BEP 369 – Scenario Planning 3: Discussing Strategic Responses

BEP 369 - Scenario Planning Meetings English 3: Discussing Strategic Responses

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on talking about strategic responses during a scenario planning meeting in English.

It’s impossible to predict the future exactly. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother trying. After all, we don’t create business strategies based only on today’s realities. We need to think about what will or might happen and how we will respond to these possible events.

So if we’ve done the work of laying out future scenarios, then how exactly do we plan our strategic responses? To start, you’ll need to choose an overall strategic posture. Are you going to take the lead in your industry? Or will you sit back and respond to things as they happen?

Your strategic posture depends in part on the possible impacts of future events and your choice of strategies. You need to discuss these impacts in order to choose the best course of action out of several possibilities. So this means you’ll be doing a lot of discussing alternative strategies.

In strategic planning, we often say that you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. For this reason, you will have to ask your team to prioritize, or decide which strategies are most important. And to make those decisions about priorities, you’ll need to discuss hypothetical results of different actions.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a meeting of executives at a large retail firm. Gwen is based in the US headquarters. She’s discussing strategies with Natasha and Daniel, who head up the firm’s operations in another country. The group is discussing strategic responses to future scenarios they’ve already mapped out.

Listening Questions

1. What strategy does Daniel suggest for their larger urban stores?
2. What does Natasha suggest instead of making big cuts to their operations?
3. What does Gwen say could be the ultimate result of the changes they’re discussing?

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BEP 368 – Scenario Planning 2: Discussing Possible Scenarios

BEP368 - Planning Meeting English 2 - Discussing Scenarios

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on discussing future scenarios in a planning meeting in English.

Business planning doesn’t look like it used to. The world today holds so many surprises and so much uncertainty. There is constant and unrelenting change, and sometimes it feels like we’re just trying to keep up.

In these circumstances, it’s a good idea to map out possible future scenarios. This type of exercise is often built on several key uncertainties that you’ve already identified. Mapping out the different scenarios is necessary before you can begin to develop strategies to respond to these possible future situations.

One thing you’ll do when you discuss scenarios is make predictions. In some cases, you’ll be able to make predictions with a great degree of certainty. In others, you’ll have to check whether you’re more certain than you should be. In particular, you might be affected by availability bias, where the available information leads you to make predictions with too much certainty.

Because we can’t always be certain, we find ourselves discussing the likelihood of certain events, or how probably they are. It can be tempting at this point to begin evaluating possible strategies, but it’s best to resist this and focus on the scenarios first. And throughout, you should watch out for assumptions that might cloud your thinking, or make you think unclearly.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a discussion at a large retail firm. Natasha and Daniel are executives discussing their country’s situation with Gwen, who is based in the U.S. The group is mapping out scenarios based on the situation they’ve already discussed.

Listening Questions

1. What does Natasha predict with certainty?
2. According to Daniel, how likely is it that sales will go down 30%?
3. What assumption does Natasha call Daniel out on?

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BEP 367 – Scenario Planning 1: Exploring the Situation

BEP 367 - Scenario Planning Meetings 1: Exploring the Situation

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on scenario planning meetings.

How do we plan for a future that’s so uncertain? On a global scale, we’re faced with a pandemic, climate change, social unrest, and political instability. On a local level, your business could be dealing with another set of challenges. So how can we plan for what might happen in the future?

One of the approaches that organizations take in uncertain times is scenario planning. In a nutshell, scenario planning involves discussing different possible future situations, and planning for each possibility. This kind of planning typically starts with exploring the situation.

Exploring the situation often involves a lot of speculation, as you discuss what might happen in the future. This helps you identify the key uncertainties you’re contending with. Of course, circumstances differ from place to place, so you may find yourself explaining contextual differences when you plan for different scenarios.

These discussions can be quite complex, so it’s often a good idea to ask for a summary of the issues. One more very important aspect of scenario planning is using evidence to guide the discussion. In some cases, you will need to use this evidence to counter other people’s optimism about the future.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a scenario planning discussion in a large retail firm. Gwen is in a leadership position in the company’s US headquarters. She’s talking with Natasha and Daniel, two executives based in another country. The company is faced with the enormous challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents. And in this discussion, they’re exploring the entire situation.

Listening Questions

1. At the start of the conversation, what government relief program does Natasha speculate about?
2. What does Daniel say is one of the biggest uncertainties they’re facing?
3. What possible change does Daniel believe might happen but Natasha doesn’t?

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BEP 366 – English for Startups 3: Addressing Investor Concerns

BEP 366 LESSON - Startup English 3: Answering Investor Questions

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on addressing investor concerns during a pitch in English.

One of the greatest skills in business is the art of persuasion. Whether you’re running a startup and wooing a big investor or trying to convince your boss to give you a pay raise you need to be able to persuade.

Of course, we often use a pitch or presentation to persuade, especially when looking for startup investment. But the pitch alone won’t seal the deal. The real test is handling questions and concerns after your pitch. Can you anticipate these concerns and be ready to address them? Can you think and speak on the fly? Do you have the confidence to back up what you’ve said in your presentation?

There are several concerns you might have to address. For one, you may have to explain exactly why your idea is unique. And you might also have to show clearly that you’re committed to the idea. One common investor concern is the valuation, or how much you think the company’s worth. You’ll need to justify your valuation clearly, and explain what you’ll do with the investor’s money. And through it all, you’ll be trying to show why you are backable, or deserve the investor’s support.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin Quinn, who is seeking investment for his online payments company called Moolah. In our last lesson, Quinn gave his pitch to the investor. Now he has to address some tough questions and concerns from a potential investor named Mason.

Listening Questions

1. What does Quinn believe shows that he’s fully committed to the company?
2. What exactly does Quinn plan to do with the investor’s money?
3. Why does Quinn believe he is backable on a personal level?

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BEP 365 – English for Startups 2: Pitching to Investors

BEP 365 LESSON - English for Startups 2: Pitching in English to Investors

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on pitching in English to investors.

The world of tech startups can be extremely exciting and rewarding. But success is certainly not guaranteed. In fact, 90% of new ventures that don’t attract investors within the first three years will fail. So if your company has made it through the valley of death, and you’re burning through cash but don’t have any revenue, then you’d better make sure you’ve got a great pitch to potential investors.

In just 10 to 20 minutes, you need to convince investors that they should risk their money on you. Or, more accurately, why they should risk their money on you instead of on the thousands of other companies they could invest in. It’s hard to think of a higher stakes presentation than a pitch to investors. So what will increase your chances of success?

Well, you need to talk about the problem that your product solves, and how your product is truly unique. Of course, in the startup world, timing is everything. So you need to be able to show there’s a market for what you’re offering. And a good startup isn’t just about a good idea, it’s about a solid revenue model. So you’ll need to explain that clearly. It’s also smart to sit down and think about what questions investors might have, and answer them before they have to ask them!

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a presentation by Quinn, who founded an online payments company called Moolah. In our last lesson, we heard Quinn preparing for his pitch with the help of a mentor. Now it’s showtime, as Quinn delivers his pitch in the hopes of attracting investment.

Listening Questions

1. What is the problem that Quinn identifies at the start of his presentation?
2. Who is Moolah’s target audience?
3. What question does Quinn anticipate the investors might have?

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