Practice in observing a Conference.

String Diagrams

1 As an Observer to the Conference which follows, draw the “String Diagrams” (see below). It will show (broadly) the people who speak most in the Conference and to whom they speak.

Method of Drawing “String Diagrams”

2 Sketch the Conference layout of people and start a new “String Diagram” every three or four minutes. Record the time that you start each one.

3 Build up the “String Diagram” by putting your pencil on a point near the letter of the person talking and drawing a line directly to the person who contributes next.

4 In some cases it will prove fairly difficult to keep up with a rapid-fire exchange of contributions but do the best you can. When you notice a person talking, even if it rates as an interruption, move the pencil back and forward.

5 Probably you will get most benefit out of a diagram that takes up about a quarter to a third of a foolscap sheet.

6 The following shows an example of two string diagrams.

Procedure Contributions

7 Note down all spoken Procedure Contributions that you can identify and, preferably, who makes them. Try to note down the actual words used.

8 Use the approach – better to get one Procedure Contribution down in full and correctly and miss another one rather than have two half-recorded contributions.

Use the following:

9 A Definition of Spoken Contributions – An oral communication signal from when one person starts to speak (OR other people perceive him/her to start to speak) until he/she finishes speaking (or others perceive that the contributor has stopped speaking)

10 Use the following definition for a Procedure Contribution – Any spoken contribution which relates to how the Conference Members should discuss a particular topic.

11 The “how” would include points on (a) who should contribute, (b) when a contribution should start and/or stop, (c) whether to change the discussion topic and (d) the sequence and/or duration of contributions.

12 If in doubt about whether a contribution rates as a procedural one, record it.

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