Wer Geschäftskontakte mit internationalen Partnern pflegt, nimmt früher oder später an Meetings auf Englisch teil. Sind Sie auch in dieser Situation oder wollen Sie sich schon einmal vorsorglich fit machen? Dann sind Sie mit diesem TaschenGuide auf der sicheren Seite. Denn Meetings und Verhandlungen können in Ihrer Muttersprache schon schwierig genug sein, umso mehr in der Fremdsprache.
Wir zeigen Ihnen, wie Sie in Meetings auf Englisch durch Kompetenz, Verlässlichkeit und Höflichkeit Vertrauen aufbauen und überzeugen – egal, ob Sie das Meeting selbst leiten oder nur daran teilnehmen. Für alle Situationen eines Meetings – von der Begrüßung über die eigentlichen Verhandlungen bis zum Protokoll – geben wir Ihnen die notwendigen sprachlichen Mittel an die Hand und zeigen Ihnen kulturelle Besonderheiten.
Wenn Sie weniger aktive Erfahrung mit der englischen Sprache haben, ermöglicht Ihnen das Buch einen selbstbewussten Auftritt. Aber selbst Fortgeschrittene finden neue Ausdrücke und Wendungen, die ihren Sprachschatz sinnvoll ergänzen. Sie können es komplett durcharbeiten oder zwischendurch als Nachschlagewerk benutzen. Und um einen zusätzlichen Trainingseffekt zu erzielen, ist der gesamte TaschenGuide auf Englisch geschrieben. Wir wünschen Ihnen in Ihren künftigen Meetings viel Erfolg!
Lisa Förster und Annette Joyce
In the run-up to a meeting there are a lot of things to bear in mind, especially when you are the one organising it. Booking a meeting room is only one task among many.
In this chapter, you will see how to
invite people (page 6) and make arrangements (page 8),
accept, refuse and postpone meetings (page 11),
make the agenda (page 15),
organise the meeting (page 21).
In formal business relationships, you may wish to write a letter or email to a business associate to suggest an initial meeting. This correspondence can then be followed up with a telephone call or an email to confirm the meeting time and place.
Suggesting a meeting
In an established business relationship, a less formal style can be adopted for suggesting meetings by both telephone and email. Email is especially useful if a number of participants are involved. In a formal email, the style of language, salutation and complimentary close is the same as that used in a letter.
Example: formal UK-style letter/email
Marketing proposal: initial meeting
Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for your telephone call of this morning. I am pleased to enclose [letter]/attach [email] the information you requested and would welcome the opportunity to meet you in person to discuss the proposal and to answer any questions you may have.
I will contact you by telephone in the next few days to arrange a time that is convenient for you.
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.
Business Development Manager
In British English letters and emails, the trend is to omit punctuation in the salutation, people's names (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, etc) and in the complimentary close. Letters and emails end with „Yours sincerely“, when the person is addressed by name, or „Yours faithfully“, when the letter begins „Dear Sir or Madam“. In US English, a period (British: full stop) follows abbreviations and the salutation ends with a colon, as in „Dear Ms. Jones:“. Standard complimentary closes are „Sincerely yours,“ and „Sincerely,“ (note that both end with a comma).
Less formal style
I was wondering if we could meet in the near future to discuss …?
Perhaps it would speed things up if we met face to face to discuss this?
Shall we meet next week to discuss the details in person?
Responding to a request for a meeting
I'm afraid my schedule is very full in the next few weeks. Would it be possible for us to discuss the matter by telephone instead?
As we're both very busy, I would like to try to resolve the matter by telephone, if possible.
I think it would be a good idea for us to meet.
I agree that it would be beneficial for us to meet face to face.
initial: erste(r, s)
complimentary close: Schlussformel
to welcome an opportunity: eine Gelegenheit gern wahrnehmen
convenient: angenehm, bequem
to resolve a matter: eine Sache klären
Making meeting arrangements
In an informal setting, once you have agreed with your business partner that you would like to meet, arrangements can be made by telephone or email. In both cases, the language used for organising the meeting is informal yet polite.
Who would like to meet when?
If you are organising a meeting with a larger number of participants and have to find out about their general availability on certain dates, „Doodle“ can help. This is a clever tool you'll find online free of charge at www.doodle.ch. You create your doodle by just entering the dates and/or times you would like to suggest. A link to this doodle is automatically sent to your email account. You can then forward the link to all the prospective participants, asking them to state when they would be available and when not. There is also a field for comments.
If you meet over lunch make sure you can still take notes on a small pad. Follow your host's lead with regard to drinking alcohol. In Great Britain drinking alcohol in moderation is generally acceptable over lunch or dinner with business colleagues. However, if your business partners are sticking to water and you want to keep a clear head, avoid alcohol altogether.
Would 20 November suit you?
What does your schedule look like on 3 December?
I'm afraid I'm away on business for the whole of that week. How about 25 November?
What would be a convenient time for you?
What time would suit you best?
Where shall we meet? I would be happy to come to your office if that's more convenient.
I can recommend a quiet restaurant near the city centre that would be easy for us both to reach.
To be confirmed (TBC)
I need to check back with my colleague about that. Could I get back to you on that this afternoon?
Could I confirm that with you tomorrow when I've spoken to my colleague?
Yes, that's fine. I look forward to seeing you at 3.00 p.m. on 25 November at your office.
That's perfect for me, I can make it then. So let's fix our meeting for 25 November.
Avoiding confusion with dates
When dates are written in figures in British English, the day comes before the month. For example, 9 March 2015 becomes 09/03/15. Note that, in US English, the same date is written March 9, 2015 and therefore becomes 03/09/15. Due to these different conventions, it is advisable to write dates out in full.
The conditional tense, as in „would“ and „could“, is used frequently in the above phrases. Conditional verbs make questions and suggestions sound open for discussion, rather than fixed and already decided, and therefore lend the suggestion a politer note.
and yet: und doch
to suit: (gut) passen
to get back to sb: zurückrufen, sich melden
In the interest of informing meeting participants as quickly as possible, it is common to postpone or cancel meetings by telephone or email, especially if this is necessary at short notice. In either case, it is a good idea to give the reason for changing the arrangement if appropriate, and to suggest another time for the meeting to take place.
Example 1: calling to reschedule a meeting
A: Hello. This is Sarah from XYZ Com.
B: Oh, hi Sarah.
A: I'm calling regarding our meeting on 6 June at two o'clock. I'm afraid I have to ask if we could reschedule the meeting for the same time on 7 June? I'm very sorry to inconvenience you.
B: That's not a problem. Only, could we make it three o'clock on 7 June instead?
A: Yes, that's fine. Thank you for being so flexible. I look forward to seeing you at three o'clock on the 7th.
B: Okay, see you then. Bye bye!
A: Thanks again. Bye!
Example 2: postponing a meeting by email
Subject: postponement of project meeting of 20 December
Unfortunately it is necessary for me to change the arrangement we made for next Monday due to the rail strike that has been announced for next week. Please let me know what alternative day and time would be convenient for you.
I apologise for changing our arrangement at such short notice and look forward to hearing from you with regard to an alternative date and time.
I'm very sorry, but I'm afraid I have to postpone our meeting of next week, as I've been called to an urgent meeting at our head office. Would it be possible for us to meet the week after instead?
I'm afraid I've been called away on urgent business next week, which unfortunately means that we have to reschedule the meeting we arranged for next Tuesday. Would any other days next week be convenient for you?
I was wondering if it would be possible to bring the meeting forward by a week/postpone the meeting until the week after?
I'm very sorry, but I'm afraid it is necessary to cancel our meeting of next week until further notice.
Due to unforeseen complications with the draft contract we are obliged to cancel next week's meeting.
I very much regret to inform you that we have no other option but to cancel our meeting in Salzburg on Friday.
It is a good idea to confirm an arrangement – especially one made by telephone – in writing. This also provides a good opportunity to give visitors travel directions if necessary.
When you write or email to confirm a meeting, it is recommended to send out travel directions and/or a map for reaching the meeting destination, so as to give your business partner plenty of time to make travel arrangements. See „Hands-on organisation“ (p. 22) for tips on giving directions.
Example 1: confirming a meeting by email
Subject: marketing proposal meeting on 25 November
Dear Mr Smith
Following our telephone conversation of this afternoon, I am pleased to confirm our meeting at our offices on 25 November. The meeting is scheduled to take place from 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Please find attached directions to our offices.
I very much look forward to meeting you on 25 November. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information in the meantime.
Example 2: confirming a meeting (email to a colleague)
Subject: meeting of 25 March – Peter Smith ok
Just to let you know that Peter Smith can make the meeting on 25 Nov after all. I made a reservation for the Arctic meeting room from 3 to 4.30. Hope you can still make it!
As a participant invited to a meeting, you can also confirm by phone:
Hello. My name is Sarah Hughes and I'm calling from XYZ Com. I am due to attend a meeting at your company on 14 May and I would just like to
check the best way to reach your offices by car/public transport?
confirm the time of the meeting.
check whether there is an overhead projector in the meeting room?
find out if there any suitable hotels near to your offices?
at short notice: kurzfristig
to bring it forward: vorverlegen
to decline: (von vornherein) ablehnen
to reschedule: verlegen, neu anberaumen
to postpone a meeting: (nach hinten) verschieben
to attend a meeting: dabei sein, teilnehmen
to make the meeting: schaffen
All well-structured meetings should have an agenda, which is usually prepared by the chairperson. Depending on the type of meeting, agendas can be formal or informal, but all should start by stating the date, time and location of the meeting.
It is useful to include the name of the person who will be presenting a specific agenda item. You may also find it helpful to include a note of the time allocated to each point. Some more detailed agendas also state objectives for individual agenda items, for example: „Agree on product design“.
Formal agendas differ from informal agendas in that they start with routine items, which always appear in a specific order. In addition, each point on the agenda is clearly numbered. Nowadays, agendas for all but the most important company meetings (board meetings, annual general meetings) tend to use an informal style.
Catchwords and abbreviations
Note how both informal and formal agendas have a concise style and tend to be written in note-like form, often omitting articles before nouns and using abbreviations. For example, AOB stands for „any other business“, which refers to topics that are not covered by other agenda items or which have arisen after the agenda was distributed.
Example 1: informal agenda (eg customer or team meetings)
Agenda for end-of-year sales meeting
5 January, 9.00–10.30 a.m., Meeting room 2A
Presentation of last year's sales figures (Andreas) – 15 mins
Forecasts and targets for the coming year (Sally) – 15 mins
Analysis of last year's sales promotions (Peter) – 15 mins
Proposals for and scheduling of promotions for the current year (all) – 45 mins