English for Business Meetings: Seven steps to success

Meetings – we all have them. If you work in a multinational company, chances are you will use English for business meetings. Productive meetings can be a great boost to a project but unproductive meetings can be a real waste of time. Follow these seven steps and use these phrases to make sure all your professional English business meetings are successful and productive.

Greet the attendees and open the meeting

Whatever language you’re speaking, meetings always start with a greeting! English is no different. In English, use the more formal “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” rather than “hello” and remember to thank all the attendees for coming. Then, if you’re leading the meeting, you’ll need to announce that the meeting is starting. Example: “Good morning. It looks like everyone’s here, so let’s get started.” After that, you’re ready for the next step.

State the purpose of the meeting

There’s no point in having a meeting unless people know what the purpose of it is. If you’re in charge, say: “We’re here today to…”, “Our goal today is…”, or “I’ve called this meeting to…”, then finish with a brief explanation of the purpose of your meeting. Example: “We’re here today to discuss last quarter’s sales figures.”

Review past business

If you are meeting to discuss ongoing matters, review your progress with them before you move on to new content. People usually use the minutes (official notes) or action points from the previous meeting to give this part of the meeting structure and make sure they don’t waste time. Before reading the minutes say, “To begin, let’s quickly go over the minutes from our last meeting.” “Go over” means to review something and is a [common expression in business (link to 9 common business English expressions)]. Once you’ve done this, you can move on to the main section of the meeting.

Use the agenda and introduce each item

Now it’s time to discuss new business! Use an agenda (list of items to discuss) to keep everyone focused and make sure you don’t miss anything out. The meeting leader will start by drawing everyone’s attention to the agenda. They’ll say: “Please look at your copy of the agenda. There are xx items on the list today. Let’s start with number xx.”

Keep things moving

To avoid wasting time, the key to a successful meeting is keeping it moving forward. When it’s time to move onto the next topic, say, “Now that we’ve discussed this, let’s move on to the next topic” or refer to the numbers on your agenda and say “Let’s move on to point number X”.

Any other business?

The last item on the agenda is often “A.O.B.” or “Any other business”. It’s important to ask if there is any other business at the end of the meeting to give all the people in the meeting a chance to mention any other issues they feel are important and are related to the topic of the meeting.

Time to finish

You need to do three things at the end of a meeting: summarize everything that’s been discussed, thank everyone for coming, and then dismiss the meeting. It’s not hard, though! To summarize, use: “To sum up…” Example: “To sum up, we’ve determined the sales figures could be better and discussed solutions.” Then, thank everyone for attending: “Thank you all for attending/coming.” Let everyone know it’s okay to leave with, “The meeting is finished.” Finally, if there’s a follow-up meeting say, “We’ll see everyone next…”

Next time you have an English meeting, try using this structure and these phrases and see what a difference it makes.