How to Survive Business Meetings Held in English.
It is natural for non-native English speakers to find business meetings held in English very stressful.
While our business English students who have reached a pre-intermediate or intermediate business English level, say they feel they are ready to attend Business meetings in English some, however, lack confidence. They think they will say the wrong thing, not speak enough or not understand what is being said. Generally, they are concerned they will not look professional to their colleagues. customers, and more importantly, their boss. To reduce the stress we can put in place some simple techniques.
‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’
Acknowledge that you feel nervous, but don’t let the fear stop you from doing things. It is natural to feel nervous.
Prepare thoroughly for the meeting.
Carefully read the agenda and read-up on anything you can relating to the agenda. The more prepared you are, the less you have to be nervous about it.
Write down any questions you want to ask at the meeting. You can write them in your native language and in English, to begin with.
If you can see from the agenda that you are going to be asked a question prepare the answer or at least make notes on the question in advance.
Calm yourself by breathing.
Before going into the meeting, take a few minutes to calm yourself. A calming breathing trick is to inhale through your mouth, hold your breath while you count slowly to 3, then slowly breathe out through your nose. Repeat this 3 times, and you will feel yourself relax.
In the meeting listen carefully to what is being said.
Don’t let your mind get distracted. Don’t start looking out a window or start thinking about what else you need to do that day or what you are going to have for dinner, instead focus on what is being said.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, practice your relaxing breathing technique.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat or rephrase something they have said. You may not be the only one in the room who doesn’t understand something.
Take notes or even record the meeting so you can listen to it or read it later if needed.
When you do speak, speak slowly and clearly.
During the meeting, if you do need to speak, remember to speak slowly and clearly. This helps those at the meeting to understand you, and it gives you a chance to think while speaking. Also, remember to look at the people you are speaking to and remember you can emphasize your point with body language.
After the meeting, ensure you get a copy of the minutes. Take time to read over them to see if you missed any information during the meeting.
Chairing a Business Meeting or Giving a Presentation.
If you are holding the meeting or giving a presentation, then you need
to be even more prepared.
Preparing the agenda.
For anyone holding a meeting or giving a presentation, it is very important to know the purpose of the meeting or presentation and to have a good agenda.
Prepare by carefully planning the agenda. Write a heading for each point you need to cover in the meeting then, go back and write detailed notes on what you what to say and what you want to achieve for each point.
Make sure you keep to the agenda during the meeting or presentation. Don’t let the meeting get side-tracked by others who want to bring up different points.
Use your notes during the meeting and, if necessary, have your notes written in both your native language and in English.
Again, talk slowly and look at the attendees, rather than at the floor, wall, or into the distance.
Ask someone to take detailed minutes of the meeting or record it so the minutes can be written up later.
If giving a presentation, being prepared is important. Have self-explanatory PowerPoint slides. Have notes, so you don’t forget what you are going to say and try to memorize as much as you can. Practice the presentation by recording yourself on your mobile to see if you speak clearly and in an interesting way. At the beginning of the presentation, tell the attendees that they can ask questions at the end of the presentation. This way your mind is not distracted, and you won’t lose your place. Remember to talk slowly and clearly.
Remember, when giving a presentation, intonation and enunciation are important so that you can keep the listeners interested and awake.
Use body language to emphasize points in your presentation and remember to keep eye contact with the audience.
Whether you are involved in a meeting or giving a presentation, it is important to remember these two things.
Try to keep the language as simple as possible. Many learners think that they need to use long or complicated words to sound intelligent and formal. In reality, if you don’t know the exact meaning of the words you are using or are not comfortable using the words, you can look bad to your colleagues if you get it wrong.
Learn the phrasal verbs and idioms that are commonly used in your industry. You should also be able to use and understand the ones that are commonly used in your company. You will learn these by listening to your colleagues, asking them what they mean, and by reading company documents and brochures. Practice using the phrasal verbs and idioms
by mimicking them back to your colleagues.
Role-plays and other ways to practice.
Practice with a native English speaker who is used to attending meetings. A business English teacher is perfect. They can give you tips and tricks to get you through the meeting and presentation. Have them check your notes, handouts, or PPT slides, so you know the English is correct.
Before an important meeting or presentation, practise with a friend or colleague who speaks English well.
Role-play giving the presentation or running a meeting.
Practice listening to as much English as you can. Use podcasts, Ted Talks, or listening lessons from the British Council. Also, practice taking notes on what they are saying.