Useful Phrases for Chairing Meetings

Business English


Chairing a meeting means that you have to be in charge of keeping the meeting on topic and on schedule so that important information can be given and decisions can be made. Here are some useful phrases.

  • Starting the meeting

  • You need to make sure that everybody knows it is time to start and it is best to keep the meeting friendly so use a friendly but authoritative phrase like:

    Now everyone is here, let’s get started.

    If there is a lot of noise from continuing small talk, especially in a large meeting, you may want to be more direct:

    We have a lot to get through so let’s start.

  • Inviting people to speak

  • As the chair of the meeting, you shouldn’t be doing much of the speaking yourself but you should be inviting others to present their information or opinions following the meeting’s agenda. This could be formal:

    First, I’d like Mr. Said to give us his analysis of the first quarter’s revenues. Would you begin, please?

    It could also be informal:

    Next, Molly’s going to run through the new IT policy. Molly.

  • Maintaining order

  • If there is a lot of disagreement, people may keep interrupting. This is not always bad but it may become chaotic. If this is the case, saying something similar to the next example may help. Please note that this is not a question. You are giving instructions, not making a request.

    Mr. Arnold, I understand that you have something to say but I’d like to give Ms. Capello the opportunity to finish. I’ll come back to you soon.

    To come back to the speaker who was interrupting is very simple.

    Mr. Arnold, could you give us your ideas, please?

    If the meeting has become chaotic, give a reminder.

    I’m sure everyone would appreciate it if we avoided talking over one another.

    If all else fails, why not give everyone a break.

    I think we all need to take time out. Could everyone come back by twenty-past ten, please?

Don’t forget that there are other posts to help you, too:

I hope this helps. Remember, if you have any questions or requests, send them in the comments, by emailing me or sending a tweet.