepare and distribute an agenda to all participants. Agendas serve to speed meetings and keep them on track. They also force the meeting participants to specify clearly the items to be covered rather than suggesting confusing or broad topics to be addressed.
One of the most important post-meeting activities is follow-up summaries, sometimes a secretary will record minutes, but since minutes should include the only action taken, a summary is extremely helpful. Summaries serve several important functions:
- Everyone receives identical written confirmation of the proceedings.
- Written confirmation of task assignments.
- Summaries provide a clear statement of decisions reached and votes taken.
- Summaries provide a record for both participants and absentees.
The meeting summary should include the following items:
- Time, date, place of meeting, and chairperson.
- Names of those present (if meeting size permits).
- All agenda items discussed and all decisions reached.
- If action is agreed on, record and underline names of persons and respective assigned tasks.
- The time of the meeting ended. (It may be significant to know whether the discussion lasted fifteen minutes or six hours.)
- Date, time, and place of the next scheduled meeting.
- Statement of appreciation.
4. Telephone Conversations
One of the most common types of verbal business communication is the telephone conversation. When using the telephone, clarity, and brevity are desirable. You never know how busy someone is when you call them, so be courteous, brief, and clear. Cover the necessary topics, but without excessive conversation. If you are asking someone to take specific steps, be sure the person understands the required actions and is aware of any deadlines for completion. Thank the person for the time, information, or other assistance offered.
5. Business Reports
Presenting business reports is another form of verbal communication. One feature common to all forms of verbal business communication is the need, to sum up at the conclusion of the meeting. Whether the meeting has been a one-to-one meeting, task force or committee work (workgroups), or a formal meeting, the need is the same.
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