Meetings

"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything."

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 – 2006), Canadian-American economist
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Nobody seems to have a good word to say about work meetings. They’re either too long, unnecessary or an email could have been sent instead. According to research by MIT, the average business executive spends 23 hours per week in meetings. That’s half the average 47 hour working week. Over the course of a 45 year career, that’s 22 years spent in meetings! In this Business English lesson plan on meetings, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how they feel about meetings, whether they are necessary and how they could be improved.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Inc. | A New Study of 19 Million Meetings Reveals That Meetings Waste More Time Than Ever (but There Is a Solution)

The article talks about how much money is wasted due to useless meetings, what makes a meeting pointless and what companies can do to resolve these problems (and therefore save lots of wasted money). At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. Do they recognise some of these problems in their own company? Could they implement any of the recommendations in the article where they work?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is a TEDx Talk by Ellen De Bruin called “Business Meetings are Evil” which recommends not going to meetings at all because they are an attack on freedom, destroy creativity and cost too much time and money.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means, if they agree with it and how it could relate to business. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the purpose of work meetings, the students’ experience in these meetings and some problems associated with them.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with meetings such as get the ball rolling, brainstorm and pre-meeting. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about work meetings. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the time the students spend in meetings each week, how people contribute and what they do when they get bored in meetings.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write a recommendation to their boss about how to improve meetings where they work. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.

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