Clear communication in English online meetings

Clear communication is vital in English online meetings. You have to do a lot more checking to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understanding one another.

In this video we look at some phrases that can make your communication extra clear and help you mange the interraction and discussion.
They include phrases for:

  • keeping the meeting on track
  • time keeping in meetings
  • stopping people talking too long
  • checking understanding
  • ending the meeting

To see our other video about handling the tech on online meetings, click here.

Clear communication in English Online Meetings

Are you ready for this afternoon’s zoom meeting?
Yeah. I’ve prepared the agenda and scheduled it.
And I prepared the slide decks. We rehearsed with them together.
And we created some polls.
Excellent. How many people are coming?
Err. I don’t know.
Well, how many replied to the invitation?
I haven’t sent any invitations.
Neither have I.

The Chairperson in English Online Meetings

Welcome back to another video on online meetings.
In our last video we looked at some technical issues you could run into.
I’ll put the link here and below so you can check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
It has lots of useful phrases for handling technical problems.
And in this video, we’re looking at phrases you’ll need to make those online meetings more effective.
The chairperson plays an important role in that.
Yeah, they’re in charge.

OK, everyone’s here. Let’s start.

And the first thing the chairperson will do is remind everyone what the meeting’s about.
They get everyone focused and ‘on the same page’.
If people are on the same page, it means they agree about what they’re trying to achieve.
So the chairperson could say ‘I’ve called this meeting to plan the product launch’.
Yeah or, ‘Our goal is to agree on the schedule’.
They’re rather like the conductor of an orchestra. They keep everyone working together.
And they call on different people to speak.

So Vicki, what do you think of that idea?

And you know their other important job?
What’s that?
Time keeping.

By the way, has anyone seen that new sci-fi movie?
Can I remind everyone that we’re aiming to get through this in half an hour? OK, let’s move on to item four on the agenda which is social media.

She kept the meeting on track – moving in the right direction.
Which is important because some people go off topic or just talk too long and then someone has to shut them up.
We have lots of informal ways to tell people to be quiet.

Stop talking.
You’re wasting time.
Put a sock in it.
Zip it.

But those phrases aren’t very polite.
You’ll want to be more diplomatic!

So that’s the campaign we’re planning for Facebook in Spain.
Thanks Tom.
Personally speaking I don’t use Facebook much these days but I’m thinking of opening an Instagram account. Does anyone else like Instagram?
Jay, perhaps we can come back to that later if we have time. Let’s focus on the Spanish campaign here.

That was more diplomatic!
Yeah. Now, we’ve been looking at what the chairperson needs to say, but really it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the meeting on track.
And in international meetings you often have people with different languages which can make that harder.
There needs to be a lot more checking to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Does anyone have any questions?
Did everyone understand that?
Raise your hand if you have a question.
Was that clear, everyone?
If you have any questions, you can write them in the chat.

Things we can say if we don’t understand

OK, here’s an issue. If you don’t understand something, should you interrupt the meeting and say so?
Yes, of course.
But it could slow the meeting down and you’ll waste time and maybe look like an idiot too.
OK, it depends how important it is.
When I’m speaking French if I don’t understand, sometimes I say yeah, yeah, and I wait and hope that someone will say something later and then I’ll understand.
I think a lot of people do that, but it can be dangerous because you might miss something important. There are times when you really do need to check what someone means.
OK. So let’s look at some things we can say if we don’t understand. Sometimes the problem is we just can’t hear something.

I didn’t hear what you said.
I didn’t catch that. Can you say it again?
Sorry? What was that?

And sometimes the problem is we don’t understand what someone means.

I’m not following you.
Sorry, I’m not with you.
I don’t understand what you mean.

These sorts of phrases will make people repeat what they said more clearly. But they’re not always very helpful.
Why not?
They’re not specific enough. They don’t explain WHAT you don’t understand.
Then let’s look at how you can do that.

I’m Tom, and I’m based in Almeria in Spain and I’ll be your Spanish point person on this project.
So are you saying we can come to you when we have questions about the Spanish market?

Here’s a useful phrase for checking understanding.
So we say ‘are you saying’ and then we paraphrase what we think they said, so we say it again in different words.
Paraphrasing is very helpful. Here are two more examples.

OK, I’m going to show you a tool we use to measure customer satisfaction in Spain.
Oh that’s interesting. Are you suggesting we could use it in the UK too?
And do you mean you’re going to show it to us now or later?

These phrases are more useful for checking if you’ve understood because you can get specific about what you don’t understand
That’s helpful in a meeting, especially online where it can be harder to hear.
But there’s something important you need to know about them too.
What’s that?
Well, these phrases have another use for native speakers.
Yeah. Sometimes we use them to paraphrase, but sometimes we us them to object or disagree.

I’m going to show you a tool we use to measure customer satisfaction in Spain.
Do you mean you’re going to show it to us now or later? Because I’ve got another meeting starting soon. Can’t it wait?

So be careful. If you hear a native speaker saying these things, they might be objecting or disagreeing.
But if you’re in an international meeting it could be different.
And they’re really useful phrases for checking you’ve understood.
OK, there’s something else that’s important that we need to look at.
What’s that?
The action points.
Aha. At the end of meeting someone needs to make sure that everyone knows who is going to do what by when.

OK, so we’ve agreed that Tom should go ahead and schedule the campaign.
Yeah. I’ll do that right away.
And Jay will draw up designs for the Facebook ads by Friday. Jay? Can you confirm that?
Sorry, what?
You’re going to create drafts of the Facebook ads by Friday.
Oh, oh yeah.

And there’s one more thing the chairperson has to do.
Can you guess? It’s close the meeting.

Closing the meeting

So are we finished then?
No hang on. Does anyone have any final questions? OK, then thank you all for coming, especially you Tom for staying up late to join us.
It was a pleasure.
And I’ll see you all next week. I’ll send round another meeting invitation. Bye now.
Bye everyone.
Bye everyone.

And it’s time for us to finish now too.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Tom and Kathy for helping us make these videos.
Yeah, we’ll put details in the description below so you can follow them too on social media too.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please give it a like.
And why not share it with a friend. They might like it too!
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Bye-bye everyone.

To see our other video on online meetings, click here.



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