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.
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!
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 . . .
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!
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.