International Meetings

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Introduction

1. Business meetings and oral communication

The business meeting is a form of in-company oral communication. Many meetings take place in business today. They are a very important way of enabling information, ideas, suggestions, proposals made and decisions to be shared. The task of organising and preparing, recording the meetings, is one of the major functions of a secretary. Meetings are an important setting for oral communication and are used for a variety of purposes: - to provide information to a group of people

- to report on some activity or experience
- to co-ordinate and arrange activities
- to obtain assistance
- to put forward ideas
- to air grievances
- to generate involvement and interest
Meetings enable face-to-face contact of a number of people at the same time, and they provide a useful opportunity for obtaining feedback. All members are free to give views, make suggestions and active participation is encouraged. For a meeting to be effective, it is vital that the right people be invited and that they receive sufficient prior information so as to be in the position of making a valuable contribution. This will depend not only on when the notice is given or on the details provided through the agenda but also on the quality of the Chairman’s performance. Meetings involve important documentation such as:

1. notice and agenda – the notice states the type, place, day and time of meeting. It may form part of the agenda or it may be a separate document. The agenda is a list of topics to be discussed at the meeting. 2. chairman’s agenda – is for the chairman’s use only. It contains extra notes in addition to the agenda headings. These notes help him to conduct the meeting efficiently. The right-hand side of the Chairman’s agenda is left blank, for the chairman to make notes during meeting. These notes may help when the secretary in preparing the minutes. 3. minutes – are a record of what took place during the meeting, decisions made and perhaps the main discussions, which took place. They should be written in the past tense, third person, and reported speech. One of the most important devices for structuring a meeting is the agenda. There are seven categories of agenda items, which should be organized in a two-hour meeting: |Category |Item |Type |Time (minutes) | |1 |Minutes | |10 | |2 |Announcements | |15 | |3 |Decision |easy |15 | |4 |Decision |Moderate difficult |15 | |5 |Decision |Hardest item |25-40 | |6 |Discussion | |15-30 | |7 |Discussion |Easiest item |10 |

The distribution of time shown in the table above is only orientative. It is critical that members know the status and priority of each item on the agenda. The agenda should communicate information to members who are to take part in the meeting. Unfortunately, many agendas do not. The minutes include the name of the group holding the meeting, the kind of meeting (special, regular), date and place of the meeting, subject of the meeting (name of chairperson, secretary), time of meeting, action of the group (motions, dispositions), time of adjournment and time of the next meeting, the signature of the chairperson and of the...
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