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Chairing meetings

Briten haben ein entspanntes Verhältnis zu Meetings. Auch weil ihre Sprache es erlaubt, mit wenigen Worten viel zu sagen. Wer eine Besprechung leitet, sollte die wichtigsten Phrasen kennen.
In the hot seat
Briten haben ein entspanntes Verhältnis zu Meetings. Auch weil ihre Sprache es erlaubt, mit wenigen Worten viel zu sagen. Wer eine Besprechung leitet, sollte die wichtigsten Phrasen kennen.

Have you ever been a chair? If so, how did it feel? Do you find it more difficult to be a chair in English than in German? Don't worry, this is not some kind of psychotherapy, in which you are asked to identify with an inanimate object. In English, "chair" is simply another way of saying "chairman", "chairwoman", or the politically correct "chairperson". The chair is the person who leads - or chairs - a meeting.

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Chairing a meeting requires organizational, interpersonal and linguistic skills. Your duties often start a long time before the meeting itself: finding a suitable date for all participants; organizing the venue and equipment; and sending out invitations, the agenda and any documents that participants should read in advance

It is also your job to make sure that the meeting starts on time - never wait for people who are late - and ends on time. You should also ensure that all the points on the agenda are covered, and that someone is taking minutes. Also, at the end, everyone should know what has been decided, and what, if anything, they have to do next

As the chair, you shouldn't dominate the meeting with your own views and comments. Instead, your role is to get everyone to participate fully, to play devil's advocate at times, and to keep the discussion on the main points. The following phrases will help you to be a successful chair:

Welcoming people
Good morning, everyone.
Welcome to the meeting.
Thank you for coming this afternoon

Giving apologies
Margaret apologizes for not being here.
Elisabeth sends her apologies.
Peter's been delayed. He'll be here in about 20 minutes

Getting started
OK, shall we get started?
I think we'll make a start.
OK, let's get down to business, shall we?

Explaining the purpose
The objective/aim/purpose of today's meeting is to ...
OK, today we want to look at ...
There are two main things we need to decide today.

Structuring the meeting
First, Paula will give us a short presentation.
Michael will present the latest figures.
We'll start with two short financial reports.
After that, we'll open up the discussion

Guiding the discussion
Right, let's turn to the next item on the agenda.
OK, the next point is ...
Let's move on to ..

Involving people
Let me bring Anna in here.
What's your view on that, Axel?
Would you like to comment on that, Bettina?

Clarifying
So, Petra, are you saying that ...?
Can I just check that I understand, Karl. You're saying that ...
Is that clear to everyone?
What seems to be the sticking point here?

Focusing the discussion
We seem to be going round (and round) in circles.
I think we're getting away from the point.
We seem to be getting bogged down.
I think we're digressing.
I think we need to take a decision on this now

Summarizing
Let me just summarize the main decisions today.
So, to sum up, we've agreed to ...
OK, so we've decided that ...
The points that need further discussion are ..

Closing the meeting
Are there any other final points?
Is there anything else anyone wants to raise?
Right, I think we've just about covered everything.
Well, that was a very productive meeting.
Thank you everyone for your contributions today.
The next meeting will be on the 15th at the same time

Key vocabulary
agenda = Tagesordnung
AGM (Annual General Meeting) = Jahreshauptversammlung
AOB (any other business) = Sonstiges
board meeting = Vorstandssitzung
chair/chairperson = Vorsitzender
circulate the minutes = das Protokoll verteilen
devil's advocate = Advocatus Diaboli (Vertreter einer provokanten Gegenposition)
digress = abschweifen
get bogged down = (im Sumpf) stecken bleiben
item = (Tagesordnungs-)Punkt
matters arising = anstehende Fragen
minutes = Protokoll
minute-taker = Protokollführer
objective = Ziel
participant = Teilnehmer
proposal = Vorschlag
purpose = Ziel
raise something = etwas vorbringen
schedule a meeting = eine Besprechung planen
sticking point = Streitfrage, Problem
summary = Zusammenfassung
sum up/summarize = zusammenfassen
take the minutes = Protokoll schreiben
venue = (Veranstaltungs-)Ort

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur des Englisch-Magazins Business Spotlight.
Mehr Englisch im Netz unter www.business-spotlight.de
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 22.10.2004