Cover Image
close this bookProject Support Communication - Meetings (HABITAT, 1986, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentChapter 1: Introduction
View the documentChapter 2: Who has to meet: and for what purpose?
View the documentChapter 3: Interpersonal communication
View the documentChapter 4: Giving a speech in pubic
View the documentChapter 5: Conducting an interview (dealing with complaints)
View the documentChapter 6: Conducting a meeting: the hidden agenda
View the documentChapter 7: Organizing a meeting: the written agenda
View the documentChapter 8. Bibliography




The guidelines (blue), for the instructor only, explain the use of the course module in the training session. They list the material required, outline the timing and organization of the session, explain how the instructor has to prepare the training, and list the answers to the tasks contained in the course paper.


The course paper (white), for distribution to the trainees, describes the use of meetings for project support communication. It explains methods of using meetings successfully in the execution of low-income housing projects.

The training module is part of a series of four, which can be used independently according to need. The titles are:


This training module starts with a discussion of the purposes of the various types of meetings that are part of a low-income housing project. After that, the module explains some basic principles of interpersonal communication. Then it analyzes three common types of meetings:

- the personal interview;
- the public speech; and
- the staff meeting.

The exercises which are included for each type aim at giving project staff the skills required to interview, to speak in public and to conduct meetings. In addition, exercises are included to make the project staff familiar with organizing effective meetings.

Each chapter also contains one or more tasks that can be used to test the student's comprehension.

For reasons of copyrights, it is not possible to add case studies in the form of articles or chapters from books to this module. Therefore, a bibliography (yellow) listing titles of articles and books on project support communication has been added to the course paper.


This course module has been prepared as a general module for a training course on project support communication for the execution of low- income housing projects. The module gives a framework for the course, but it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide additional and detailed information and to adjust the course to local conditions.

Target group

Project staff (project managers and staff involved in low-income housing projects), who, as part of their communication activities, have to:

- organize and conduct project staff meetings as;
- interview individuals and deal with complaints; and
- make occasional speeches at public gatherings.

Course participants should be familiar with the first module of the series, 'Project Support Communication (One): Basic Principles' .

Training objectives

After completion of the training session, each objectives trainee should be able to do the following as part of the Project Support Communication programme of a low-income housing project:

- define various forms of interpersonal communication;

- explain the purpose of the various types of meetings organized in the framework of a low-income housing project;

- make an effective speech in public gatherings;

- through a personal interview, deal effectively with a complaint;

- conduct a meeting effectively; and

- organize a meeting effectively.

Number of Participants
10 - 20 persons.

Three to five days.

Easy access to a sites-and-services scheme, squatter settlement or a squatter-settlement upgrading project is desirable.

Blackboard or newsprint;
Video will be useful for the exercises.

Relevant films
'The Maligakanda experience' (UNCHS - 30 min);
'Jane's First Meeting' (20 min).


In order to link the training to the situation in which the trainees are or will be working, the instructor should organize attendance of the course participants at one or more of the type of meetings described above. The instructor should al so document local experiences with the various types of meetings used for project support communication in low-income housing projects, if any.

The instructor ought to be familiar with the training modules 'Community Participation in Squatter Settlement Upgrading' and 'Sites-and Services Schemes: The Scope for Community Participation'. In addition, he or she should be familiar with ' Project Support Communication (One): Basic Principles'.

The instructor distributes the course paper and any other relevant material to the trainees at the start of the course. Preferably, the paper should be handed out chapter by chapter so as to prevent exercises from being studied beforehand.

Training sessions

The instructor and the trainees work together through the course pa per and the exercises. The tasks contained in each chapter should be done as they come up.

The trainees and the instructor evaluate the training session.


Task 1

Example of possible answers:

a. Meetings can reach the poorest and most uneducated people;
b. Meetings cost little or nothing;
c. Meetings can reach large numbers of people;
d. Meetings are a two-way channel of communication; and
e. Meetings are the most personal form of communication.

Task 2

Free answers

Task 3

Some possibilities:

- the 'thumbs up' or ' thumbs down' sign;
- wink of the eye; and
- handshake.

Task 4

Listed should be






Task 5

They are left out because they represent verbal (d, e) and oral (a, g, j)communication.

Task 6


a ,











The instructor should stimulate discussion of the answers, especially for f. and j. f. depends on the use of the media. Radio might reach more or less people than books, depending on distribution. j. also depends on the situation, as the possibility of misinterpretation is always there.

Task 7

(Rules for a good speech).

The rules are divided into two sets:

One set of rules relates to proper explanation of the topic, the other set relates to proper repetition of the message.

Four rules for explanation of the topic:

1. State the topic.
2. State the problem related to the topic.
3. Say what you propose to do about it.
4. Say what you want to achieve.

The message contained in the speech is basically what has been listed above: The topic, the related problem, the action undertaken and the objective of that action.

Even in a short speech, this message will have to be repeated to make it 'sink in'. This is why there are also three rules for repetition of the message:

1. Say what you are going to talk about.
2. Talk about it.
3. Say what you have just talked about.

This means that the message will first be briefly outlined at the beginning of the speech. During the main part of the speech, it will be discussed in detail. At the end of the speech, it will be summarized.

Task 8

(Rules for dealing with complaints)

1 .Understand the other's point of view.

Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Find out what the other person's in terests are. Talk with the person in terms of her experience, expectations, and the under lying reasons for coming to your office.

2 .Let the person tell his story.

The best medicine for an upset -community member is often to let him get it off his chest, without upsetting his feelings. Draw him out with questions or noncommittal remarks. This will help him calm down. It will also reveal some points of agreement or settlement that are important in leading to a solution. The per son will not listen to you anyway until he has told his story, so devote some time to listening first.

3. Learn to listen.

It is not enough to sit passively while the community member talks. It is necessary to listen with the mind, looking for the paths that lead to under standing and solving the problem. This involves leading the speaker with apt and timely questions. It requires the ability to turn the speaker's questions back to her, so that she will tell the story fully and not be given answers before she is ready.

4. Say it with respect.

Courtesy, respect and consideration are all shown by a friendly tone of voice; a manner that shows the community member that you consider him or her a person worthy of respect and courtesy; a controlled volume to your voice - not too loud, not too soft; a choice of words that will be meaningful to your visitor - no difficult words or lengthy phrases.

5. Make the other person feel important.

You may see fifty or hundred such people every day. But that person may meet you only once. When you have other work, besides dealing with complaints, set it aside when someone comes to you. Try not to make the visitor wait until you have finished doing something else. If you are pressed for time, say so. Let the other know that you would rather tend to him but must finish this one task and will return immediately .

Learn the person's name quickly and use it. That name is important to your visitor, and he should feel it is important to you too.

6. Be prepared.

When you know a specific person is coming, review his or her file in advance. Should you not know, you can still prepare your interview by planning to draw out the person in a warm, interested, friendly way.

When you are dealing with facts, figures and other data that you give to your visitor, you must keep current. If necessary, plan to get to work fifteen minutes early and review the information you will use during the day.

Task 9

Free answers

Task 10

Examples of possible answers:

- hope to get a proposal approved;
- hope to be rewarded;
- fear of being reprimanded;
- fear of being criticized;
- ambition to be put in charge;
- ambition to make a good impress on;
- expectation that the meeting will be useless; and
- expectation that the meeting will be useful.

Task 11

(Example of omission)

A bank official forgets to inform residents of a sites-and-services scheme that they are eligible for a house building loan. The reason is that the bank prefers to attract only people with a fixed salary (such as civil servants) since their loans are much easier to administer (through automatic deductions) than the loans of self-employed people who often have irregular incomes. The bank official does not want to harm anybody, just to make work easier for the bank.

Task 12

(Example of intimidation)

A municipal officer announces that squatters who do not relocate voluntarily will be denied access to the new upgrading area. The reason for this threat is that the municipality wants to avoid paying compensation to relocating households by frightening the squatters so badly that they will not even dare to ask for it.

A project staff member is on bad terms with the Residents' Committee of an upgrading area. He calls a meeting at the site office but in order to 'soften up' the members of the Committee he lets them wait outside in the rain for twenty minutes before calling them in.

Task 13

(Example of distortion)

A new decree has been issued by which squatters are not allowed to build on vacant 1 and without a building permit.

The official explaining this to the squatters expects to be deluged with angry protests, so he changes the message a little. He starts by saying that squatters have been denied the right to build on any vacant land. After the squatters have loudly voiced their protests, the official goes on by saying that he has put pressure on the municipality to allow at least for building with a building permit and that his effort has met with success.

The official is praised by the squatters.

Task 14

(Example of evasion)

A chairperson puts a very controversial item at the end of a long agenda. When it is time to discuss the item, the participants are already too tired to argue about it. They even let the chairperson postpone it until some other meeting.

Task 15

(Rules for facilitating a meeting): (DO'S)

1. Formulate the problem.

State the issues clearly so everybody under stands and agrees on exactly what the problem is. Break up complicated problems into workable pieces and deal with them separately. Clarify the kind of decisions expected from the participants.

- "Do you agree or disagree when I say that our problem can be worded as follows?"
- "How shall we formulate this?"

2. Suggest ways to eliminate controversies.
Restate controversial statements or aggressive comments in less threatening ways.

- ''Let's try to have a closer look at your differences. .. "
- "I think we can Look at this problem from several angles. Who is likely to benefit most?"

3. Relate people's ideas.
Underscore what people are saying and how it relates to what others think.

- "What you just said sounds like what John said before. Do you have the same opinion?"

4. Be conscious of group feelings.

Change the topic when discussion stalls and people are getting bored or tired, by proposing to refer the topic to a later date.

- "I think this has been discussed sufficiently for now, since we don't know enough about it yet to reach conclusions, right?"

5. Summarize statements and ideas.

Repeat briefly what each person has said in order to check general understanding and to encourage comment on its accuracy. Clarify and reformulate ideas if necessary.

- "In my opinion, this is what has been said. Do you agree or disagree?"
- "Jane, can you summarize the ideas of the group so far?"

6. Keep people on the topic.

Let people know when the discussion has drifted, and confirm every now and then the topic under discussion and the objective of the discussion.

- ''I seem to remember we decided to talk about waste disposal only, so please can you continue from there?''

7. Activate people.

Ask questions that encourage active thinking and participation in the process of decision-making.

Make sure nobody gets cut off. Encourage people who are hesitant to speak, do not finish their line of reasoning or seem otherwise disturbed. Make sure all the participants in the meeting have been consulted.

- "John, we haven't heard your ideas yet. Do you have something to add?"
- ''Now that was an interesting idea. Does somebody want to comment on it "?

8. Be neutral.

Treat all participants as equal and allow them to discuss controversial topics openly .

- ''Jane, your idea seems completely opposed to that of Peter, but you are both right in a way.

9. Confirm conclusions and decisions.

Restate conclusions reached and decisions made, summarizing the various points of view presented.

- "This is how I understand it. Does somebody have the feeling that the conclusions are different?"

(Rules for facilitating a meeting): (DO NOT'S)

1 .Do not criticize the ideas and values of others.

Do not discourage people, since it is counter productive and suppresses ideas and opinions which might be very useful. So, do NOT say:

- "You don't really believe this will have any success, do you?"

2. Do not impose your own opinions.

Do not interpret other's statements to fit personal goals. So, do NOT say:

- "You have to admit my idea is better. "
- "This is, of course, the conclusion. "
- "I think that plan has already failed."

3. Do not demonstrate lack of interest.

Avoid slouching in the chair, looking the other way, talking with others (when somebody is speaking) or playing with a pencil. It shows disrespect of the other people in the meeting.

4. Do not accuse participants or outsiders.

Avoid blaming somebody, since it will not help in solving the problem. So, do NOT say:

- "That man is such an idiot. How can we get anything done as long as he is around?"

5. Do not Produce Your own answers to the problems.

Avoid providing answers when not asked, because participants have to think for themselves. So, do NOT say:

- "Listen, I'll tell you how to do this. "

6. Do not invent or answers.

Do not try to get away with vague answers or give flimsy reasons, as it is counterproductive. So, do NOT say:

- "I think it is something like this, but it is not so important anyway. "

Instead, be frank about lack of knowledge and make good on promises to provide information.

- "Sorry, I don't know how this has been arranged, but I shall find out and tell you tomorrow. "

Task 16


2. A



5. C

Task l7

(Ten rules for organizing a good meeting)

1. Define the purpose of the meeting and determine the timing.

Why is the meeting called in the first place and is this the right time to do so? Can sufficient contributions be made to ensure a positive outcome and useful results? If the answer is positive, proceed.

2. Determine who will participate and why.

Once the purpose of the meeting is clear, it will not be difficult to determine who should take part. Think al so of persons who do not contribute substance but have to be invited for courtesy reasons. Include resource persons who can provide useful information.

However, keep the meeting as small as the agenda permits in order to make it effective. Finally, make a list of participants and the contributions they are expected to make.

3. Prepare an agenda.

The agenda states what is going to be discussed and in what order, including how long it is going to take. A good agenda also has to make provision for an unplanned item that comes up unexpectedly and needs to be dealt with instantly.

4. Inform all participants in good time.

The error most commonly made in planning meetings is that participants are informed too late or not at all. The agenda must be distributed to all participants, and mention where and when the meeting is taking place.

5. Prepare the necessary facilities.

Make sure there are enough seats and that there is enough light. Is transport assured for everybody? Will tea or coffee be served and by whom? Will the meeting room available for a sufficient period of time?

6. Provide the necessary material.

Check what kind of documentation has to be presented maps, plans, charts, reports, pictures, stencils - and how many copies are needed. Think about presentation: Nobody can read = a chart on a piece of A-4 paper pinned to distant wall. Consider using a big chart or giving each participant a personal copy.

Where possible, use a chalkboard (don't forget chalk) or newsprint (don't forget markers). If paper has to be put on a wall, don't forget pins or tape.

7. Prepare the chairperson's contribution the agenda.

The chairperson has to come to the meeting well-prepared. He or she needs to have a firm grasp of the agenda items. Do some homework and study the documents related to the agenda items. It always makes a good impression when the chairperson is able to answer all the questions and to present the facts clearly and accurately.

8. Stick to the agenda.

The chairperson has to know how to keep the meeting on track and to limit discussion to the time that has been reserved for it.

9. Specify follow-up action.

The entire meeting becomes useless when it is not clear what is going to happen next. Even if follow-up action has been specified, there is no guarantee that anything will happen if somebody has not been appointed to carry out the action.

10. Establish record of the meeting..

In order to refer back to a meeting at a later date, somebody is a appointed to make minutes.

This record will keep track of all commitments made in previous meetings. This is absolutely indispensable when people have to be reminded of their duties.

Task 18


Voting neither FOR nor AGAINST a MOTION. Not voting.


When speaking in a meeting, members must speak to the Chairperson and not to other members.


A vote in disagreement with the motion. The opposite is a vote in favor. (FOR) the motion.


Said of a motion which has received a vote approving it.


Changing the wording of a motion by taking out or adding words to it. An AMENDMENT needs to be PROPOSED, but to be discussed it needs a SECONDER and is then PUT TO THE VOTE before the motion it seeks to change.

If an amendment is CARRIED, the motion AS AMENDED replaces the original motion. If an amendment is defeated, then the original motion STANDS.

More than one amendment can be put forward to any motion but each should be discussed separately and voted on in the order in which they are received.


Usually the last item on the agenda. With the consent of the chair, any member can raise issues not already discussed which should have been on the agenda.


Members who are unable to attend should let the Secretary know. A list of members who have sent apologies is read out at the start of the meeting and recorded in the minutes.


To send out notices inviting the members to attend the next meeting.


At the start of the meeting, the Chairperson calls for order, at which time all members should be seated and ready to begin the meeting.


Said of a motion when it has been voted and AGREED.


Said of a motion when it has been voted and decided AGAINST.


A proposal which will be discussed and may be PUT TO THE VOTE at the meeting.


The assignment of a member as an officer to the meeting (for instance as Chairperson, Secretary or Treasurer) or as member of a committee.


The proper conduct of a meeting.


Not conforming to the RULES OF PROCEDURE (STANDING ORDERS) or the proper conduct of the meeting.


A point one of the members wants to make related to the proper conduct of the meeting.


The stage-by-stage sequence of events before and in a meeting.


The principal speaker for a motion. The proposer speaks first and may speak again, if he or she wishes, immediately before the motion is put to the vote.


The minimum number of members required to be present for the meeting. This number should be stated in the RULES OF PROCEDURE.


The actual wording of a motion that has been PASSED.


The right of the proposer to speak again immediately before the motion is put to the vote.


The written instructions governing the way the meeting is managed. These may be stated in the organization's constitution, or may be determined by the annual general meeting. A more formal name is STANDING ORDERS.


The next person to support a motion following the proposer. The seconder may formally second by saying "I second the motion." Unless a motion has both proposer and seconder, it cannot be discussed.


The person who keeps an accurate record of all meetings, writes the minutes, calls the meetings, and deals with correspondence.

SHOW OF HANDS - Voting by counting hands raised.

Task 19

1. C

2. M

3. S

4. S

5. C

6. M

7. C

8. S

9. C

10. M






16. S

Task 20

1. Causes: Secretary has not provided basic information on the topic to be discussed.

· Action: To distribute documentation/info together with the agenda.

2. Cause: The Chairperson is not guiding the discussion.

· Action: The Chairperson has to keep the discussion on track.

3. Cause: The Secretary has not reminded the members of follow-up action to be taken by each of them.

· Action: In the minutes of the meeting, the Secretary has to remind all members of the tasks assigned to them.

4. Cause: The Secretary has not made sure that enough members would show up at the meeting.

· Action: The Secretary has to make sure that members confirm attendance to the meeting.

5. Cause: The Secretary has prepared a heavy agenda with too many topics, or the Chairperson allows too many topics outside the agenda to be discussed.

· Action: The Secretary has to prepare a reasonably short agenda; The Chairperson has to limit discussion of topics not on the agenda.