Ace your next business meeting with these 4 skills!
- Set an agenda
- Interrupt politely
- Learn to agree and disagree
- Wrap up the meeting the right way
We’ve all been there – a new client is on board and your team needs to discuss how to move forward, a project is well underway and your superiors want an update on its progress, or you might be having an issue with a concept that you’d like to discuss with your colleagues – ping! A meeting request pops up on your screen and you’re all set to attend that big meeting!
For many people, native speakers included meetings can seem daunting. They are often long and boring, and it can be difficult to get your point across or add valuable ideas in a room full of people. Add to that the stress of communicating in English and it might seem downright impossible. Yet meetings are an unavoidable part of working life.
Learn how to get comfortable at those round-tables and impress your colleagues with these valuable meeting tips!
1: Set an agenda
The first thing you need to do in any meeting is set an agenda. The agenda is the list of points that you will be discussing in the current meeting. It’s essential to set a productive agenda before the meeting, so that you can keep things as brief and effective as possible. Before going in, spend a few minutes of your time brain storming what you would like to talk about: Think about the top 3 problems or points that need to be discussed; look at your role in these matters and look up key words and phrases that you can use to convey these; then practice some expressions that we often use when setting an agenda. Here are some examples:
“let’s get down to business”
“On the agenda today…”
“Let’s go through them in order”
“I’d just like to run down the list of points in today’s meeting…”
“Before we get into it, lets set the parameters of this meeting…”
“Firstly… Secondly… Lastly”
2: Interrupt politely
By now your meeting is well under way – you’ve set the agenda and you’re hearing valuable input from your colleagues. However at some point there will be someone is taking too long to explain, or who is putting forward information that is unhelpful or even wrong. On the other hand you might have something very important to say before the team moves on to the next topic. In cases like these its quite normal to interrupt the person speaking. Learning how to interrupt politely is an essential skill for any successful meeting. The first thing to do when interrupting someone is to make sure that your tone of voice is still pleasant and polite – never shout or cut someone off mid-sentence, always avoid being rude by acknowledging what the other person has said and then clearly and thoughtfully put your point of view forward. Additionally if you are chairing the meeting you can firmly guide any interruptions so that they are short and productive. Try out these phrases next time you want to interrupt:
“First of all, I can totally see your point, but I’d like to add…”
“That’s a good idea, but bear in mind…”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I think that we could look at it this way instead…”
“Can I just ask you, before we continue….”
“Sorry to hold things up, but I’d just like to bring this up…”
“Excuse me, would you mind clarifying that before we continue?”
3: Learn to agree and disagree
During the course of the meeting you will hear many ideas from different colleagues. Some may be amazing, and others… well, not so amazing. An important part of collaborating during meetings is adding your opinion, this is called agreeing and disagreeing. As always you will need to be clear, yet polite when agreeing and disagreeing. It’s often more difficult to do this when you don’t agree with a co-worker and you want to hurry up and get to your own point! To make things easier when disagreeing, try to provide an alternative solution to the issue at hand. If you use phrases like the ones below, agreeing and disagreeing will be a breeze!
“That sounds like a great idea!”
“Maybe you’re right.”“I guess you’re right.”
“I’m not sure if I agree with that.”“I don’t think that’s necessarily true.”“I’m sorry but I have to disagree.”“Well, I think that…”
“Why don’t we….?”“Maybe we could….?”“Maybe we should…?”“It might be better if we….”“How about….?”
4: Wrap up the meeting the right way
After an hour (or two) everybody should be ready to leave the meeting room. But wait! Not so fast! By this time you will be ready to put your notes together, grab a coffee and start working on all the things you’ve just discussed, but there’s one more thing. Wrapping up a meeting effectively is essential to the success of any meeting. Wrapping up means ending the meeting by reviewing the points that were discussed. Here are some useful phrases you can use to end your meeting on a high note:
“Thanks for your input everybody, any other business to discuss?”
“So, to review…”
“So, just to confirm, we have decided to…
“Yes, I have one final point to go over quickly”
“Lets set a deadline for completion for next week”
“Lets schedule a follow-up meeting in two weeks time”