In this lesson, you can learn useful English phrases for attending a business meeting in English.
Imagine that you have a business meeting to attend tomorrow. If the meeting is in English, will you be ready? This lesson will help you learn useful phrases to introduce yourself, respond to suggestions and ideas, and ask questions in an English meeting. After, be sure to watch Chairing a Meeting for more great business meeting phrases.
QUIZ: Attending a Business Meeting
Test how well you’ve learned the language from this lesson by trying this short quiz.
It has 20 questions. You need to choose the correct option(s) or write the missing word each time.
When you’ve finished, click ‘Finish Quiz’ to see your score. You can then click ‘Restart Quiz’ to try again, or ‘View Questions’ to review all the answers.
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Question 1 of 20
Which of these things should you do when you introduce yourself at a business meeting? Choose as many as you think are correct.
Question 2 of 20
Which is more formal?
Question 3 of 20
Write the two-letter preposition.
“I work the procurement department.”
The answer has two letters. The prepositions ‘at’ and ‘for’ are correct if you say the name of the company, but would not be correct here.
Question 4 of 20
“I’m the receptionist.”
What does this mean?
Question 5 of 20
“I’m the sales assistant.”
If this person was one of many sales assistants at their company, the statement would be wrong.
Re-write the sentence and change one word to indicate that there are many sales assistants. Some punctuation is given already.
You only need to change one word – write the other three words exactly the same.
Question 6 of 20
“I ________ purchasing and our negotiations with suppliers.”
Which words can go in the gap? Choose as many as you think are right.
Two options are not possible because they require other words to be added; two options fit the gap exactly.
Question 7 of 20
Write the missing preposition.
“I’m responsible training new members of staff.”
This time you need to write three letters.
Question 8 of 20
In the lesson, Gina mentioned ‘the chair’ a number of times. For example, she said:
“The chair will ask for quick introductions.”
What does ‘chair’ mean in this context?
Question 9 of 20
“Perhaps we should invest in a new air conditioning system for the office.”
Which options mean “I agree”?
Question 10 of 20
Which statement does not mean the same as the other three?
Three statements are suggestions of a good idea. The odd one out – and the answer you’re looking for – is a statement of obligation.
Question 11 of 20
“We’ll need to find a cheaper solution—we can’t afford that at the moment.”
Write a different four-letter word in the gap so that both sentences mean the same.
“We’ll to find a cheaper solution—we can’t afford that at the moment.”
Question 12 of 20
“We don’t have to make savings this year, but we mustn’t overspend either.”
Which statements are true?
Question 13 of 20
“Excuse me, how will the new requirements affect the project deadline?”
What does ‘excuse me’ mean here?
Question 14 of 20
“Sorry to __________, but I have a question. Do we know when the order was dispatched from the supplier?”
Which word goes in the gap?
Question 15 of 20
“Unfortunately, no annual leave requests will be accepted for the rest of this month?”
“Does _________ mean we can’t have the day off if it’s already booked?”
“No, booked leave isn’t affected. We just won’t say yes to any new requests.”
Which two words are possible in the gap?
Question 16 of 20
Write the missing preposition.
“Can you elaborate what you said regarding the petty cash account?”
The missing word has two letters.
Question 17 of 20
“Please could you __________ what you mean by ‘lay off ten per cent of staff’?
Which words are possible in the gap?
Two options are possible; one wrong answer requires an additional preposition (like in the last question!), while the other (if used as a verb) has the wrong meaning.
Question 18 of 20
Which statement does not mean the same as the others?
Question 19 of 20
“We’re __________ to launch a new project next week.”
Which words can go in the gap?
Two answers are correct – what form of the verb do you need after ‘we’re’?
Question 20 of 20
Write a contraction of ‘I’ plus a modal verb to show that this sentence is a promise/offer to do something.
“ discuss this with the supplier and get back to you later today.”
You need to write three letters and an apostrophe.
To say your name, you can use a formal, My name is ________ or, if the meeting is more informal, you can say, Hi, I’m ________.
For your position title, use to be just like for your name.
Then, decide if your position is the only one in the company, or if there are others who have the same job title.
For example, if you are the only secretary, use the:
I’m the secretary.
If other people also have this position in the company, use a/an:
I’m a project manager.
If necessary, you can say which department you work in. You can use the preposition in plus the noun: engineering, marketing, finance, etc.
I’m in the engineering department.
I work in the marketing department.
Finally, you can briefly describe your responsibilities, like this:
I manage each project from start to finish.
I’m responsible for web analytics and testing.
I handle purchasing and our negotiations with suppliers.
You can see that using verbs and phrases like manage, be responsible for or handle can be useful here.
Here is an example of a full introduction in a formal meeting with people you don’t know, or don’t know well:
My name is Gina Mares and I’m the marketing manager here. I handle online advertising and web analytics.
Here’s an example of a more informal introduction:
Hi, I’m Gina. I’m in the sales department. I manage our sales team.
How would you introduce yourself in a meeting? You can give it a try now.
Now that you’ve introduced yourself, the meeting will begin.
During the meeting, you might need to give your opinion on the different agenda items which you are discussing. You might also need to react to other people’s suggestions.
How can you do this?
2. Making, Accepting and Rejecting Suggestions in a Business Meeting
When making suggestions in a business meeting, modal verbs can be very useful.
Should, ought to or might want to can express something you think is a good idea, but not an obligation:
We ought to give new clients a gift from the company.
We might want to consider looking for another engineer to help with this.
I think we should make this a priority for this month.
Have to and need to can express something that is an obligation:
We have to improve the way we collect and record sales data.
We need to find a cheaper solution—our budget is very tight.
Remember, you can also use these to make negative suggestions:
We shouldn’t rush this—we need to think it through carefully.
We don’t need to hire new staff at the moment.
Now, it’s your turn. Choose a phrase and make a suggestion for something in your own company.
Next, what can you do if you want to respond to another suggestion? Well, if you think it’s a good suggestion, you can show you agree with phrases like:
I agree with…
That sounds good.
Let’s go with this idea.
Here, go with means you agree with this idea and think you should put it into action.
However, what if there is a suggestion you don’t agree with? Here are some good, professional ways to disagree:
To be honest, I’m not sure about this idea.
Good suggestion, but I can see a few problems…
I see your point, however…
After a phrase like this, explain your point of view. For example:
I see your point, however, I don’t think advertising in a magazine is a good idea. People don’t read them as often these days.
To be honest, I’m not sure about this idea. I think improving our website UI is a higher priority right now.
OK? Now, take the suggestion which you made earlier. Pause the video and write down two sentences: one to agree, and one to disagree. Use the language you just learned.
Now, let’s move on to different ways to ask a question when attending a business meeting.
3. Asking Questions in English in a Meeting
As an attendee, it’s important to make sure you understand the content in the meeting.
Sometimes, the chair will ask everyone to save questions until the end. If you’re in a meeting where you can ask questions at any time, there are a few good phrases you can use.
For more formal meetings, you can begin with a phrase like ‘sorry’, or ‘excuse me’ to politely bring the attention to you. Then, you can use phrases like:
I have a question. Why is…?
Does this mean…?
Excuse me, how will the new requirements affect the project deadline?
Sorry to interrupt, but I have a question. Does this mean that the new IT systems won’t be in place this year?
If there is something in the meeting that you don’t understand, you can use phrases to ask for clarification:
I didn’t understand…
Can you elaborate on…?
Can you clarify…?
When using these phrases, it’s important to explain exactly what you don’t know or ask for clarity on something specific that they said.
Again, you can use excuse me and sorry in more formal meetings to begin. For example:
Sorry, can you clarify the third step in your proposal? I didn’t get the main idea.
Excuse me, but could you elaborate on how this will fit with our existing marketing campaigns?
Now, it’s your turn. Practice asking a question or asking for clarification about something. It can be from a recent meeting or something from your job in general.
Again, you can pause the video and write down your ideas, for extra practice.
Now you can make suggestions and respond to what other say in the meeting. You can also ask questions if there is something you don’t understand.
Next, imagine that you’ve discussed the agenda items and come to an agreement on the important decisions you needed to make. You might need to show what you’re going to do about these decisions after the meeting has finished.
4. How to Make Promises and Offers in a Business Meeting
Here, you can offer to do something using a few different phrases.
For something that you decide to do at that moment for the future, you can use will. For example:
I’ll call the client tomorrow.
I’ll discuss this with the rest of my team and get back to you by the end of the week.
If you had a plan even before the meeting began, you can use going to or planning to:
I’m going to get a team together for this project.
I’m planning to do one more round of testing, and then we can go live.
If you want to make an offer, you can use can, could or shall:
I can contact the supplier next week if we need to.
I could put together a report if you think it would help.
Shall I talk to our engineering team and get a cost estimate?
On the other hand, what if you are asked to do something that you cannot do?
Well, there are some useful, polite phrases you can use:
I’m afraid I can’t…
I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can…
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to…
Think about this. What if someone asked you to move your project deadline forward, but it wasn’t possible? You could say:
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to complete the project any sooner because we don’t have the supplies yet.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can finish by the end of this month. We need at least another six weeks.
At this point the meeting is wrapping up and hopefully you have been able to make good suggestions and offers and take part in the discussions effectively.
Will you be attending a business meeting in English soon? Hopefully some of these phrases will be useful for you!