V. Read the text and point out the main problems that may lead to unpleasant situations while holding an international meeting.
Text II. Pitfalls Of International Meetings
More than six years ago the US futurist John Naisbitt wrote: '...the more technology in this society, the more people want to get together.' But even he could not have envisaged the dramatic growth in the number of international meetings over the past few years.
Unique with all these meetings, which range in size from a few to more than a thousand, is that many of the participants leave their culture to meet in another. Unfortunately, what is not unique is that many of the meetings fail to accomplish their, objectives to a very high degree.
The purposes of these meetings are varied, ranging from exchanging information to rewarding performance and creating opportunities for professional development Often, as in the case of IBM Europe and other companies, the meetings are staged to introduce new products and make a sales pitch to top customers. IBM tries to get its top customers away from their normal business environment and gather them in a location 'that creates an atmosphere that 'puts them in the right frame of mind and then allows us to do some high level selling'.
During the past year, I 'have attended a number of international meetings and witnessed first-hand serious administrative and planning problems, all of which undermined the chances of success.
A classic bungle was the arrival of participants' material three days after one meeting ended. In another case, the audio visual equipment required by a presenter was delivered as the meeting was ending. At yet another meeting, the audio visual "equipment was the wrong format, and the presenter was unable to show his video tapes.
International meeting organizers are sometimes guilty of even the most fundamental blunders. For example, at one meeting, pork was the only meat served to the many Moslems attending. At a three-day seminar, staged by an American company, the absence of any scheduled social activities drew complaints from the many European participants.
Company gatherings often show the most serious shortcomings. One very 'process' orientated meeting reflected the corporate culture. It encouraged small group discussions and group reports. Many of the participants wanted, and were expecting, more formal presentations by senior executives.
International meetings can be costly to stage, especially if they are poorly organized and fail to achieve the desired results. To have any chance of success, the foremost issue to consider is the purpose of the meeting. Only when that has been clearly articulated can organizers begin to plan the meeting and determine whether it has been a success.
At international meetings with participants from many different cultures, unique issues are bound to arise. For example, the timing of meals and the selection of the menu, the listing of names and titles, the use and language of business cards, the necessity of interpreters or translators and getting materials through customs are all factors that must be taken into account by the organizers.
It's especially important to allow participants who travel long distances sufficient time to rest, physically and mentally, before the meeting begins. One large US-based organization ignores this completely, expecting travellers from Europe after a nine-hour-plus flight to attend a four-hour meeting the day they arrive. The following day, meetings are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m. Most European participants are exhausted by the demanding regime and find that they benefit only marginally from the meetings.
A mini-checklist for any international meeting should begin with efforts to identify the nationalities of potential participants and make provisions that cater to their specific cultural needs. Warnings to avoid national stereotypes, condescending attitudes and above all jokes, which are easily misunderstood, are among the tips given to organizers and speakers at international meetings by Dr Ernest Dichter, a motivational psychologist. He suggests that honoured attendees should be welcomed and that, when appropriate, deference should be shown to participants because of their high-ranking positions.
Speakers making presentations in English at an international meeting in a country where it is not the national language, should tailor their presentation so that it will be understood by the entire audience. There are important considerations for persons responsible for the introduction of speakers. For example, personal information or the, sharing of insights about one's family life, which is common in North America, is not appropriate in Europe or Asia.
VI. Read text II and note the key points under the following headings:
a) Recent trends in international meetings;
b) Reasons for holding international meetings;
c) Typical problems at international meetings;
d) Avoiding the pitfalls of international meetings.
VII. According to the text, are the following statements true or false?
Unique with all these meetings, which range in size from a few to more than a thousand, is that many of the participants leave their home to meet in another.
The purposes of these meetings are varied, ranging from exchanging experience to rewarding winners and creating opportunities for professional cultural development
International meeting organizers can’t be guilty of any fundamental blunders.
Company gatherings often show the most serious shortcomings.
International meetings can’t be costly to stage, especially if they are poorly organized and fail to achieve the desired results.
At international meetings with participants from many different cultures, unique issues never arise.
It's especially important to allow participants who travel long distances sufficient time to rest, physically and mentally, before the meeting ends.
A mini-checklist for any international meeting should begin with efforts to identify the nationalities of potential participants and make provisions that cater to their specific cultural needs.
Speakers making presentations in English at an international meeting in a country where it is not the national language, should tailor their presentation in their native language so that it will be understood by the entire audience.
VIII. Match the words from the text with their definitions.
a) a stupid or clumsy mistake
b) submission to or compliance with the will, wishes, etc., of another
c) relating to goods or services produced and sold at the margin of profitability
d) to form a mental image of; visualize; contemplate
e) to adapt so as to make suitable for something specific
f) to request peremptorily or urgently
g) to act graciously towards another or others regarded as being on a lower level; behave patronizingly
h) to conclude successfully; complete
i) of great price or value; expensive
j ) to weaken gradually or insidiously
I. You are going to hear Roger Middleton, Legal Director and Company Secretary at Grand Metropolitan, talking about meetings. Listen and take notes under the following headings:
a) formal and informal meetings;
c) chairing meetings;
d) mixed-nationality meetings;
e) participating in meetings;
II. Using information from Text I and Listening, draw up a set of guidelines entitled "How to hold a successful meeting". It may help you to think in terms of the following areas.
b) the role of participants;
c) the role of the chairperson;
d) administrative consideration.
I. Speak out:
a. Read Case Study and comment on Mr. Jones’s decision.
b) Suggest alternative approaches to reaching a fair decision in this situation.