One of my first jobs was working in the office of a children’s museum. I can still remember preparing to participate in my first big meeting there.
I was so anxious because I did not know what to expect.
My supervisor gave me this advice: walk into the meeting with a notebook and a pen, and try to appear attentive.
From there, I had to wing it (improvise).
In the meeting, I felt a bit lost as everyone introduced themselves and explained their work. It would have been so nice to have practiced lines to use when it was my turn to speak.
Thankfully, it was not as stressful of an experience as I was anticipating. After attending that first meeting I had a much better idea of what to expect for the future and how to participate without seeming foolish.
Discussions in meetings and around the office are a major part of any working day. Whether participating in an important presentation, joining a conference call or simply shooting the breeze (having casual conversations) with colleagues, knowing what to say makes life at work much easier.
It can be really helpful to practice different business English dialogues that will help you be confident and communicate effectively. In this post, we will provide sample dialogues and scripts for a number of everyday office conversations.
You may want to partner up with someone so you can get live experience speaking these lines aloud. Hearing the conversations aloud can help you memorize what to say and how to say it properly.
Practical Business English Dialogues for Everyday Office Interactions
For these dialogues, we will use brackets to indicate information you should fill in yourself.
Otherwise, the dialogues will refer to sample situations that you can adapt to your own company, projects and needs.
Dialogues for Participating in Business Meetings
Like it or not, a lot of your time at work is probably going to be spent in business meetings. Having appropriate business English dialogues memorized for these situations can make all the difference in how well you present yourself to your boss and colleagues.
Introducing business presentations:
If you are giving a presentation, it is a good idea to have an introduction planned ahead of time. You want to give an organized and professional first impression.
Here is a sample introduction that you could use to begin any meeting:
Welcome everyone, please be seated. I am [your name and position] with [your company/team]. These are my colleagues [colleague’s name] and [colleague’s name]. We are here today to tell you about [your project, product, service, etc.].
At this point, you should briefly explain the topic and scope of your presentation.
To give directions regarding when questions should be asked, you can say:
- Please hold your questions until the end of the presentation.
- Please ask questions at any point during our presentation.
When you are participating in a meeting, it is important to show that you care about the topics being discussed. One way to show your interest is to express your opinion on a given topic in a respectful way.
Consider this dialogue about an upcoming launch for a new product:
Project lead: What do you think about our plans for this product launch?
Colleague: It looks to me like you have a lot planned before your deadline. I would suggest you push your deadline back so you have time to run a successful advertising campaign.
Project lead: I respectfully disagree with you there. The priority is to launch before the holidays, so we do not want to move this deadline.
Colleague: I would suggest you discuss this further with the advertising team.
Asking questions in meetings:
If do not fully grasp a concept it is important to get clarification instead of pretending you understand. Usually, during a business meeting, the presenter will explicitly open the discussion up to questions.
Presenter: Did anyone have any questions before we move on?
Colleague: Your third point was a bit unclear to me. Could you elaborate on that?
Or maybe you noticed a flaw in the project, product or plan:
Presenter: I would love to hear any suggestions or feedback you have.
Colleague: I noticed [issue]. How would you go about resolving that?
Part of doing business is knowing how to negotiate. Sometimes it involves very simple issues like when to schedule the next follow-up on a project, while other times it can be more complex, like closing a major deal.
Boss: How do you think we should move forward with this project? As you know, we are expected to present it to our clients next week.
Employee: How about we get in touch with Acme Corp and discuss moving the deadline out three weeks?
Boss: We really need to push forward with this project to have it completed by the deadline. They are not interested in extensions.
Employee: In that case, we could delay completion on the Archibald Co. work.
Boss: I think you are right, that is the only way we can finish working on the Acme project by next Thursday.
Dialogues for Handling Conference Calls
Love them or hate them, conference calls are part of working life. Whether it is a traditional telephone call or a video conference, knowing how to handle a conference call with professionalism is a very important skill to have.
Beginning the call:
When you begin a conference call it is important to indicate you are on the line and to determine if everyone has shown up for the call:
Call leader: Hi everyone, this is [name]. I am the [position] at [company]. I am calling in with [names and positions of people who are joining in leading the call]. Please introduce yourself and state your position.
You: Hi, this is [your name and position].
Other call participants will introduce themselves as well.
Call leader: It sounds like everyone is on the line, so we will get started.
Asking for someone to repeat something/slow down:
A major drawback to conference calls can be noise interference and multiple people talking at once. Sometimes it is really hard to catch everything that is said. It may become necessary to ask someone to say something again so you can fully understand them.
When someone is speaking and you miss something because you cannot hear them or they are speaking too quickly, wait for a pause and then ask:
Sorry [name], I did not catch that last part. Would you mind repeating yourself for me?
Ending the call:
It is a good practice to say goodbye before ending a conference call. You may also want or need to recap the main points of the discussion and outline the next steps you need to take.
Call leader: I believe this concludes our call. Thank you, everyone, for joining us.
Some ways you can respond include:
- Thank you for setting up this call.
- Discussing [conversation topic] was very helpful.
- I look forward to being in touch on this topic again soon.
- Bye, everyone.
Dialogues for Casual Conversation at the Office
Being confident and comfortable chatting with your colleagues is crucial. They can be your allies at work and can help you network in your company—plus, you might make some amazing friends! Here are some dialogues for casual conversation around your office.
Get the conversation going by saying “hi” when you see someone you know:
Amir: Hey, Jane!
Jane: Hi Amir, how are you?
Amir: I’m doing well, thanks for asking. How about yourself?
Jane: I’m great!
If you are meeting someone for the first time, it is a good idea to be polite and introduce yourself:
Miguel: Hi, I’m Miguel. I’m not sure we’ve met—what’s your name?
Stacy: I’m Stacy.
Miguel: It’s nice to meet you. I work in the marketing department, how about you?
Stacy: It’s nice to meet you, too. I’m in accounting.
Small talk (casual conversation):
You do not need to get into any heavy topics of conversation, but being able to comfortably navigate chit-chat will make your work life a more pleasant experience.
Knowing how to appropriately discuss the time of day is an important conversation skill to learn, not just to open a conversation but also to plan for your day.
Fatima: What time is it?
Fatima: Great, thanks. When does our afternoon meeting start?
Liam: You have some time. It starts at 3:00.
Another common topic of casual conversation is the weather:
Chris: Crazy weather we’ve been having!
Joan: I know! I can’t believe how rainy it has been.
Chris: On top of everything, I forgot my umbrella today.
Joan: Oh, no! So you had to swim into the office!
In general with small talk, it is a good idea to try and find some common ground with your colleagues. Sports, movies, books and food are all fruitful subjects.
Pat: Did you see “Wonder Woman” this weekend?
Daniel: I did! How about you?
Pat: I did, too. What did you think of it?
Daniel: I really enjoyed it.
Pat: So did I. What was your favorite part?
Saying a quick goodbye is a nice way to end a short chat with a colleague:
Erin: It’s been great chatting with you. Catch you later.
Maria: See you soon, Erin!
Business English dialogues can help you navigate life at work with ease. Knowing what to say for each situation you encounter helps you maintain a professional appearance regardless of what is thrown your way.
And One More Thing…
If you want your English speech to sound as natural as possible, you’ve got to check out FluentU.
FluentU provides real-world English videos for industries like sales, engineering, oil and gas, hospitality and many others. It’s got a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch.
The videos are personalized based on your language level and learning needs. You’ll learn words that matter to your work, while hearing business English the way native speakers use it. It’s an effective but fun language tool that you can carry in your pocket.
You find a variety of business English videos that include “Introducing Business Colleagues,” “Business Buzzwords,” “Control Your Inbox!” and “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”
An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”
Every video comes with interactive subtitles, complete with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
If you are interested in watching fun, relevant videos and practicing language actively in the process, you can check out a free FluentU trial and start watching on your computer, iOS or Android device.
Sarah Frady spends her days chasing after her two little girls. She has a B.S. degree from the University of South Carolina. She spends her evenings as a professional writer and entrepreneur. She endeavors to uplift, inspire, educate and encourage other moms on her blog Our Happy Imperfection.
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