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

How to Speak Up in a Meeting - Vocabulary

It’s important when you are in a meeting to make your voice heard and speak your mind. Often, this can be difficult when people are competing for attention, or when you are concerned about coming across as rude. Here are some helpful expressions and some soft language sentences to get you started.


I don’t mean to interrupt, (but…)

This one is clear, but when you say you ‘mean to’ do something, this means that the word that follows is your intention. Here you are saying that you would rather not interrupt the person who is speaking, but you say this because you feel that you must. You might change this by saying ‘apologies for interrupting’, or ‘sorry for the interruption’.

Examples

  • Look, I don’t mean to interrupt you, but that’s the second time you’ve (stated that fact incorrectly).

  • I’m sorry for interrupting, but are you sure that’s right?


Sorry to cut across you, (but…)

When you ‘cut across’ somebody, you interrupt them while they’re talking. Just as above, people usually do this when they have the urge to address something that has been said. You can also say ‘Sorry to cut you off’, or ‘I don’t mean to cut you off'.

Examples

  • I’m sorry to cut across you while you’re speaking, but I disagree on that point.

  • Sorry to cut across you, but I just don’t think that’s true. Have you checked your facts?


If you don’t mind me saying so…

Some more soft language here that can be used for interruption. However, it can also be used to supplement someone’s words or comment on something that was said or done. It can be used before both a positive or negative statement.

Examples

  • If you don’t mind me saying so, that’s a brilliant suggestion. I really like it.

  • Well, if you don’t mind me saying so, I think you’re wrong.


If I can just get a word in…

Be careful with this one. It can sound rude if you are not around people you are completely comfortable with. You might use it to joke with someone about how much they are talking, but probably only with colleagues you get along well with.

Examples

  • Well, if I can just get a word in,

  • If I could get a word in between you two arguing, I’d be able to make my point.


With all due respect…

The strange thing about this one is that when you use it, you are usually about to say something that will sound disrespectful. Some variations on this could be ‘with all respect due’, or simply starting your statement with the word ‘respectfully’.

Examples

  • I understand your point, but with all due respect, I think there’s a better way to approach the issue.

  • Well, with all due respect, I think that’s a bad idea. There are a lot more details to iron out before we can go down that road.


(Well,) no offence, but…

Just like the above expression, when you open a sentence with this, it usually means that you will offend the person you are talking to. Be careful how you use it, because it can often sound very condescending, as if you are claiming to know better than the other person. Make sure you do! A variation on this could be ‘I don’t mean any offence'.

Examples

  • No offence, but I think we should go over those figures again. They don’t sound right to me.

  • Well, no offence, but I don’t think that’s going to work. Why don’t we run through some other possible options?


bring to the table

If there is something you would like to say or something new you would like to introduce, you can ‘bring it to the table’; which means you present it for discussion. You might also hear this idiom used in an interview, if someone is asking you about your skills. They might like to know what you can ‘bring to the table’.

Examples

  • We have some time left, so if there’s anything that anyone would like to bring to the table, please speak up now.

  • At this point, I’d like to bring my idea for expanding our market to the table. I think you’ll find it interesting.


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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