Tips for Effective English Business Meetings

In Hong Kong, English is used extensively in the workplace. More and more meetings are being held in English and especially teleconferences with foreigh brach offices or headquarters. Business meetings conducted in English are either formal or informal. The informal variety may involve only a couple of people and take place in the managers, or your own, office. For this type there may not be a set time or agenda.
Formal meetings usually involve larger numbers of people and are often held in a conference room. There will be an agenda and minutes (detailed notes) are taken to record what happened in the meeting.
An agenda lists out the time and place of the meeting and also the points that will have to be covered. Quite often there is also a section of time allocated to “Any other business” (AOB) where ideas that are not listed on the agenda may be brought up for discussion.
Formal meetings may involve a business presentation (sales presentation or otherwise) being given, and details on how to conduct
effective presentations are covered elsewhere on this site. It is good to familiarize yourself with the venue and understand how all of the projection and audio eupiment works. However, should you be asked to present something ad-hoc a white board or flip chart is all that you need.
As in all communication, body language is very important. Don’t smile too much but again don’t look totally bored. Holding a pencil in both hands shows that you are paying attention. Sitting at the corner of a conference table can sometimes give you superiority.
The actual language used in English business meetings is detailed below but is not exclusive. Conceding or partially conceding is a good way to negotiate your point of view into being accepted whereas totally disagreeing, or raising your voice is likely to induce hostility and end up with your standpoint being overturned.
As with written communication such as English emails and reports it is important that you organise the structure of your spoken contributions. Remember to prepare for the meeting in advance and have your notes prepared. Don't fall into the trap of reading out a pre-prepared speech, however, or you may bore your fellow participants.
Meetings – Language
Many thanks for coming, shall we start?
Introducing the subject
We need to discuss..
Asking for an opinion
Any views on this? What do you think about..?
I agree. I totally agree!
I don't agree
Conceding a point
Yes, you are right there.
Partially conceding
I can see your point but...
Making a proposal
I think we should...
Suggesting an alternative
Why don't we..instead?
Making an opinion
In my opinion.
Asking for participation
Would you mind giving us your views on this,
Presenting alternatives
We can either .. or ..
Bringing back the focus of the discussion
We are drifting away from the subject. Can we concentrate on the main points?
Many thanks for your participation. Its been a productive meeting.