Business Conference & Annual performance appraisal – IELTS General Reading Passage

Read the text below and answers questions 15-27 on your answer sheet.

You should spend about 20 minutes to complete this task.

GT Reading Sample – “How to organise a successful Business conference” & “How to deal with the annual performance appraisal”

Read the text below and answer Questions 15–20.


To start with
Advance planning is the key to a hassle-free conference. The key players of a successful conference are the delegates, so identify the audience and then tailor the programme you are planning to their particular needs.

Where and when
The date and venue should then be chosen. These are often interdependent, and when choosing the date take into account the timing of similar regular events which may clash. Also, consider holiday periods which may mean that people are away and so will not be able to attend.

When choosing a venue, check how easy it is to reach by train and plane etc. and the availability of parking for those driving. Visit the venue personally: consider the size of the main lecture hall and whether it is big enough for the anticipated number of delegates, then look into the potential of having breakout areas for separating into a number of groups for discussions. Then check whether there is a suitable lounge area for the tea/coffee breaks and an exhibition space for display stands if required.

The next stage is to choose the speakers and invite them, making sure you give them ample notice so they are more likely to be available. Ask only those people that you know speak well. Do not try and speak yourself in addition to organising the conference, as this will be too demanding.

Contacting people
Let people know the date and venue by an early mailshot. This allows them, if they are interested, to put the date into their diaries. At the same time, contact all the speakers again, confirming their particular topic, the audio-visual aids which will be available and finding out their accommodation requirements. Ask them to provide a written summary of their presentation for distribution to delegates at the conference.

Final arrangements
Approximately 4-5 weeks before the conference, confirm the provisional numbers with the venue. Contact them again about two weeks prior to the conference to confirm final numbers, decide on menus and finalise the arrangements.

Prepare delegate packs to include a name badge, delegate list and programme. The venue should provide pads of paper and pens. Then prepare questionnaires for all delegates to complete at the end of the conference. Their responses will enable you to gauge the success of the conference and start planning the next one!

Questions 15-20

Complete the notes below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet.


First steps:
–    decide who the conference is for
–    ensure the programme fulfils delegates’ requirements

Venue and timing:
–    try to avoid scheduling the conference during 15 ……………. times or when other annual conferences occur

–    check accessibility by different modes of transport
–    choose a place with a large hall and also 16 ……………. spaces for smaller meetings

–    choose appropriate speakers
–    give the speakers as much 17 ……………. as possible

–    send out a mailshot to potential delegates
–    confirm individual details with speakers, check if they will need accommodation and request a 18 ……………. of their presentation

Final tasks:
–    give the venue precise numbers of attendees
–    make sure each person attending receives information about the conference and a 19 ………… for identification
–    use 20 ………….. to get opinions on the conference

Read the text below and answer Questions 21-27.

How to deal with the annual performance appraisal

The annual performance appraisal can help improve your productivity and provide a foundation for your work priorities. It is, however, critical to have the right attitude and approach. Knowing what areas your superiors see as your weaknesses is the most direct way of increasing the likelihood of being considered for promotion, if that is what you are looking for.

Send your boss a summary of your achievements. Reminding your boss of activities, special assignments you did, and projects you were in charge of helps him or her create a more accurate performance appraisal. Consider keeping notes of these on a regular basis to make it easier to provide the data when required.

Create a list of questions you would like to discuss during your appraisal. This one-on-one time with your boss is an excellent opportunity to ask him or her about your role in the company, request any additional responsibilities you would like and clarify your priorities. But it is best to focus your attention around personal and professional improvements, rather than financial considerations, such as an increase in salary.

During the appraisal
Present a positive attitude as soon as you enter the appraisal room. This approach may lead to a more constructive discussion of review items. Avoid taking any negative assessments that are offered as a personal attack, but rather try to take them on board calmly, because if you put the failings right you will improve your performance. A realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses can be one of the most beneficial ways of helping you advance in the company.

After the appraisal
Create a list of personal goals based on your performance appraisal. Make the items detailed and measurable if possible. Send this list to your boss so he or she knows you took the appraisal seriously. Use this list to help achieve higher scores on your next performance appraisal.

Six months after the appraisal, ask for a mid-term review with your boss to discuss your progress. This session should be more relaxed and informal than the official review. Ask for more feedback to help you improve. Checking in with your boss helps him or her remember your dedication as far as your job is concerned, and may help remove any criticisms before they become a review point on your next formal appraisal.

Questions 21-27

Complete the sentences below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 21-27 on your answer sheet.

21. By learning at an appraisal what areas of work need improving, staff can improve their chances of getting …………………
22. It is important to think of some ………………… that can be used during the appraisal.
23. The appraisal can be a good time to ask the boss for extra …………………
24. React ………………… to any criticism.
25. It is helpful to identify a number of individual ………………… arising from the appraisal comments.
26. Staff can request a meeting half-way through the year to look at the ………………… which has been achieved.
27. If staff act on any appraisal comments, they will demonstrate their ………………… to their work.

15. holiday
16. breakout
17. notice
18. summary
19. badge
20. questionnaires
21. promotion
22. questions
23. responsibilities
24. calmly
25. goals
26. progress
27. dedication