Author Biography

Evelyn Plummer (Ed.D., Columbia University-Teachers College) is an Associate Professor of Communication and primarily teaches courses in group, interpersonal and oral communication. Research interests include small group communication, conflict management, intercultural communication and interethnic communication styles. Dr. Plummer serves as the coordinator for her department's basic course. She also applies communication principles during the practice of a stage management career which has included work with a variety of professional performance companies including Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, summer theater, chamber opera, and dance.


This paper applies conversation analysis methods to a large public meeting. Examination of various pivotal speech acts and actions as performed by the presenters as well as the attendees suggested the enactment and sequencing of these different modes of interaction did not evolve randomly. As in any system, all elements within a group are interdependent and reciprocally influential; therefore, in this meeting, as the communication modes, communication goals, topic initiation, and agenda management roles shifted, individual parties and the group as a whole subtly coordinated to accommodate those shifts. One particular participant performed several implicit and explicit functions in the ongoing communication system of this meeting. Comparing his apparently spontaneous behaviors to the planned procedures of the program presenters revealed possible insights into how better to serve the diverse goals of presenters who want an orderly intake of information and attitudes and attendees who want a sense of involvement and empowerment.