25 Business English Discussion Questions That Go from Classroom to Boardroom (2022)

25 Business English Discussion Questions That Go from Classroom to Boardroom (1)

By 25 Business English Discussion Questions That Go from Classroom to Boardroom (2)stephenseifert Last updated:

Business English is no longer only about stats, margins and PowerPoint presentations!

Break those old business classroom rules, because this unique type of class has become a trending topic in the ESL world.

As with any hot topic, it is constantly and quickly evolving.

Companies and corporations, large and small, are expanding their global reach, so employees from countries around the globe are seeking ESL skills that are vital to their professional growth.

Your students may be from all walks of life, but chances are good that they are learning English to grow professionally at some stage. That being said, they are bound to have some diverse experiences in a wide variety of industries. Who knows where their English skills will take them?

That is exactly why you should introduce them to a huge spread of business topics. Then they will be prepared, no matter what!

But how can you best dig into those topics?

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How to ExploreBusiness English Topics with Discussion

Professional communication is one key skill that can shoot them straight up the ladder. So, close those textbooks and spark communication that will build confidence and key business-minded ESL skills your students crave.

(Video) BOX SET: 6 Minute English - 'Business & Work' English mega-class! 30 minutes of new vocabulary!

Starting conversations withbusiness-oriented questions in your ESL classroom will bea welcome break from the textbooks andworksheets they may be focused on for most of the week.

Business topics—and essential questions about those topics—will build communication into your lessons effortlessly, and it will allow students to put vocabulary and grammar lessons to good, practical use. For example, if you spend most of the week discussing customer service and sales, make Friday a day to discuss those topics openly!

To get these conversations off the ground, you will need to discern which questions and topics are important for your students. What topics do they most care about? What is most immediately relevant to their lives? What is hot in the business world? Once you have identified these kinds of topics, you can easily keep communication flowing with deeperquestions.

Opening up business conversations may be overwhelming for some of your students, but keeping it fun and informative will develop the perfect atmosphere for communication. Don’t just let your students get away with yes or no answers. Challenge them to respond thoughtfully, in full sentences, and then keep it flowing naturally with follow-up questions that intrigue or expand the topic.

If you’re after a fun and straightforward way to introduce business English topics, then take some time to explore the FluentU program.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.

You students will love the real-world application and pressure-free content, which allows them to expand on their ideas!

After all, business English is not about long faces and statistical presentations. Show them a side of business English that will make them comfortable and excited to work.

Develop theirprofessionalism throughyour conversations, encouraging them to speak smartly and politely, but don’t be too strict—let your students try new things without the seriousness they often get enough of at the office.

If all this sounds like a lot to do, just remember, you don’t need to have a master’s in business administration to teach business English effectively. You only need to be a diligent teacher with well-developed lesson plans and thoughtfully-crafted material that you researched and pondered yourself.

But are you going to be asking the right questions? There’s an easy way to find out. Ask yourself the questions you intend to ask your students. This does wonders for the classroom conversations to come. Do they get you excited? Do they spur creative thinking? Do they have multiple layers? What do you wish you knew about this?


From conferences to business ethics, let’s take a look at the topics and questions that will assist your students in their professional growth!

25 Business English Discussion Questions That Go from Classroom to Boardroom

English in Business Warm-up

Chances are, if thesestudents are seeking your vast, teacherly knowledge in a business class, they already have a good concept of the importance of business English. You can build on this, since the topic of English in business is familiar.

Discussing the very nature of the relationship between business and English is an exceptional way to warm your students up for what is to come later in the lesson.Students are often asked why they are learning English, and having the ability to discuss the topic in a clear and informative way will do wonders for their confidence as well.

To get warmed up, let your students ask you hypothetical questions about what youwould do as a language learner, needing to use a foreign language in business. This will get them more comfortable, learning that you too would have the same challenges and fears when speaking another language for business purposes.

You could also ask them similar questions related to their native languages. How are they important for business?

After that, dig into the questions about English usage in the business world.

Here are a few questions about how English is used in business.

Discussion Questions:

  • Do you think English is the global business language? If so, what does that mean in your country?
  • How often do you use English in your career?
  • Do you feel more comfortable emailing or calling someone in English? Do you feel that writing formal English is challenging?
  • Do you think English will get you promoted? Are there any annual English tests that are mandatory for you to take in your company?
  • Do you get nervous speaking to foreign colleagues or clients in English? What is your best story for this question?

Conference Conversations

Conferences are often an overlooked aspect of business English. Many students may be in your class for this very topic. Even if it is not a driving reason, they may well have an important conference in the very near future and want to prepare.

Taking some time in your lesson to explain the types of communication your students will encounter at conferences is vital. Networking, detailed job descriptions, presentation discussions, gathering information and the general culture exchange are all key areas of a professional conference.

It is also an excellent idea to take some of the pressure offyour conference-goer students by explaining that conferences are usually fun and not so serious. Many business professionals find conferences exciting and a much needed diversion from the day-to-day grind at the office.

(Video) Classroom to Boardroom: Preparing Learners for the Workplace – a webinar by Rob Howard IATEFL Poland

Let your students explore opening conversations and networking before breaking out your arsenal of conference questions. Have them pair up and open discussions with their partners, allowing them to continue confidence building.

Here are some conference questions for your students to mull over.

Discussion Questions:

  • How would you open a conversation with someone in English at a conference? Is it any different in your native language?
  • Do you normally see all the presentations at a conference? What are some good and bad reasons you might miss a presentation or two?
  • Do you find it more challenging making small talk or discussing business at conferences? Why do you think that is?
  • Do you go out of your way to meet new people at conferences, or do you stick to your pack of colleagues? What are some great reasons to meet new people?
  • Are there parties at conferences? Any good stories?

Customer Service Situations

Customer service is essential to businesses large and small. It is one aspect of business that may vary by country and culture, however, it remains the backbone in boardrooms worldwide.

Exploring customer service with your students is an important attribute to this business English topic. Ask your students what customer service is like in their country and how they think it differs from other places in the world. Get their minds moving in the right direction while addressing all questions your students might have about customer service first.

Business English customer service questions are also a perfect aspect of your student’s professional growth. Since client or consumer feedback is so important, have your students give some feedback of their own about your service as a quick warm-up. This will be enjoyable for the students and you may even learn a bit of useful information about your lessons.

Discussion Questions:

  • What parts of customer service does your company focus on?
  • What is your worst customer service experience? What is your best, and why?
  • Can you think of any companies known for their exceptional customer service? Do you support these companies as a consumer?
  • How do you ensure your clients and customers get great customer service from either you or your subordinates?
  • Is customer service part of a company’s culture? How is that beneficial to a company?

Creating Company Culture

What exactly is company culture anyways? This may be a question your students will enthusiastically ask and be eager for your answer.

Company culture is an essential aspect to any company and your students will need to understand the value of a good company culture versus a bad one. One way to spark this business English topic is to draw a line down the center of your classroom’s whiteboard. On one side is good aspects of company culture, while the other side is for the bad and ugly side. Let your students respond freely as you write down their thoughts.

They may think overtime is a bad aspect of company culture, but they may continue to work overtime at their current company. This would be an excellent question for those students, as to why they put up with bad company culture aspects. This topic could quickly turn negative, so keep your positives rolling in and move to your well-crafted questions after a bit of warm-up.

Discussion Questions:

(Video) Teaching BUSINESS ENGLISH ONLINE in 2020 | Ebook Out NOW! | Business English Lesson Material

  • Do you believe that company culture is important? If yes, how do companies steer clear of negative company culture aspects as listed on the board?
  • What is the company culture of your company? Do you like it?
  • Do you think your company could create a more positive, well-rounded company culture?
  • What are some of the perks in your company?
  • What perks or benefits do you look for in a prospective company’s culture? Why are these important to you?

Building Business Ethics

Your eager business English students have most likely studied a bit of business ethics in their native language, so why not bring it to life in English? You don’t necessarily need to crack open the Hippocratic Oath in order to discuss business ethics with your students.

However, covering the main ethics that pertain to business today is important. Environmental issues, ecological responsibilities, labor rights, health and wellness are all components of business ethics trendingin the news daily.

You can use soda beverage companies as a warm-up activity before delving into your other business English questions. Ask your students what soda they drink, why they drink it and if they think it is ethical for soda companies to sell sugary drinks linked to certain health problems? This will raise an eyebrow or two, asmost of your students may not have considered the ethical side of things.

Discussion Questions:

  • What are “business ethics” and how do they affect your community?
  • Would you consider your company ethical? Are there any business practices you may disagree with on an ethical level?
  • What are a few companies that have been known for bad business ethics? How about good ones?
  • How often do you think about or discuss business ethics with colleagues or managers in your current career?
  • What are some ways companies can improve their business ethics in the future?

As you can see, business English topics and questions are a fun way to provoke your students into thinking about the business realm in different or new ways.

Engage your students and challenge them to look at the issues in business that are important to their future.

Keeping your questions focused and having conversation building follow-up questions is an essential component to your lesson.

Not allowing your students to pass with the scripted answer or common “yes” or “no” is vital to building their confidence and exploring new business topics from classroom to boardroom.

Stephen Seifertis a writer, editor, professor of English and adventurer. With over 7 years of teaching experience to students worldwide, he enjoys the many aspects of culture and traditions different from his own. Stephen continues his search for writing inspiration, boldly enjoying life to the fullest.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What are some good discussion questions? ›

Conversation Topics For Anyone
  • “What is your favorite thing about your personality?”
  • “What do you love most about your home?”
  • “What's one habit you want to get rid of and one habit you want to keep?”
  • “What was the first big purchase you made as an adult?”
  • “What does a perfect day with the family look like?”
4 Oct 2022

How can I speak business English like a successful businessman? ›

How to Improve Business English Speaking Skills
  1. Listen to podcasts. There are many podcasts made for business English learners. ...
  2. Listen to English speakers. Pay attention to every native speaker you encounter. ...
  3. Watch authentic English videos. ...
  4. Read, read, read! ...
  5. Focus on common phrases with multiple applications.
27 Aug 2022

How do you teach business English conversation? ›

Here are five tips to get your business English teaching off to a good start:
  1. Find out what students really want to achieve. ...
  2. Get a clear idea about the contexts in which learners use English. ...
  3. Be businesslike but keep energy levels high. ...
  4. Choose your materials wisely. ...
  5. Be flexible and try to anticipate problems.
26 Mar 2014

What questions should I ask in 20 questions? ›

  • Have You Ever Dine And Dashed At A Restaurant? ...
  • Would You Rather Have Endless Money Or Endless Love? ...
  • Have You Ever Been In A Car Crash — And It Was Your Fault? ...
  • If You Could Star In A Movie, What Movie Would It Be? ...
  • What Is Your Most Frequently Used Emoji? ...
  • What Was The Last Thing You Stole Or Shoplifted?
17 Oct 2017

What are the 4 types of questions? ›

The 4 Main Types of Questions in English + Examples
  • General or Yes/No Questions.
  • Special or Wh-Questions.
  • Choice Questions.
  • Disjunctive or Tag Questions.
24 Sept 2022

What is a good business research topic? ›

Social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, business ethics, sustainable development, resources management, and technology and innovation management are other notable topics you could use for your business research paper.

What is the best topic for business? ›

Top 10 Business Research Paper Topics
  • Ethical Issues in Modern Business Management. ...
  • The Economic Development of Developing Economies in the Emerging Digital Economy. ...
  • The Role of Business Negotiation in Driving Sales Performance. ...
  • The Role of Social Entrepreneurship in Societal Transformation.
23 Apr 2022

What should be a safe topic for a small talk in business conversation? ›

Some of the most common small talk topics include:
  • Sports/athletes.
  • Music/movies/books.
  • Weather.
  • Travel/tourism.
  • Hobbies.
  • Food/restaurants.
  • Technology.
19 Jan 2022

How do you talk like a business professionally? ›

Speak Like a Professional
  1. Use short, clear, declarative sentences. Short sentences focus your message and make it easier for your audience to follow. ...
  2. Speak in the active tense. Own your actions. ...
  3. Stay calm under pressure. ...
  4. Speak naturally. ...
  5. Say what you mean. ...
  6. Focus on what matters to your audience. ...
  7. Be specific.
1 Aug 2017

What are the specific things we learn in business English? ›

Business English courses include vocabulary and phrases used in business and profesional setting, business writing, delivering presentations, giving opinions, negotiating, describing graphs and charts as well as conducting and taking part in meetings.

How do you talk in a business meeting? ›

Consider the following strategies to make yourself heard in meetings:
  1. Sit near the center of the table. It's easier to be left out of the conversations if you're sitting at the end of the table. ...
  2. Jump into the conversation – tactfully. ...
  3. Speak confidently. ...
  4. Watch your body language. ...
  5. Don't let yourself be interrupted.

What are the current trends in Business English teaching? ›

6 English Language Teaching Trends for 2021 You Don't Want to...
  • New Technology, Video Platforms and Social Media. New Technology to Watch: Virtual Reality. ...
  • Mindfulness and Social-emotional Teaching. ...
  • Task-based Learning. ...
  • Translanguaging. ...
  • DIY Learning. ...
  • TPRS.
9 Feb 2022

What is one of the challenges of teaching Business English? ›

There are all kinds of reasons why motivation may not be at a premium, but one of the main challenges business English students encounter is external pressure. The learner can be under a lot of pressure from an employer to reach a high level and be criticised for failing to do so very quickly.

What makes a good business instructor? ›

Business teachers should have excellent analytical and math skills, the ability to communicate effectively, and should relate well to students, peers, and superiors. They should also be able to act as coaches and mentors to their business students.

What should I ask in 21 questions? ›

21 Questions List
  • What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?
  • If you could travel to any year in a time machine, what year would you choose and why?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What's one of the most fun childhood memories you have?
5 May 2021

What is the 21 questions game? ›

21 Questions is a game for people to get to know each other better. It can be played either in a group or with just two people. If the game is being played in a group, a target volunteers or is selected. Then, the target is asked a total of 21 questions and must answer them honestly.

What is the 10 question game? ›

A student draws a card out and keeps it hidden from the class. The class then takes turns at asking yes/no questions to discover the type of litter on the card. For example, “Is it made from paper?”, “Do you drink out of it?”, etc. If the answer is “yes” then the student who asked the question has another turn.

What are the 5 English questions? ›

The “five Ws” are the question words who, what, when, where and why.

What are the 7 types of questions? ›

Types of questions
  • Closed questions. ...
  • Open questions. ...
  • Funnel questions. ...
  • Leading questions. ...
  • Recall and process questions. ...
  • Rhetorical questions. ...
  • Divergent questions. ...
  • Probing questions.

What are the questions about business? ›

Thirty Most-Asked Questions about Small Business
  • Do I have what it takes to own/manage a small business? ...
  • What business should I choose? ...
  • What is a business plan and why do I need one? ...
  • Why do I need to define my business in detail? ...
  • What legal aspects do I need to consider? ...
  • What do I need to succeed in a business?

What are the latest research topics in management? ›

Management Research Paper Topics
  • EMERGING TOPICS IN MANAGEMENT. Activity-Based Costing. ...

What are examples of business research? ›

An example of business research is gathering sales information and writing a detailed report on marketing and sales. Business research is a systematic inquiry that provides information to guide managerial decisions.

How do I become a smooth talker in business? ›

Whatever the context, old friends or new, it is best if speakers respect five principles:
  1. Put others at ease.
  2. Put yourself at ease.
  3. Weave in all parties.
  4. Establish shared interests.
  5. Actively pursue your own.

How can I make a conversation more interesting? ›

8 Tips on How to Make a Conversation Interesting
  1. Keep the Conversation Focused on the Other Person. ...
  2. Find Points of Commonality and Connection. ...
  3. Watch Late-Night Talk Shows. ...
  4. Talk Slowly and Enunciate. ...
  5. Focus on the Conversation. ...
  6. Ask Personal Questions. ...
  7. Ask Open-Ended Questions. ...
  8. Handle Controversial Topics Delicately.

How do you speak like a business leader? ›

How to Speak Like a Leader
  1. Be Aware Of Context – Speak like you know what's going on and as if you have a full vision of the task at hand.
  2. Be Confident – Decisiveness is a key quality of leadership. ...
  3. Be Specific – Vagueness is akin to uncertainty, so don't be afraid to drill into a subject and respond with laser focus.

How do you sound like a professional speaker? ›

4 Vocal Tips to Sound Like a Pro in Virtual Meetings
  1. Slow your pace. Pace is the speed at which you speak. ...
  2. Pause for impact. One way to slow down the pace of your delivery is to pause after a key message. ...
  3. Enunciate every word. I used to clip the end my words until I learned to stop it. ...
  4. Use a high-quality microphone.
26 Jun 2020

How can I speak more intelligently? ›

How to Sound Smart
  1. Use simple terminology. Stop thinking the use of big words will make you appear smart. ...
  2. Don't over-articulate. Connect the words within phrases together.
  3. Relax & Breathe. Being relaxed always improves your performance; exhale your voice right out of your lungs. ...
  4. Use a varied intonation pattern.
29 Jun 2020

What is the main purpose of Business English? ›

As a purpose-specific tool, the central goals of business English is to carry the message across and to reach agreement. This is why it demands a business-oriented English vocabulary and a bunch of skills. These skills can include English letter writing, delivering presentations, negotiating or plain small-talk.

What are three types of documents in the workplace that may require Business English? ›

These documents include receipt records, payroll reports, paid bills, bank statements, income statements, balance sheets and tax reporting forms.

What is importance of Business English? ›

The aim of business English is to improve your ability to interact with English-speaking countries or companies. Communicating in a business setting can be more challenging than usual. In this environment, presentation and confidence are important skills.

How do you impress in a business meeting? ›

5 Ways to Impress Your Boss at a Meeting
  1. Make smart small talk. No one enjoys talking about work 100% of the time, not even managers and executives. ...
  2. Choose your meeting materials wisely. ...
  3. Respect your boss by respecting your own work. ...
  4. Ask intelligent questions. ...
  5. Finish with a strong call to action.

What do you say at the beginning of a meeting? ›

You'll want to start the meeting by welcoming your attendees and introducing yourself.
You can start with a simple greeting, using phrases such as:
  • “Good morning / afternoon”
  • “Let's begin”
  • “I'd like to welcome everyone”
  • “Since everyone is here, let's get started”
  • “I'd like to thank everyone for coming today”
17 Feb 2018

What are the 3 types of discussion question? ›

THREE TYPES OF QUESTIONS: 1. Factual 2. Interpretive 3. Evaluative Page 5 FACTUAL QUESTIONS Page 6 FACTUAL QUESTIONS Everyone will eventually agree on the answer.

What are the most thought provoking questions? ›

Deep Thought-Provoking Questions
  • When do you feel most alive?
  • Is honesty always the best policy?
  • If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
  • What is your worst habit, and what is keeping you from beating it?
  • How would your life change if the internet ceased to exist?
7 Apr 2022

What is a powerful question? ›

Powerful questions are open ended and empower the person responding to choose the direction they take. They create possibilities and encourage discovery, deeper understanding, and new insights. They are curious and non-judgmental as they seek to further learning and connection.

What is a fun question to ask a group? ›

Funny Icebreaker Questions. What is one article of clothing that someone could wear that would make you walk out on a date with them? The zombie apocalypse is coming, who are 3 people you want on your team? What is your most used emoji?

What are the 5 types of discussion? ›

Description These five types of open-ended, level three questions (enduring, critical, hypothetical, metacognitive, & socratic) provide students with structured ways to format ideas and facilitate higher-level discussion.

What are universal questions? ›

Universal Question:

A universal question asks for change or is a question that people don't really have a sure answer for. Universal questions are deeper or more difficult questions about life. Examples: How might kids like Julian become some mean?

What are the best open-ended questions? ›

The ability to ask good open-ended questions isn't just important for building small talk with new people, but also forging stronger connections with those you're already close with.
  • How was your weekend? What did you do?
  • How was your day? What was the best part?
  • How have you been? What's been going well for you?
25 May 2017

What is the hardest question answer? ›

Answered! Life's 25 Toughest Questions
  • Can love really last a lifetime? ...
  • Why do married folks begin to look like one another? ...
  • Can a marriage survive betrayal? ...
  • Why does summer zoom by and winter drag on forever? ...
  • Do animals really have a sixth sense? ...
  • Why does the line you're in always move the slowest?
23 Nov 2010

Is 20 questions a yes or no question? ›

Every question can only be a yes/no question.

The idea is to gradually narrow down the potential options until you feel confident that you know the correct answer. Whenever you think you know what it is, go ahead and make your guess, even if you haven't asked all 20 questions yet.

How do you ask an intelligent question? ›

How to ask smart questions
  1. Think about what you already know. Reviewing your existing knowledge on a subject can help you pinpoint any gaps. ...
  2. Confirm what you want to learn. ...
  3. Create a draft of your questions. ...
  4. Refine your questions. ...
  5. Ensure simplicity. ...
  6. Ask your questions confidently and politely.
18 Oct 2021

What are challenging coaching questions? ›

35 Coaching Questions for When Your Client Is Stuck
  • Understanding how the emotion arose. What is your definition of being “stuck?” ...
  • Struggling to formulate answers. ...
  • Identifying hope. ...
  • Clarifying goals. ...
  • Nudging them out of their comfort zone. ...
  • Untapped Opportunities. ...
  • Action-oriented Questions.
12 Oct 2016

What are good questions to ask executives? ›

Questions to ask a CEO of your company
  • What teams in the organisation do you feel are most engaged? And why?
  • How important is employees' energy levels to the success of the organisation?
  • How do you listen to your employees?
  • What keeps employees happy in your opinion?
  • How do you motivate people to go the extra mile?

What are some 21 questions? ›

21 Questions List
  • What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?
  • If you could travel to any year in a time machine, what year would you choose and why?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What's one of the most fun childhood memories you have?
5 May 2021

What are 5 random questions? ›

Good random questions to ask people
  • What do you think the meaning of life is?
  • If money were no object, what would you do?
  • If you found out you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?
  • What is the most unexpected piece of advice you ever received?
3 Jun 2022


1. BOX SET: 6 Minute English - 'Business & Work 2' English mega-class! 30 minutes of new vocabulary!
(BBC Learning English)
2. Take a Seat in the Harvard MBA Case Classroom
(Harvard Business School)
3. Booking a hotel room – 25 – English at work reserves your room
(BBC Learning English)
4. Penn Harris Madison Board Meeting 1-25-21
(Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation)
5. Vancouver School District - Board Meeting May 25, 2020
(Vancouver School Board)
6. 06.15.22 SDPBC Board Meeting
(School District of Palm Beach County)

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