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Business Skills: Meeting point

The agenda is a key tool for successful meetings. A good agenda, sent out before the meeting, allows participants to prepare themselves properly. And during the meeting, it is the main tool to help the facilitator keep control of the meeting process.

Here are six tips on what to think about when you are preparing the agenda for your next international meeting.

1. List the names of those expected to attend. Include apologies for absences if already known in advance. It is important for everyone to know who will be there.

2. Have a heading called “Action points” to follow up decisions made in any previous meeting. It is important in regular meetings to make sure that all actions agreed upon are carried out. It also puts some pressure on participants to actually do what they said they would do.

3. Make it crystal clear what each heading on the agenda means. When you write “New software”, is it clear that you want to discuss buying new software for sales support, for example? Or might some participants think you are looking at other software recently bought by your team? Perhaps the heading should read: “Proposal to purchase new software for sales support”.
This is longer, but now people know what to prepare for.

4. After the heading, it is good practice to state who is responsible for introducing it, and to say what type of item it is (information, a decision, brainstorming, a report, etc.). For example: “3. Proposal to purchase new software for sales support. Responsible: Klaus Jensen (Decision)”.

5. Set a time limit for the discussion to help focus people’s minds: “3. Proposal to purchase new software for sales support. Responsible: Klaus Jensen (Decision / 30 minutes)”.

6. Think carefully about the order of the items on the agenda. Often you will need to get a decision on one item before you can discuss another. But there are other considerations besides these practical, logical ones.

You could order the items like this:
Let people warm up their language skills in international meetings by starting with the easy but urgent items. This creates an atmosphere of agreement.
Then go on to the more difficult, urgent items.
Now have a couple of easy items again to bring back the atmosphere of agreement.
Next, deal with the really difficult, controversial items.
End with one or two easy items on which you know there will be agreement, so you can finish on a positive note.
Business Skills: EXPRESSING REGRET

If you regret something, you feel sorry about it and wish it hadn’t happened. Sometimes, the verb “regret” is used to refer to something you are about to say. There is a grammatical difference in these two uses of “regret”. When referring to something you are about to say, “regret” is followed by “to” + the infinitive of a verb such as “inform”, “tell (you)” or “say” (sometimes with an intervening “to have to”).

This use of “regret” is found almost exclusively in formal letters or official statements. Less formally, you can quite simply say that you are sorry:
We regret to inform you that our office will remain closed until Monday, 5 January.
I’m sorry to tell you that we will be switching to another supplier.

In other cases, “regret” is followed by a noun, a “that”-clause or an -ing form:
I’ll always regret my decision not to study medicine.
I think she’ll regret that she turned down our offer.

“Regret” is often used together with an adverb such as “bitterly”, “deeply”, “really” or “very much”. These are structures that are often used in more formal English.

Another common way of expressing regret about something that has happened is by using the phrase “I wish”, with the verb of the following clause in the past perfect tense:
I wish you had told me about the problem. I would have been happy to help you.
I wish he hadn’t cancelled the annual meeting. I needn’t have worn my best suit today.

In the same situation, instead of “I wish” we can also use “if only” + past perfect:
If only I hadn’t offered to help! Now I’ll have to spend the weekend in the office.
If only he had prepared properly, he would have made a better impression.

Both “I wish” and “if only” are also often used to express regret about a present situation. In that case, they are followed by the past simple:
I wish I knew what to do.
If only I spoke French!

Another common way of expressing regret about something you did or have done is by using “should have” or “shouldn’t have” with the past participle form of the verb:
We should have contacted them sooner. It’s probably too late now.
I shouldn’t have downloaded that attachment. I think it had a virus.

© Business Spotlight
www.business-spotlight.de

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Thorsten Hahn, Jahrgang 1967, ist Gründer und Geschäftsführer der BANKINGCLUB GmbH. Der Profinetzwerker zählt auf Plattformen wie XING und Linkedin zu den Nutzern mit der besten Vernetzung in die Finanzbranche. Wie kein Zweiter versteht er dieses Netzwerk zu nutzen und auch anderen zugänglich zu machen. Außerdem ist der erfahrene Banker und Diplom-Kaufmann Herausgeber der BANKINGNEWS, welche 10 Jahre lang als Onlinemagazin und seit Sommer 2014 als Printzeitung (7.500 Empfänger) erscheint, sowie Autor verschiedener Fachbücher und Buchbeiträge.

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