Improve Spoken English Skills for a Meeting

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People, especially those in senior management positions spend up to 50% of their time at work attending meetings. Good spoken English skills are helpful when you are interacting with a group of people. It is said that up to 50% of the meeting time is spent ineffectively and unproductively. This means that people are often, literally wasting 25% of their total work time in meetings. If you convert this into money, that’s definitely more than any company would like to waste!

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Does this imply that meetings are a waste of time and somehow separate from one’s “real work?” Is the problem with the concept of meetings themselves? Obviously not, as there are many situations at work that require a group of people to get together to achieve a common objective – whether it is to brainstorm a solution for a business problem, review and plan for a project, or simply to get information and answers to their questions.

There are some things to consider when you are conducting a meeting:

Plan the Meeting Carefully

The reason for the wastage of time is that meetings are often held in ad-hoc and unplanned ways. The person calling the meeting often isn’t even sure of his/her reason and agenda. They often don’t even have a plan for how to meet the objectives of the meeting. Also, participants don’t always take meetings seriously. This reflects in ways like, coming in late, wasting time answering calls, or digressing from the agenda of the meeting, even if there is one.

Be Serious and Stay Focused

Taking meetings seriously and keeping in mind certain guidelines about meeting etiquette, whether you’re an organizer or a participant, will ensure that you don’t come away from them feeling like you wasted time that you could have used doing your real job.

Make the Objective of the Meeting Clear

So what does a good meeting look like? For one, it’s really required. It has a clear objective, something that needs to be achieved. The fact that the meeting has been called means there really is some value that will be derived out of getting that group of people together, instead of sending an email or making a phone call. Also, each participant in the group is invited there because he / she can either add or receive value. In other words, the participant list has been prepared thoughtfully and meets a certain objective. Some meeting objectives could be to kick off a new project, review and close a project plan, gather inputs from subject matter experts, and share project status.

Have a Clear Agenda

An effective meeting also has a clear agenda. The organizer of the meeting has prepared, and ideally shared, a clear and sequenced list of items that need to be discussed at that meeting along with the amount of discussion time allotted to each. Sharing the agenda prior to the meeting enables participants to know what to expect and prepare for. Sticking to the timelines in the agenda helps the group stay on track and focused on what needs to be done. An agenda for a project kickoff meeting for example, might have the following items on it:

Team Introductions: 5 minutes

Project Introduction: 5 minutes

Project Plan and Timelines: 10 minutes

Expectations from the Team: 5 minutes

Q&A and Feedback: 5 minutes

Have Your Deliverables in Place

In an effective meeting, there is a set of deliverables that all participants understand and agree with. The deliverables correspond logically with the agenda. For example, if the meeting is to brainstorm new ideas for a marketing campaign for the company’s new product, then the deliverable is a document with a prioritized list of ideas with some pros and cons of each. This document reflects the discussion that was held during the meeting. Similarly, if the agenda of the meeting is to discuss the sales pipeline for the coming month, the deliverable would be a pipeline sheet with updated issues, risks, and next steps. Having a deliverable as a goal keeps the group aligned to the meeting objective and focused on the job of creating that document or updating that pipeline sheet.

Refine your Spoken English Skills

Your English should be clear and concise so that the participants of the meeting are able to understand you well. With good spoken English skills, you will have a better chance of getting your message across to all the participants. You can improve your spoken English skills by practising speaking in English regularly. English Helper offers a free English learning program. Learning through content and lessons that are relevant and interesting for you is one of the best ways to improve your spoken English. Sign up today and start learning at the level that’s right for you, and lessons that are relevant for you.

A meeting with a clear objective, a short but focused agenda, with set of deliverables is a meeting that has a good chance of success. However, the other prerequisite for success is the behavior and attitude of its participants. Good planning and facilitation on the part of the meeting organizer, and good preparation and etiquette on the part of the participants is a must for the discussion to be fruitful. While there is a detailed list of guidelines for meeting etiquette that is useful to follow, the basic idea is that you need to understand that you’re going into a meeting to achieve something. You have a job to do. And as with any other activity, if you’re well prepared, well organized, and focused, you will do a better job of it.

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