Expressions using Themes (e.g. Collocations, IELTS, Business English)

How to Open a Meeting - Vocabulary

When you are ready to open a meeting, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. You have to get people’s attention and keep their attention. You have to stay on point and lay the foundation for a successful and productive meeting that doesn’t waste everyone’s time. Here are some helpful expressions that we think will show your audience that you know the score:


(Let’s) get down to business

You might like to open with this one, as it shows that you are prepared and eager to deliver. ‘Get down to' just means ‘focus on’ or ‘begin’, and in this case, the ‘business’ is the meeting itself or the task at hand. So, when we say “Let’s get down to business”, we just mean ‘We should get started', or ‘Let’s not waste any more time'.

Examples

  • Please take your seats, everybody, and let's get down to business. We have a lot to get through.

  • Good morning, everybody. Shall we start? I think it’s about time we got down to business, don’t you?


Let’s get cracking

This is less formal than the above expression, so be careful how you use it. It means the same thing: you are ready to get started and you don’t want to waste any time. You might also use this at the end of a meeting, when all the discussion is over and you want to encourage everyone to get to work.

Examples

  • It’s 9am, and we have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get cracking!

  • If everyone’s here, what are we waiting for? Let’s get cracking!


hit the ground running

'To hit the ground running' is to begin something with enthusiasm and proceed with pace and energy. Usually if you 'hit the ground running', it means you got off to a good start or began the project well. While this is usually used to talk about something in the past, you can use it in the context of a meeting to convey a certain amount of energy and to make it clear that the issue at hand is important or urgent. You can see more examples for this expression in our Expressions Database, by clicking hit the ground running.

Examples

  • Good morning, everyone. I’d like to hit the ground running, if you don’t mind, and jump straight into the issues surrounding our slowdown in productivity.

  • We’re a bit pushed for time this morning, so let’s hit the ground running and discuss the projections for the next quarter.


get (straight) to the point

Meetings take up valuable time in which employees could be otherwise more productive, but they are often necessary. With this in mind, it’s important to ‘get straight to the point’, meaning that you will stop talking about things that don’t matter, or you stop avoiding an important issue.

Examples

  • There has been a lot of arguing about bonus payments recently, so I’m going to get straight to the point and say this - bonuses will not be paid this month!

  • I hate when Bob is making a presentation. It takes him so long to get to the point and we have to sit for hours listening to irrelevant information!


(don’t) beat around the bush

This is similar to the above expression, where ‘getting to the point’ means that you don’t ‘beat around the bush’. Beating around the bush is avoiding the central issue - perhaps because it’s difficult to talk about or it might cause some conflict. As a Manager, you will have to learn not to beat around the bush. After all, time is money! We have another entry for this idiom in our Expressions Database (click beat around the bush) as well as a helpful video.

Example

  • Let’s not beat around the bush, please. I don’t have time for it. I know you all want to talk about pay rises, so just ask me the question directly.

  • The last time we had a meeting, I spent so much time beating around the bush that by the time I finally got to the point, the meeting was nearly over! So I won’t do that this morning.


objective at hand

An ‘objective’ is a goal or end point that you wish to reach. When you say that something is ‘at hand’, you are saying that it is to be dealt with or addressed at that moment. So, the ‘objective at hand’ is the end point you are currently discussing or hoping to get to during your meeting. This might be considered slightly more formal language in some situations, as people might just state what the ‘agenda’ or ‘point’ or ‘topic’ of the meeting will be.

Examples

  • Our goal today is to finalise the terms and conditions of our new clients' contracts. There is nothing else as important as this right now, so that is the objective at hand.

  • I’d like to open this morning by stating the objective at hand. Hopefully, the outcome of this meeting will be to determine how our ordering system will operate going forward.


get the ball rolling

Imagine a ball rolling down a hill. It picks up speed and you have to work hard to keep up with it. When you ‘get the ball rolling’ at work, you might take the first steps towards launching an exciting new product, or put your plans into action. In a meeting, you have to take control and get people focused. So, ‘get the ball rolling’ early and you will see the benefit.

Examples

  • Last week, we discussed a number of potential marketing strategies. Now that we have agreed on one, let’s get the ball rolling and iron out the details.

  • It’s about time that we got the ball rolling on our client retention strategy. We’ve done enough talking, so today’s meeting will be about implementation.


Don’t forget that these are just general expressions that you can use in any (generic) meeting. For more specific expressions, search our ‘Themed Expressions’ for subjects and topics of discussion.

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