English Meeting Communication: what to say when you don’t know what to say next

Culture cuppa what to say in meetings when you dont know what to say next

Imagine you are in an important meeting & you are asked to comment or answer a question, but you are not sure what to say, or how to express yourself well in the moment. You want to sound professional, confident & share your point concisely in English.

Sound familiar? There is nothing worse than feeling stuck, is there? And the last thing you want to say is, ‘Sorry, I don’t know,’ or ‘I am not sure’.

This happens surprisingly frequently & one of my clients described this situation to me almost as if she were frozen in the moment. The longer the pause lasted, the more uncomfortable & awkward she became, and that distracted her further from being able to focus on answering.

The first thing to remember is that there is a reason why you are in your current role. You have been recruited or promoted to be in this role for your professional skills, and people want to hear your opinions & thoughts, even if they are not perfectly formed every time in English. Remember, the objective is communication & connection, not saying it 100% perfectly.

However, you do want to sound professional if you are experiencing challenges to express yourself.

So, I am sharing with you today my English phrases you can say in the moment to buy yourself some time to think about what to say next, while still sounding natural & professional.

 English phrases when you don’t know what to say next:

  1. That’s a good question, I’ve never considered that before, but if I were to give you my first thoughts….
  2. Mmm, let me think about that for a moment…I would say that…
  3. My initial thoughts on that topic are…..
  4. Thank you for asking me that, that is an interesting point. My gut instinct says….
  5. First/ to start with I think…., but also I could look at it from the point of view of….
  6. On the one hand… , on the other….., however saying that….
  7. Yes, I can see where you’re coming from. From my point of view…
  8. Off the top of my head, I think….
  9. Just thinking out loud for a moment…

So, how do you use these?

Clearly, you are not going to pause & ask them to wait while you look these phrases up again on my blog! So, there are a couple of ways to implement using these phrases practically in your own meetings:

  • Print out the list of phrases & stick them onto or behind your laptop, so you can glance at them during an online call.
  • Alternatively, choose 1 or 2 phrases in advance of your meeting that you want to try, just in case you get stuck. Write them down on a stick-it note or on your notepad.
  • If you do have the chance to try a phrase in the meeting, make sure you reflect & capture your learnings immediately after the meeting:
    • How did the other person/ people respond when you used the phrase?
    • How did it feel using the phrase? How did it help your speaking confidence?
    • Would you try the phrase again? If so, keep it noted!
    • If the phrase did not work for you, I suggest you try it out in one further meeting situation, before leaving it to the side & selecting another phrase to see if it works better for you.
  • Ideally, you are aiming for 2-3 phrases you can use comfortably in this type of situation.

So, which phrases do you prefer & find work for you?

Let me know your favourite ones, or please share with me if you have any other phrases you find helpful to sound natural & confident in English in the moment.

I always love to hear back your comment & questions, so email me.

You might also like reading:

The 8 Keys to Confident English Communication

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