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Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration
Hybrid working: digital communication and collaboration

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9.5.1 Effective communication in hybrid meetings

All meetings are most effective when people understand the purpose and are made to feel safe to participate. If you have prepared in advance and you have a clear plan to how you would like to run the meeting, this will enable a more engaging experience. This can be even more important for regular routine meetings because, as you are in a routine, you can easily fall into the habit of just turning up without really thinking about the purpose.

A planned meeting is when people come together to discuss something. It requires a purpose, effective communication and for the meeting to be controlled. The main elements of a meeting are:

  • Interaction: how participants communicate and interact
  • Content: the contributions made by participants and information used (either documents/presentations/chat discussions)
  • Structure: how the meeting is organised – a formal or informal approach.

Effective communication is the critical element of a meeting, and treating meetings as a conversation is increasingly being advocated. The figure below is adapted from the article by Ian Berry (2022), ‘Stop having meetings. Start having conversations [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’, which is based on his experiences. In the article he proposes nine essential elements that focus on ‘Human Being Centred Conversations’ while developing your active listening skills to hear not only what someone is saying but also what they might not be saying, as well as your ability to read body language.

Described image
Figure 26 Human being-centred conversations, adapted from Berry (2022)

Activity 29 How do you listen?

Timing: 15 minutes

Study the image above and read the article by Berry (2022), ‘Stop having meetings. Start having conversations’. One key theme throughout is listening.

Listening is not the same as hearing. According to the following article, research shows we spend 45% of our time listening. Read the article ‘Listening skills’ (SkillsYouNeed, 2022) and consider how much you actually listen when you are interacting with others.

The next conversation you have, sit down afterwards and try to recall what you heard, what you observed, what might have been unsaid and what you would want to find out more about. List your observations in the box below.

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