You're working at an international company and have just found out that you'll need to attend a meeting next week. Normally, you'd be fine with this, but this is the first meeting where everyone will be speaking English throughout. You're a little anxious and hoping to give a good impression.
In this article, we take a look at how you can prepare for that all-important meeting in English.
1. Get a copy of the agenda
Most structured meetings have an agenda which lists the items that will be discussed during the meeting. Often, this is emailed to attendees before the meeting or a copy is given to everyone at the start of the meeting. If you're new to the team or company, find out from your workmates what's normal for this working environment. If an agenda is not normally given out, ask the person chairing the meeting if you could see the agenda in advance or just to give you an idea of what you'll be discussing.
2. Highlight the main topics
If you have an agenda, highlight or underline all the main topics. If you don't have one, make a list of the main topics. You now have a fantastic resource to help you prepare your mind for the meeting.
3. Draw a mind map (word web) for each topic
You'll be surprised by what you already know (in English) about each topic. Just try for yourself and see!
- Take a sheet of blank paper and write 'MEETING' in the centre. Draw a circle around this word.
- Write each topic around the outside of the meeting circle. Make sure you leave plenty of space between the topics and draw a rectangle around each one.
- Draw lines to connect each topic rectangle to the meeting circle.
- For each topic, write any related (English) words you can think of around the rectangle. Draw lines to connect them to the topic. Where possible, group words of a similar type or relationship. You can label the lines with this relationship: e.g. 'also', 'includes', 'jargon'.
- Once you have spent at least 5 minutes writing down what you already know, spend another 5 minutes looking up words you think could be useful in a dictionary. Add these to the mind map.
Be creative when mind mapping and use your own symbols to identify the relationships and connections that seem suitable for you.
Your mind map may end up looking something like this:
4. Review your mind map
The more time you have before your meeting, the more opportunities you have to add more things to your mind map before it starts. But it's really important to spend a few minutes reviewing and practising this language before the meeting.
By giving yourself time to prepare your mind for the kind of language you're likely to need in your meeting, you're much more likely to be able to remember and use this language when the opportunity comes. If any of the language does come up in the meeting, this will also strengthen the language in your long-term memory.
You'll feel confident about your next English meeting in no time!