I am afraid that we cannot teach you how to stay wide awake during a five-hour business meeting, but we can offer you some help with the Business English that you need to know to act professionally and effectively in a meeting. We can also teach you how to understand a little better.
If you are chairing the meeting, thank everybody for attending and show that you are in control and that everybody knows why they are there.
"Thanks for coming today. As you know, we are all here to discuss Project X."
Set a Time Limit
It is always preferable to set a time limit on the meeting as otherwise it can seem to never end.
"I'll aim to wrap this up (end) at about 4pm. Hopefully, by then we will have achieved all our aims."
Inviting Somebody to Speak
You will have to make sure that everybody puts across their opinion, so inviting people to speak will be a frequent occurrence.
"Joe, perhaps you would like to explain a little more about the first point."
"Sally, I know that you mentioned to me before that you had a few ideas about this..."
The trick is to not be confrontational, and invite the attendee to speak rather than putting them "on the spot" with a direct question.
Offering an Opinion
If you are participating in the meeting, you will be asked your opinion regularly. When a British person offers an opinion in a formal setting, they are liable to use "discourse markers" to alert people of what they are about to say.
"From point of view, I think..."
"Honestly speaking, ..." (if you are about to say something that people might not agree with)
"As far as I am concerned..."
Interrupting is a fine art in itself, and you cannot stop somebody from speaking as you do with your friends or relatives. You will need to use precise formal language.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but..."
"Can I just jump in for one second..."
Not accepting the Interruption
If you have not finished making your point, you do not have to concede to the person asking to speak. Again, you have to coat your words in diplomatic language so as to not cause offence.
"If I could just finish..."
"Can I just finish this point?..."
Ending the Meeting
So, five hours later the meeting is over and all you have is memories and the minutes taken by one of the attendees. You might want to summarise what transpired during the meeting and mention some action points and thoughts for people to go away and consider.
"Thank you all for coming. I'll see you all next week."
"That brings everything to a close."
For more on how to handle meetings and other forms of Business English, contact us on 020 3566 0145, by e-mail or by filling in the form on this screen.