Giving Your Opinion in a Meeting

Meetings in English are often difficult for non-native English speakers. The discussion is usually fast. It takes time to find the right words. Using PREP can help. PREP means Point, Reason, Example, Point. The point is the main idea. Say your main idea first. Then, give a reason and an example. Finally, repeat your point. Using PREP will help you give your opinion. It will also help the listeners understand you.

During meetings, non-native English speakers sometimes have difficulty expressing their opinions in English. Business discussions tend to move quickly. By the time non-native speakers figure out how to express their opinion, it may be too late. The topic has probably changed. Using a formula for giving one’s opinion can help. One formula is PREP–Point, Reason, Example, Point. In many business discussions, it’s best to state your point–the main idea– first. Then, support your point by giving reasons and examples. Finally, to help listeners remember your point, restate it as a summary. Listeners tend to most clearly remember the first and last things that the speaker says. That’s why you should mention your point at the beginning and the end.

For non-native English speakers, it can be difficult to speak up in a meeting to give an opinion. Discussions are often fast-paced, and there is little time to prepare one’s thoughts before the opportunity is lost.

Learning a pattern or formula for organizing your thoughts can help you to think on your feet. A useful form to practice is PREP.

PREP stands for Point, Reason, Example, Point.

Here is an example of how someone might use PREP:

Point: I think it is essential to adapt our laundry products for different markets.

Reason: Our focus group research shows that consumers use our products in conditions that vary greatly from region to region.

Example: For example, although washing clothes in a machine using hot water is quite common in the U.S., cold water is more common in many other countries. In some regions, hand washing is more common than machine washing.

Point: It’s clear that one product does not fit all situations. That’s why I think it’s necessary for us to adapt our product for different regions.

The point is your main idea or key message. In many business discussions, it’s best to get to the point quickly, without giving a lot of background information. Provide some history if there is a need for it, as a way of explaining the point.

After you state your point, it is important to support it with reasons. It is also helpful to give examples so that the listeners can easily envision the relevance or merit of your point.

Finally, it’s a good idea to summarize by restating your point. Research on listeners’ retention shows that people are most likely to remember what you say at the beginning and at the end of a presentation or speech; their attention may wander in the middle. So say the most important thing–your point–at the beginning and at the end!

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