How To Speak Better English In Meetings

Speaking in meetings can be tough if you’re worried about your English. Try these tips if you need to attend and take part in meetings.

Learn “emergency” phrases

These are the phrases you can use if you don’t understand someone or need clarification.

“Sorry, could you repeat that / your point about… please?”
“Sorry, but could you outline the main points again?”
“I’m not sure I understood / follow your point about…”
“Just to make sure I understand. When you say …. you’re talking about … Is that right?”

Position yourself well

If your English listening skills aren’t the best, make sure you sit in a position where you can see (and be seen by) the chair, and other participants. When others speak, look at them. Understanding is far harder if you can’t see the person while they speak (as we all know when we’re on the phone!)

Get a copy of the meeting agenda in advance

Preparation is key. If you know what’s going to be covered, you can prepare what you need to say, or get the necessary information for the other participants. Will there be questions for you? Can you deliver the answers? Is there “Any Other Business” that you want to raise? It often helps to make some notes for what you want to say in the meeting. (Don’t forget to take notes too!)

When you know the points you want to raise, or the comments you want to make from the agenda, you can prepare in advance what you’re going to say, so that you say it in the clearest, most concise way possible. Then when the chair asks for your comments, you’ll feel more confident.

Use some of these phrases to make sure you aren’t interrupted half-way through:

“Actually, if you could just let me finish…”
“Actually, I’ve nearly finished…”

Learn some phrases for contributing

If you’ve got something to say, you can introduce it with one of these phrases:

“I’d like to come in here, if I may.”
“There’s something I’d like to add to the discussion.”
“Can I raise a point here?”
“Actually, while we’re on the subject…”

Ask for a summary
If the meeting gets involved in off-topic matters, or the participants spend a lot of time joking or in very technical discussions, make sure the chair is managing the discussion by asking for a summary.

You can use a phrase like:
“Can you summarise the main points for me please?”
“So what would you say are the main / actionable points here?”

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