The age of telecommunication is well and truly here. Most of our business meetings now take place via video conferencing.

Whether you’re using Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, the idea of a conference call in your second and sometimes third language can be very daunting.

In today’s post we’re going to show you how you can approach your next video call in English and give you lots of language tips and phrases.


Before the call


Review the agenda

If you’re not running the meeting, take a close look at the agenda. This will help you prepare each point or topic ahead of time and help you anticipate the type of language that is going to be used. This way, you’ll be less likely to become lost and confused.

At the same time, you can prepare questions and give you the opportunity to shine in front of your bosses and co-workers.


Anticipate questions other attendees might have

Try to think about the kind of questions you might get during the video conference. If you’re leading the meeting or have a part in the presentation, you need to cover all bases, so that you can feel more confident.


Practise what you’re going to say

Presenting in another language can be very scary. Before you go into the meeting have a dry run. This will help you identify and address any vocabulary or pronunciation issues you might have.


Check your technology is working

Check your technology before the meeting. Are your mic and camera working properly?

And if you’re going to share your screen at some point, clear your desktop. Make sure you only have what is necessary open for the meeting. You don’t need a meeting full of people seeing your personal emails or reading your horoscope. This is particularly important if you have sensitive documents open.


During the call


Dos and Don’ts

Do set your camera to an appropriate height. There is nothing worse than spending an entire meeting looking at someone’s forehead or, worse still, right up their nose.

Don’t multitask. Everyone is remarkably busy but taking your meeting time to answer your emails and check your messages looks incredibly unprofessional.

Do dress appropriately. Just because you’re sitting at home doesn’t mean you should be wearing your pyjamas. If you’re in a business meeting, dress accordingly.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Remember, this call isn’t in your mother tongue and nobody expects you to be perfect.

Do look directly into the camera not at yourself on the screen. This will help others feel like you are fully engaged giving the impression of eye contact. While you may not be in the room with the other participants physically, a video call is still fundamentally a face-to-face interaction.

Do check your surroundings. Make sure the room is properly lit and your background is simple and appropriate.

Do take notes. It is highly likely that you will be asked to act on something covered in the meeting. Having clear notes will help you remember what you need to take from the meeting.


Starting a meeting


It seems like every video call starts with a series of clumsy, awkward questions: Can you hear me? Can you see me? I can see you, but can you see me?

Avoid this by starting with some clear and simple statements and instructions. When starting a conference call, try saying:

Thanks for joining me, if you are having any technical issues please let us know in the chat box. I’ve muted everyone’s mic, we’ll be opening the floor for questions in a little while.

Here are some other useful phrases for starting a meeting:

  • I won’t keep you long
  • I will keep this brief

Opening the floor

Once you’ve finished with your presentation, you are going to need to invite people to ask questions. Here are some useful phrases:

  • That covers everything I had to say
  • Now, are there any questions?


Knowing how and when to interrupt someone in a video call is a key skill. Most platforms have a “hand up” tool if you would like to ask a question.

There are occasions when things are a little more urgent. Perhaps the meeting needs to be redirected or you have a pertinent point that needs to be raised. The most important point here is remaining polite and respectful. Here are some useful phrases for interrupting:

  • Sorry, would you mind if I asked a question?
  • Just to clarify, are you saying that…
  • Would you mind if I jumped in there please?

Ending a call

Once it’s time to end the call, make sure everyone is clear what they need to do and no one has any questions. Thank everyone for attending.


After the call


When the meeting is over, review your notes and check what you need to do next. Then give yourself a pat on the back. Getting through a video conference in a different language is not only difficult but it’s also stressful!


Looking to give your business English a boost? Sign up to one of our in-centre courses or find out more about classes in your company.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Telecommunication (n): communication over a distance usually via video conferencing.

Daunting (adj): seeming difficult to deal with in prospect; intimidating.

Cover all bases (exp): deal with something thoroughly.

Dry run (n): a rehearsal of a performance or procedure before the real one.

Multitask (v): deal with more than one task at the same time.

Dress accordingly (exp): to dress appropriately for the occasion.

Fundamentally (adv): basically.

Awkward (adj): not easy to deal with or understand.

Open the floor (exp): allow people to ask questions in a large meeting, lecture, conference, or other group.

Brief (adj): of short duration; not lasting for long.

Pertinent (adj): relevant or applicable to a particular matter.

Give yourself a pat on the back (exp): To give oneself praise for an achievement or a job well done.


adj = adjective

exp = expression

n = noun

v = verb

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