30 phrasal verbs often used in business meetings and small talk

Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat

With 20 years experience in finance, Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat is a Business English Trainer and founder of English with a Twist. In this article, Shanthi shares 30 phrasal verbs every professional should know when it comes to formal and informal meetings.

How to learn and remember phrasal verbs

If your students are like mine, phrasal verbs are their worst nightmare. Unfortunately, they are so commonly used by English speakers in business they can’t escape them!

My clients often ask me how best they should learn phrasal verbs and I categorically tell them that memorising a list of phrasal verbs out of context is a big NO! What is far more effective is to learn them in the different settings they find them. If the setting is familiar, the phrasal verb will be easier to understand and remember.

I prefer to teach phrasal verbs under different topics. This does 3 things:

  1. It shows students that phrasal verbs are a normal part of English.
  2. Learners are less likely to get overwhelmed by too many phrasal verbs at once.
  3. It allows them to practice using the phrasal verbs in the correct context.


In this post, I’m going to share with you 30 phrasal verbs divided in 2 business contexts – small talk and business meeting.

Phrasal verbs for small talk

Let’s imagine our clients are having a meeting over coffee. Here are 15 phrasal verbs they might hear:

  1. I was called in (= asked to do something) by my boss.
  2. I need to catch up (=do something that should be done) with my emails.
  3. We are putting in (give) hours and hours.
  4. They won’t give up (=abandon) their demands.
  5. We shouldn’t give in (=surrender) to bully tactics.
  6. Do you think they picked up (=receive) the message?
  7. I will need to get back to you (=reply) on that.
  8. Can we work something out (=agree) here?
  9. I agreed to step in (=take their place)for my boss.
  10. You need to run this by (=tell) the client.
  11. Who set this up (=arranged)?
  12. My colleague said they would put in a good word (=say something positive) for me .
  13. That team always stick up for (=support) each other.
  14. I don’t know who to turn to (=get help from).
  15. You can always count on (=depend on) me.


As previously mentioned it is easier to learn this with context. With this in mind, here is an audio recording of a typical conversation that uses the phrasal verbs above:


Download the audio conversation

Download the written transcript

Common phrasal verbs for formal business meetings

Imagine your clients have been asked to attend a meeting either in person or via a conference call…

The date and time is set and they put it (= schedule it) in your diary. Occasionally, they need to bring forward (=make it earlier) the time of the meeting to suit everyone.

They then get a call from a colleague to say that something has come up (=happened) and they decide the meeting has to be put back (=postponed) to another day. No problem. In a way they’re quite relieved because they have a mountain of things to do and they were worried that they might have had to call off (=cancel) the meeting anyway.

During the meeting, they have a number of issues they need to raise and deal with (=manage). They may have outlined the items in an agenda that they’ve circulated to everyone beforehand. With some issues, they may have to weigh up (=think carefully about) their advantages and disadvantages before taking action. This could take a while and they might encourage their colleagues to join in (=participate) the discussion.

Sometimes they need to look into (=to investigate/research) a matter before taking a final decision. If that’s the case, they might note down (=write) all the points raised during the meeting to help themselves.

Some people don’t like to be interrupted when they’re talking, while others don’t mind if someone steps in (=interrupt) with their point of view. I have had times when I’ve had to cut in (=interrupt) especially when I thought that a colleague was going on (=continuing without stopping) about something truly unimportant.

There is always someone in a meeting who just keeps rabbiting on (=talking too much about something that’s uninteresting) about some subject that no one else is interested in. So, I often tell my colleagues that we need to press on (=continue) with the other items in the agenda. After all, there’s nothing worse than having a meeting that drags on (=continues for far too long), is there?!

Hopefully by putting the phrasal verbs in a business context your students will begin to understand their meaning more clearly!

This post was based on two earlier post I wrote for my own blog, English with a Twist. You can view these below for further reading.

Business Phrasal Verbs: 15 Phrasal Verbs and Expressions You Can Use Over Coffee
Business Phrasal Verbs: 15 Phrasal Verbs and Expressions You Can Use In Your Next Business Meeting in English

I’d love to know how you help your students understand business phrasal verbs. Please do share your own tips in the comments below!

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