Work environments

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What’s this unit about?
This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to organise meetings including making arrangements, liaising with participants, and developing and distributing meeting related documentation.
The unit applies to individuals employed in a range of work environments who organise a variety of meetings. They may provide administrative support within an enterprise, or have responsibility for these tasks in the context of a particular team, workgroup or project.
In this unit, you will learn how to organise meetings including making arrangements, liaising with participants, and developing and distributing meeting related documentation.
The topics for this unit are:
Make meeting arrangements
Prepare and distribute documentation for meetings
Record and produce minutes of meetings
Introduction
Society and workplaces have become more complex.  Meetings increasingly play an important role in the management of every aspect of our lives.  Therefore it is important that the meetings are well organised.  Your reason for calling a meeting is normally based on achieving an objective.  For example, do you need to solve a problem?  Make a decision?  Inform a group about an issue?  Check the status of the project?
There are identified skills and knowledge required to organise meetings that include making arrangements, liaising with participants, and developing and distributing meeting related documentation.  The skills enable the organiser to achieve a well organised, time efficient and outcomes based meeting.
The meeting organizer needs to:
Identify the type of meeting and its purpose
Identify and comply with legal and ethical requirements
Identify the requirements of meeting and participants
Make meeting arrangements in accordance with the requirements of meeting
Advise participants of meeting details
In this topic, you will focus on the activities associated with establishing schedule requirements.
Identify the type of meeting and its purpose.
Being able to share information effectively is part of good communication. Therefore it is important that people are able to come together at regular intervals to be able to share information.
Meetings form part of the sharing of information process, but they also aid in the building of relationships, communication process, job role and description, ideas generation and innovation and they help to build a sense of shared responsibility and trust.
Meetings can be used to talk about issues facing the team or organisation as a whole, or as a forum to identify diverse skills and interests of the team, this will aid in being able to identify the correct person for the correct role within the team.
It is important to establish the reason for the meeting, why have a meeting?And what is the outcome that we would like to achieve from the meeting?  A clear purpose is essential for a good meeting.   Before you do anything else, figure out what you want to achieve from the meeting.
Meetings can vary in the level of formality; some will be a more casual discussion, while others will need to be more formal in nature and follow set protocols and principles. The type of frequency that meetings need to be held will depend on the objective. For example, a Board meeting may be held every quarter and take a day to get through the agenda, while a sales meeting may be held every week to discuss tasks and quotas and take only half an hour.
Different types of meetings serve different purposes.    Why are you meeting?  Is it to achieve any of the following?
Solve problems;
Share decision making;
Establish policy;
Team building;
Progress report;
Operational;
Strategic;
Gain approval or support for an idea.
A meeting is not always the only option.   Do not hold a for the sake of holding a meeting.  Meetings can be a terrible waste of resources if they are held with no clear purpose/outcome and if people who don’t need to be involved have been required to be there.  It may be useful to clearly define what is to be achieved by writing the objective.  For example, “The purpose of the meeting is to….”
It is important to identify the areas that you would like to cover, this can help determine the type of meeting that would best suit your objective and meet your outcomes
Legislation dictates certain requirements for the conduct and composition of meetings.   Legislation may include work health and safety, code of conduct, international standards etc.  The rules for meetings of your organisation will normally be found in two places.   Firstly, your own Association’s constitution or if you are employed in local, state or federal government the legislation that governs you will be found in the relevant act.  For example, Local government should look in their own Local Government Act.  Secondly, the community can access many texts or websites which provide detail on rules relating to their type of meeting.
There are many different types of meetings.  Following are examples of meetings.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
An AGM is a formal meeting where the directors of a company or enterprise will meet with the shareholders. This is performed annually, as the name implies. Minutes will need to be taken at this meeting.
The style and format of an AGM will usually be succinct and formal. You may wish to study the minutes from a past AGM to compile an understanding of how they tend to operate.
Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)
The same principles in regards to the running of an AGM apply to this meeting type, with the purpose being that it is called upon to resolve urgent matters in the time between the Annual General Meetings.
Board meetings
Regular meetings, usually monthly or quarterly and according to the organisations protocols, to set goals, oversee management, receive reports, review progress and make decisions for the organisation.
Committee meetings
Committee meetings are a group of people who have been gathered together to serve the purpose of managing specific issues. Organisations can have many different committees, each specialising in varying areas.
The general principles that will apply will be clarity and brevity. Some committees may require more background detail, though.
Management meetings
Management meetings can take various forms; this will all depend on the organisations structure. These meetings will involve various levels of managerial decision making. An example of this could be that various meeting will need a senior management team to make decisions whereas another meeting may only need middle management. All management meeting will, however, need effective minute taking.
Sales meetings
Regular departmental meetings to discuss promotions, product launches, sales figures, strategies, markets, etc.…
Conferences and ‘away-days.’
The exact format for a conference or ‘away days’ will depend on organisational requirements and preferences. At some conferences, parallel workshops are also conducted. These are also known as mini break-out sessions and usually involve a presentation on a particular topic, perhaps delivered by someone external to the organisation.
Departmental meetings
Departmental meetings are meetings held and attended by all departmental staff to discuss and address departmental issues. This issues may include:
Reviewing performance
Setting objectives
Reporting on the outcome of actions taken
Discussing any other matters in connection with departmental operations
It is usual to take minutes at such meetings
Staff meetings
Regular meetings of staff members to inform them of organisational matters, and for staff members to have input into and report on a range of issues and subjects.
Steering group meetings
A steering group may be formed to take a high-level overview of a project. The group is usually composed of senior executives, project leaders and possibly external advisors to the organisation. Minutes should be kept of steering group meetings.
Project team meetings
Project teams can be developed for many reasons. In a large organisation, there may be many different projects being carried out at the same time. It is important that minutes are taken for review meetings which highlight the major issues, important decisions and the agreed actions.
Team briefings
These are meetings held by the team leader to discuss issues with members of the team A full set of formal minutes is not really required in these types of meetings as the main reason for the meetings is to outline what has to be done and who will do it. Therefore, notes outlining the tasks and who is responsible for those tasks will probably be enough.
One-off informal meetings
These can happen at any time of the day for any reason. They may be informal conversations between two employees or a small group discussion. In this situation, the note would not be necessary.
Identify and comply with legal and ethical requirements
Early in the planning stages, but after you have decided your purpose and type of meeting, thought must be given to the legal and ethical requirements. These include:
Codes of Practice – Industry codes of practice provide guidance and advice on how to achieve the standard required by Acts and regulations. It is important to note that a Code of Practice is not law, but it should at all times be followed be followed unless there is an alternative course of action that achieves the same or better standards. Codes of Practice are developed through consultation with representatives from the industry:
Workers and employers
Special interest groups
Government agencies
Legislation Relating to Companies or Associations – As an employee of a company you must ensure that whatever you do is legal, and you must also give serious consideration to ensuring that you meet the requirements of the:
Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Act
OHS/WHS Act
Privacy Act
Or any others legislation or regulations that may impact on your meeting behaviors or topics
The Disability Discrimination Act (1992)
Requires that people with disabilities are able to access and use places open to the public and to access any services and facilities provided in those buildings
People with disabilities can face barriers to attending and participating in public functions in a variety of ways. They may experience difficulty hearing what is said, seeing the small print on an invitation, climbing steps to the venue, understanding signage or using a restroom in the building
Public events need to be planned to ensure they are accessible to all members of the community. Consideration of aspects such as the venue, continuous accessible path to the venue, invitations, and hearing augmentation is important
To assist event organisers and function coordinators design, plan and conduct events that are accessible for people with disabilities the Disability Services Commission has produced a booklet Creating Accessible Events
Regardless of whether your meetings are formal or informal, consideration must always be given to safety. Here are a few points to consider and discuss with your committees:
If your meetings are held in rented or borrowed premises, find out about public risk and your liability; arrange public liability insurance coverage; update it regularly and remember always to promote injury and accident prevention
Consider access and equity issues for gender, disability access, the young, old or the infirm – promoting safe meeting access and environment are just part of participation
If it is appropriate, be family friendly, develop a family friendly policy and be accommodating of young or new families. Provide a variety of activities and roles to encourage greater participation. Consider providing childcare and encourage all ages for the next generation of committee volunteers
Undertake Safety Audits of your facilities at least annually and have First Aid trained personnel in attendance
Ethical requirements
It is important to conduct a meeting with integrity, and in an ethical manner, this will help to build trust and maintain the confidence of clients, colleagues, employers, employees and the public, and to maintain the reputation of the organization. Protocols and behaviors that relate to your organisations Code of Conduct, Confidentiality policies and Meeting Protocols will have to be adhered to by meeting organisers and participants.
For example, it is a standard meeting protocol of all government organisations to begin meeting with a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country.  This practice demonstrates respect for the traditional owners of the land that the meeting is taking place on.
Legal Requirements
Many meetings have underpinning legal obligations.
The Australian Corporations Act 2001 outlines specific meeting requirements in relation to Boards, Corporations and Companies that relate directly to when and how to call a meeting.
Corporations law
The Corporations Act 2001 is the uniform legislation that regulates companies in Australia. It provides the base that organisations use to develop their own acceptable meeting conventions.   You can research the Corporations Act 2001 through the following link http://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/publications/categories/policies-and-codes/handbooks/welcome-aboard/member-duties/corp-act-2001-c.aspx.
Part 2G of the Corporations Act 2001 contains regulations that provide instructions about how to conduct:
the annual general meeting
the statutory meeting
meetings of boards of directors
creditors meetings
procedures for winding up meetings
meetings of debenture holders
Meetings of holders of prescribed interests.
Invalid meetings
There are some circumstances that may render a meeting invalid; for example, the attendance of any person at a meeting who is not entitled to be there or if the minimum required a number of attendants isn’t met, it can render a meeting legally invalid. None of the proceedings from that meeting may be enacted.
Australian legislation
There are various different pieces of legislation that (can) also apply to meetings.  These include:
Privacy Act of 1988
Sex Discrimination Act 1984
Racial Discrimination Act 1975
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
Work Health and Safety Act of 2012
Freedom of Information
Identify the requirements of meeting and participants
The next step is to understand the actual requirements. To do this, you must understand if the meeting is to be:
Formal: A formal meeting is pre-planned, has a predetermined set of topics to be discussed and a set of objectives to be achieved. It is presided by a senior executive and is often planned well in advance.
Informal: This type of meeting is generally spontaneous, and most commonly takes place in a neutral area such as a work room or restaurant. There is little if any record keeping and does not use formal voting procedures.
Self-managed: This type of meeting is very casual in how it is conducted and takes great maturity from the participants. Not taking will be minimal and any agreements to be made are based on consensus, at the end of the meeting, a formal report may be filed.
Semi-formal: This type of meeting is generally planned with little notice, and the member is informed of the meeting in a casual manner often verbal. They generally take place in workrooms or restaurants rather than a boardroom. They may or may not have an agenda and minutes may or may not be kept.
Structured: This type of meeting is often considered a traditional boardroom-style meeting and often utilises various technological systems; this might include:
PowerPoint
Audio microphone systems
Projectors
It is not uncommon for structured meetings to contain a similar number of participants to a Public Meeting.
As mentioned earlier the number of participants influences the choice of meeting style. The greater the number of participants the more structured the meeting must be. Without structure, little would be achieved.
You will find that the fewer participants you have in a meeting, the more effective the meeting will be. Creative meetings based on generating ideas will require enough people to provide energy and generate them.
Discuss the anticipated numbers with the Chairperson or initiator of the meeting.
Never forgetting the purpose of the meeting, and if you are aware of any special needs of participants and presenters, you can start to consider how best to organise this meeting.
Voting
In a meeting, there are various ways that you utilise to vote or agree on a decision. Some meetings just discuss until there is a consensus agreement, others require a majority vote.
For example, in the cases of many formal meetings, public companies and large entities, there are policies and procedures or standing rules that will apply to the voting procedures. Seek assistance from the Chairperson or initiator to see if there is a preferred method for voting in this meeting.
In most cases when a vote is required, a quorum may be needed. A quorum refers to a minimum number of participants who must be present for a vote to be binding on the group. The details of the quorum numbers will be written in the constitution.
The formal voting procedure may follow the below format:
A motion is moved
Another person must second it which confirms that there is initial agreement with the intention and wording
It is then put to the vote which may be ‘hands up’ or by ballot
There are times when a face to face meeting is not appropriate, e.g. when urgency and/or cost and logistics of travel are critical factors, and perhaps it could be conducted via technology such as teleconferencing or video conferencing.  There are many types of technology products available on the market and organisations use different products that suit the needs of their organisation.
When participants are spread over a geographical area, they can be brought together in a number of ways.
Video Conference
A videoconference (VC) is a meeting where people, located in different places, link into the same point.  Participants can see, and talk, to one another easily but are removed from one another geographically.
Normally, VC’sare held in a room with special facilities to transmit sound and images, such as multiple cameras and microphones, a pc and a television.
For added flexibility, an organisation might have a portable VC unit that can be wheeled into different rooms and used in different situations.
A simple VC  meeting can be transmitted to a laptop or desktop computer if an organisation has the right software. The computer would need to have a camera and microphone to allow the participant to participate.
Conferencing software can be obtained through conducting a Google search on the web.
Advantages of video conferencing
Allows participants to ‘get the whole story’, as in face-to-face meetings.
Time and cost savings.
Disadvantages of video conferencing
Quality can be variable.
Time lags can be frustrating.
The chairperson must be careful to ensure that participants at all locations are included in the discussion.
A purpose-specific room and equipment are required.
The technology can fail
Teleconference
Teleconferences are conducted using a telephone link-up that allows everybody to speak to everybody else. They are simple to organise and relatively cheap to conduct. For a teleconference involving several links, you might want to consider using a teleconference service such as Eureka Conferencing. For information on their services have a look at their website –www.teleconference.com.au
Advantages of teleconferencing
Time and cost savings.
Meetings must start on time and end on time.
Disadvantages of teleconferencing
No visual cues.
Need tight protocols, so everyone has an opportunity to participate.
Collaboration software
Meetings using collaboration software may incorporate sound, visual and shared work on documents and chat rooms (written or oral). This type of communication is generally used when participants are dispersed by geography or time, but will increasingly replace or augment face-to-face meetings.
The advantage of collaboration software
Perceived convenience, as participants need not to leave their workstations.
The disadvantage of collaboration software
Participants may be interrupted (by phone calls, or visitors to their workplace).
Asynchronous communication is often managed using collaboration software, such as:
Bulletin boards and threaded discussions
Desktop/non • real time conferencing
Workflow/process management
Email
Group calendaring
Scheduling and group document management.
Live chat/white boarding
Live chat allows someone from one computer to type a message and have the text appear instantly on someone else’s computer. It is good for quick messages but not useful for complicated discussions. Whiteboard applications allow people to simultaneously view and annotate a document on their computer screens without leaving their workstations. Participants can also talk to each other while they refer to the document.
Make meeting arrangements in accordance with the requirements of meeting
It is important that you identify the participants for the meeting.  Invite only those who really need to be there.  The participants need to be those that will assist you in achieving your objective or have a particular stake in the outcome.
The participants will need to meet the following criteria.
Someone who can make decisions
Someone with the information and knowledge about the topic area
People who need to know about the topic area
Anyone who is required to implement decisions made.
Arrange a time and venue to suit most participants, especially key players. There are several things to consider when selecting a date and time for a meeting as follows:
Time allowed for preparation
When the majority of the participants or key players are available
There is not indirect discrimination against members or potential members of the group
The most suitable days and time are chosen
Business and pleasure are kept separate.
Venue
The right venue can have a profound effect on the success of a meeting. The purpose of your meeting will influence your choice of the venue. A formal meeting should be held in a formal venue as this will encourage formal behaviour.
People work best when they feel comfortable, so the aim should be to create an atmosphere of relaxed concentration. The meeting environment should encourage participation. The views of participants should be respected, and they should feel free to have their say without fear of ridicule. Disagreements should be turned into productive exchanges of information and experience. To achieve this, the atmosphere should be welcoming and friendly, relaxed, yet conducive to productive work.
Your job is to ensure that those attending the meeting have the best possible opportunity to carry out their business efficiently. Meetings should generally be held in an area which is:
Private
Free from interruptions or distractions (but not free from information)
Comfortable (but not too comfortable!)
Capable of alternative furniture configurations
equipped, as necessary, with equipment such as wall clocks, laptops, multimedia projector, phone, fax, videoconference or microphone
In a convenient location for all participants
Neutral – if you are resolving a conflict you need a location that gives no advantage to any group or individual
Cost-effective.
The room arrangement will to a large extent depend on the purpose of a meeting. Participants talking with each other will need to make eye contact. If the purpose of the meeting is to give information, participants should face the speaker, usually at the front of the room.
If it is a decision-making meeting, the participants should face each other. The usual protocol for formal meetings is that the chairperson normally takes the head of the table, with the minute’s secretary at their right. There are several common room arrangements used for meetings, such as:
U-shape
Amphitheatre
Classroom
Theatre
Round table
Basic boardroom.
Remember to consider any person with a disability when setting up the room.
Catering for meetings
Talking can be thirsty work. If the meeting is going to be a long one, organise water and glasses for all participants at the meeting table.
If tea breaks are scheduled, organise tea or coffee at a refreshment centre, or set up an urn in an accessible part of the room.
If meals are required, specify light finger food and provide napkins for participants. A meal that is too heavy will make the participants drowsy.
Consider the dietary requirements of the participants also – the last thing you want is an allergic reaction to something that has been served.
Special needs of the participants
When organising a meeting, you should consider whether any of the participants have any special needs.  These can include the following:
Disabled access – for participants with restricted mobility
An interpreter – for participants who may speak a different language or who may be hearing impaired
Larger print – for anyone who is visually impaired
Transport – do your participants need to be picked up from the airport?
Parking facilities – will your participants be able to park at the venue or do they need to arrange to park?
Meeting date and times – religious or cultural considerations OR different time zones
For example, the organisation of a Board Meeting or AGM might require the following:
Physical requirements
The suitable venue, seating arrangements
PowerPoints, phone lines
Support equipment, e.g. light pro, whiteboard, videocams, microphones
Agenda and notepaper/pens
Spare documents
Water
Other refreshments, e.g. tea/coffee, lunch etc.
Computer
Video conference facilities
Participant Requirements
Access
Comfortable
Properly managed, e.g. start and finish on time, clear purpose
Audio
Documents in advance
You would need to consider:
Time and Date
How much notice is required
Have all participants been notified?
Book Venue
Internally
Externally – what is available/suitable, which venue was used previously, budget
Accommodation and travel
Does this need to be booked?
Who is covering the costs of this?
Catering
Facilities
Numbers
Times
Expectations/precedent
Wait for people
Special dietary requirements
Alcohol?
Plates/cups/knives/forks etc.
Participant Documentation
Agendas
Meeting papers
Name tags
Welcome folder
Changes to original meeting details – advise as soon as possible
Advise participants of meeting details
You will need to ensure you advise attendees of the meeting. You may have to advertise the meeting in newspapers etc.… if it is a public meeting. Make sure you have quotes for this also and factor it into your budget.
Always ensure you give people enough time to prepare to attend. One month is a good timeframe so send out invitations to attendees one month prior to the meeting.
In your invitation, you should invite attendees to submit agenda items. Make sure items for the agenda match the purpose of the meeting. If they don’t, then suggest these are taken up at a later date and stick to the objectives of the meeting. When preparing the agenda to make sure you allow enough time for each point. It is better to run a little early because you have overestimated the time required to run over. People often have plans later in the day and are anxious to leave.
Information that you may need to prepare and supply in advance might include:
Chairperson’s report
Committee reports
Draft documentation
Financial reports
Itemized meeting papers
Minutes of the previous meeting
Research reports
These items may be sent through the mail, email, or given to staff members or participants prior to the meeting.
Notice of meeting
If you are organising a formal meeting, you are required to give ‘due notice’ or ‘notice of meeting’. Under the law, the notice of a company meeting is critical. Without ‘due notice’, the meeting may be rendered ‘null and void’.
The notice must be given to all members. You must provide printed details of the meeting, together with any documents or papers, including the agenda.
Refer to the legislative requirements, the Code of Conduct or Policies and Procedures applicable to your industry/organisation for specific detail about the required timeframe for notifying participants of the meeting.  There is an example of a Notice of Meeting as Appendix C.
Rescheduling or cancelling a meeting
By law, once formal notice has been issued for meetings required by statute, the meeting must be held – it cannot be cancelled.
For less formal meetings, good manners and courtesy should be your guide to cancelling or rescheduling. Communicate any changes to participants immediately. This can be done by email, phone, memo, internal mail, mail or hand-delivered message.
Don’t forget to cancel or change the room, equipment and catering arrangements. Below you will find a sample meeting checklist.  Checklists can assist you in ensuring that you have remembered to organized everything.
CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
Cross-cultural communication refers to interpersonal interaction and communication across different cultures. In our increasingly globalised world, this has become an important issue. Effective cross-culture communication is all about overcoming cultural differences across religion, borders, nationality and behavior.
Within the business context, the diversity of people in countries and cities means that an element of effective cross-cultural communication will always be required whether it is between employees, colleagues, or clients. With proper cross-cultural business communication, a company can reap benefits in areas such as improved staff interaction, effective client management and better customer relations.
With cross-cultural communication training, foreign travel and cultural immersion, one can attain competency in cross-cultural communication. Below are some guidelines to help improve your cross-cultural communication skills.
Cross-cultural communications require the following:
Listening skills. This is a key skill that many business personnel do not exercise enough. To avoid any cross-cultural communication problems, attentive listening is critical to be able to understand meanings and empathise with the speaker.
Speaking skills. Speaking well is not about accent, use of grammar and vocabulary or having the “gift of the gab” Rather, cross-cultural communication is enhanced through positive speech such as encouragement, recognition or expressing opinions sensitively.
To over any cross-cultural communication barriers, one need to be more observant of people’s dress, body language, interaction and behavior, as these details contain large amounts of cross-cultural information.
While there are times when cross-cultural differences can be annoying and frustrating, patience is definitely a virtue in such cases. Through patience, respect can be won, and cross-cultural understanding will be enhanced.
You must be open-minded and adaptable if you wish to achieve successful cross-cultural communication. Understanding and addresses cross-cultural differences can lead to a breakdown of cultural barriers which in turn lead to better communication and stronger trust between both parties.
When cross-culturally communicating, you will need to do so in a way that responds positively to individual differences:
Use active listening skills and verbal encouragers to show you are still listening
Ask questions to clarify information
Your body language should give the individual your full attention
When speaking be patient, polite and use suitable industry terminology
Build rapport by showing empathy and understanding
Possible cultural differences may include but are not limited to:
Family obligations
Recognised holidays
Customs
Special needs
Language is spoken
Forms of address and levels of formality / informality
Non-verbal behavior
Work ethics
Ask Amanda
Why is it important in business to effectively organise meetings?
Amanda:
Time management is very important when organising meetings. Many people are busy in the workplace and require meetings to start and finish on time. It’s also important that the right people are at the meeting and that the purpose and outcomes required are both understood and achieved.
If people attend meetings that are always poorly organised, they not only start to resent this as a waste of their valuable time but often decide not to attend future meetings, even when it’s important for them to be there.
In addition to these factors, the credibility of people who are responsible for poorly organised meetings also tends to suffer. They are often perceived as ineffective managers.
Effective planning is critical to achieving meetings effectively.
What types of meetings are held in the workplace?
Amanda:
he types of meetings held in the workplace include annual general meeting, board meetings, face to face meetings, staff meetings, teleconferences and videoconferences.
There are also meetings with existing or potential clients and also special project and work committees.
These may be formal, informal, self-managed, semi-formal or structured. Some meetings may be one-off events, whilst others may be on a regular reoccurring basis, such as the first Tuesday of every month.
Why would legal and ethical requirements need to be considered when organising a meeting?
Amanda:
Participants at a meeting need to be aware of what their responsibilities are in relation to codes of practice, such as how they conduct themselves in meetings. Most organisations have codes of practice, or expected behaviour is communicated through ground rules that are determined by the meeting group.
Legislation relating to companies or associations needs to be considered when organising public meetings.
As in all aspects of organisational activities, OH&S issues also apply to meetings.
The participants in meetings want their decisions and meeting outcomes to be willingly accepted and acted upon. This may not occur if unethical practices are associated with, or perceived to be, associated with the meetings.
Prepare and distribute documentation for meetings
Preparing notice of meeting, agendas and meeting papers in accordance with meeting requirements.
Depending on the type and structure of the meeting (formal, semi-formal, or informal), the agenda will list many of the following items with corresponding time allotments:
Section
Description
Meeting information
Who is holding the meeting?
Meeting objective
What is the purpose of the meeting?
Date, time, location
Where and when the meeting will be held?
Opening speaker
Who is calling the meeting to order?
Roll call
Who is at the meeting?
Apologies
Who is absent from the meeting?
Secretary
Who is recording the minutes of the meeting?
Minute approval
Do we approve the minutes of the last meeting?
Business arising from thelast meeting
What issues need to be addressed?
Reports
Are there any reports due from the previous meeting?
Business arising from the reports
Is there any business to consider based on the reports?
General business
Are there other matters to consider?
Tasks/ action list
What did we decide and who is responsible for the task?
Next meeting date
When will the next meeting be held?
Close
Is there anything else to consider?
Notice of meeting
A Notice of Meeting is a document generally sent to stakeholders of companies notifying them of a specific meeting.  A Notice of Meeting is a legal requirement under the Corporations Act.
Typically a Notice of Meeting will include:
The name of the committee, organisation etc. holding the meeting
The purpose of the meeting, e.g. a meeting of the board of directors or a sales strategy meeting
The day and time of the meeting
The venue
Whether there is any material enclosed, e.g. draft agenda, financial reports
A request for confirmation of attendance
The name of the person to contact for further details.
Meeting Documentation & Papers
The agenda or other meeting papers are the tools that you must have in order for the meeting participants. They must be properly prepared and must engage people in active participation during the meeting. An organised facilitator or chairperson should make the necessary arrangements to prepare and/or supply participants with a copy of the agenda and other meeting documents within predetermined designated timelines and in accordance with the meeting requirements.
These documents may include:
The Agenda
Notice of Meeting
Chairperson Reports
Written Motions
Committee Reports
Any correspondence
Financial Reports
Minutes of the previous meetings
Any papers, reports, or proposals to be presented during the meeting
Make sure you gather the necessary papers from meeting participants and presenters with enough advance notice to allow them to prepare them, and you to have copies made. Even if the presenter is afraid to give out the papers early, because of the potential for last-minute changes, you are still better off going against their will. Last minute changes can be dealt with verbally or as an addendum.
In most cases, you are better off making sure people have too much information, instead of not giving them critical information that they need. You should always err on the side of caution; ensuring that you haven’t left anything out of the meeting documentation package that you send out.
Agenda
An agenda is much more than a list of things to be dealt with at a meeting. An agenda is a meeting program designed to enable all important and relevant points to be dealt with in good order and a good time.
An agenda is also a form of courtesy. It informs the chairperson and participants of the purpose of the meeting. This gives them time to prepare for the tasks and enables them to make a meaningful contribution.
A well planned agenda can:
provide a logical guide for business and discussion
bring harmony and efficiency to a meeting
help restrain participants from speaking out of turn
inform participants of responsibility for agenda items
Planning the agenda
Every participant should have an opportunity to contribute to the agenda. Planning an agenda may be as simple as posting a notice on a bulletin board and allowing participants to write down any items they want to discuss. In some cases, the agenda may be drawn up in the first few minutes of the meeting; however, for a formal meeting, an agenda should be included with the notice of the meeting.
It is important to consider the timing of the distribution of the meeting agenda so that participants have ample time to prepare for the meeting.
There are three important consultative tasks you should undertake when planning a meeting agenda:
Include the questions and concerns raised at the last meeting and in the period before the next meeting.
Consult with the executive and chairperson.
Refer to the minutes of the previous meeting and include all those items which required follow-up.
Sequencing the agenda
A formal agenda schedule is commonly used because it is practical and efficient. However, you may be required to alter the sequence to include specific items such as those which arise from the previous minutes or general business.
There is a variety of approaches to sequencing an agenda, but in any case, the order requires careful and logical planning. The approach you take also depends on the purpose of your meeting and how well you know the participants; for example, if part of your purpose is to build team spirit and unite your members, it may be better, to begin with, the items that will foster teamwork, then move onto the more difficult and potentially divisive items. It will depend on the mood of the participants.
Sometimes you may put items that require minimal discussion at the start of the meeting. Groups often work better when they can move from simple to more complex items in a meeting. However, if you are running out of time and have placed decisions which require a lot of discussion and effort at the end of the agenda, the pressure may cause tempers to flare and hasty, ineffective decisions may be made.
Participants may be fresher at the start of a meeting or after a coffee break. Once you become familiar with your participants’ working style, the task of sequencing the items for discussion or action will be easier.
If your agenda is too brief or too vague, you will deprive participants of the opportunity to be well prepared.
It is useful to include a brief reason why each topic has been included. This should be a simple explanatory note to help keep everyone informed and on track and guide the contribution participants make.
Agendas for formal meetings such as AGMs and board meetings will generally:
Have more detail
Use formal language
Have a more structured layout
Contain cross-references to other meeting documents.
Agendas for less formal meetings such as ad hoc committees or department meetings will generally:
Be more brief
Use less formal language
Contain jargon and concepts specific to the meeting participants.
An agenda may contain these headings:
Welcome
Sequencing of agenda
Attendance/Apologies
Minutes of previous meeting
Correspondence
Reports, such as Report from the Chair, Report from the Treasurer
Business arising
General business: Topics for discussion/resolution
General business: Topics for information
Other business
Next meeting.
Formatting the agenda
In addition to the standard headings that guide the structure of a meeting, an agenda may also include:
suggested time allocations
draft motions
statements of action required
the name of each responsible agent
spaces for notes.
Tips for formatting agendas 
Agendas should have a layout and format that is consistent and appropriate for all meetings of the same type. To make your task of developing regular agendas easier you could prepare a template document from which all agendas will be developed.
Your template should be designed with:
A font that is easy to read
A hierarchy of heading styles, so participants can easily see which items are most important
Very little use of bold or italic text
No underlining (underlining is now used to indicate hyperlinks).
It is also useful to:
number the agenda items
provide an estimate of the time allotted to discussion of each item
Clearly indicate starting time for the meeting, the time of any known adjournment and the finishing time
Schedule breaks (morning tea, lunch).
Altering the agenda
In a formal meeting, the chairperson cannot alter the order of the agenda without the consent of the meeting participants. A motion to suspend the standing orders to allow the altering of the agenda must be put and carried before the sequence can be changed. Similarly, the addition of other items for business requires notification.
Many less formal meetings contain a specific opportunity to re-sequence the agenda. Some meetings allow time for altering the agenda after the chairperson’s welcome. Other meetings may have a tradition that alterations to the agenda can be put forward under the item, General Business. If you want to alter the agenda during a meeting, it’s best to raise the issue as early as possible.
The legal requirements of formal meetings do not allow resolutions to be passed on items of business without notice. They do, however, allow for discussion and time for the meeting to decide whether to place the item on the agenda for the next meeting.
Preparing and sending out papers
Standing committees often receive routine reports, and special reports may also be received from time to time. These reports may:
provide information only
give findings
suggest solutions to a problem and offer guidance on the results which would flow from their adoption
Recommend a specific course of action.
Reports need to be collated, recorded and sent out with the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting. This gives the participant’s time to think about issues to be discussed or recommendations made in the reports, so the meeting time can be used in constructive discussion and decision-making. For formal Directors/Board Meetings of organisations, this is critical as Directors can have personal legal liabilities relating to their decisions.
Check documentation for accuracy and correct any errors.
It is very important that the agenda, minutes and any other documentation used for a meeting is checked prior to its distribution. This may be undertaken by the manager, chairperson or another person who is preparing for the meeting.
If it is your responsibility to prepare or distribute any of the meeting papers, you will need to check each document to determine if they are accurate. This may mean you will need to make corrections if you find any errors. Once these documents have been issued (i.e. emailed, hand-delivered, posted to the company intranet, et cetera), any changes may make you look unprofessional.
If someone else is responsible for the preparation of these meeting papers, you are ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in the meeting. So, don’t assume that the papers they deliver to you are perfect, review them yourself.
The most common error that occurs with meeting papers, especially agendas, is to forget to change some detail of information. This is probably because the previous agenda is used as a template and things such as dates and headings have not been changed. Things like dates and times of the next meeting, typically change from meeting to meeting so by forgetting to make necessary changes you can cause confusion. It is often a good idea to have a colleague proofread your documentation, as they may see things that you did not. This helps ensure your documents are professional and accurate.
Following is a checklist template that may assist you in the preparation of documents and the distribution of same.
Planning and distribution checklist
Documents prepared
Done
Date
Performed by
Minutes of previous meeting

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Notice of meeting

Agenda

Reports

Other

Spare sets

Documents collated
Done
Date
Performed by
Minutes of previous meeting

Notice of meeting

Agenda

Reports

Papers distributed
Done
Date
Performed by
Chairperson

Mr Smith

Mr Jones

Ms Johns

Ms Smyth

Distribute documentation to participants within designated time lines
Dispatch of papers
It is important to call for papers in time for them to be collated and sent to participants with the notice of meeting and agenda.
To ensure that participants have enough time to read the papers before the meeting, it is a good idea to organise the dispatch of the papers so that participants receive them several days before the meeting. Use a courier service if the papers are too late for regular mail. Follow up with a phone call or email to participants letting them know the papers are on their way.
Papers that are not sent out with the notice of meeting and agenda may be tabled late. Late papers can be distributed at the meeting, but this does not allow participants time to consider the issues properly. This can be managed by a policy decision to defer motions on tabled papers until the following meeting.
Always check your organisations policies and procedures on this issue as there may be formal requirements detailed within the Code of Conduct or Policy and Procedure framework.
Papers and documentation that may be sent out with the agenda include:
Financial reports
Chairperson, CEO or Managing Directors report
Research papers
Draft documentation for endorsement
Correspondence
Committee, departmental, project or team reports
New policies or procedures being adopted in the organisation
Changes to legislation that affect the organisation
Minutes from the previous meeting
Prepare spare sets of documents
Regardless of how well you prepare documentation prior to a meeting, there will be people who forget to bring their documentation. You may also find that people attend the meeting even though they were not on the invite list! This might be an unusual event, but sometimes a manager or stakeholder will attend even when the meeting is not really relevant to them. Of course, that is their right, but it means that you won’t have notes for them.
At the same time, you want to make sure that your copy of the documentation is the same as everyone else’s, with the exception of any notes that you have written on it. Often, you’ll have an earlier, marked copy in your notes, instead of the latest. The best idea is to get one of the latest copies and transfer your notes to it. This ensures you are reading from the same copy as everyone else in the room.
You may even find that a presenter has inadvertently left their notes at home or they may arrive without enough notes for all the participants. Always make sure you know where you can get copies of notes at the venue. This will be vital in these circumstances.
In addition, accidents can occur during the course of meetings where a set of documents may be destroyed.
Having back up files on a USB, portable hard drives, laptop computers etc. is a good contingency precaution.
Another reason for making a copy of the documents is in case you have to file a hard copy somewhere.
Ask Amanda
What requirements would apply when organising a meeting?
Amanda:
Here are some of the requirements that need to be considered when organising a meeting.
The structure of the meeting needs to be determined. For example, is the meeting formal or informal?
How many participants will be attending and are they the right people?
What is the purpose of the meeting?
Are there any specific needs of participants? For example, they may have a disability and need suitable access.
These all mean that consultation with participants needs to take place before the meeting requirements are finalised and acted upon.
Many arrangements need to happen in the organisation of meetings. What would these include?
Amanda:
A date and time for the meeting needs to be determined.
When organising a meeting, the appropriate venue would need to be booked. Accommodation and transport will also need to be booked for participants as required.
Other considerations might include:
organising catering
organising appropriate communication technology
preparing relevant documentation including the Agenda and
establishing costs and work within a budget
An important arrangement is to supply the required documents to participants well before the meeting so they can thoroughly read and evaluate them. Meetings are far more effective when this occurs.
If you are a person delegated to organise the meeting for someone else, it’s essential that you fully understand the meeting requirements before you begin making arrangements. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions of the person and/or people you are working for.
Record and Produce Minutes of Meetings
Take notes with the required speed and accuracy to ensure an accurate record of the meeting
Minutes are an official record of what takes place during a meeting.  They record actions, decisions and discussion.  Minutes must be true and accurate to reflect the business that took place during the meeting.
The reason for “taking minutes” in a formal meeting, or “notes” in an informal one is to create a record of what was said, for a number of purposes:
Remind the attendees of what they said, committed to and what decisions were made
Inform people who could not attend the meeting of the meeting’s results
Provide a permanent record of decisions made
Ensure that everyone has the same records of the meeting
It doesn’t matter what type of meeting you are holding you will need to have a record of that meeting. You will need to determine who is taking those notes and arrange for them to perform that role.
Unless the meeting is for governmental hearings or referring to important information such as legislation or regulations, the minutes of a meeting is not a verbatim account of what meeting participants say. They are an accurate record of the decisions and actions that the meeting group determines, without the inclusion of surrounding discussion on a particular topic.
When taking notes in the meeting, you should remember that you are compiling an actionable account of what transpired during the meeting and not a word-for-word reproduction that has no value. Consequently, the minutes for a given agenda item should be concise, focused, and easy to understand.
It is important to understand that the secretary or minute taker should:
Obtain a copy of the agenda or relevant documents prior to the meeting
Must study the issues concerning the meeting beforehand
Prepare an outline based on the agenda
Give each item a separate heading for clarity
Arrive early on meeting day
Circulate an attendance sheet for signature whenever possible
Make an audio recording of the meeting
Focus on what is being decided and who has agreed to a particular action
Understand that the minutes are factual and not conjecture, or personal views
Understand that minutes are best written in an abbreviated style
Understand that minutes may become a legal record/public document subject to subpoena by a court of law
Promptly notify the Chair of any minute-taking impediments
Seek clarification to ensure the accuracy of the record
If necessary, arrange for another to minute take during specific discussions in which they are materially involved
Review the notes after the meeting
Your notes or minutes should include at the very least:
Action items
Arrangements for the next meeting
Decisions are taken at the meeting
Formal motions
Future actions
Issues raised at the meeting
Points discussed at the meeting
Records of participants who were present at or absent from the meeting
Suggestions made at the meeting
In order to affect this success, a minute-taking toolkit will include:
The meeting agenda and other relevant documentation
Seating located where everyone can be heard
A recording device
Pens, pencils, and notepads or a laptop computer with a fully-charged battery and backup media
A minute-taking template or similar
A recording of the meeting serves two purposes: First of all, it can serve as an effective way of ensuring that the minutes produced are accurate. The second purpose is that of having a recording available, should anyone challenge the accuracy of the minutes.
Minute takers should not be the Chair of the meeting and are usually not involved in meeting proceedings.
Produce minutes that reflect a true and accurate account of the meeting
When creating the minutes of a meeting accuracy vital, simple yes or no can change the meaning of important decisions. This is why a recording can be so helpful; allowing you to ensure the accuracy of your record.
The decisions made in meetings can have an impact both within and outside the organisation.
Minutes are more formal than notes. As such, they need to include a little bit more information. Your minutes may include:
Meeting details (title, place date, time)
Agenda items
Apologies
Names of absent and attending participants
Approval of the record of the previous minutes
Correspondence
Lists rather than complete sentences
Matters arising from the previous meetings
Other business
Reports
Date of the next meeting
Your organisation may have a standard template for you to use to create minutes. If so, this simplifies your job and also ensures that all meeting minutes contain the same information. You may also find it useful to use a copy of the previous meeting’s minutes to determine the format and any old business that needs to be included in the minutes.
What needs to be recorded?
Who was there
What has been decided
What action is needed
Who is going to take that action
When the action is going to be taken (deadline)
Other motions that the Chair wants recorded
What does not need to be recorded?
Petty arguments
Personal attacks
Any discussion ‘off the record’ (unless the Chair approves).
Timelines for recording and reporting to management will normally be negotiated in advance, but they should be as timely as possible.
Note-taking tips
Make sure you include:
Date, time commenced and location
List of attendees (attendance book)
Apologies
List of reports tabled
Record of points discussed
Record of all decisions
Notes of Action required
The exact wording of motions incl. movers and seconders
Record of voting – for and against
Time meeting concluded
Date, time and venue for the next meeting
When to use a recording to take minutes
There may be times when the minutes must reflect exactly what has been said during a meeting.  During these times it is prudent to record the minutes using a recording device. For example:
confidential (closed) meeting with sensitive information being shared between parties
disciplinary Meeting
meeting to resolve a dispute
Parties should be informed that the meeting discussion will be taped.  Note, that taping of meetings can result in a stifled discussion and that taped meetings must be erased after minutes have been endorsed (approved).
Check minutes for accuracy and submit for approval by the nominated person
It is important to get someone who attended the meeting to check the minutes prior to distribution. The nominated person may be the chairperson or your manager or someone else who was in attendance at the meeting for the entire meeting.
The minutes will need to be accepted as a true and accurate record by a participant at the next scheduled meeting.
Once you have completed your minutes, you should distribute them soon after the meeting has ended but before the next meeting convenes. Don’t forget to make corrections or amendments early so that your memory does not fade after a lapse in time. Always remember that any corrections or changes will become part of the record keeping required for a minute taking and will become part of the next meeting. The secretary and leader of the group are always responsible for signing the final “approved” minutes.
The minutes of a meeting should be presented to the meeting members at the beginning of the next regular meeting; this is done so that the membership can review and approve them. There are two ways this can be done.
You can read the minutes out to meeting participants
Refer to the minutes that have been earlier distributed
If you are working from minutes which have been distributed before the meeting, then it is necessary to inform the recipients of any changes that have happened to the minutes since they were distributed.
In the case of a formal meeting, the approval of the minutes may be obtained via a vote if this is that case the president or chairman will ask if there are any questions or corrections. If there are none, he will need to ask for a motion of approval with a second. The names of those who so moved and seconded should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting where the voting is happening.
Despatch copies of minutes within designated timelines
The last thing you will need to do is to distribute the minutes of the meeting. Final approved copies of the minutes or meeting notes need to be distributed to all interested parties. This will include all meeting participants, but can also include:
Staff members who have the responsibility to complete action items that were decided in the meeting
Members of management who have supervisory responsibility for those who have to accomplish action items that were decided upon in the meeting
Affiliate organisations that may be affected by decisions made in the meeting
People who were unable to attend the meeting
In some cases, you may need to provide copies to government organisations for their archives
You may also need to provide copies to corporate headquarters
All minutes need to be produced and distributed in a timely manner. Minutes or notes that contain action items with deadlines, in particular, must get to the appropriate people, with plenty of time to complete the item. Not providing sufficient time can become the reason for some action items not being completed, putting the blame for their lack of completion on you, instead of the responsible party.
Timely distribution of minutes will also ensure that people who attended the meeting are reminded of decisions and actions that were taken at the meeting, preventing them from forgetting commitments that they made. It is best that these reminders happen while the meeting is still fairly fresh in their minds.
Ask Amanda
Taking notes at a meeting is very important. What types of points may need to be recorded from a meeting?
Amanda:
Items to record from a meeting would include:
Action items
Issues raised at the meeting
Decisions made at the meeting
Formal motions
Future actions
Arrangements for the next meeting
What might need to be included when preparing the minutes?
Amanda:
Items that need to be considered include the following.
Meeting details such as title, date, time, location etc.
Agenda items
Names of absent and attending participants
Apologies
Approval of the record of the previous minutes
Correspondence
Matters arising from the previous minutes
Other business
Reports such as treasurers and financial reports, research reports etc.
Remember when preparing the minutes it is better to use lists or bullets points rather than complete sentences.
Why is it important to despatch the minutes within designated time lines?
Amanda:
It is important to despatch the minutes in a timely manner for the following reasons:
Participants may have actions that they need to complete.
Participants may need to refer to an item of discussion in the minutes.
Communication
Did you know that, according to the ABS, there are almost 22 million Australians, from approximately 270 different ethnic backgrounds, speaking almost 400 different languages and who observe a variety of cultural and religious traditions? Chances are you are going to organize or chair a meeting with, at least, a handful of these people.
Meeting participants may be people you see every day in your work team or they may be people from across the country or even overseas. As a meeting organizer, it is important to recognize and respect individual differences and cultures.
Regardless of whether you are organizing a meeting or chairing it, you will need to communicate with the participants. Communication in this instance refers to the flow of information and the removal of communication barriers by respecting the diverse backgrounds, cultures and practices of others.
Removing communication barriers
As discussed previously, many meetings in Australia begin with a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country, particularly those conducted by government departments and agencies.
What is a Welcome to Country?
A “Welcome to Country” is where the traditional Aboriginal custodians (in most cases, Elders) welcome people to their land. This is a significant recognition and is made through a formal process. A “Welcome to Country” should always occur in the opening ceremony of the event in question, preferably as the first item.
The “Welcome to Country” is conducted by a representative/s of the local Aboriginal custodians who welcome the delegates, those in attendance, invited guests, staff and students to their country. Protocols in relation to the performing of a “Welcome to Country” ceremony are wide and diverse and can vary according to region and locality.
A “Welcome to Country” may consist of a single speech by the representative/s of the local Aboriginal community, or it can also include a performance (which will vary according to region and locality). Performances may include a traditional Welcoming Song, a traditional dance, didgeridoo performance or a combination of the aforementioned.
It is important that the Aboriginal representative/s are comfortable with the arrangements that should be mutually negotiated and it is important to note that the NSW AECG Inc. endorses the notion that the performing of a “Welcome to Country” ceremony is a right of the local Aboriginal custodians and not a privilege.
Acknowledgement of Country:
“Acknowledgement of Country” is a way the wider community can demonstrate respect for Aboriginal protocol and can be performed by any party that is participating in an occasion of any kind.
“Acknowledgement of Country” can be performed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. It is a demonstration of respect dedicated to the traditional custodians of the land where the gathering of participants is being conducted.
“Acknowledgement of Country” is a respectful and easy practice in which to engage. Acknowledgement of Country is a respectful means of acknowledging that the event, meeting, school or TAFE function, etc. is taking place in the country of the traditional custodians.
Government, organisations and departments are adopting the practice of acknowledging the traditional custodians of Country at events, ceremonies, meetings and functions. The NSW AECG Inc. encourages all members to demonstrate appropriate acknowledgement when in any forum, from general state office meetings to formal gatherings and functions and school or TAFE events.
Examples of Acknowledgement of Country are:
Example 1.
I would like to pay my respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this meeting takes place, and also pay respect to Elders both past and present.
Example 2.
I would like to acknowledge the ___ people who are the traditional custodians of this land. I would also like to pay respect to Elders both past and present of the_______________ nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people present.
For more information on Welcome to Country check out Appendix G at the back of this learner guide.
International etiquette
Communicating with a person from a different background from yourself can be made easier if you are respectful of that person’s culture. What is acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in another.
If you are organizing or conducting a meeting overseas, cultural differences could affect the tone and outcome of the meeting.
For example, the following are some points to be aware of in China:
introductions are formal, so use formal titles
being on time is vital
appointments are a must for business
bring several copies of written documents to your meetings
Present and receive business cards with both hands.
never write on a business card or put it in your wallet or
pocket – carry a small card case
allow the Chinese to leave a meeting first.
Communicating with meeting participants
As a manager, there will be times when you chair the meeting you are organising. In this position, you will need effective communication to coordinate resources, organise facilities and consult with participants and stakeholders. You may need to use presentation skills to explain detailed reports or to facilitate constructive conversation.
Presentation methods
There may not be a second chance to make a great first impression when you are chairing a meeting, so it’s important to get it as right as you can. This means tailoring your information and presentation method to suit the meeting and the meeting participants.
For example, for a small team meeting, you may decide on an informal meeting format. However, if you a meeting with the executive members of your organization then you would use a formal meeting format.
Determining the method of presentation depends on a number of factors including:
Time allowed
Participant numbers
Participant understanding of the matters being discussed
A key part of chairing a successful meeting is having the ability to communicate effectively with your key stakeholders. This may mean having to modify your presentation and information into a language and style that directly targets meeting participants.
Communication delivery needs to:
be persuasive
engage the participation of all participants
reach everyone.
Wherever possible, send out any information that participants should have read or need to know with the meeting agenda. However, never expect one report, one presentation or one telephone call to accomplish everything. Delivering information in person effectively is critical to the outcome of meetings. Read the lists below which contain some tips for communicating during meetings.
Pre-meeting preparation
Plan to get there a few minutes early to set up and test the equipment
Dress appropriately for your audience
Turn off your mobile phone
Oral presentation
Following are several points to consider when making an oral presentation at a meeting
Write a clear statement of what you will speak about – this should be on the agenda.
Collect material which relates to the topic – if there was any pre-reading that the other meeting participants had to do, this should have been sent out with the agenda
Stick to the key concepts.
Organise your discussion points from the most to the least important.
The less important points can be skipped if you run short of time.
Make it easy to understand.
Are these the best words for making your point?
Are they unambiguous?
Are you using unfamiliar jargon or acronyms?
Audibility
Speak clearly and pronounce words correctly
Avoid using ‘um’, ‘you know’, ‘like’, as these vocal pauses can distract the audience.
Aim for variety in volume that aids the sense of your message
Invite listeners to speak up if they can’t hear you
Use inflection for emphasis
Speaking
Talk at a natural, moderate rate of speech
Project your voice
Speak clearly and distinctly
Repeat critical information
Body language
Keep your eyes on the other participants
Use natural gestures
Maintain good posture
Don’t turn your back to participants if you have to get up to present information
Talk, don’t read
Avoid looking at your notes
Only use them as reference points to keep you on track
Questions
If you’ve done the research, you can easily answer most questions
If you can’t answer a question, say so. Follow up with, ‘I don’t have that information. I’ll try to find out for you.’
Demeanor
Show some enthusiasm
Don’t get distracted
Remember, if you are chairing the meeting you are organising then it is recommended to organise for another person, who is not involved in the meeting discussion or decision making, to take the minutes.
Appendix A
CASE STUDY : EZtronics
The case study provides a workplace example of the situations and skills covered in this topic. Read the following scenario in which you will see an example of a problem and how it was solved in the organisation.
EZtronics is a dynamic and well-performing business in terms of its critical success factors! However, historically EZtronics has experienced poorly organised company run meetings. The meetings’ include internal and external stakeholders. EZtronics is aware that this is part of the business culture and is impacting on the ability of the business to achieve optimum performance in organising and managing meetings.
In response to a questionnaire that was sent to all EZtronics employees, senior management made a decision that any staff member who has a responsibility to organise meetings would attend training customised specifically for the business. Lydia Coleman, Training Manager, was assigned the task of developing a training program that would ensure all participants meet the performance criteria to organise meetings effectively.
Section 1 – Make meeting arrangements
See how it’s done
In preparing her training manual, Lydia identifies that it’s important for her to address the following criteria.
Identify the type of meeting and its purpose
Identify and comply with any legal or ethical requirements
Identify the requirements of meeting and participants
Make meeting arrangements in accordance with the requirements of the meeting.
Advise participants of meeting details
Identify the type of meeting and its purpose.
Lydia knows the importance of identifying the type of meeting and its purpose. Meetings fail because of insufficient planning. Keeping the purpose of the meeting in mind helps to determine the type of meeting that is appropriate for the purpose. For example, if it is going to be an annual general meeting, board meeting, face to face, staff meeting, teleconference or video conference.
Lydia then searches for examples of meetings that have been held in the business that did not adequately identify the type of meeting or its purpose and includes them as examples in the training manual. Lydia also includes examples of best practice for identifying meeting types and their purpose.
Identify and comply with any legal or ethical requirements
Lydia is aware of the importance of meeting organisers to be informed about the codes of practice, legislation relating to companies or associations and requirements for public meetings.
EZtronics are a private company so they may not need to comply with all the rules and regulations that are applicable to a public company or not for profit organisation. Lydia will still consider these for inclusion in the manual. Whilst they may not be legally required they may represent elements of best practice. Lydia has included in the training manual considerations for anti-discrimination legislation, ethical principles, codes of practice, privacy laws and occupational health and safety.
Lydia also spoke with several managers to get their feedback about what legislation was critical to be aware of in the business.
Identify the requirements of meeting and participants
While Lydia was preparing the training manual, she took the opportunity to extract a report from the facilities management system that EZtronics uses and find out what rooms were being booked under meetings and for what reason. Lydia considered the following items when reviewing the report.
Meeting structure, for example, was it formal, informal, self-managed, semi-formal or structured?
The frequency of the different types of meetings
How many participants attended?
Was the purpose of the meeting appropriate to the room booked?
Did the room have the specific needs for participants for example video and data projectors or smart boards?
Were teleconferencing and video conferencing available?
Make meeting arrangements in accordance with the requirements of the meeting.
After reviewing how the business was approaching meetings and the arrangements for them it was clear to Lydia that the following items needed to be included in the training manual.
Booking an appropriate venue
Establishing costs and operating within a budget
Organising accommodation and transport
Organising appropriate communication technology
Organising catering
Preparing relevant documentation for participants
Schedule the date and time for the meeting
Lydia developed business rules around these requirements to be posted on the EZtronics intranet for all to access.
Advise participants of meeting details
Overall, when reviewing current practice, Lydia found that participants for meetings were well informed of the meeting details. Current practice was that meeting organisers would email participants of the notice of the meeting and attach relevant documentation. This appeared to be working well, so Lydia included this as recommended business practice for internal participants. However, there is provision to contact participants by mail or telephone who do not have access to technology.
Section 1 – Make meeting arrangements
See how it’s done
In preparing her training manual, Lydia identifies that it’s important for her to address the following criteria.
The meeting organiser needs to:
prepare a notice of meeting, agenda and meeting papers in accordance with meeting requirements
check the documentation for accuracy and correct any errors
distribute documentation to participants within designated timelines
prepare spare sets of documents.
Prepare a notice of the meeting, agenda and meeting papers in accordance with meeting requirements
Lydia is very aware of the importance of preparing the notice of meeting, agenda and meeting papers in accordance with meeting requirements. When reviewing current practice in the EZtronics Lydia noted that staff were using different templates for the agendas and minutes of meetings they organised. In addition, to that many of the details recorded in the final documentation did not meet company or at times legislative requirements.
Lydia identified that the following items needed to be addressed in the training manual:
Agenda
Papers
Notes
Minutes
The agenda may include:
Correspondence
Date of next meeting
Date, time and location of the meeting
General business
Major agenda items
Matters or business arising from the minutes
Minutes of the previous meeting
Reports
Statement of the meeting’s purpose
Welcome
Papers may include:
Chairperson’s report
Committee reports
Correspondence
Draft documentation
Financial reports
Itemised meeting papers
Minutes of the previous meeting
Research reports
Notes may include:
Action items
Arrangements for the next meeting
Decisions are taken at the meeting
Formal motions
Future action
Issues raised at the meeting
Points discussed at the meeting
Record of participants who were present at or absent from the meeting (attendees and apologies)
Suggestions made at the meeting
Minutes may include:
Meeting details (e.g. title, date, time, location)
Agenda items
Apologies
Names of absent and attending participants
Approval of the record of the previous minutes
Correspondence
Lists rather than complete sentences
Matters arising from the previous meetings
Other business
Reports
Date of next meeting
using a consistent format for recording minutes, i.e. template
Based on the above requirements Lydia prepared a template for agendas and minutes to be included in the training manual and made available on the intranet.
Check the documentation for accuracy and correct any errors
Lydia found that at times agenda items were misspelt or placed in the wrong order. Frequent examples also existed where the wrong papers and reports to be presented at the meeting were provided whilst at other times they were missing altogether. Likewise, some minutes of previous meetings were not always an accurate account of what was discussed at the meeting. This was due to the minute taker not requesting someone else present at the meeting to proof the minutes.
Lydia decided to include a meeting checklist in the training manual and include a requirement that documents such as agendas and papers that will be discussed at meetings, as well as previous minutes are to be checked prior to being distributed to meeting attendees.
Distribute documentation to participants within designated timelines
Lydia found that across the organisation meeting papers were not being distributed with sufficient time before meetings to allow participants time to read and evaluate. As part of an improvement strategy, Lydia included a standard in the meetings business rules that documentation in distributed two days prior to the meeting date.
While undertaking the review, Lydia found that she could not find minutes from meetings in a timely manner. Most companies have agreed to timelines for distributing minutes after a meeting.
Lydia decided to consult with various stakeholders across the business to determine realistic timeframes on when documentation needs to be sent to participants after meetings.
Prepare spare sets of documents
Some companies hold paperless meetings and conduct the whole meeting via technology. However, there are still many companies that conduct their meetings with paper documentation. At times participants may not have printed a copy of documents for the meeting. Therefore, it is important to always take a couple of extra copies of the agenda and previous minutes etc. for distribution if required. Sometimes a meeting participant will forget to bring their documents, or an unexpected person/s will attend the meeting. Having spare sets of documents will cater for these situations.
Section 3 – Record and produce minutes of meeting
See how it’s done
In preparing her training manual, Lydia identified that it’s important for her to address the following criteria.
The meeting organiser needs to:
take notes with the required speed and accuracy to ensure an accurate record of the meeting
produce minutes that reflect a true and accurate account of the meeting
check minutes for accuracy and submit for approval by the nominated person
despatch copies of minutes within designated timelines.
Take notes with the required speed and accuracy to ensure an accurate record of the meeting
Lydia noted that many of the minute takers were not skilled in touch typing and did not know how to take shorthand or use Dictaphones. As part of a professional development strategy, Lydia would identify relevant staff to be trained in the skills required. It is also critical that the staff member is aware of the importance of having the minutes checked.
Lydia will also recommend in her manual that if the minute taker is having trouble recording the meeting content that the meeting chairperson is advised so adjustments can be made to accommodate this.
Produce minutes that reflect a true and accurate account of the meeting
Lydia included a checklist in the training manual to assist minute takers in the requirement for accurate minutes. The checklist clearly requests staff to have the minutes checked by another participant at the meeting and that they are verified at the next meeting by someone else.
Check minutes for accuracy and submit for approval by the nominated person
Lydia noted that there have been errors with minutes and that it is to be highlighted in the training manual that all minutes are checked for accuracy and submitted to the appropriate nominated person prior to distribution.
Dispatch copies of minutes within designated timelines
It is noted in the meeting checklist that the person responsible for dispatching the minutes check EZtronics policies and procedures to ensure they are aware of designated timelines and that all copies are to be despatched within the agreed timeframe.
REFERENCES
Effective Minute Taking. n.d. Retrieved on 7/10/15 from https://www.icsa.org.uk/assets/files/pdfs/bookshop/preview/Effective%20Minute%20Taking%20preview%20extract.pdf
Organise Meeting. n.d. Retrieved on 10/10/15 from http://anrl.com.au/samples/BFADM405BC_S.pdf
Prepare Documentation for Meeting. n.d. Retrieved on 10/10/15 from http://tae.fortresslearning.com.au/?page_id=5622
“Candidate Resource With Simulated Online Business Assessment” n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2015 http://www.anrl.com.au/samples/BFADM405BC_S.pdf.
Communication Strategies. n.d. Retrieved on 10/10/15 from http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/business_services/services_120/communicate/4029/strate…

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