​Formal and Informal Expressions for Opening a Meeting


If you are new to running meetings or if you are looking for some more expressions to help you better open a meeting in English, then today I have got you covered.


Running a meeting can be difficult, especially so if English is not your native language. If you are the chairperson for a meeting, then you are responsible for opening a meeting and ensuring that it stays on track.


As with most things in business, there are both formal and informal ways to go about doing business. Sometimes we need to run a small team meeting in an informal setting, while other times we need to host formal meetings with important clients or contractors.


I myself have faced this challenge when working in Spanish. I found it difficult to set the right tone using the Spanish expressions I “thought” I knew would be effective for opening a meeting. Just like I am sure you have worried, I too worried about leaving a good impression with my colleagues and with whoever else was attending the meeting. If you have felt uncomfortable at times with running a meeting in English then I know exactly how you feel.


With this is mind, today I am going to share with you some tips for opening a meeting as well as both formal and informal expressions to help you open your next meeting.


Pre-meeting considerations


Before we go any further, let’s start by looking at some quick ideas and tips for opening a meeting.

As we discussed in last week’s episode, all important meetings require planning and preparation. Therefore, one of the first things you should do before your meeting starts is to ensure that you have all of the relevant information with you. Additionally, you should test any technical equipment and makes sure your slides and PC work, especially if you are giving a presentation.

The next thing that we should be aware of is “small talk”. We should try and engage in small talk right at the beginning of a meeting, even if everybody has not arrived. Small talk can help your guests or other colleagues to feel comfortable and help everyone start to relax before the meeting officially starts. 

Small talk before the meeting


Firstly, we should then consider some expressions for small talk. The golden rule is to keep it light and make sure the questions are easy to answer. You should avoid talking about religion or politics.
Below I have included some of the types of questions you could use to engage in small talk. 


Small talk with someone you know


The phrases below are great if you already know the person that you are chatting to at the beginning of the meeting. You will notice that they are less formal and suggest that you know aspects about their life.

How are you?

Have you been to the Sydney Film Festival before?

Are you interested in the cricket/baseball/football?

How are you today?

How was your holiday/vacation?

How was the weekend?

How are you going/doing?

How was your flight/journey?

Are you keeping up with...(insert a current world event)?

How have you been?

How was the beach?

How´s the family?

How are things?

How was the meeting?

How´s the (insert name) project coming along?

I hear the Sydney Film Festival is on.

Did the meeting go well?

What is the latest in (insert village name)?

I hear the Sydney Film Festival starts on Friday.

Are you watching the Olympics/World Cup?

Did you hear about (insert event)?

Are you going to the Sydney Film Festival?

Are you keeping up with the Olympics/World Cup/football?

What about... (insert event or persons name)?

​Small talk with someone you do not know


The follow sentences should be used when you are small talking with a customer or someone you have not had a long relationship with. These expressions are more polite and express correct forms for asking people questions, without being too personal..

How are you?

Have you been to the Sydney Film Festival before?

Are you interested in the cricket/baseball/football?

How are you today?

How was your flight?

Can I offer you some recommendations on places to eat?

How are you going/doing?

Did you find us OK?

Are you keeping up with...(insert a current world event)?

How are you finding Sydney?

Have you seen much of Sydney yet?

Are you watching the Olympics/World Cup?

Is this your first time to Sydney?

Are you enjoying your stay at the hotel?

I’m told you are from Wales. What’s it like this time of year?

Did you know the Sydney Film Festival is on?

Would you be interested in going to the Sydney Film Festival?

Do you have anything you would like to see while you are in Sydney?

Now that we have aspects of small talk covered, let’s move on to the next part where we cover formal and informal expressions for opening a meeting.

Formal expressions for opening a meeting


Take a look at the following expressions, they can be used to open a meeting. They set a formal tone and should be used when dealing with important external participants.



Opening the meeting

  • I would like to get started
  • I have called this meeting in order to discuss
  • This meeting has been called with the aim of

Welcoming participants 

  • It’s a pleasure to welcome Jane Rivers
  • We are honoured to have Jane Rivers with us today
  • Please join me in offering a warm welcome to Jane Rivers

Referring to the agenda

  • I trust you all have a copy of the agenda
  • Today, our aim is to cover the following agenda items
  • As you will all see, the agenda has 4 main items to be covered today
  • This meeting has been called to discuss the following agenda items

Referring to timing

  • I would like to keep the meeting to one hour
  • To respect everyone’s time, this meeting will last for 60 minutes
  • I would appreciate it if everyone could keep their contributions short and concise in order to finish the meeting on time
  • Today, our aim is to cover the following agenda items

Handing over to another participant

  • Mary, would you be so kind to lead with the first item on the agenda?
  • Mike, the floor is your in order to open the first item of today’s meeting
  • John, it would be a pleasure hearing from you first

Informal expressions for opening a meeting


Now that we have the language for opening a formal meeting, we can now move on to the final part of today’s episode. In the following section I will provide you with some examples of the same steps using informal language.



Opening the meeting

  • Let’s get started
  • If everyone is here, we can start the meeting
  • Thanks everyone for coming, let’s kick things off

Welcoming participants 

  • Thanks for attending Jane
  • Can everyone join me in welcoming Jane Rivers?
  • It’s great to have Jane joining us today

Referring to the agenda

  • Has everyone got a copy of the agenda?
  • There are 4 points on the agenda for today
  • I want to get through the following 4 items on the agenda today
  • I called this meeting to get your views on the 3 points listed on the agenda

Referring to timing

  • Let’s keep this meeting to one hour
  • Today’s meeting should only take an hour
  • Can I get everyone to keep their discussion points to 5 minutes? 

Handing over to another participant

  • Mary, can you kick things off?
  • Mike, it’d be great if you could jump in and take the floor.
  • John, can we hear from you first?

​​​​Final thoughts


Leading a meeting in English can seem like a challenge, but with these expressions you should feel confident when opening a meeting.

Remember, small talk is a great way to make people feel comfortable, so make sure you practice that. Once you have broken the ice and started with a few questions, things get much easier.

Well, over to you my friends, let me know if there are any expressions that you like to use when opening a meeting.

Take care and I will see you all next week. 




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About the Author Andrew

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.

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