Formulations and the facilitation of common agreement in meetings talk
Meetings are a place where shared understanding is paramount and must be done in an economical manner in line with the goals of most institutional interactions. Drawing from classic work in conversation analysis, this paper reports on an examination of a corpus of eight hours of video-recorded meeting interactions from a medical school. Mostly, meetings involve knowledge sharing and an orientation to decision making. Common agreement is highly important where elaborate effort may be invested by the chair to get agreement to what the outcomes were. In the data studied there are marked orientations toward common agreement. A particular subclass of formulations is one device employed to these ends by the chair - candidate preclosings (Garfinkel and Sacks 1970). This paper focuses on these particular formulations - types of repeat utterances that are designed to be recognized as linked to previous discussions but completely gloss the preceding talk. The analysis focuses on the sequential environment embodied by this glossing practice, demonstrating the basic format of production and its interactional consequences. In conclusion it is argued that these formulations are used by chairpersons to close the business-at-hand and facilitate the move on to the next topic. They also help to establish, record, and preserve shared understanding incrementally in a time-limited task-focused environment. © Walter de Gruyter 2007.