#207: Must-Have English Phrases for Online Meetings

by | Jun 9, 2021 | 12 comments

Among other things, 2020 was the year of Zoom and that phrase we all love to hate, “You’re on mute.” 😬 And 2021 seems to be the same.

So it’s no surprise that you may be curious about how to lead or participate in an online meeting effectively in English.

Of course, some things are the same as a traditional face-to-face meeting, like starting with a greeting. But not everything translates to an online video platform.

When you need to lead a meeting on Zoom, want to join an online book club, or participate in an English conversation class, with today’s Confident English you’ll learn must-have English phrases for online meetings to help you:

  • Set up for success.
  • Greet others and lead introductions.
  • Establish ground rules to minimize distractions.
  • Practice effective time management.
  • Handle interruptions like a pro.
  • Ask others to wait patiently.
  • End on a high note.

Must-Have English Phrases for Online Meetings

Below you’ll find a summary of the key points.

 

Set Up for Success

  • Prepare You and Your Participants for a Successful Discussion
    • If you’ve never used this video platform before, we will open the meeting room 5 minutes early so you can test your microphone and video before the meeting starts.
    • We will start our meeting right on time. Please be sure to test your microphone and video before our meeting starts. And, if you’ll be late, make sure you’re on mute when you join. Thank you.
  • Review, or create and review, your agenda for the meeting; you can even share it before the meeting by email so everyone is prepared.

Welcome + Greeting + Introductions

  • Greet your colleagues as you would normally do in a professional environment 
  • If it’s your first time meeting them, formally greet everyone and give a brief introduction of yourself when the host prompts you.  
  • If you’re the host, you should introduce yourself at the beginning of the meeting. 

 

Keep Intros Simple & Concise

  • Remember to keep introductions simple and straightforward. 
  • Here are two simple formulas that work well in any meeting. 
  • For formal and professional introductions: Name + role + organization
    • Ex. Hi everyone, my name’s Annemarie and I’m the Director of Speak Confident English. 
    • Ex. Hello, my name’s Lina and I’m a Junior Analyst at KPMG.
  • For casual meetings (ex. Book clubs, conversation circles, and discussion groups): Name + Place of Residence + Reason/Fun Fact
    • Ex. Hi everyone, my name’s Annemarie and I’m from Washington DC. I joined this book club because I love reading mystery novels and discussing them with others.
  • Close your intro with a positive statement: 
    • I’m happy to join you today.
    • I’m thrilled to be a part of your group. 
    • It’s a pleasure to meet you all today.
  • If there are new members, do a round of introductions before you discuss the purpose of your meeting.
    • Ex. There are some unfamiliar faces in today’s meeting, so let’s do a quick round of introductions.

Establish Ground Rules for Smooth Communication and to Minimize Disruptions

    As a leader and participant, Apply Active Listening Skills (to a Virtual Setting)

    • Minimize any distractions (i.e. put your phone on Airplane Mode, close tabs, silence notifications) and give the speaker your undivided attention 
    • Nod and use verbal cues (ex. Mhm, uh-huh, yes) 
    • Utilize reactions (if appropriate) to show enthusiasm or understanding
      • If you are leading the meeting/discussion, you can ask your participants:
        • If you have any questions during our discussion today, the easiest way to let me know is with the ‘raised hand’ reaction.
        • And don’t hesitate to let others know if you agree or understand their point of view with the thumbs-up reaction.
        • If you have any difficulties, you need to leave early or have a clarifying question, you can also share that in the chat.

    For more on Active Listening, checking our SCE Lesson titled: Signs of Powerful Listening in English (and Why It’s Important)

    Maintain Clear, Respectful Communication

    • Avoid talking over one another by actively encouraging turn-taking and/or using a visual cue when you have something to say such as raising your hand or using a reaction button
    • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking
    • If you’re waiting to ask a question and no one acknowledges you, wait until there is a pause in the discussion or interrupt politely with:
      • Appropriate visual cue + 
        • I’m so sorry to interrupt but I’d like to add to what you said before we move on.
        • I apologize for interrupting but I’d like to clarify what you said.
        • Sorry to interrupt but may I ask a quick question?

    For more examples, check out the Confident English lesson titled, “11 Ways to Interrupt Someone Politely in English.”

    Practice Effective Time Management

      • As with any effective discussion, be sure to state the purpose of your meeting at the beginning and briefly go over the agenda for the meeting; have a clear purpose and end result in mind 
      • After doing so, you can let your participants know that any other topics outside of the meeting purpose will be discussed at the end if there’s time. You can manage this with:
        • In order to get through our agenda successfully, we’ll save time at the end to address any other questions you might have.
        • If you have any questions outside of the agenda today, please save those until the end.
      • Don’t let one person dominate the conversation or monopolize time. You can manage this by saying:
        • That’s a great idea/question. Hold that thought because I’d like to get back to it in just a moment.
        • I appreciate your comments, Sue. Let’s see what others have to say on that.”
      • To keep the conversation moving forward, indicate that there is little time left and that you’d like to cover a few more things:
        • We’re almost at the end of our meeting, so let’s go over…

      Handle Interruptions Like a Pro

      • When children/noises are unavoidable:
        • You’ll have to forgive the [noise] in the background.
        • Please come back to me, I need to go on mute for a second.
      • When someone interrupts you: 
        • Sorry, let me finish my thought and then you can go ahead.
        • One moment, please. I’d like to mention another thing before we move on.
      • When you have technical issues:
        • It’s completely ok to notify everyone via chat that you need to resolve a technical issue and/or that you will follow up after reviewing the notes.

      Ask Others to Wait

      • When you feel like you’re taking a while to find a file, share your screen, or need a moment to read your notes:
        • Bear with me for a moment while I…
        • Please wait a moment for…
        • I apologize for the wait. Please give me a  moment to…
      • Remember to acknowledge their patience and thank them.
        • Thank you for your patience.

        End on a High Note

        • If you’re hosting the meeting, quickly summarize the main points and takeaways
          • Let’s go over our priorities…
          • To summarize, we will…
          • To quickly recap /Just to recap…
        • Thank everyone for their time
          • We got a lot done today. Thank you for your time and patience.
          • Thank you for joining today’s meeting and for being patient.
        • Say goodbye as you normally would.
          • I wish you all a great week/weekend. See you all next week!
          • Have a great day! Goodbye.

        You know what’s next. It’s time to practice!

        If you consistently lead or participate in online meetings, is there a phrase you always use? What is it? Share it with me in the comments. 

        And if you know someone else who would love some must-have English phrases for online meetings, be sure to share this lesson with them. You can email it directly or share it on social media.

        Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

        ~ Annemarie

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