Meetings are common – we may suggest unavoidable – Business English tasks. In one form or another, they are likely to form part of a Business English training course due to the frequency with which our students take part in meetings or lead them either now or in the future. For the trainer, there is great potential in the surprisingly wide and complex area of meetings.
What is a Meeting and Why Do They Matter in Business English?
A meeting is when two or more people or groups come together for a mutual purpose. Meetings may be formal or informal, planned or ad hoc. As a result, language and approach will be different. Meetings may also be face-to-face or virtual and conducted by conference call or video conference. Additional layers of complexity are added when the meeting is intercultural. Strong interpersonal skills are also needed. A meeting is typically lead by a chairperson though this is not always needed and does depend upon the size of the meeting.
Meetings in Business English are one of the traditional mainstays of Business English lessons. Alongside negotiations, presentations, telephoning, socialising and writing, meetings form the “big six” of Business English.
Teaching or Training?
Meetings are difficult to “teach” in terms of purely imparting or providing information; instead, an interactive training approach is better. Task-based training follows a simple formula:
Preparation and functional input → Task completion → Individual reflections, group peer feedback, trainer feedback → Personal action planning → Repeat on another occasion with new meeting theme or participants
Roleplay or Simulation?
Meetings in the Business English classroom may be conducted as role plays or a simulations. These two types of task are not synonymous and to use the terms interchangeably is an error.
Roleplays involve students taking on a character or a role that is different to their own in real life. The results may be positive – with fun, engagement or interactivity – or negative – with the feeling that the task is unrealistic or irrelevant, or in case the students have a lack of ideas.
Simulations maintain the real world role of the student or keep it as close as possible to reality. The consequence being that simulations are less demanding on the teacher or trainer while being more useful and realistic for the course participants even if some imagination is needed to develop a scenario.
Want to Try a Great Simulation?
Great simulations that can yield interesting, engaging and useful tasks, and serve as a driver for reflection and feedback, are easy to set up. Try the simulation below with your Business English students. Follow the steps below for a 90 minute (or longer) lesson:
- List the work roles you have and your different expertise on flipchart paper or the board.
- Together, think of a time when you would have to [meet / negotiate / hold a conference call] for business matters and why. This should be formal and a matter of business.
- Consider the objectives of the [meeting / negotiation / conference call].
- Agree an agenda.
- Perform the simulation.
- Together, write the minutes.
- Reflect and provide feedback on your performance and that of the group.
- Provide feedback on the feedback.
- Create an action plan for future development.
Long or Short?
Meetings in Business English lessons can be long or short and do not necessarily involve a teacher preparing anything! Try some of these instantaneous, materials-free meetings as appropriate:
– A new logo
– Celebrity endorsement
– Improving motivation
– Designing a new office
– Office magazine
– Planning a social event
Documents for a Meeting:
As a teacher, writing can easily be integrated into lessons on meetings. Before a meeting, an agenda – detailing the time, place, chair, attendees and points to be addressed – needs to be produced and circulated either at the start or in advance. Following the meeting, minutes must be produced. Minutes include similar details to the agenda but look back at the meeting detailing time, place, chair, attendees, apologies (those who could not attend) and the points discussed including action plans to implement.
Interested in Teaching or Training Business English?
Ben Dobbs (www.bd-comms.eu) has partnered with Imagine English to deliver a great value Business English teaching qualification – the Cert IBET.
If you are interested in teaching meetings as well as discovering all the secrets of successful Business English teaching and training, join Ben Dobbs at Imagine English in Liverpool from 14th – 22nd June 2017 on a Cert IBET course (Certificate in International Business English Training). This is fully accredited by English UK and moderated by Trinity College London and is an internationally recognised qualification.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about Imagine English and the Cert IBET course