Skills 360 – Leading Group Decision-Making Meetings (2)

Skills 360 Lesson - Facilitating a Meeting to Make a Decision 2

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to lead a group meeting to make a decision.

If you’re leading a group meeting to make a decision, you should expect a few obstacles along the way.

For one, people can get a bit personal and attack the person, as opposed to the idea. Call people out for personal attacks, and keep the discussion focused on ideas, not personality conflict. This is part of your role as the meeting facilitator. You’re supposed to encourage people to listen, prevent interruption, and generally make sure people feel respected and heard. As soon as people feel attacked personally, they’ll shut up.

Another thing you need to shut down is any off topic conversation. People do this without even realizing it. They hear something, it reminds them of something else, they start talking about it and soon enough the conversation has gone way off topic. Your job is to steer the conversation back. For people who love to hear themselves talk and go on and on, find an appropriate moment to jump in and provide a summary of their idea.

Another obstacle in a decision-making meeting is what we call “groupthink.” Groupthink is when people just follow along with the ideas being discussed, without thinking for themselves. To deal with groupthink, encourage creative thinking from the get-go. One thing you might try is having people write down their ideas individually before sharing them with the group. After having people write down their own ideas, go around the table and give each person a chance to speak. The more you leave it to the really vocal people, the more susceptible the meeting will be to groupthink.

Besides groupthink, another obstacle you may face is time. So watch the time carefully. And when you’re down to 25%, remind people. Don’t be afraid to push them a bit. In most cases, people are more willing to compromise than to drag an issue out longer than necessary. But if the group really can’t come to a good decision, or if people really can’t agree, or if there’s just more information needed, then consider other options. For one, you might table the decision. A delayed decision is often better than a bad decision. Or, you might assign a smaller group to make the decision.

Regardless, what you’re shooting for is the best possible decision. And as we’ve discussed, there are many possible obstacles to making a good decision within the time you’ve got. But if you play it right, if you manage the people well, and if you encourage good ideas, and new ideas, you should be able to come to a good group decision.

Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript

Skills 360 – Leading Group Decision-Making Meetings (1)

Business English Skills 360 LESSON - Leading a Group Decision 1

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on Business English communication skills for leading a group to a decision.

In fact, it might be better to say we’re talking about how to lead groups to good decisions. After all, any meeting chairperson can push for a quick decision, or call a vote before matters have been fully discussed. But that’s not the kind of leadership I’m talking about. And that doesn’t necessarily produce good decisions. A good decision is one that people buy into, and one that has a strong rationale behind it.

So how can we go about leading a group to a decision? Well, right at the start of the meeting, you need to set the stage for a good discussion, and a good decision. Firstly, you need to be very clear about the purpose. If you’re meeting to make a decision, make sure everyone knows it.

It’s also a good idea to have a decision-making process for the meeting. And that process typically goes like this: start with information-sharing, then run through or brainstorm different options, then evaluate those options through discussion, and finally make a decision. Notice that generating ideas and evaluating ideas are separate steps. That helps prevent people feeling criticized or getting defensive.

Within this process, leading group decisions is all about facilitating good discussion. And the magic of good facilitation is making everyone in the room feel listened to and emotionally validated. Overall, you need to make sure that everyone has had a chance to speak and express themselves. Sometimes this means calling on people directly. Or it might simply mean staying attuned to how those weaker voices attempt to join the discussion.

By being clear about purpose upfront, following a basic decision-making process, and using your meetings English and facilitation skills, you can come to a good decision. And remember, a good decision is one that people buy into and that has a good rationale to support it.

Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript

BEP 32 B – English for Discussing Solutions to a Problem (2)

BEP 32B - English for Discussing Solutions to a Problem 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on discussing solutions to a problem during a teleconference in English.

Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone just wants to complain about a problem? And maybe they criticize every solution that is suggested? Well, if that’s all you do, the problem will never be solved.

Discussing solutions is all about figuring out what might actually work. It’s about finding the best solution, even if it’s not the perfect solution. So you need to learn how to agree with people’s ideas, either strongly, or with conditions. In other words, you might agree but only if something else can happen.

If you’re leading a problem-solving meeting, you’ll likely need to highlight the best solution that comes forward. Even when you have a pretty good solution, you might still want to invite more ideas. And whether you’re leading or participating in the meeting, you might offer to take the lead on implementing a solution. In this lesson, we’ll cover all these skills for discussing solutions.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a teleconference led by Jim. On the line with Jim are Jack, Dan, and Angie. They are discussing how to deal with the issue of paint fumes at a factory. They’re trying to find the best way to solve this problem.

Listening Questions

1. What expression does Angie use to agree strongly with Dan’s idea?
2. What solution does Jim highlight as the best one?
3. What does Dan say he wants to do about the research on different types of paint?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 32 A – English for Discussing Solutions to a Problem (1)

BEP 32A - English for Discussing Solutions to a Problem 1

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to discuss solutions to a problem during a teleconference in English.

It’s not enough just to find problems or talk about problems at work. We need to figure out how to solve them. And problem-solving is one of the most important skills in any workplace. In fact, almost every meeting, conversation, or teleconference includes some problem-solving.

Sometimes talking about solutions means making suggestions. In other words, you’ve got an idea about how to solve the problem and you want others to listen to it. In that case, you need to be able to use the language of suggestions.

Of course, just because someone suggests an idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Another skill we need is to be able to disagree carefully so we don’t upset people or make them feel like they’re being attacked. And when you disagree with someone, you might want to suggest another way of solving the problem. These are all important skills when talking about solutions.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a teleconference about a problem with paint fumes at a factory. The meeting is being led by Jim, who will show us how to start a teleconference. We’ll also hear Jack, Dan, and Angie, who are all talking about different ways of solving the problem.

Listening Questions

1. What solution does Dan suggest?
2. When Jack disagrees with Dan’s idea, what does he say before showing his disagreement?
3. What solution does Jack suggest instead of Dan’s solution?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 314 – Project Management 5: Scrum Stand-up Meetings (2)

BEP 314 - English for Projects 4: Scrum Stand-up Meetings 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on participating in a scrum stand-up meeting.

Most people I know would agree that the best meetings are those that are short and focused. And that’s exactly how a daily scrum meeting is designed. Scrum is an approach to project management, especially in software development. Every day the scrum team has a short meeting where everyone gives an update.

In a good scrum meeting, those updates should only take 15 minutes. The scrum master keeps everyone focused. That may mean he or she sidebars any discussion that doesn’t relate to the three questions everyone should answer. And what are those three questions that you should answer in a scrum stand-up meeting?

Firstly, you should report what you have been working on. That normally means telling everyone what you accomplished the day before. Next, you’ll let everyone know what you’re going to work on next, or on the day of the meeting. Already you can notice that the meeting focuses on a limited time period.

The third question you’ll answer is whether you face any impediments. An impediment is an obstacle or challenge. Removing those impediments is the job of the scrum master, but your fellow team members may also be able to help. For that reason, you might ask for assistance during the meeting. When everyone’s finished their updates, the scrum master will close the meeting. But not before outlining sidebar topics for discussion after the meeting.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a scrum meeting at a software company. The team is working on a new piece of software for a logistics company. We’ll hear Jill, the scrum master, and Katherine, who’s giving her daily updates. We’ll also hear from Sam, who you might have heard give his own updates in our last lesson.

Listening Questions

1. What does Katherine say she will be working on today?
2. What is the first impediment Katherine reports?
3. What does Katherine want help with?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module
Scroll to Top