A guide to the English of business meetings

A good execution of a business meeting is crucial in the corporate world, and it can be tricky if the meeting is in English. Thus, ample preparation can help prevent some potential mistakes.

Creating a meeting agenda
The first thing to do before the meeting is of course to create the agenda. Whether it includes topics that have been chosen by the supervisor or suggestions by employees, every person attending the meeting should have some background knowledge of the items. Timings should also be included, in order to ensure that the meeting doesn't overrun.

Include important information
Once the meeting has been set, invitation of the attendees is generally done through email or in person. Make sure they know where the meeting is, when it is, what it's about, and who is going.

For example:
Subject: Sales Meeting on 8/8/2018

Hi everyone,

There will be a meeting next Wednesday from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm in Room 4.

It will be an update on the progress of sales project xxxx.

All sales managers are expected to be there. Please notify me if you are unable to attend.

The agenda is attached.


Assign roles to individuals
The next step is to assign roles. This can be done over email or in person as well.

Get yourself prepared
Finally, prepare yourself by reading over any relevant minutes from previous meetings, and update yourself on the items on the agenda.

Starting the meeting
Small talk can be a good thing – it can help improve your conversational English, which can then be translated into your business English, with a few adjustments. However, it's best to keep the small talk to a minimum before the meeting. Punctuality can set a good precedent for the rest of the meeting, helping to ensure that the meeting starts and finishes on time.

When everyone is ready, the chairperson will welcome everyone, introduce any newcomers, and indicate who may be absent.

Some suggestions for how to welcome everyone:
-    Welcome everyone, and thank you for coming.
-    Good morning/afternoon all. If everyone is here, let's get started.
-    Thank you all for arriving on time. I believe it's now time to start the meeting.

How to introduce any newcomers, if any:
-    It's a pleasure to welcome Daniel to our team.
-    I'd like to introduce Seb to those of you who haven't met him.

Absentees can be noted in the following ways:
-    I'm afraid Lewis can't make it today, as he's got the flu.
-    Unfortunately, Max is unavailable today, so Charles will be taking the minutes.

Once the introductions are finished, the chairperson can then move onto the first item. At this point, some people may refer to physical agendas that have been handed out, while others may have it up on their device or projected onto a screen. Regardless of the form it takes, having an agenda throughout is useful, in order to ensure clarity.

Once everyone has access to an agenda, introducing the first topic is the next step.

Ways to introduce the agenda might be:
-    So, the first item is…
-    Let's get started with…    

Furthermore, smooth transitions can help the flow of the meeting, and can be used not only for the introduction to the meeting, but also between items.

Some examples of transitions are:
-    If there's nothing else, shall we move on?
-    I think that concludes that item.
-    Let's move onto the next item, which is…
-    Now we come to the question of...

Moreover, the top complaint about meetings is that they take too long, and as such, ensuring that the timings are adhered to and that people remain focused on the topic is important.
If people do wander off topic, some ways to refocus them are:
-    Back to the topic at hand…
-    This can be discussed another time. Let's get back on track.

Finally, having a quick summary or recap of the meeting at the very end can help refresh everyone's minds.
A few ways you could do this might be:
-    So in conclusion, …
-    Just to sum up…

The very last thing to do is to close the meeting.
-    Thank you all for coming, and see you all next…
-    That will be everything today; thank you all for coming.
-    If that's everything, I believe it's time to conclude this meeting.

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