BEP 301 – External Meetings in English (Part 2)

BEP 301 - English for Meetings 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on communicating effectively in an external meeting in English.

Everyone talks about the importance of good communication skills in business. And one situation that clearly demonstrates this importance is external meetings. An external meeting is one where you meet with people or groups outside your own company. That might mean another firm or organization that you’re collaborating with. Or it might mean the government or other regulatory agencies.

In external meetings, there’s a lot of push and pull. Everyone at the table might have a different agenda, or different goals. And these goals might be in competition. If I get more of what I want, it might mean you get less of what you want.

Being successful in external meetings might involve steering the topic of conversation. To do that, you need good ways of introducing new topics or issues. And when others steer the conversation, you might not like where it goes. For that reason, you might have to stall if you need more time to respond or if you don’t want to commit to something. You might also want to avoid answering a question altogether.

So if everyone’s trying to steer the conversation, how does anything get done in an external meeting? Well, in some cases you just have to be insistent. I mean, you have to say “listen, this is the way it has to be.” Coming to agreement might also require you to give in to pressure, since you can’t always get everything you want. So you might need some good ways to back off a position or opinion that you were arguing for.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a conversation about the development of a new shopping mall. We’ll hear Nicky, the project manager, and Jennifer and Carlos, the architect and engineer who are working for the developer. They are meeting with Frank, who represents the local government. In this situation, there’s a lot of push and pull between the developer’s side and the city government side.

Listening Questions

1. What issue does Jennifer interject with before the group discusses timelines?
2. What does Frank say to avoid answering Jennifer’s question about parking spaces?
3. When Frank backs off his previous stance, what does he say to show hesitation or reluctance?

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