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Can You Avoid a Meeting Disaster? Important Vocabulary for Business Meetings in English

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Learn 17 useful words for business meetings in English to avoid a meeting disaster

While much of the business world is moving online, meetings are still an essential part of business management. Everybody has business meetings – whether at the office or via video conference.

We need meetings to take important decisions, solve problems or to check if the team is making progress. For example, you might have a meeting to decide which product to launch.

Meaning of ‘launch’

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As an English learner, what can you do to participate in a meeting successfully?

If you organize, attend, or chair a meeting in English, how can you make it a success?

A great start for English learners is to learn useful English words for meetings. You will be more confident in your next meeting if you know the right words to use in English.

A Story: Is the Meeting a Success or a Disaster?

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So, we know that business meetings are important for the success of a product. But what happens if the meeting is not successful?

Read the text and help the team avoid a meeting disaster. Answer the question: Was it a successful meeting?

Office Meeting: Disaster or Success?

An office meeting has been scheduled, but Paul, the chairman, is running late. Attendance at this meeting is compulsory.

He then asks Henry, the intern, to take charge and have the meeting without him. Therefore, Henry will be chairing the meeting when Paul is away. But Henry has never chaired a meeting. He isn’t sure he knows the right words to hold a meeting, because English is not his first language.

The Attendees
However, Paul is not the only one who is absent. Catherine, the marketing manager, is absent from work today, so she cannot attend the meeting. William is absent, too, and Anna says: “He never misses a meeting – I’m sure he will have an excuse.”

After ten minutes, Anna, Henry, and Fiona realize that nobody from the marketing team is present. The three are the only attendees. It is an important meeting, so they decide to stay.

Organizing the Meeting
The meeting is chaired by Henry who welcomes the attendees. He explains the objectives of today’s meeting and starts by saying: “Here’s a printout of the agenda for the meeting. There are five items on the agenda today.” The attendees put items on the meeting agenda and ask questions.

Discussing Ideas

“Is this an appropriate moment to discuss the marketing plan?”, Fiona asks. ”I only have a general idea of the marketing campaign, but no concrete proposal.”

Anna says: “We need a more systematic approach for this task. A systematic plan helps us achieve our goals. I have another meeting in the evening to discuss the plan. I think management must set clear objectives. The deadline is already next week.”

Then, Henry, the meeting chairman asks each attendee to answer a question. But Anna and Fiona cannot give concrete answers with specific examples. They don’t have the necessary information.


Ending the Meeting
The next item on the agenda is a special announcement from the Advisory Committee. Ten employees were fired via conference call the day before. The three attendees are surprised by this announcement.

Unfortunately, Fiona forgets to take the minutes in today’s meeting, so the ideas were not recorded in the meeting minutes.

The attendance at the meeting is the lowest since the company was founded. Henry says: “The meeting will be repeated tomorrow because many committee members are absent from today’s meeting. I decided that it would be appropriate to do so in this situation.” The chairman thanks everyone who attended. Best wishes are sent to Paul, Catherine, William, and the other employees who were unable to attend the meeting.

Vocabulary for Business Meetings in English

I will show you the most important words to successfully hold business meetings in English.

Tip: Learn about the best way to remember new words in English:

How to Remember Business English Words

Organizing a Meeting

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1. an agenda

  • The next item on the agenda is a special report from the Advisory Committee.
  • Here’s a printout of the agenda for the meeting.
  • There are five items on the agenda today.

An agenda is a list of things to be discussed during a meeting.

Meaning of ‘agenda’

Pronunciation: /əˈdʒɛndə/

The stress is on the second syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

2. minutes

  • Fiona will take the minutes in today’s meeting.
  • All ideas were recorded in the meeting minutes.

‘Minutes’ refers to the written record of what was said at a meeting.

Meaning of ‘minutes’

Pronunciation: /ˈmɪnɪts/

Note the pronunciation of the ‘u’ in the second vowel is the same as in the first vowel. The stress is on the first vowel.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

3. to attend a meeting

  • Best wishes were sent to Paul, the current chairman, who was unable to attend the meeting.
  • Everyone is invited to attend this meeting as it is something which affects everyone in the company.
  • It was an important meeting and the whole department was expected to attend.

If you attend something, you go to a place, an event or a meeting.

Meaning of ‘to attend’

Pronunciation: /əˈtɛnd/

The stress is on the second syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

4. to chair a meeting

  • Henry will be chairing the meeting when he is away.
  • The meeting was chaired by Henry who welcomed the members.

Chairing a meeting means to be in charge of a meeting.

Note: You need an object when you use the verb ‘to chair’! In this case ‘a meeting’.

Meaning of ‘to chair’

Pronunciation: /tʃɛː/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

5. to have a meeting; to hold a meeting

  • He asked Anna to take charge and have the meeting without him.
  • I’m not sure I know the right words to hold a meeting.
  • I have a meeting in the evening.

When you have a meeting or hold a meeting, you make an event, such as a meeting, happen.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

6. to schedule

  • An office meeting has been scheduled, but Paul is running late.
  • The meeting of the marketing team is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles.

To plan a meeting to take place at a particular time.

Meaning of ‘schedule’

Pronunciation:
US: /ˈskɛdjuːl/  UK: /ˈʃɛdjuːl/

The pronunciation of the word ‘schedule’ is different in British English and American English. You can decide which one to use.

Listen to the correct pronunciation of both versions:

US:

UK:

7. a conference call

  • Ten employees were fired via conference call.
  • We have a conference call with the company at 9 a.m.

A virtual meeting, i.e. online using phone or video; a phone or video call that involves three or more people.

Meaning of ‘conference call’

Pronunciation: /ˈkɑːn.fɚ.əns ˌkɑːl/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

8. objectives

  • She explained the objectives of today’s meeting.
  • Management must set clear objectives.

The goals that have to be achieved during a meeting.

Meaning of ‘objectives’

Pronunciation: /əbˈdʒɛktɪvz/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

Participating in a Meeting

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9. chair / chairman / chairwoman / chairperson

  • At yesterday’s meeting, the chairman thanked everyone who had attended.
  • The meeting chairman asked each attendee to answer a question.

The person in charge of a meeting. Chair and chairperson are neutral alternatives to chairman or chairwoman.

Meaning of ‘chairperson’

Pronunciation: /ˈtʃɛːpəːs(ə)n/

Listen to the correct pronunciation of ‘chairman’:

10. an attendee

  • The attendees were surprised by the chairman’s announcement.
  • Some of the attendees put items on the meeting agenda and asked questions.

A person who is at a meeting.

Meaning of ‘attendee’

Pronunciation: /atɛnˈdiː/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

11. attendance

  • Attendance at this meeting is compulsory.
  • The attendance at the meeting was the biggest since the company was founded.

Being present at a meeting. The word ‘attendance’ refers to the number of people who are present at a meeting.

Meaning of ‘attendance’

Pronunciation: /əˈtɛnd(ə)ns/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

12. to be present

  • The whole marketing team was present.
  • She will be present even if she doesn’t have to attend the meeting.

To be at the meeting.

Meaning of the adjective ‘present’

Pronunciation: /ˈprɛz(ə)nt/

The stress is on the first syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

13. to be absent

  • She was absent from work on that day, so she couldn’t attend the meeting.
  • The meeting will continue tomorrow because many committee members were absent from today’s meeting.

When you are absent, you are not present.

Meaning of the adjective ‘absent’

Pronunciation: /ˈabs(ə)nt/

The stress is on the first syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

14. an excuse

  • What was your excuse for being absent yesterday?
  • He never misses a meeting – I’m sure he’ll have an excuse.

A reason or an explanation that you give to explain why you didn’t do something. If you don’t attend a meeting, you need to have an excuse.

Meaning of the noun ‘excuse’

Pronunciation: /ɪkˈskjuːz/

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

Coming Up With Ideas

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15. concrete

  • I only have a general idea of the marketing campaign, but no concrete proposal.
  • He gave a concrete answer with specific examples.

The adjective ‘concrete’ describes something specific, definite, clear, or certain.

Meaning of the adjective ‘concrete’

Pronunciation: /ˈkɒŋkriːt/

The stress is on the first syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

16. systematic

  • We need a more systematic approach for this task.
  • A systematic plan helps you achieve your goals.

The word ‘systematic’ is an adjective. It means that something is done according to an organized plan or system.

Meaning of ‘systematic’

Pronunciation: /sɪstəˈmatɪk/

The stress is on the third syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

17. appropriate

  • I decided that it would not be appropriate to do so in this situation.
  • Is this an appropriate moment to discuss the marketing plan?

Something is appropriate if it is right or suitable for a situation.

Meaning of ‘appropriate’

Pronunciation: /əˈprəʊprɪət/

The stress is on the second syllable.

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

Practice the New Words: Business Meetings in English

I made flashcards that make studying easier and help you remember the new words. You can study the flashcards and listen to the correct pronunciation.

If you are not sure how to remember these new words, read my vocabulary learning tips here:

How to Remember Business English Words

Study the words on Quizlet

What do you think about the story of the meeting?

Read the story of the meeting again. Write your answers in the comments below.

  • Was it a successful meeting?
  • What went wrong?
  • And what went well?
  • What can the team do to make the next meeting more successful?

Happy learning!


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