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055 How to give feedback and comment during a meeting or presentation

How to be a better listener and generate useful comments/feedback and questions


Hi there and welcome back to the Art of Business English. This week I am flying solo and I have put together a quick episode on how to be a better listener and generate useful comments, feedback and questions during meetings or presentations. 

As some of you may know, currently the AOBE small group coaching programme is underway and we have been covering many topics and this is one that has popped up. I developed this material for one of the participants, Esteban and I thought that I would share it with the rest of you as it is very helpful. 

So, today we are going to look at how to be a better listener. Firstly, I will be sharing my advice with you and then I am going to explain how you can implement the advice and finally we will be looking at all of the language and expressions that you can use. 

So, let’s not waste any time and get things started. 

Advice: The key to being a good listener is focusing on the speaker. This means no distractions, such as mobile phones and computers. We need to remove the “noise” so we can focus on what a person is saying. To be a good listener follow these tips: 

  1. Avoid distractions and “noise”, give someone your undivided attention.
  2. Listen to what they are saying, don’t think about what you want to say next.
  3. Be an active listener, use sounds like, aha, yeah, mmm, to show that you are following the speaker.
  4. Use body language signals. For example, nod your head in agreement, make eye contact or use facial expressions to show surprise or disbelief.
  5. Listen for keywords and use them to generate questions. Asking questions is a great way to show you are interested in someone and what they are saying. 

How to: Now let’s look at how we can put these tips into practice. 

  1. Put your mobile phone onto flight mode or do not disturb mode. Shut down your Outlook or email client. Make sure Skype or any other messaging service is not on.
  2. Many people subconsciously want to help or offer their opinion. Try and listen and switch off the voice in your head. Try and ask 3 questions before giving an opinion. Be a detective and only offer your advice or opinion after you have all of the information. Use language like, you could try or you could consider, instead of you should/need to.
  3. Start to learn and feel confident making sounds that show you are listening. This is even more important on the phone when you can’t see the other persons face.
  4. Looking someone in the eyes expresses confidence and empathy. Start to be aware of your body language. Practice in the mirror to see what your expressions and body language are transmitting to others.
  5. Learn the art of generating questions. We can only be effective at generating questions when we listen to the speaker. Use the keywords or main theme of the discussion to generate questions.

Interrupting politely


John, if I could just interrupt you for a second. (Saying the person’s name is the best way to grab their attention)

Can I just add something?

Could I just jump in for a second?

Excuse me, can I say…

John, before you go on I would like to add…



Describing the situation or area for comment/feedback


In your third point…

When you were referring to…

In yesterday’s meeting…

At the client presentation, you made last week…


Giving your opinion


I thought what you said about…_________ was good/helpful.

My take on the issue is…__________

Let me give you my perspective on this…

I completely agree with what you are saying about…_________. I would also add…

My impression is _____________.




Sorry John, when you said…____________ did you mean…__________?

Could you just clarify the last point?

Going back to what you said about ________, I understood it this way… ____________. Is that correct?

If I understand you correctly you are saying _______.

This is what I understand…____________. Is that aligned with what you’re trying to say?


Provoking reflection


Looking back at __________, is there anything you could have done differently?

Could you _________?

What if you _______?

What would happen if _______?

What would it be like if _______?

What would need to happen to _______?

What is the desired outcome?

What is at stake?

What are potential barriers, and how will you handle them?





John, before you go on I would like to add that if we can get cross departmental buy in, then we will have a stronger argument to take to the board. Secondly, when you were referring to the issues regarding delivering the project on time, I thought what you said about needing to reallocate some resources to the project was helpful.


Before I finish, going back to what you said about meeting our Q3 objectives, I understood it this way, you are saying they won’t be met unless you can have those resources allocated within the next two weeks. Is that correct?


Tip: You need to use linking words to help join your ideas and make your discourse flow smoothly.





Some common linking expressions




In the first place / first / first of all

In the second place / secondly / next / then / after that / afterwards

NB Remember that you must use after that followed by S+V+O. After is followed by an object.

In the third place / next / then / after that / afterwards

Finally / in the end / lastly / last of all

In conclusion / to sum up




Furthermore = moreover = in addition (to this) = besides


Giving opinions


Personally = from my point of view = in my opinion/view = I believe = I feel


Making contrast


On the one hand...on the other hand

However = nevertheless = yet (it usually starts a sentence)

In contrast


Although = though = even though (followed by S+V+O)



Download the transcript here.

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Confidence in Business Meetings

Do you get embarrassed when you need to attend a meeting in English? Maybe you feel frustrated when you can't express yourself clearly. Do you want to be invisible in a meeting, hoping that you won't need to answer any questions?

If you would like to learn how to confidently participate in meetings that lead to successful outcomes and more business for you and your company, then I've got the answer.

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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