Small Changes, Big Impact!

To run productive, results-oriented meetings, you must understand how people hear and how they remember.
Oct 01, 2005
By Applied Clinical Trials Editors

With drug development and approval in its current state, now more than ever, it is time to address the small changes that create big impact in communication during meetings and training. Productivity within drug development requires succinct and swift communication between sponsors, contract research organizations (CROs), and sites. In a recent survey of 38,000 people, ineffective meetings, poor communication between colleagues, and unclear objectives were listed as the most common productivity pitfalls at work. Sixty-nine percent of people surveyed stated that meetings were an unproductive use of time.1

Meetings and training, however, are staple components during the drug development process. The challenge for sponsors and CROs is to identify components that create greater productivity within the ever diminishing development time lines. A productive meeting must have a clear message and be participant-centric and results oriented. Productive communication usually leads to a change. Research shows that concentrating on how a person needs to hear a message actually changes how much he retains.2 In order to do this, one must understand how people hear and then how they remember. This article will address how to create this type of message by covering the following:

  • Communication and learning concepts to influence retention of material
  • Where and how to apply these concepts
  • Effective meeting strategies to save time and money.

Communication and learning concepts

It is not only what you say that matters; it is also how you say it. There are three basic areas of focus that will increase the effectiveness of every message you deliver: organization, learning principles, and retention. Whether addressing your site personnel, the project manager at the CRO, or study staff, these three concepts will impact the outcomes of your communication and interaction.


Table 1. Typical agenda for investigator meeting
Step by step or big picture? Organization consists of more than a well-structured agenda. Table 1 outlines a typical investigator meeting. This agenda is well-organized, but it is only part of what is needed to ensure a successful meeting. Your audience will invest more in your meeting and retain more information if you organize an agenda for two different types of learners: global and linear. The global learner must understand the desired result and why it is important before investing mental energy. The linear learner does not focus on the big picture. They need to know step by step what will be covered during the meeting before fully "buying" into its purpose.

Failing to incorporate both types of organizing principles when setting meeting expectations and objectives may cost you 50% of your audience in the first five minutes. Get both groups motivated for the duration of your meeting by stating the big picture goal and then defining the steps needed to get there. This simple change will create more participant interaction and positively impact meeting productivity.

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