A large part of many executives’ work day is spent in meeting. For many of the meetings, the executives assemble in an office or conference room; however, advanced technology in the communications area makes meetings possible for those who may be in different geographical locations.
The secretary’s responsibilities concerning meetings of company the meeting, arranging for conference calls, scheduling equipment needed, and taking notes of the meeting.
Executives are often involved in community and professional organizations and may be responsible for arranging meetings for a group. Secretaries to these executives are often asked to assist with maintaining the mailing lists, sending notices of meetings, reserving rooms and equipment, typing and duplicating programs, and preparing minutes.
The work the secretary may be expected to perform prior to, during, and following the meeting is discussed in this chapter.
Generally meetings should be scheduled as far in advance as possible. The meetings associated with the day to day operation of a business often must be called on short notice, but the conventions and large conferences are almost always scheduled a year or more in advance.
Some meetings must be scheduled for a particular time; however, the time of most meetings depends on the availability of those expected to attend. Selecting a time when the maximum attendance possible can be expected is simplified if you have ready access to the schedules of the participants. Some organizations have the schedules of executives stored in a computer to which secretaries have access. In many colleges and universities, the schedules of the professors are on file in the office of the department head or dean. When you do not have ready access to the schedules of those involved, you normally have to call the offices of the participants. This can be a time – consuming process.
Methods Of Notification
Executives are normally notified of meetings to be held within the company by a telephone call or memorandum. For many other types of meetings, the participants are notified by postcard, letter, or newsletter. Conventions and conferences are often announced in magazines and newspapers.
Checking The Agenda
An agenda is the order of business to be discussed. Although the person conducting the meeting normally prepares the agenda, as his or her secretary, you can do seeral things to assist. If the announcement to the meeting asks members to suggest agenda items, you should keep a record of the suggestions. You should read the minutes of the previous meeting to see if unfinished business needs to be included on the agenda. Make sure the agenda includes items that may be required by the bylaws.
A typical agenda for meetings conducted under parliamentary law is as follows:
- Call to order
- Minutes of Previous Meeting
- Reports of Officers
- Reports of Committees
- Old Business
- New Business
The agenda may be mailed to the members or may be given to them as the arrive ate the meeting.
Selecting A Place
When you are asked to plan a meeting, your first task is to select an appropriate place. The room must be large enough for all participants to be seated comfortably; therefore, you need to consider the purpose of the meeting, the number of people involved, and the places available.
Since meeting often extend beyond the time originally planned, make sure the room will be available for the entire time it may be needed.
If the participants will be working with documents during the meeting, secure a room with tables and adequate space for each person, frequently, three or more feet of table space should be allowed for each participant.
You need to consider the arrangement of the room. Will participants be able to see and hear other participants and speakers?
When meetings are to be held at a motel or hotel, you should work with the staff in planning the facilities needed. Hotels and motels will make all of the physical arrangements of meetings.
If confidential topics are to be discussed, the room should be soundproof and secure so that those not involved in the meeting will not be able to hear or observe.
You may need to check with several people concerning the equipment that may be needed and to determine what arrangements must be made to secure the equipment. Arrange for the use of projectors and a screen if movies, slides, or transparencies are to be shown. A speaker may need a chalkboard, an easel for charts, and a lectern. A recorder will be needed if the meeting is to be taped. Make sure microphones are placed in locations convenient for the speakers.
The supplies and materials you are expected to provide for those attending the meeting will vary. For informal meetings held in an executive’s office, participants normally bring their own note pads and pens. For large meetings, you should check with the person in charge concerning the supplies that will be needed.
When the meeting is held at a hotel, the food service department will provide the refreshments. Prior arrangements should be made and include letting the hotel staff know what refreshment in some companies will provide the same service. You should ask for a written confirmation.
Frequently, when the meeting is held in the conference room or an executive’s office, the participants bring beverages with them to the meeting. If you are expected to make and save coffee, be sure you have an adequate supply of cups, cream, sugar, and spoons. Napkins should be provided, and a supply of paper towels should be kept handy in case something is spilled. If you expect the meeting to last more than one hour, you probably should place pitchers of water on the table prior to the start of the meeting.
Preparing The Program
Frequently, the secretary to the person in charge of the program is expected to type and duplicate the program. If you are given this assignment and have not had considerable experience in completing work of this type, you may need to experiment with several formals and seek the opinions of others.
When a particularly important meeting has been planned several days in advance, your boos may want you to telephone the offices of the executives the day before the meeting to confirm that they are planning to attend. When you telephone do not hint that you believe the executive may have forgotten about the meeting; instead, indicate that you are checking to see who will be attending. If some executives who indicated they would attend do not arrive for the meeting, you may need to call their offices to remind them.
Interruptions can be annoylng and result in a waste of valuable time to those involved in a meeting; however, they are occasionally necessary.
If a message must be given t someone while the meeting is in progress, type the message, fold the paper, type person’s name on the outside, and hand the paper to the person conducting the meeting. Be sure the message is clearly and accurately stated. If the person is expected to respond, you may wait; otherwise, you should leave the room as soon s the message is delivered.
You should not have to interrupt the meeting you are attending to answer the telephone. If possible, arrange to have someone answer you telephone when you must attend the meeting. If you must answer the telephone during the meeting, keep the conversation as brief as possible or ask if you may return the call when the meeting ends.
At the close of the meeting, all materials that have been left on chairs or tables should be collected. Copies of the material should be sent to those who may have been absent. Be sure that you have a copy of all documents you need to prepare the minutes or to file.
Unplug or turn off all electrical equipment. You may need to arrange to have movies, slides, or other visual aids or equipment returned.
To help those who will need to plan subsequent meetings for the group, keep a file of all things that may be helpful, such as copies of the notices, the agenda, and programs. Any problems concerning the room, equipment, food service, or any other are should be noted. A list of suggestions for improving meetings can be helpful.
When you return t o the office, you should make calendar notation of future meetings or duties to be preformed as a result of the meeting.
You may need to write or remind the executive to write thank- you letters to speakers and those who helped with the meeting. You should immediately read though the notes you took during the meeting and write the minutes as son s possible.
When you made meeting arrangements through hotel personnel and things went particularly well, you may want to write a letter of appreciation.
A summary of the actions taken and announcements made during informal meetings of executives within the company frequently is sent to those who attended the meeting, as well as to those who were absent.
The Reference ((Secretarial Proceduares Office Administration and Automated Systems))