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Teaching meeting skills
Activities  Teacher's notes

Top Tips for Business English
Teaching meeting skills
by Rosemary Richey

Teacher's notes

> Main article
> Activities

Aim of activities and language level

Teachers have the opportunity to encourage students to use the Macmillan English Dictionary (MED) for business lexis. Students can expand basic business vocabulary by word formation and become acquainted with typical phrases used in a business context.
The activities provide practical language for upper intermediate to advanced levels. They are suitable for one to one lessons or groups.

Time and materials

The overall timing for the activities should be about 50 minutes. This will depend on the size of the class, and if it is set up as pair or group work, or as a one to one practice. Students need access to the Macmillan English Dictionary. Teachers will need at least a flipchart and whiteboard and ideally an OHP/OHTs.


Activity 1

1 Preview the topic of meetings with a 5 minute discussion with the students to find out if they regularly attend meetings either in their own language or in English.
2 Briefly go through the introduction with the students.
3 Have the students in pairs or group complete activity 1.
4 Review the answers by each pair or group contributing their findings.
5 Display the possible answers on the OHP or give as handouts.

Example answers

a to start a discussion on a topic
b to chair; to take charge of a meeting
c itinerary, plan; a list of things that people will discuss at a meeting
d to start to talk about something else
e any other business
f statement from someone saying that they cannot go to a meeting
g to be in charge of a meeting
h to start doing something that you need to do
i to organize
j to describe something what has already been decided or done (without repeating the details)
k to begin
l official written record of what is discussed or decided at a meeting

Activity 2

1 Students do the activity individually and then compare answers with a partner. Remind them that it is possible to place a word or phrase in more than one category.
2 Show the chart on the OHP and ask student to fill in the answers.
3 Present the possible answers on another OHT or as a handout.

Example answers

before the meeting opening the meeting
to chair
to call
to moderate
to chair
to get down to business
to kick off
during the meeting closing the meeting
to bring forward
to moderate
to chair
to call
to recap

Activity 3

1 Students complete the activity individually or with partners. Point out that all formations may not be possible.
2 Using the dictionary, they can exchange/compare their answers and example sentences. Elicit 2-3 example sentences and have students write them on a flipchart or whiteboard.
3 Discuss other uses of apologies and to moderate that are not particular to a business context.


noun apologies digression moderator/moderation
verb to apologize to digress to moderate
adjective apologetic
adverb apologetically

Activity 4

Students work on the gap-fill individually. When they are ready, check the answers with the whole class.


1 on top of 2 takes 3 on 4 accept

Activity 5

1 Students do this activity in pairs or groups.
2 Ask students to provide answers to the whole class.
3 Give the correct answers either as a handout or on the OHP.
4 Elicit any other tips they could add to the list.


a moderator/chair/chairperson b agenda c Call
d Get down to e kick off f moderated/chaired
g digression h recapped i AOB

Follow up

1 If time allows, ask the students to describe their typical meetings. They can write this up in a list or short paragraph, or make a 1-2 minute mini-presentation. You and the other students can review their descriptions to check on correct usage of the language presented in the activities.
2 Elicit other situations that are particular to formal (e.g. board meetings) or informal (e.g. one to one) meetings. Students come up with 4-5 words or phrases for each setting and use the dictionary to check accuracy. This can be done as a class activity or homework.
3 Have students look up the key language from activities 1 and 2 and find other examples of common verb phrases. They can devise sample sentences to present to the whole class.

Hints and tips

1 Review the answers yourself in MED with both the CD and the dictionary.
2 Expect students to be a bit uncomfortable with finding the definitions. Practise with as many authentic examples from their work situation as needed to put them at ease.
3 Students can be a bit overwhelmed with the countless phrasal verbs using bring, get, take, etc. Be encouraging to students and explain that phrases with bring or get become easier with practice.