Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Do you feel like you’re good at thinking outside of the box?

This type of thinking can help you get ahead at work.

Today you’ll learn how you can share your unique ideas in business with your colleagues.

We’ll share idioms used often in business English.

These can help you be ahead of the game.

Business meetings in English

Lindsay asks Aubrey if she is good at thinking outside the box.

Aubrey shares she is a person who tends to keep following instructions.

She doesn’t deviate most of the time.

She shares that her daughter often thinks outside the box and she commended her for that.

Lindsay shares she does a lot of practical and scrappy thinking.

She would often think outside the box and she finds it fun.

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey share vocabulary you can use in a business meeting to share your ideas or start a conversation to discuss ideas.

A listener sent a question about raising questions at work.

This is part two of a three-part series.

You can check out part one BE 243: Get the Ball Rolling with Business Meeting Vocabulary

Vocabulary for business meetings

These idioms can be used to express yourself confidently in business situations.

They will make you sound native and natural.

#1: Think outside the box

This is often heard in the corporate setting.

It means coming up with innovative ideas


We need to think outside the box on this project.

#2: Balls in the air

This means there are multiple tasks, projects, or responsibilities to handle at the same time.


With these new contracts coming in, we have a lot of balls in the air right now.

#3: Back to the drawing board

This is said to mean that you need to start over.

You usually hear this because something didn’t go as planned.


Unfortunately, they didn’t accept the proposal so we’re back to the drawing board.

#4: Move the needle

This means to make significant progress or achieve something that positively impacts a situation.


We’ve been able to move the needle on our goal of zero emissions.

#5: Cut corners

You can say this as an alternative to say someone is taking shortcuts.

It’s usually done to save resources, like money or time.


We want to provide the best possible quality, so let’s avoid cutting any corners.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Aubrey using the vocabulary shared in today’s episode.

In this scenario, Aubrey and Lindsay are in a business meeting and are sharing ideas.

Aubrey: We have a lot of balls in the air right now. We’re going to need some outside the box thinking to manage it all.
Lindsay: I have some ideas on how to move the needle on a couple of these projects, but it might require us to cut corners.
Aubrey: I’m excited to hear what you’ve come up with. I think a consultant is being brought on as well to iron some things out.
Lindsay: We had found one but it didn’t work out, so we’re back to the drawing board on that.


We use a lot of idioms in meetings at work!

They make speech more natural and are used even during more formal situations like meetings.

Practice using them so you can impress during your next meeting.

Be sure to use them word for word or they won’t make sense!

What other idioms do you often hear in your business meetings?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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