How to prep for a business meeting

business english business meetings conversational skills office communication site meetings workshop Apr 04, 2022

Meetings, site meetings, or discussions with clients, subcontractors or stakeholders can be stressful for engineers like you.

Even in your mother language, you need to be quick-witted and sometimes even highly diplomatic. But are you all of this and more in English? That's challenging, to say the least.

Has anyone ever told you that it's o.k. to be worried about your response time during business meetings held in English? No? Well, here I am: "It is o.k. to want to be able to shoot articulate answers faster."

It is something I regularly get questions about–not only from project managers–and it's something that's on my engineers' minds a lot. Here are a few tips that can help. 


TIP #1: Prepare. Often you can anticipate the demands, claims, or requests the other side might have. Formulate your counterarguments ahead of time and practice them aloud. (I'll add example sentences at the end of this post)


TIP #2: Practise. Sometimes a sentence looks great on paper or sounds good in your mind but is a tongue twister when saying it aloud. That's why practising audibly is so important. You probably want to stick to short sentences depending on your language level. If you have trouble pronouncing a certain word, look up a synonym. Simplicity is a superpower!


TIP #3: Debrief. After a meeting, evaluate which expressions and sentence structures worked for you in a high-pressure environment. Ditch the ones that slowed you down. And recycle/re-use the ones that helped you clarify your standpoint.


Do any of these tips help you survive in this cutthroat business*? Why not shoot me an email (info{at} and let me know what you think!?

(*cutthroat business = If you describe a situation as cut-throat, you mean that the people or companies involved all want success and do not care if they harm each other in getting it.)


And if you need more support, more structure, and more tips then register for the upcoming workshop "How to Say Stuff in English Meetings" 



Example sentences one of my clients (B1-B2) needed:

Expressions to win a few seconds to think about an answer:

  • Appreciate you asking.
  • To answer that, we need to look at the bigger picture.
  • You present us with a challenge (avoid the word problem).
  • So, what you are saying is... (repeat their request)

Specific answers they wanted to prepare+practise:

  • We can do that. But be aware that we have to revise the schedule not just once but several times.
  • It's possible to make the changes you ask for, but then the complete schedule gets delayed. This has a significant impact on the completion date.
  • We, as scheduling specialists, advise against it.