Staying on topic in a business meeting

Staying on topic in a business meetingStaying on topic in a business meeting. On this page, we will look at what you can do to make sure the meeting stays on the topic. A lot of meetings would be a lot short if other people didn’t try to change the subject or talk about things that are not relevant to the meeting you are in, so hopefully this language will be useful! Make sure you’ve looked at the first page in this lesson – how to start a business meeting.

Before we begin, here’s some useful vocabulary that you will see on this page:

  • Participants – the people that are taking part (in this case, the people in the meeting)
  • The budget – the amount of money available for a particular purpose
  • A raise / a rise – an increase in the amount of something (in this case, a pay raise)
  • To pull your weight – to do your fair share of the work

OK, now let’s look at some of the phrases commonly used to keep participants on topic:

  • John, I think you may be going a little off-track.
  • I’ll stop you there because…
  • We really don’t have time to go into that right now.
  • OK, let’s focus on the matter at hand.
  • Let’s get back to the issue under discussion, shall we?
  • That’s not a relevant point for this meeting.
  • That’s another topic, really.
  • Perhaps we can schedule that particular discussion for another meeting.
  • Can we keep to the point, please.
  • This isn’t the appropriate time for that.
  • Let’s not get distracted.

Here are some complete examples:

Example 1:

John: That reminds me, what are we going to do about staff car parking?
Jane: John, I think you may be going a little off-track. We need to stay focused on issues surrounding the budget.

Example 2:

David: Can we just go back to the point made in the last meeting about…
Alan: I’ll stop you there because we really need to finalise this issue before we do anything else.

Example 3:

Chris: The conference was good, but the party afterwards was great! They had all kinds of food, and even some music.
Melanie: OK, let’s focus on the matter at hand. Was the conference good for sales?

Example 4:

Patrick: While we’re talking about financial matters, I’d like to ask about getting a raise.
Debbie: Patrick, this isn’t the appropriate time for that. Perhaps we can schedule a separate meeting, but for now let’s not get distracted.

Example 5:

Eric: We’ve already exceeded last years sales figures. I’m actually quite surprised, because the marketing department have really not pulled their weight at all, and…
Jerome: Eric, that’s not a relevant point for this meeting. Let’s get back to the issue under discussion, shall we?

On the next page, we will look at the words and phrases for contributing during a meeting.