14 useful expressions for business meetings
Effective communication during meetings is vital for it to be successful. Most meetings follow the same format, and often there is a chairperson leading it. Here are expressions to help you feel more confident when participating in meetings using English.
1. Online technical issues
Meetings are sometimes held through Zoom or Skype, or a blended combination of people in a room and others joining remotely. Before the meeting starts, check that everybody can hear and be heard, and that the equipment being used is working properly:
- Sorry, but I can’t hear/ see you?
- Can you hear/ see me now?
- Is that okay/ better now?
- Sorry, I can see you, but I can’t hear you.
- I’m just going to log off and log in again.
- Could you give me a moment while I try to fix ………?
- I’m going to switch off my video and see if that helps.
- Perhaps you could try…….
- It seems we have lost John.
- Jack’s screen has frozen.
- I’ll send Jack a chat message.
- I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble hearing you.
- I’m sorry, but I’m having difficulties with….
2. Opening a meeting
Once everybody is ready, it is time to start the meeting:
- Good morning/ good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming. Shall we begin?
- If we are all here, let’s get started/ let’s start the meeting, shall we?
- Ok, is everybody here? Who are we waiting for?
- I think we’d best make a start without them/ him or her.
3. Making introductions
You might be the one making the introductions, or be asked to introduce somebody:
- Please join me in welcoming……
- I would like to introduce….
- It’s a pleasure to welcome…….
4. Agreeing on the ground rules
In formal meetings, it is customary to set up some rules so that people know what to expect:
- The meeting is due to finish at ….
- We may need to vote on item 5.
- If we can’t get a unanimous decision, we will have to take a vote.
- We’ve got a lot to get through this morning/ afternoon, so could we stick to the agenda please.
5. Stating the topic or agenda for the meeting
This helps move the meeting swiftly along and ensures that all the important points are covered:
- I’ve called this meeting in order to…….
- Has everyone received a copy of the agenda?
- There are 3 items on the agenda, first of all…. secondly…. Finally.
- So, the first item on the agenda is……
- The aim/purpose of today’s meeting is to reach a decision on….
6. Asking for opinions and encouraging participation
Ensure that everybody can follow what is happening and has a chance to participate:
- What’s your opinion on……?
- How do you feel about ……?
- I would like to get your feedback on……
- What are your views on…...?
- Jack, can we get your input on…...?
7. Giving your opinion
If you want to show that you feel strongly about something, you could use these expressions:
- I strongly believe that ……
- I’m convinced that…
- I have no doubt whatsoever that…
Otherwise you might simply say….
- I think/ believe/ feel that….
- In my opinion……
- I’m in favour of….
- I believe our best course of action is….
8. Agreeing or disagreeing
You may need to say whether you agree or disagree with something:
- I’m sorry, but I completely disagree.
- I’m sorry but I don’t agree with that.
- You’re absolutely right.
- Good point!
- I agree with you wholeheartedly.
- That’s exactly how I see it.
- Unfortunately, I see it differently.
- I’m with Jack on this.
- I agree.
- I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on that.
- I agree with you up to a point, but…. (agree with some but not all)
- I agree with you in principle, but… (agree in theory/ the idea but not in practice/ the actual doing it)
9. Showing interest
Show that you are paying attention and are interested in the meeting:
- I see.
- That is interesting.
- I get your point.
- I see what you mean.
10. Checking your understanding
When you want to ask someone to repeat what they have said, these expressions are useful:
- I am afraid I didn’t quite catch that.
- Sorry, could you repeat that please?
- I am not sure I follow your point about……?
- I am not quite with you.
- You are offering 20% now and then 10% on completion. Is that right?
And when you want to clarify what they have said:
- So, let me check if I have understood you correctly? Are you saying that would be impossible or difficult?
- Am I correct in thinking that we will be opening the school on the 31st of August 2020?
- Can you expand on that? What exactly did you have in mind?
- Could you be a little more/a bit more precise, please?
- Perhaps I should make that clearer by saying……
- So, what you are saying is…….
- Perhaps I am not making myself clear. What I mean is….
11. How to interrupt
When you need to interrupt or get someone’s attention:
- Can I raise a point here?
- I would like to come in here if I may?
- Can I come in here?
- Actually, while we are on the subject of……
- Could I add something here?
12. Controlling a meeting
Discussions during a meeting often go off topic. Here is how to bring it back to the main point:
- I am afraid that’s outside the scope of this meeting.
- I think we are getting off topic. We had better save that for another meeting.
If you need to steer the meeting back to the agenda, or time is running out and you need to move quickly through it, here is what you can say:
- If nobody has anything else to add, let’s move on to the next item.
- We are running short on time/ out of time, so let’s move on.
- I would like to skip item 2 and go directly to item 3.
- Can we move on to…...?
- Can we leave that until later and go on to…...?
Or you may need to give control to someone else:
- I would like to hand it over to Jack, who is going to lead the next point.
- Next, Jack is going to tell us about….
13. Closing the meeting
Take a moment to summarise the main points when the meeting is coming to an end:
- Before we close, let me just summarize the main points.
- To sum up……
- I will go over the main points, shall I?
- Ok, let’s summarise/ sum up. We have agreed to….
- In conclusion/ To conclude, we have decided to….
- Our next meeting will be on the 25th of August.
- I’ll let you know the date of our next meeting.
14. Finishing the meeting
Here is what you could say:
- Thank you all for attending.
- Thank you for your participation.
- Thank you for your time.
- Thank you for a constructive and productive meeting.
Chairperson: a person who leads a meeting
Blended: that contains two or more different types
Remotely: from a distance
Swiftly: quickly or immediately
Clarify: to make something clear or easier to understand by giving more details or a simpler explanation
This blog has been written at level B1. Practise your reading and listening by reading the blogs below.
More English tips and skills
- 8 fun ways to practise your English at home (level C1)
- 13 useful expressions for job interviews (level B2)
- 10 English words that are often confused with others (level B2)
- Working online: what are the implications for language and communication? (level C2
- How to improve your telephone English (level C1)
- Business English for work and careers: 50 words you need to know (level C2)
- 'Fake news' expressions you should know (level C1)
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