A Complete Guide to Business Meetings in English – BELS Malta

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Our in-house Experts give tips on how to Prepare for Meetings in English

Business meetings in English can be tricky for all parties involved, not only the one running the meeting. Each role comes with unique challenges and tests specific sets of language skills. Maintaining proper business etiquette while using a secondary language is added pressure to your performance or ability to keep up with the pace of the meeting.

This guide will give you the confidence needed to not only survive, but to excel during your next business meeting in English.

Running a Business Meeting in English

Feeling confident in the meeting room is a must for anyone working in the business world. As the person running the meeting, you must exert confidence in your mannerisms, follow a strategically mapped out meeting. All while adapting your thinking in English!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Be positive and upbeat

Light-hearted jokes and small talk are an important part of meetings in any language. It’s easy to forget this when your focus is on using accurate language to communicate your intentions clearly in a secondary language. When leading a meeting in English, remember you are still human – show your personality and try to be as natural as possible. Researching business networking and small-talk language phrases can go a long way.

2. Body language is International

There are no language barriers when it comes to body language. When you are speaking in English, your body language might be different without realising it. Make a conscious effort to look up body language symbolism prior to the meeting, even if you never need to do this in your first language.

3. Learn the required functional language

You may be an expert in business and the industry in your native language, but what about in English? It’s essential to develop your business English skills, functional language and industry terminology for optimal performance during meetings in English.

There are plenty of sites, that have dedicated sections to learn English online. Here’s a list of the essential functional language for business communication:

  • Introductions and openings
  • Stating objectives and introducing the agenda
  • Explaining, clarifying and repeating points
  • Sharing and asking for opinions
  • Agreeing and disagreeing with points made
  • Negotiating and discussing
  • Summarising, closing and assigning actions.

4. Plan, practice and repeat

Be well prepared to minimise the chance of errors. After you find the business English phrases and language needed, write up a script for the meeting in English. Then it’s time to practice, and if you feel comfortable, record yourself and review for improvements. And repeat the whole process till the script comes more naturally. You also need to remember that it doesn’t need to be flawless – mistakes happen even when using a native language.

5. Pre-empt Potential Questions 

The next step is to make a list of questions that participants are likely to ask, as well as issues that they may point out. Write a script of how you would reply in a similar way to above. This will be useful when needing to improvise responses in meetings.

Participating in Business Meeting in English

Even if you’re not in the spotlight, the pressure is felt! Important decisions and plans are made – so understanding what is being said is essential for all participants. Knowing when and how to provide input in also key.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Develop your listening 

As a participant in a meeting in English, most of your time will be spent listening and understanding. From a skills perspective, this requires a general high level of English with particular focus on listening skills. A solid range of vocabulary and industry terminology is needed – it is important to be quick with the language. Spend time listening to audiobooks and watching TED talks on the topic of business or your area of work. Casually listening to music and watching episodes will also help.

2. Focus on note-taking skills

One of the passive skills obtained at University is the art of notetaking. Trying to keep up with your lectures and every little thing they say paves the way for business meetings. You can surely do this in your first language, and what about in English? Are you as effective? It’s usually a less developed skill for most second language speakers. Nothing to worry about, just practice! Combine this with the activity above to get the best results.

3. Acquire the necessary functional language

Think of all the functions that are required in a regular business meeting, and make sure you know the appropriate and accurate way to interact in English. Here’s a list of essential business English language for meetings:

  • Introducing self and background
  • Agreeing and disagreeing
  • Giving opinions and explaining reasons
  • Stating facts and giving reasons
  • Building an argument
  • Responding to arguments
  • Brainstorming and making suggestions
  • Asking questions and clarifying

For personalised study-plan and courses based on business meetings in English, write to us at [email protected].