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5 Business Meeting Ice Breakers for ESL Learners

April 14, 2017

How do you start a business meeting? This is a difficult question for executives and professionals to answer. What about starting a business meeting in English when it’s not your native language? This is even more difficult! We have some ideas for meeting ice breakers that will start your meeting off well. Before using these ice breakers, however, make sure that your English skills are as high as possible: with CISL’s Executive English courses, students are in a classroom of no more than 4 students and have the opportunity to perfect their communication skills regarding their profession.

Business Meeting Ice Breakers for ESL Learners

One topic; one word

Present an idea or a topic to the meeting attendants. The topic should be related to the meeting’s agenda somehow; for example, if you’re meeting to discuss hiring a new employee, the topic can be the question, “What describes a good resume?” Every person in the meeting must think of one word to answer. Then, the person can discuss his or her answer after giving the one word.

Useful language: Each person must explain in detail why he or she chose the one word. For this reason, everyone will need to use conjunctions (words like “because” and “therefore”). Check out our article on conjunctions for ways to use these connecting words.

Career Highlight

Ask everyone in the room to share a moment when they felt very proud of their work. This is a great way to hear about each person’s interests and passions with their job!

Useful language: Both the Simple Past and Past Continuous are useful when speaking about career highlights.

The Lunch Question

Ask everyone this famous question: “If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?”

Useful language: Unreal Conditionals are useful for answering this question. For this answer, use the following construction:

If + subject + modal could + base verb, subject + modal would + base verb

If I could have lunch with anyone, I would choose . . .

Check out our articles on conditionals for more information on the Zero Conditional, First Conditional, Second Conditional, and Third Conditional.

Who would you have lunch with if you could have lunch with anyone?

Book Recommendation

Ask everyone to share a book they are currently reading, or a book that they recommend, and share why they think this book is important.

Useful language: Modals for recommendations are useful in this situation. Check out our article on Modals for Giving Advice for more info!

Need some book recommendations? Check out our article on great books for English learners!

A Career Goal

Ask everyone to share something they would like to accomplish in the next year (and why). This is an excellent way to learn about each person’s aspirations!

Useful language: When speaking about the future, we can use many tenses. The most common are WILL and BE GOING TO of the Simple Future, but because we are talking about a specific point in time in the future, we can also use the Future Perfect Tense.

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CISL Executive English graduate. Another CISL student success story (from an already successful person)!

CISL’s Premier English Programs include San Diego’s Executive English and San Francisco’s Global Success. For more information on these intensive programs for the business professional, contact CISL

Business English CISL Premier English Featured Vocabulary

CISL Premier English + Meeting Management Language

February 22, 2017

With CISL’s Premier English courses, professional, business-minded students perfect their English skills in a productive CISL environment (and in a class of no more than 4 students)! Students of these intensive courses (Executive English in San Diego and Global Success in San Francisco) go on (or go back to!) successful careers in their prospective fields. At their companies, these professionals are expected to conduct meetings and correspond in English. The meeting management language provided below is an example of the communicative skills CISL teaches in its Premier courses.

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Meeting Management Language

Opening the meeting

Thank you everyone for coming. I’d like to conduct/do some brief introductions before we begin the meeting . . .

Hello, everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is _____ and I am the _____ . . . .

Good morning/afternoon, everyone. I’d like to begin by asking if everyone has a copy of the meeting agenda . . .

Hello, all. I’ve called you here today because . . .

Asking for opinions

What’s your take on . . . ?

What do you think about . . . ?

What is your opinion regarding . . . ?

Agreeing

I’m in complete agreement with you.

I couldn’t agree more.

I concur.

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Meeting management language is effective in beginning meetings, keeping the conversation flowing, and closing/producing follow up.

Politely disagreeing

I see where you’re coming from; however, . . .

I’m not sure if I’m convinced . . .

I have doubts about . . .

We have some legitimate concerns regarding . . .

Moving to another topic of conversation

Great. Well, shall we move on to discuss . . . ?

If no one has anything else to add, let’s move on to discussing . . .

OK. Regarding the next item on our agenda,  . . .

Ending the meeting

We’ve now covered everything on our agenda, so this concludes our meeting. To follow up, I’d like to . . . .

Thank you again for taking the time to attend this meeting. As a follow up, I propose . . .

Again, thank you for your input during today’s meeting. We will have a copy of the meeting notes emailed to everyone later today, and we will plan to meet again on (date) to discuss . . .

 

Further Reading

Need some more Business English practice? Check out some of our other articles: