Useful English Phrases for Online Meetings

It is not easy for many to have a productive online meeting. If you also need to do this in English, and you are not confident in your abilities, the stress level can tend to infinity.

I teach English at EPAM, where in the English for Virtual Communication course, company employees learn to communicate effectively online. In this post, I want to share useful phrases that will come in handy at online meetings and will help you avoid embarrassing situations.

How to conduct an online meeting

“Let’s start?”

The more participants, the more difficult it is to control who joined and who should wait. Before you start chatting, check if everyone is on the call. Suddenly someone important is missing?

Phrases to help you and those around you know when to start a meeting:

  • Do we have [name] on the call? / Who else do we have on the call?

  • Are we good to go?

  • Ok, let’s get started, shall we?

  • Ok, let’s kick off.

“Who speaks?”

One of the most embarrassing moments in online communication is when you don’t know who is talking. Or others do not understand that you are at the microphone.

Feel free to say your name before you start speaking: “This is Nick”, “It’s Ann here”

“May I interrupt?”

To delicately interrupt a person in personal communication, we use gestures and facial expressions. Sometimes eye contact is enough. Online communication is more complicated. To interrupt your conversation politely, use the following phrases:

  • Can I cut in here for a second?

  • If I can just jump in here for a moment …

  • Just want to interject here …

  • Sorry to interrupt, … / Sorry for interrupting …

“Can we continue?”

If they interrupt you, make it clear that you are ready to listen to the interlocutor. You can say: “Go ahead”

If you have lost your mind, feel free to ask where you left off. The question will come up here “Where was I?”

“I’ll take a little pause.”

Often people are not going to interrupt, but, performing some actions, they involuntarily become silent. To avoid the awkwardness of the sudden silence, comment on what you are doing.

  • Please bear with me while I’m [doing something]…

  • I’m going to switch over to [the Chrome window] now.

“Can you see my screen?”

The same rule applies to screen sharing – inform other participants that you are starting the presentation:

  • Let me share my screen with you.

  • I’m going to share my screen / desktop.

  • I’m going to pull up my presentation.

Do not forget to check if everything is visible to the participants: “Can everybody see the first slide?”

“I need to go to another meeting”

If the call is taking longer than planned and you need to leave, you can say:

  • Sorry, I have a hard stop at [3 pm]…

  • Sorry, I have to jump to another call.

How to report technical issues

They always happen at the most inopportune moment. If you know how to signal them, it already helps to solve the problem.

“Something went wrong”

The first thing to do is to report that there is a problem: “Sorry, I’m having some technical difficulties here”

“I have communication problems”

If you have a bad connection, you can report it like this:

  • Our internet connection seems to be slow. Please bear with me while the page is loading – it might take a few minutes.

  • I think there’s a problem with the Internet connection at our end.

“Now I will try to fix it.”

While you are solving the problem, ask the protesters to wait: Hold on a minute ” or “Hang on … Is that better?”… Then let us know what’s going on:

  • Just a second, I’m going to turn the volume up.

  • We’re looking into it.

  • We’re trying to fix it / sort it out.

  • I’ll try to sort the problem out.

  • Let me just refresh the page and try again.

“I can `t connect”

The phrases below come in handy if you or others have unexpectedly disconnected from the meeting:

  • Did we lose Alex again? Hello?

  • Are you there, Jim?

  • Sorry, guys, I got cut off.

If everything is working out, you can say:

  • Yes, you’re back again now.

  • Yes, it’s fine now.

“There is a problem with the picture or sound.”

Depending on the problem, the following phrases should be used:

  • There’s a delay on the video.

  • The screen is blank.

  • The screen is frozen / You’re frozen.

  • The image and sound are out of sync.

  • You’re breaking up a little bit.

  • There’s a bit of an echo on the line.

It often happens that you used the mute option, then started talking again, but no one responded. Check if you (or your colleague) forgot to turn on the microphone:

  • Sorry, I was on mute.

  • Nick might be on mute.

  • You appear to have been muted.

If you have difficulty hearing the interlocutor, tell about it:

  • Could you speak up a bit, please?

  • Could you say the last bit again?

  • You’re a little bit quiet. Could you speak closer to the microphone?

Practice

We adapted the well-known game Buzzword Bingo, adding the phrases from this post to it. Practice – this is the only way to learn to speak a foreign language! Mark when you hear these phrases in online meetings from colleagues and use them yourself.

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