1. Starting Your Meeting: Welcoming Attendees
Before the meeting starts, you have to make sure that everyone is paying attention.
Do you know how to do this?
You could say:
- If I could have your attention, please.
- Could I have your attention, please?
- Good afternoon, everyone.
You can also put two of these phrases together.
- Good morning everyone, could I have your attention please?
Remember, you’re the chair. You need to take charge and lead the meeting. Make a strong start to your meeting by using emphasis in your voice.
For example, in the first phrase, we have the word please after the pause at the end. Emphasise the word please to sound firmer and show people that you expect them to listen to you.
Do it like this:
- If I could have your attention, please.
You could also do this for the phrase:
- Could I have your attention please.
Listen to the phrase again. When I say it, does it sound like a question?
The form is a question, but you can read it like a statement. This makes it sound firmer and shows people that you need them to pay attention to you now.
After you have everyone’s attention, it’s time to welcome the attendees and get things started.
Here are some good general phrases to use:
- I’d like to welcome you all here today, now let’s get down to business.
- Thank you all for coming. Perhaps we can make a start.
- Thanks everyone and welcome to today’s meeting. Let’s begin.
If this is your first time meeting these people, you could also introduce yourself. If there are other presenters in the meeting, this is also the time to introduce them.
- I’d like to welcome you all here today, my name is Gina Mares and I’m the Marketing Manager, and this is Jon and he’s the head of the design department. Now let’s get down to business.
- Thank you all for coming. My name’s Gina and I’m the Marketing Manager. I’m sure you all know Dasha, who’s in charge of web content. Perhaps we can make a start.
- Thanks everyone and welcome to today’s meeting. I’m Gina Mares, the Marketing Manager. This is Jess, from the accounts department, and she’ll also be presenting today. Let’s begin.
Next, we have to introduce the topic and talk about the items on the agenda.
2. Introducing the Topic and Outlining Your Agenda
After you’ve welcomed everyone to the meeting, you want to make sure they have a clear idea of what you’ll be discussing.
This can also help you to stay organized throughout the meeting.
First, you want to introduce the overall topic of the meeting. Then, introduce the agenda of the meeting: all the key points you will be discussing.
- Today’s meeting is about ________. We’ll talk about ________
- The aim of this meeting is to ________. We’ll go over ________
- Today, we’ll be discussing ________
When you go over something, what do you think that means?
It means to analyze or look at something carefully.
You can also use cover. For example:
- In today’s meeting, we’ll go over ________
- In today’s meeting, we’ll cover ________
These are both useful when discussing an agenda.
Now, it’s your turn to practice beginning a meeting. Start with getting the attendees’ attention, then welcome the attendees and get the meeting started. Finally, you can introduce the topic of the meeting and outline your agenda.
I’ll give you an example, and then you can create your own.
- Good morning everyone, if I could have your attention please. I’d like to welcome you all to the meeting today. Let’s begin. The aim of this meeting is to talk about the marketing strategies for the next few months. We’ll go over our budget, goals, and welcome the new hires.
OK? Now, it’s your turn. Create an introduction for a meeting you’ve recently had, or you can just use some general topics from your job. You can pause the video and think about it.
How did you do? OK, now let’s move on to the main part of the meeting.
3. Getting Through Your Agenda
At this point in chairing a business meeting, you will get into the most important part of the meeting: presenting your main ideas.
How you do this depends on what you are talking about, but there are some general rules that you can always use.
You want to begin with the first item on your agenda. To do this, use phrases like:
- So, let’s start with ________
- The first item on the agenda is ________
After a phrase like this, you will present and discuss the agenda item.
- So, let’s start with some new business: marketing strategies.
- The first item on the agenda is how we can make our online advertising more effective.
After you’ve discussed this first topic, you need to let the attendees know that you’ve finished and that the discussion should move forward.
How can you do this?
A simple closing statement will be good, such as:
- I think that covers the first/second/third item.
- If nobody has anything else to add, we can continue on to the next item.
Now, you can move on to the next point.
Here are some useful phrases for this:
- Let’s move on to the next item: …
- Now we come to the…
- The final item on the agenda is…
Using words like next or final can be very helpful. It helps everybody understand where you are and what you’re doing.
Let’s see how to use these in some full sentences:
- Let’s move onto the next item: the marketing budget for these new strategies.
- Now we come to the main challenge: how to get 100,000 new contacts in the next few months.
- The final item on the agenda is to welcome our new hires: James in Finance and Debra in HR.
You can repeat these steps until you’ve covered all of the items on your agenda.
Now it’s your turn. Imagine you’re chairing a meeting at your company.
Write down three agenda items. Practice using different English phrases to introduce each item.
Again, you can pause the video and think about the points we’ve just gone over, and also practice making your own examples.
Next, we’re going to look at attendee participation when you’re chairing a business meeting.
4. Inviting Attendees to Participate
As chair, one of your responsibilities is making sure attendees get a chance to express their ideas and take part in discussions.
What can you say to bring others into the discussion? You could ask a question like:
- _________, what’s your opinion on this?
- Would you like to share your thoughts on this question?
- Could you add anything to our ideas here?
These are good phrases to make sure all attendees have a chance to participate.
Also, as chair, you may have other attendees who need to present ideas or lead the discussion for part of the meeting.
When you want to hand over to another attendee, you can use phrases like:
- ________, would you like to introduce this item?
- I’d like to turn it over to ______ who is going to lead in the next point.
- Alright, now ______ will have the floor.
Just add the person’s name to use these phrases. For example:
- Amit, would you like to introduce this item?
However, there could be a problem here. What if some of the attendees talk too long, or start going off-topic?
5. Dealing with Distractions and Staying on Topic
Nobody likes meetings which go on too long, right? To be a good chair, you need to keep people focused on the agenda and avoid distractions.
When someone is speaking for too long, there are good, professional phrases that you can use:
- Let’s not get too far off-topic here.
- We can discuss that at the end if you feel it’s important.
- I don’t think that’s relevant to today’s discussion.
If someone talks about a topic that would be good to discuss at a later time, you can use the phrase shelve it or table it. This means you want to talk about it, but in the future:
- I think we should shelve that until next time.
- Good point, but let’s table it until the next meeting.
At this point, you’ve got through your agenda, made sure that everyone has a chance to speak, and stayed on topic. Great! But, you have one more job:
6. Summarizing and Concluding Your Meeting
Once you’ve finished discussing everything, you need to summarize your key points.
This will provide a conclusion to your meeting and help people remember the most important points from the agenda.
Here, you can say things like:
- Before we close, let me just summarize the main points.
- To sum up…
- In brief, …
- Shall I go over the main points?
Then, use verbs like discussed, went over, and talked about to list the items from the meeting.
- To sum up, we discussed using the new internet marketing strategies and cutting the budget by $1,000 next month. We also talked about our new sales goals and increasing our traffic. Finally, we welcomed James and Debra to the company.
Now, it’s time to finish up.
Here, you should show that you’re finished and ask for any final questions.
To finish, simple phrases like these are effective:
- OK, it looks like we’ve covered the main items for the meeting today.
- Right, that’s all for today’s meeting.
Don’t forget to ask if there are any final questions from the attendees. This will help them to clarify anything they didn’t understand and make any final points.
- Is there any other business?
- Are there any questions before we finish?
Now, I’d like you to practice concluding a meeting.
First, I’ll give you an example and then you can create your own:
- To sum up, we discussed using the new internet marketing strategies and cutting the budget by $1,000 each month. We also talked about our sales goals and increasing our site traffic. Finally, we welcomed James and Debra to the company. Right, that’s all for today’s meeting. Are there any questions before we finish? No? Great, I’d like to thank Bob, our CEO, for coming here all the way from Beijing. Thank you all for attending. That’s all for today.
OK, your turn. Summarize your meeting, thank everyone for coming, and conclude.
Now you know how to chair a meeting from beginning to end. Are you chairing a business meeting in English in the near future? I hope you can use some of the words and phrases from the lesson to make it easier for you!
Each section has a lot of useful language to learn and practice, so you might want to go through some sections again to really get comfortable with the language you need.
Continue studying with these business English lessons from Oxford Online English.
See you next time!