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 for easy saving and printing:Small talk with present tenses

Related pages

Small talk page

Meetings page

Present tenses page

Market Leader Intermediate Unit 1 page

Market Leader Intermediate page

Over 300 pages of meetings photocopiables here.

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