Business Lesson 11: Visitors

Business Lesson 11

Showing a Visitor Around and ‘Breaking the Ice’

One of the most common social situations in the business world is receiving potential or existing clients, business partners, or overseas representatives. Meeting someone new can be very awkward. If you add a professional air to an already potentially awkward situation, problems may arise. This lesson is designed to make your interaction with  visitors natural and comfortable. There are 3 steps to a successful business visit conversation:

1. First contact

In business, a first impression is everything. It is extremely important that a) you don’t talk too much, and b) that you don’t try to be overtly comedic or eccentric right from the beginning.Do not over power the visitors, let them speak. At the same time, you do not want to talk too little or be overtly boring. The solution for this dilemma is small talk. Essentially, small talk is a series of trivial conversations designed to allow two complete strangers to converse without really revealing any personal information however also permitting the two to have common conversational ground.
Here are some popular small talk topics:
* The current weather
* His or her trip
* Their outfit
* Their past weekend
* Family
For example, some common first questions following the introduction are:
First time in London? OR  How was your trip? OR We can’t seem to get rid of this rain, can we?

2. Talking about the business

Here are some useful phrases that will help you talk positively, clearly, and concisely about what your company does:

We were founded / set up / established in __________ (year).
We merged with ________ company in 1990.
We floated on the stock exchange last year, and we are now listed on The New York Stock Exchange.
We make, produce, manufacture ___________.
We have revolutionised, pioneered __________.
We are the market leaders in ________ (number of) countries.
We have expanded our ___________.
Our company has grown by __________.
We make annual profits of $___________.
Our turnover is in excess of $ __________.

3. Breaking the ice

Showing  visitors around does not only consist of talking about your company and the weather. At some point in time, you will have to have a real conversation that is neither small talk nor work-related.
Now is the time to let your personality enter the picture a little more. Try and find something the two of you share an interest in. A safe step is to begin by talking about mutual friends or acquaintances. From here on you can enter into hobbies or leisurely activities that you think may be able to spark conversation. Here are a couple of examples:
Did you catch the match last night? Arsenal really dominated.
I’ve been really excited for spring, I can’t wait to get back onto a surfboard.

Vocabulary List


Social situations


Existing clients


Problems may arise.

A first impression

Be overtly boring

To converse

Small talk topics


Enter the picture

To spark conversation


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