Being the company secretary is quite the responsibility. It’s more than just answering phones and scheduling appointments because management ends up relying on you for tasks generally outside of your job description. But one thing that you do need to be able to do is to be organised when it comes to business meetings.
Here are a few tips to make sure you ace your first business meeting as the company secretary.
Scheduling the appointment
You are the voice and face of the company when people walk or call in and it’s important that you are polite, friendly and informative. Scheduling meetings isn’t as simple as finding a clear day on the calendar, you need to make some considerations for the client as well.
A good question to ask is: “Which day and time would work best for you?” You can get a good idea about the urgency for the meeting by asking this question, which will help you prioritise your manager’s already-scheduled events. You are in the know of what is possible and available from your side, so when the client gives you a preferred day, you can immediately let them know if it’s possible or not. If that day is not available, then you can be proactive and provide them with three available days and times from which they can choose to suit both you and them.
Just be sure that when you book a meeting, it doesn’t clash with any other meetings. In other words, don’t double-book your meeting rooms or have relevant members of the meeting unavailable or otherwise occupied and unable to attend.
There are also some clients who may not be able to travel to your offices to have a meeting and you need to make sure your manager’s day is prepared for them to be out of the office and that everything that is needed for the meeting is not left behind.
Catering to the client
Now the meeting has been scheduled and the client is coming over. Ready a pitcher of water, glasses and make tea and coffee available. You can even have some snacks ordered and placed on the table if the meeting happens over lunchtime or is relatively long.
You want your company to be accommodating to their clients and that will be your responsibility as representative. Welcome them when they arrive and show them to the boardroom where the meeting will be held, show them where the restrooms are, offer them a drink and reassure them that your manager is on their way.
You are also responsible for informing your boss and the necessary colleagues that the clients have arrived and are waiting (especially if they’re early) so that the meeting can start on time.
Taking comprehensive minutes
Once the meet and greets are out of the way, the meeting can begin, along with the hard work for you. You need to take minutes of the meeting in an efficient and comprehensive manner. And here’s how you do that:
Follow a template: Make your job easier and work off past minutes templates. It will also be a good idea to attain a copy of the meeting agenda and familiarise yourself with it beforehand.
The necessary information: Every minutes document is required to have the date and time, an attendance and absentees list, and to close, the time the meeting has ended. And details of when the next meeting will take place need to be added as well. The necessary information to be recorded includes any ideas presented (and the acceptance or rejection thereof), actions taken, items to be revisited, any new business and expressions during the open discussion.
Keep it short: There will be a lot of information flying around that you need to catch and write or type it down, so keep your words short in the moment, but have enough information there for your to briefly elaborate on when it comes to putting the final document together.
Organising minutes of the meeting
So, the stressful part is over: keeping up with the meeting attendees and everything they had to say. But your job isn’t done just yet. You still need to organise all your notes into an official minutes document that needs to be sent out to all those present in the meeting.
As a secretary, you should have report writing skills on your CV and this is what they’re there for. Okay, so there are other business reports that are more challenging and where those skills are better put to use, but minutes are important and should be done in a speedy fashion once the meeting has ended. Also, report writing skills are useful for any office job or position, no matter how great or small a task may be.
And that’s it, your first business meeting has been survived and (hopefully) successful.