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Capýtulo 4:

 Events and meetings. Eventos y encuentros en inglés

“Prevention is better than cure”

LEAD IN thinking....



Small Talk is a conversation about trivia matters, and we usually make small talk with people we don’t know very well.

There are basically three techniques to help to keep the conversation going:

  • Asking follow-up questions
  • Using question tags
  • Asking reply questions

¡Tip for success:

To get on well in conversation, it’s important to be good listener.

Listen carefully and respond to what you hear, showing interest and asking questions for more information.

Here is a list of common small talk subjects.

  • Sports - current matches or games, favorite teams, etc.
  • Hobbies
  • Weather - boring, but can get the ball rolling!
  • Family - general questions, not questions about private matters
  • Media - films, books, magazines, etc.
  • Holidays - where, when, etc. but NOT how much!
  • Home town - where do you come from, how is it different/similar to this town
  • Job - once again, general questions not too specific
  • Latest fashion and trends
  • Celebrities - any gossip you may have!

Here is a list of topics that probably aren't very good for small talk.

  • Salary – “how much do you make? - That's none of your business!”
  • Politics - wait to you get to know the person better
  • Intimate relationships - only for you and your partner - or maybe your best friend
  • Religion - tolerance is the key!
  • Death - we need to face it, but not the first time we meet someone new
  • Financial - related to salary above, most people prefer to keep financial information to themselves
  • Sales - Don't try to sell something to someone you have just met.

¡If you have difficulties speaking about any of these topics, try to improve your vocabulary by using the resources available to you(Internet, magazines, teachers at school, etc.)

In other words, if you want to be successful at making small talk, you should:

Do some research

Spend time on the Internet, reading magazines, or watching TV specials about the type of people you are going to meet.

Stay away from religion/strong political beliefs

While you may believe in something very strongly, beginning conversations and making small talk about your own personal convictions may abruptly end the conversation. Keep it light, don't try to convince the other person that you have the 'correct' information about a higher being, political system or other belief system.

Use the Internet to gain specific vocabulary

This is related to doing research about other people. If you have a business meeting, or are meeting people who share a common interest (a basketball team, a tour group interested in art, etc.), take advantage of the Internet to learn specific vocabulary. Almost all businesses and interest groups have glossaries on the Internet explaining the most important jargon related to their business or activity.

Be aware of culture

It is very important to be aware of what is acceptable or normal in different cultural contexts.

Find common interests

Once you have a subject that interests both of you, keep to it!


This is very important. Don't get so worried about being able to communicate that you don't listen. Listening carefully will help you understand and encourage those speaking to you. You might be nervous, but letting others state their opinions will improve the quality of the discussion - and give you time to think of an answer!

Activity 1

Read these conversations and decide whether the speakers are good at making small talk or not, and why.

               Glen:     Hi, I’m Glen.

               Mark:    Hi I’m Mark. I’m a friend of Mary’s.

               Glen:     Me too. So, how do you know Mary?

               Mark:    We go to the same gym.

               Glen:     Oh, I see. How ling have you been going to the same gym?

               Mark:    Nearly a year.

               Glen:     Wow! Are you enjoying it?

               Mark:    It’s OK. It’s easier to go with someone else than on your own.

               Glen:     Sounds good! I should be doing the same. Anyway, great party, isn’t it?



There is no secret for successful meetings. A good preparation and careful organization will make a meeting run smoothly.

In a business context, Time is money.

Meetings sometimes run for too long. 

How to avoid that?

Setting goals and timings,

Sticking to the agenda and

Knowing how to keep track and focus,

may be some of the key aspects of effective meetings.

Let’s now focus on the different parts of preparing and holding a meeting:


1. Calling a Meeting



There are different ways that you may call or be called to a meeting.

Meetings can be announced by e-mail or posted on bulletin boards.

Meetings can also be announced at the end of another meeting; in this case, it is important to issue a reminder.

A reminder can also come in the form of an e-mail or notice.

Announcements or reminders can also be verbaldocumented ones should always back these up.

The date, location, time, length, and purpose of the meeting should be included, as well as who exactly is expected to attend, and who is not.


2. Writing an Agenda

An agenda is used to keep the meeting on task and within the set amount of time.


The agenda should:

- indicate the order of items,

- estimate the amount of time that each item will take,

- indicate whose turn it is to "have the floor".

Many times, forwarding the agenda to attendees before the meeting can be very useful.


3. Allocating roles

The person responsible for calling and holding a meeting will decide to allocate certain roles to other staff members. Someone may be called upon to take the minutes, someone may be asked to do roll call, and someone may be asked to speak on a certain subject.


 Text   Remember: If you are planning on allocating someone to take on a certain role, make personal contact with  that person to inform them of their duty. This can be done either in person, or by e-mail.


4. Opening a Meeting

Small Talk

Whether you are holding the meeting or attending the meeting it is polite to make small talk while you wait for the meeting to start. You should discuss things unrelated to the meeting, such as weather, family, or weekend plans.


Once everyone has arrived, the chairperson, or whoever is in charge of the meeting should formally welcome everyone to the meeting and thank the attendees for coming.



Roll Call/Apologies

If the meeting is a small group, it is probably unnecessary to do roll calls. The person who is taking the minutes should know everyone personally and can indicate who is present and who is absent. In a larger meeting, it may be necessary to send around an attendance sheet or call out names. If an important figure is absent, it may be necessary for the chairperson to apologize for their absence and offer a brief explanation for it.




Some people who hold meetings prefer to pass around copies of the agenda, and others will post a large copy on a wall, or use an overhead projector. No matter which format is used, attendees should be able to follow the agenda as the meeting progresses. Before beginning the first main item on the agenda, the speaker should provide a brief verbal outline the objectives.


5. Following the Agenda

Taking the Minutes

Often someone who is not participating in the meeting will be called upon to be the minute-taker, but anyone can be assigned to write them.

Before a meeting the minute-taker should review the following:

  • The minutes from previous meeting.
  • All of the names of the attendees, only when possible.
  • The items on the agenda.
  • Also, creating an outline before going to the meeting may be helpful. An outline should include the following:
  • The title of the meeting.
  • The location and date of the meeting.
  • A blank spot to write the time the meeting started and ended.
  • The name of the chairperson.
  • A list of attendees that can be checked off (or a blank list for attendees to sign)
  • A blank spot for any attendees who arrive late or leave early


Watching the Time

One of the most difficult things about holding an effective meeting is staying within the time limits.

Remember: Time is Money.

A good agenda will outline how long each item should take.

A good chairperson will do his or her best to stay within the limits.



Regaining Focus

It is easy to get off topic. It is the chairperson's responsibility to keep the discussion focused. Here are some expressions to keep the meeting centered on the items as they appear on the agenda.



When issues cannot be resolved or decisions cannot be easily made, they are often put to a vote.

Votes can be open, where people raise their hands in favor or in opposition of the issue. In an open vote, the results are evident immediately. Other votes, such as who should be elected to take on a certain role, are private or Votes can be closed or private, where attendees fill out ballots and place them in a box to be counted. The results may not be counted until after the meeting.




Comments and Feedback

During the meeting, participants

  • will comment, provide feedback, or
  • ask questions.




6. Closing a Meeting

Wrapping Up

There are different reasons why a meeting comes to an end.

Time may run out, or all of the items in the agenda may be checked off.

Some meetings will end earlier than expected and others will run late.




There is almost always one last thing to say, even after the closing remarks.

A chairperson might close the meeting and then make a last-minute reminder.

Instructions for tidying up the room may also be mentioned.



Thank You's and Congratulations

The end of the meeting is also the time to thank anyone who has not been thanked at the beginning of the meeting, or anyone who deserves a second thank you.

Congratulations or Good-luck can also be offered here to someone who has experienced something new, such as receiving a promotion, getting married, or having a baby.



 Follow Up

In the closing remarks, the chairperson, or participants may want to discuss the date and time for the next meeting, when the minutes will be available, or when a decision should be made by. This is also the time to give contact information, such as how to send a question by e-mail or who to call regarding a certain issue.



Activity 2

To check if all this information related to meetings has been understood, try and answer this:

Are the following sentences true or false?

  1. The person who is in charge of the meeting is the person who takes the minutes.
  2. The best way to call a meeting is to inform each participant individually by phone.
  3. An agenda should outline the order and amount of time to spend on each item at the meeting.
  4. Engaging in small talk throughout the meeting is an effective way to keep the focus.
  5. When someone agrees with a motion it is "seconded".
  6. The person who is speaking during a meeting is the person who "has the floor".
  7. A polite way to indicate that you want to make a comment during a meeting is to say: "If I could just come in here..."
  8. When there is a tie vote, it is customary for the chairperson to ask one participant to reconsider his/her decision.
  9. During the closing remarks, the person holding the meeting should introduce new staff members or guest speakers.
  10. Reminders are typically announced after all of the items on the agenda have been covered

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