Small talk with present tenses to start meetings

Market Leader Intermediate Unit 1 – Present Simple and Continuous

What topics (= subjects) are good for making conversation (small talk/ chitchat), including with people who you don’t know well? 

Choose some of the topics below and attempt to have conversations on them. Were they actually good topics?

  • At work
  • Brands
  • Busyness
  • Changes/ Trends
  • Clothes
  • Cultural differences
  • Days off
  • Duties
  • Evenings
  • Events happening in this city (art exhibitions etc)
  • Free time/ Hobbies/ Leisure
  • Habits/ Routines
  • Holidays (= vacations)
  • International relations
  • Investments
  • Meals
  • Mornings
  • Nightlife/ Eating out/ Drinking
  • People you know
  • Present projects/ Things in progress
  • Shopping
  • Social media
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • The weather
  • Things happening around you
  • Time differences/ Jet lag
  • Travel
  • Typical day
  • Where you live
  • Your health/ condition

Change groups and do the same, but this time bringing the conversation to an end with phrases like those on the next page.  

Do the same, but this time actually moving into a meeting on this topic, continuing until the very end of the meeting:

You and your partner both work for a marketing company. A client of yours is presently sponsoring a football (= soccer) club, but wants to change to a cheaper and more exciting sport. Discuss together what your recommendations will be.

Do the listening on page 11. What suggestions do they have and what do they decide on?


Useful phrases for ending small talk and really starting the meeting




you must tell me more about that later but  




get down to business



shall we?





we must carry on talking after the meeting but



shall we











it’s been nice to catch up but



perhaps we should



get started


if that’s okay with you.




it’s been great to chat but



we really should



make a start



if you don’t mind.


right then,


we have to be out of here by 12 so  

I guess it’s time to






don’t you think?


okay then,


I know you’re keen to get out of here so



it’s about time to



discuss the point at hand


if that’s okay.


well then,


we’ve got a lot to get through so



this might be a good time to



have a look at the agenda


if that’s alright.







that brings me onto why we are here today, which is…


it’s funny you should say that because



that’s connected to what I wanted to talk about today, which is…


I’m glad you mentioned that as



today’s meeting is also about…

 Without looking above, put a cut-up version of the phrases into order. Note that different combinations are also possible.


PDF version for easy saving and printing:Small talk with present tenses

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