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Want People to Talk in Virtual Meetings?

Want  people  to talk  in virtual meetings?

     How to ask for ideas or feedback during a virtual meeting that gets valuable answers—and not only from the usual talkative people?  Face it- virtual meetings are here to stay.  Because  “keep it simple” is a great mantra, this blog  will include  “chat” but will not discuss, Q&A, breakout rooms, reaction icons, virtual whiteboards and the range of apps which can facilitate getting more information from people.*  But here are   quick and easy ways to get people to speak up  in virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings — or hybrid meetings with some persons face-to-face and others coming in on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype.

  1. Distribute  your Questions beforehand.  If asking people for insight. it’s only nice and fair to give them  enough time –as much time as possible–to think about the problem.   Email all participant no more than 5 questions you will be asking.
  •  Insert those questions in the meeting agenda and calendar so all know what’s coming and can prepare.

       Notably, if invited to a meeting without an agenda, it’s good virtual meeting etiquette to ask for one since time is the most precious resource.  Also ask for any pre-reading or “pre-work” participants can do to be ready.

  • Get rules that encourage participation. Easy it is for an idea-getting session to careen off course when people confuse developing ideas with debating the pros and cons.  Many will refuse to raise a virtual or real-life hand if they think their response will get shot down.  How to fix? State the purpose of the meeting with a statement, “This meeting’s purpose is only to  collect ideas and build on them if we can.  In the next meeting, we’ll assess them and pick our favorites,”

     To keep balanced speaking  time, communicate boundaries like “We’re limited to one hour, so keep your contributions brief to give everyone time to speak—one to three minutes is ideal.

     Keep things moving forward  by recommending long-running conversations be continued offline or by phone call after the meeting.

  • Start with easy questions and poll: “If you agree with choice 1, raise your left hand  or click in choice 1 in the chat box, if choice 2—right hand,  if both choices are equally agreeable to you, raise both hands or click in  both choice 1 and 2 in the chat box.

      For simple feedback,  “Share one thing you learned from last week’s event”  — or “this week’s meeting”—share verbally or put in the chat box.   Understand that  many people  feel more comfortable typing than talking,  so chat can elicit ideas that might be lost.

 The key to polling is ask for one short and specific contribution, versus a general question like  “What do you think about that?” or  “What questions are in your mind?”

                Once you’ve received answers to brief polling via gestures, brief vocal response or chat, the next step to encourage ideas or  feedback is:

  •  Follow Up on Those Questions   Now that you’ve broken the ice of discomfort by doing an easy first request, many people feel comfortable offering ideas and –notably with your help—can now elaborate on those ideas.

                  “William, can you unmute and tell us why you chose number 1?”

                   “Jenny, you called the product creative and innovative.  Could you unmute and share why?”

                    ”Eduardo, you shared how your team became more efficient. Unmute and share examples, OK”

   Even those unlikely to verbally respond, when they have already responded to a poll by gesture or chat ,find  it’s easier to speak a contribution.

     Effective also to encourage discussion on the topic is to ask for agreement:  ”Raise your hand or Type 1 in chat if you agree with  Olga or to suggest another descriptor for the product.”

     Final watchwords are  to call people by name and repeat their communication.That’s proof positive that you value the team  ideas and  increase comfort to verbal participation.

*For these, google Joel Schwartzberg  Virtual Meeting Tips.

How to ask for a date

How to ask for a date?


Getting started is the hardest.

People who speak English as a second language often ask about colloquial or typical prases for asking a person out for a date.  They want the general North American pattern of that conversation,  In the United States, males can ask and females can ask.

Warmup Question

“How are you?”

“How’s it going?”

Rationale: The answer tells whether to proceed forward.  Tone of voice and body language may indicate that the other person is going through a very hard time, say, an accident or death in the family. Such a circumstance is not a good time to ask for a date.

Ask about Schedule

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Do you have any plans on (day of the week)?”

Rationale:  If the person has another commitment or is exhausted, then regroup on your plan for when to do this date.

Mention Activity

“There’s this cool (activity idea) coming up.”

“I’ve been meaning to check out (activity idea)”

Rationale:  The appeal of the activity idea might be enough to persuade the other person that going out with you is a great idea!

Ask for agreement to date or activity

“Do you want to go out?”

“Do you want to (activity idea)?”

Rationale: Be direct and to the point even if feeling shy or uncertain about the other person’s answer.  If you are not, then the other person may not even know that she/he has been asked out.


“You’re just fun to hang out with.”

“You’re just so interesting.”

Rationale:  Compliments help other persons know what is their appeal to you.

Advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description

“It’ll be a lot of fun.”

“The weather’s going to be great.”

“I’ve heard (activity idea) is awesome.”

Rationale: Focusing on the activity and the pleasure eases some of the uncertainty and pressure on the other person to say yes.

Retreat or allowing for space to decide

“Just thought I’d put it out there.”

“Only if it sounds like fun.”

“No pressure.”

“Figured it was worth asking.”

Rationale: Notice the body language to determine whether they are indecisive and not sure.  Take the pressure off to make it easier for them to agree to go out with you, or not go out with you, on this occasion.  Also taking the pressure off doesn’t lock them into never going out with you.  For example, if you suggest ice skating, they could turn you down because they don’t know how to ice skate.

Once you have the basic phrases engrained in your mind (memorized), combine for what fits your circumstance.

To be redundant, observe body language to interpret the other’s response to doing a date or activity with you. With that, you could proceed with enthusiasm in the form of advancing the idea or giving an encouraging description.  Or you could decide to go with a bit of humbleness in the form of a retreat.   Both are follow-up phrases which give the other person time and space to decide if she or he wants to go out or do an activity with you.

If rejection comes because of the activity, ask the other person what activity she/he would feel comfortable or excited about.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Take Detached Look at Your Comfort Zone for Interaction

Take a Detached Look at your Comfort Zone for Interacting with Others.

Taking a detached look at your comfort zone for people interaction can be unsettling, but it reveals a characteristic which you can choose to accept or change.

–Are you comfortable or at ease making conversation with someone you don’t know at a meeting, convention or conference?

—Do you avoid making eye contact with people in hallways, elevators and airplanes?

—Can you respond easily when someone tries to include you in a conversation?

Key words here are “making conversation,” ” eye contact,” and “easy response when someone tries to include you in a conversation” Therein lies the steps toward expanding your comfort zone for interaction.

Keep in Touch

Keep in Touch The Power of Staying in Touch… and Reconnecting

You ever get “Keep in touch” line at the end of a note, written or email?Great power is in staying in touch and reconnecting. Think about your relationships, past and present which are likely more vast than your initial thought. Relationships are like a garden, they need tending. Cultivate your relationships, your network, for growth, action, and interaction.

Staying in touch with people is like the little drops of water that make the trees grow and blossom. (Don’t know how to initiate? — “Been thinking about you.” “We haven’t communicated in a while. Do you have a few minutes to chat by phone in the next few days or week?”)

English Communication Skill: “Getting to know you” Venues that Work

English Communication Skill: “Getting to know you” Venues that Work.


Want connection with another person? Wonderful is getting to know a new person. It’s especially true if an encounter gave you intuition that you and this person would bond and might have lots in common.

Here are tips for first time getting together with a potential friend. someone you met in class, a work event, through a friend, or it’s a date.

These destinations encourage conversation.

Museums: Open spaces like art museums give opportunity to walk around in a beautiful setting while getting to know each other. Think broad for museiums: science, history, transportation. Chances are a small, quirky niche cultural attraction is in your area.

Restaurants: Choose a relaxed place where you can hear each other.  If new, check it out in advance.  Discuss with the other person for kind of restaurant, such as vegetarian, gluten free, casual burgers.

Open air venue:   Great for conversation is a relaxed walk through the city, local park, outdoor festival, flea market, or farmers market.

Used books or music store:  Used paperback books, old vinyl records, discounted CDs spark conversation about shared interests, likes, dislikes. Choose a place with a coffee shop or restaurant nearby to extend conversation afterwards.

Outdoor adventures:  If both are nature-lovers, a hike , bike ride or trip to a lake makes a great get together with opportunity to talk casually.

One word of warning– classic choice for first get together is the movies. But the cinema is difficult for getting to know someone since you are sitting in silence through a two-hour show.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.