1 People who want to improve their ability to participate in and/or lead conferences/meetings should understand a useful distinction between the two types of possible contributions – procedure and content.
2 Procedure contributions refer to how to “run” the conference. Content contributions refer to the ideas which may, or may not, help to achieve the discussion/conference objective.
3 The following provides definitions of spoken contribution, content contribution, and procedure contribution.
4 Spoken Contribution – An oral communication signal, from when one Person starts to speak until he/she finishes speaking. 1
5 Procedure Contribution – Any spoken contribution which relates to how the conference Members should discuss a particular topic.
6 Content Contribution – Any contribution which does not relate to how the Conference Members should discuss a particular topic. .
7 Thus, according to these definitions, a contribution must rate as either a content one or a procedure one.
8 Content contributions do not necessarily have to relate to the objective of the discussion/conference. Thus a discussion can include relevant content contributions (on the topic of the discussion) and irrelevant content contributions (off the topic).
9 However the terms “relevant” and irrelevant” do not make much sense in connection with procedure contributions. Thus it proves more useful to talk about useful procedure contributions and non-useful ones.
10 A useful procedure contribution will help the Conference move towards its objective. A non-useful one will not help; sometimes it will directly hinder progress.
1 An oral communication can also include one where another person perceives a
person to start until they perceive this person to stop speaking.
11 Non-Verbal Contributions also exist in conferences. However they prove difficult to classify.
12 Examples. A smile could indicate I would like you to go on with your contribution (Procedure) or I agree with the idea you have just contributed (Content). A frown may mean – “I rate your contribution as quite wrong” (Content) or I do wish you would stop talking (Procedure).