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EPSO AST Pre-Selection – Secretarial Skills: Meetings Arboreus Online EU Training – Study Materials www.eutraining.eu 2010 ARBOREUS, Some Rights Reserved You are free to share (copy, distribute, transmit) this e-book under the Creative Commons license as long as you do not modify it in any way and attribute it to Arborues Online EU Training. Commercial use is forbidden. Arborues is an innovative e-learning company offering professional online training on European Union policies and EU careers. Our services include test preparation and live online webinar trainings on European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) EU civil service recruitment exams, study materials and online courses on European Affairs.


EPSO AST Pre-Selection – Secretarial Skills: Meetings This Online EU Training study material is intended as preparation help for the European Personnel Selection Office’s (EPSO) Assistant competitions: 

AST1 (EPSO/AST/111/10) – these are secretarial positions where anyone with the right qualification can apply from any of the EU's 27 Member States as long as their main language is one of the following: Danish, German, English, Spanish , French, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish or Maltese;

AST3 (EPSO/AST/112/10) – these are secretarial positions where anyone with some relevant work experience can apply from any of the EU's 27 Member States regardless of what is your main language! Positions will be available in the following fields: o o o o

Statistics Finance / Accounting Human Resources Communication / Information Technology

In the pre-selection or admission phase of the these competitions, candidates are required to take a Secretarial Skills test intended to measure the skills needed to perform the following duties:         

organising and coordinating meetings, including compiling files and working documents, answering, filtering and transferring telephone calls, handling correspondence, managing email boxes and functional mailboxes, managing timetables, supervising the schedule and ensuring that deadlines are complied with, providing general administrative support, in particular for document management, preparing and managing missions; managing absences, presenting and checking documents (page layout, formatting and tables), drafting (secretarial level) draft notes, letters and reports, in translation departments: receiving, managing and processing translation requests, in particular preparing, processing and finalising documents, mainly using translation software.

The exam also includes the following test types: - Accuracy Test - Organising and Prioritising Test - Verbal Reasoning - Numerical Reasoning - Abstract Reasoning Practice tests are available for all the test types featured in EPSO AST competitions on Online EU Training – check our online test packages today: http://www.eutraining.eu/eutest_packages


Meetings Anatomy of a Meeting • meetings are a regular and time-consuming part of business life • because meetings require: o

planning

o

coordination

o

documentation

they are a major job responsibility for most administrative assistants • the assistant’s job includes: o

sending invitations to in-house meetings

o

finding time in the schedules of meeting attendees

o

selecting meeting times and locations

• note that a thoughtful assistant is careful to avoid scheduling meetings for early Monday morning or late Friday afternoon • some executive meetings are scheduled weekly – despite their being routine, the assistant must still schedule the meetings, send invitations, and send reminders • work on routine meetings also involves creating meeting agendas that include: o

the names of everyone attending the meeting

o

the date, time, and meeting location

o

any advanced preparation required of the attendees

Scheduling Meetings • one of the most common tasks for administrative assistants • today, with computer technology and groupware software such as Microsoft Outlook or IBM Lotus Notes, the task of scheduling a meeting requires only a few mouse clicks • despite the advances of technology, scheduling a meeting is not as easy as it looks – there is a lot of judgement involved e.g.: you have to consider pecking order – some members of the group are more important, so others must change their schedules to accommodate decisions about where a meeting is held can be important – Is the meeting room large enough and supplied with the right equipment? Can it be reserved for the entire meeting?

Common Problems When Scheduling a Meeting • • • •

The meeting is scheduled and after everyone has been invited, you discover that some important participants can’t attend. Another date has to be found. This can lead to a cycle of invitations and revisions. You ask the participants about their availability for a meeting, but the available dates and times are so limited that no common date and time can be found. A meeting location is specified, and then it is later changed in a subsequent meeting notice. Some of the attendees follow the original meeting notice and end up in the wrong room. Repeated meeting notices and revisions are sent out, so that everyone is confused about meeting.

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• • • • •

You use an Internet-based meeting scheduling tool, but outside participants don’t have the same software. A work team uses an Internet system to schedule meetings, but eventually the team members get lazy about updating their schedules and begin to miss meetings. A meeting is scheduled and confirmed, but the location is already booked. No one sends a meeting reminder, and several attendees forget about the meeting. People are invited to a meeting but the meeting organiser did not say what it is about, so they show up unprepared.

For support material and more information visit: http://www.effectivemeetings.com/ Scheduling meetings Using Microsoft Outlook’s Calendar • Microsoft Outlook is a desktop information management programme • it allows you to o

send and receive e-mails

o

manage a list of contacts

o

organise your calendar and scheduling

o

maintain a journal

o

and also to manage files and folders

• you may use it to schedule your time: you can schedule appointments that do not involve other people or meeting rooms, and you can assign time blocks How it works: • when you are viewing your calendar in Outlook, if you click NEW on the toolbar, the New Appointment Window opens – on this window you can enter a o

subject

o

location

o

start and end times for the appointment

o

make the appointment an all-day event

• if the appointment conflicts with something else in your schedule, a message appears informing you of the conflict • you can also set reminders that can automatically alert you in advance of the upcoming appointment by an amount of time you choose

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1. New Appointment Window

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2. New Appointment Window • you can also access and view other people’s calendars and allow them to access and view yours – this option allows you to see when other team members have time available for meetings • you can schedule meetings with Outlook very similarly to the way you schedule appointments – the main difference is that a meeting is an appointment to which you invite other people and resources • resources:

things you typically need for a meeting, such as

o

conference room

o

overhead projector

o

whiteboard, etc

• although in many cases not everyone or all resources will be available for a meeting, Outlook allows you to view the availability of the meeting attendees and resources in order to determine a time that best fits everyone’s schedule • to schedule a meeting in Outlook, use the Meeting Planner to create and send meeting invitations and to reserve resources • The Meeting Planner allows you to: o

invite attendees

o

view their availability

o

select a meeting location resource

o

pick a time

• you can enter the names of the people and resources directly into the All Attendees list or you can use the INVITE OTHERS button • you can select individuals and resources from your Address Book to add to the All Attendees list • you can choose whether each person or resource is required or optional

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• the All Attendees list displays each person and resource that will be present at the meeting • when you view the availability of your attendees and resources, the Meeting Planner shows you a time schedule with blue bars designating times when the person or resource is already scheduled for something else

• if the time slot is blank, the attendee or resource is available • if you right-click any attendee’s or resource’s busy time slot in the planner, you can see more details • to avoid scheduling conflicts you can use the AutoPick tool to automatically locate the first time slot available for all specified attendees and resources • after you send the meeting notice, meeting responses are delivered to your Inbox and can be tracked in the Appointment window • as other users schedule meetings, you receive meeting invitations in your Inbox • you have to option of accepting, declining, or submitting a tentative response • when you click on one of the acceptance buttons, Outlook opens a message box in which you have the option of sending a response • as soon as the meeting invitation is delivered and accepted, it is automatically added to your schedule Meeting Agendas • the meeting agenda is like a roadmap for the meeting • it tells the participants what the plan is for the meeting, providing a sense of direction and purpose • a meeting agenda should include: o

meeting start time

o

meeting end time

o

meeting location

o

topic headings

o

topic detail for each heading

o

how much time each discussion is expected to last

o

which meeting participants will facilitate the discussion of a particular topic

• if you use word-processing software such as Microsoft Word, you can use the Agenda Wizard: o

click on the File menu then click NEW

o

on the NEW dialogue, click the OTHER DOCUMENTS tab

o

then click the Agenda Wizard, followed by the OK button

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• the Agenda Wizard asks you specific questions about the meeting, and when you are finished, it creates an agenda document • you can send the agenda as an attachment to a meeting invitation or print copies and bring them to the meeting Meeting Minutes • Meeting minutes are a record of what took place during a meeting • the minutes allow the meeting attendees to review the meeting later, to look for outstanding issues and action items • while attending a meeting, you can: o

make handwritten notes

o

type on a computer if the sound of the typing does not distract the meeting attendees

o

use a recording device and transcribe the meeting later

• regardless of which method you use, make sure that all of the essential elements of the meeting are noted: o

type of meeting

o

name of institution or company

o

date and time

o

facilitator

o

main topics

o

time of adjournment

• make a list of the expected attendees, or review the meeting agenda • as each person enters the room, you can check him or her off the list • optionally, you can pass around an attendance sheet for everyone to sign as the meeting begins • if necessary, map out a seating arrangement for the meeting and be prepared to introduce any unfamiliar people • • if you prepare an outline in advance based on the agenda, you already have the main topics written down and you can keep your notes organised

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• when you transcribe the minutes, you should write them up in formal language according to the following outline: o

name of organization

o

name of body conducting meeting

o

date, hour, and location of meeting

o

list of those present and those absent

o

reading of previous minutes and their approval or amendment

o

unfinished business

o

new business

o

date of next meeting

o

time of adjournment

o

signature of recorder

• avoid the mistake of recording every single comment, instead concentrate on getting the essence of the discussion by taking enough notes to summarise it later • remember, minutes are a record of what happened at a meeting, not a record of everything that was said • always prepare ahead for meetings where you will take minutes • it is important that you understand the discussion without asking a lot of questions • following the meeting, do not wait too long to write up the minutes • always have a draft of the minutes approved by the meeting organiser or facilitator before distributing them to the attendees

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Outsourcing Project Meeting Agenda Meeting Called By

Date

Starting Time

28/01/2009

9:30 a.m.

Session #

Walter Schwarzenbrunner Dress Code (optional)

Location

Ending Time

Berlaymont building Conference room 11a

12:00 a.m.

Meeting Objective and Scope Lisbon Strategy and Policies – The Big Picture Time

Topic Weelcome and review agenda

Discussion Leader Walter Schwarzenbrunner

9:35 – 11:55

Basic data flow for enrollments

Darlene Price

11:55 – 12:00

Wrap-up

Walter Schwarzenbrunner

Facilitator Darlene Price

Time Keeper

9:30 – 9:35

Anne Fried Tanya Böhm Derek Miller

Scribe Susanna Kohl

Attendees Mark Rivers Mike Harper Erick Erling Johann Tor Gabrielle Rita Elek Sanchez

Sample meeting agenda

Susan Binns Lionel Scott Mario Moll

Sample minutes of a typical meeting

Resolutions -

-

formal resolutions may be made in one of these forms: • WHEREAS it is necessary to ... ; and • WHEREAS conditions are such that ... ; and • Therefore be it • RESOLVED, That ... ; and be it • RESOLVED further, That ... in formal resolutions, the facts are stated simply: • ... and the following resolution was unanimously adopted: RESOLVED, That ... Office Meetings

-

your supervisor may ask you to record into written form a meeting of various office personnel, perhaps department heads elaborate minutes are not required as long as the group is not special importance, such as the board of Directorgenerals

Conferences • sometimes an administrative assistant is asked to assist in the planning and coordinating of conferences for the office • this involves preparing for the event, carrying out your responsibilities during the conference, and follow-up activities after it is over

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Planning for the Conference • it involves consideration of items related to the conference facilities and the speakers • as you plan for a conference, keep in mind the following: o

booking the conference site

o

booking reservations for hotel rooms, selection of room sizes, and price range

o

confirming auditorium sizes and breakout rooms

o

scheduling catering and beverage service

o

confirming smoking locations

o

inspecting facilities you have not seen before

o

sending letters of invitations to speakers

o

following up with confirmation letters to the speakers of and conference site

o

obtaining background information, photos, and resumes of the speakers

Preparing Conference Materials • as the conference time approaches, you need to confirm all necessary supporting materials: o

table and chair rentals

o

reports

o

financial statements

o

advertisements

o

meeting agendas

o

itineraries

o

executive travel folders

• if it is your responsibility, you need to make arrangements for printing packets, maps, tickets, and awards • you may also need to make arrangements for local tours and special outside events to entertain the speakers, attendees, and their spouses • many times family members accompany spouses who are attending a conference, and any thoughtful conference organiser has made arrangements for o

shopping trips

o

outside restaurant gatherings

o

tickets to sporting events

o

museum tours

o

and other local attractions

• you also need to coordinate with the conference site to plan meals, refreshments, coffee breaks, and banquets • this should involve evaluating menus in advance and planning what will be served

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• you may also be involve in preregistration and registration: o

this requires organising a filing system for those attendees who preregister and having badges made

o

during the registration on the first day of the conference, you may be involved in staffing the registration desk

o

you should organise registration materials alphabetically

o

all conference materials should be assembled in packets with • • • • •

programmes brochures reports name tags meal tickets, etc.

• confirm with the conference site any audiovisual equipment or meeting supplies you may need • breakout rooms need o

chalkboards or whiteboards

o

easels with large pads or paper

o

and maker pens or chalk

• conference rooms may need o

lecterns

o

microphones

o

overhead projectors

o

video players

o

video projectors

o

projection screens

o

television monitors

o

public address system

• usually this involves filling out a reservation request form with the conference facility • you may also need to make arrangements for a translation service • two weeks before the conference, you should mail all pre-work to attendees • you should also ship any supplies and conference materials to the conference site around two weeks in advance • if it is appropriate, you may need to arrange for press coverage by contacting media outlets, arranging for a photographer to take photos during the conference, and sending out press releases • you need to coordinate any security concerns with the conference location or security service • you may also need to coordinate any parking with the conference location’s parking attendants During the Conference •

while the conference is underway, your duties may include checking meeting rooms and making sure all necessary materials are available

• confirm that o o o o

lighting and heating are functioning refreshments are available audiovisual equipment is available and functioning the room is clean

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• as conference guests arrive, you should greet and welcome them to the conference • be a host and introduce people • escort people who need directions • be helpful where you can After the Conference • each day after the conference, remove any surplus literature and conference packets from the meeting rooms • inform the conference site staff regarding any catering items left in the meeting rooms • make sure any audiovisual equipment is properly secured • move and secure any other rental equipment • when you return to the office, you may need to complete follow-up reports or other conference-related mailings • you may need to send thank you letters to speakers or distribute meeting minutes • you need to calculate expenses and fill out expense records • as a last step, update the meeting file with your notes: o

with everything fresh in your mind, write down what went well and what challenges you faced

Conference Notes -

if your supervisor asks you to report on all that is said in a conference, make place cards for the members of the group who are expected to meet as they enter the room, direct them to sit where they have been assigned in front of your own seat, arrange tabs showing the names of the members in the same order they are seated around the table so that you know who is speaking at each given moment this enables you to take your notes in the form of a dramatic dialogue

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Time Management Overview of Time Management • time management is an essential skill for an administrative assistant • people who use time management techniques are usually the highest achievers in life and in business • is you learn time management techniques, you’ll be able to work effectively, even under pressure • the key aspect of time management involves a change in focus – you must concentrate on the end result, not just on staying busy • many people find themselves very busy throughout the day, but they do not achieve much because they are not focusing on the right things • the famous Pareto Principle – sometimes called the “80:20 Rule” – sums it up nicely: o

80 % of the unfocused effort generates 20 % of the results

Controlling Procrastination • one of the fist keys to effective time management is to not let procrastination stop you from achieving in your career • the key to controlling your urge to procrastinate is to recognise when you are doing it and to take action to better manage your time and effort • people procrastinate when o

they put off something they should be doing in order to do something else that is more enjoyable – sometime this comes from not being able to prioritise tasks effectively

o

if you spend the day being bombarded with one thing after the another, you might focus in the most recent task, considering it to be the most urgent

o

feeling overwhelmed by an assignment is another cause of procrastination

o

you cannot figure out how to get started or doubt you have the skills to complete the job

o

you wait for the right mood to take on an important task, being afraid of failure, being too much of a perfectionist, or not having good decision-making skills

• you must be honest with yourself and take action • helpful tips: o

make sure you understand the priorities of your assignments

o

communicate with your supervisor or the individual making the assignment and find out when it is due

o

when there is a conflict between two projects, get help to determine which is more important

Maintaining an Activity List • to get a better idea of how you are spending your time and what you are actually accomplishing, make a list of your daily activities • after you’ve recorded several days of activity, analyse the list to see how much time you’ve spent doing low-priority tasks • as you examine the list, start by eliminating tasks that are not your responsibility • try to reduce the number of times you switch between tasks • use your activity list to help prioritise your To-Do list • schedule the most challenging task for the time of the day when your energy is the highest

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Creating Action Plans • whenever you find yourself facing a large project that seems overwhelming, it is time to create an action plan • an action plan is a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish in order to complete an entire project • it is different from your To-Do list because it focuses on a single goal 1. 2.

list all the tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve the goal and put them in order they need to be completed as you put tasks on the list, try to break each one into smaller subtasks

• after you’ve completed the project, go back and review the final version of your action plan o

Could you have done anything differently?

o

Were you missing some steps?

o

Would a different order of tasks been better?

• use your action plan as a learning experience to make improvements in the action plans you create in the future Keeping a To-Do List • if you feel overwhelmed by looming deadlines or sometimes forget to do something important, you badly need to start keeping a To-Do list: o

a prioritised list of all the tasks you need to accomplish

• many people who become effective at time management say that keeping a To-Do list is one of the main reasons they are successful • if you review the list each morning and reprioritise it, you can easily tell what needs immediate action • with a To-Do list, you are organised and more responsible 1. 2. 3.

start by writing down all the tasks you need to accomplish larger projects should be divided into smaller tasks, similar to an action plan keep subdividing larger tasks until each item on your To-Do list will take no more than one to two hours to complete once you have written everything down, you can prioritise your list by assigning letters or numbers

4. Scheduling

• so far, we have focused on organising your daily tasks • scheduling is where your tasks become reality: o

the process where you examine the amount of time you have available each day and plan how you will use it to accomplish the tasks you have identified

• by scheduling time to work on each task, you will understand what you can realistically accomplish • you will be able to make the best use of the time you have available, designating time for those must-o items • scheduling is best if you do it regularly, such as at the beginning of each week or month • if you use calendar software or Microsoft Outlook’s calendar feature, you can schedule work time in your calendar to keep other people from scheduling meetings for you during these periods • Note: make sure you make time available for the unexpected and schedule contingency time You may find more on this topic at: http://www.time-management-guide.com/

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Services Arboreus is an innovative e-learning company offering professional online training on European Union policies and EU Careers. Our clients include European graduates, officials, managers, job seekers, Brussels professionals and others. Given the high interest in EU careers, institutional affairs, competition law, trade policy, consumer protection, environmental issues and other regulatory matters, we offer our online training and webinar services to the global business and academic community as well. We do this by creating a community of professionals, academics, diplomats and job seekers covering European affairs all over the world so they can network and learn about the EU. Click on the links to learn more about our services: 

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