BEP 359 – Virtual Teams 1: Video Conference Meetings

Business English BEP 359 - Virtual Teams 1: Video Conference Meetings

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for video conference meetings.

The business world has seen an explosion in video conferencing in English. With tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, more and more people are working from home. And more and more meetings are happening virtually instead of in-person. Staff meetings, client meetings, project meetings, even social functions are happening online.

This shift in how we work in virtual teams brings many new challenges. And if you’re leading a team, or managing a group, or facilitating a meeting, you need a new set of skills in addition to the ones you already have. You have to manage the group in different ways, and manage the technology effectively.

This all begins with establishing ground rules at the start of a meeting. You’ll also want to provide clear advice on how to use different meeting software. And you might also have to interrupt the meeting to deal with sound or video problems.

Interacting in virtual meetings feels different. It doesn’t flow the same as a face-to-face meeting, so you might find yourself asking people to take turns, or trying to facilitate open discussion.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a weekly check-in meeting at a business consulting firm. The meeting is being led by Heather, a skilled and experienced manager. We’ll also hear Dave, Cathy, and Adam, three members of her team. During the check-in, Heather has to juggle the technology and the people.

Listening Questions

1. What ground rules does Heather establish at the beginning of the meeting?
2. What does Heather do when there is some background noise?
3. How does Heather get an open discussion going at the end of the conversation?

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BEP 338 – Teleconference English: Participating in Online Meetings

Business English Pod 338 - Conference Calls in English: Online Meetings

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on participating in online meetings and teleconference calls in English.

It’s hard to overstate just how important the phone and laptop are to 21st century business. Can you imagine your work life without these tools? Probably not. If you’re like most people, the majority of your English work conversations happen with the help of technology. And this includes meetings. More often than not, people don’t get together in person, but virtually.

But when you can’t see the people in a meeting, it’s suddenly more difficult to get your voice heard. You can’t lean forward or raise your hand to show you want to speak. Instead, you need to find verbal ways of jumping into the conversation. In many cases, this also means identifying yourself so others know who is talking.

In an online meeting in English, you have to be very clear about what you’re talking about. That might mean skipping back to a comment from earlier in the conversation. And you have to be clear who you’re talking to, by directing a comment at a specific individual. And finally, because technology never seems to be perfectly reliable, you might find yourself apologizing for technical difficulties.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a manager named Gabi leading a teleconference with salespeople from across the U.S. They’re having an online meeting to plan a sales conference. The participants will use different strategies to participate effectively.

Listening Questions

1. Why does Heather apologize during the meeting?
2. Why does Manuel say “Manuel here in KC” at the start of a comment?
3. When Heather rejoins the conversation, what earlier topic does she want to talk about again?

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BEP 306 – English for Project Management 1: Kickoff Meeting (1)

Business English Pod 306 - Project Management English - Kickoff Meeting

Welcome back to Business English Pod for our new series on English for project management. For our first lesson we’re going to look at a kickoff meeting at the start of a project.

Whether or not you’re a project manager, you surely know that every project is a unique and complex process. Seeing a project through to completion, on time and within budget, takes a huge range of people skills and business know-how. And sometimes during a big project it might feel like everything is working against successful completion.

But there are ways to minimize some of these challenges. This is particularly true at the beginning of a project when it’s important to make sure you get off to a good start. For one thing, you’ll need to meet with the client to make sure the ground rules of the project are clear. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with confusion mid-project. Kicking off a project effectively also means outlining protocols, or important procedures, and explaining lines of communication. After all, when a problem or challenge does arise, everyone should know exactly who to talk to and how to make the necessary changes.

The kickoff meeting is also a time for everyone to make their priorities clear. If you are the client and sticking to the timeline is more important than keeping to the budget, you should make that known right from the start. Of course, there may be competing priorities. And as a project manager, you may have to manage client expectations carefully, which might involve setting some conditions when you agree to something.

In today’s dialog, we’ll join Martin and Jill, who work for a software company called OptiTech. Their company is holding a teleconference to kick off a project to develop custom software for a logistics company that will help them manage and track shipments. Martin is the project manager, while Jill is the lead developer. On the call, we’ll also hear from Zara, a manager at the logistics company, and Liam, their IT manager. Together, they are all trying to get the project off to a good start.

Listening Questions

1. How does Martin say that Jill should deal with technical issues?
2. What does Zara emphasize as her company’s priority in the project?
3. Near the end of the conversation, what condition does Martin attach to the successful management of the timeline?

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BEP 300 – External Meetings in English (Part 1)

BEP 300 - English for Meetings 1

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

When you think of business English meetings, you might immediately think of staff meetings, project meetings, or other internal meetings with people in your company. But in business we often have to work with outside companies or organizations so we have to deal with external meetings as well.

External meetings in English can be quite tricky situations. Because everyone might have different goals and opinions, you need to be very diplomatic. You want to be careful not to promise too much while trying to get others to commit. In this way, external meetings are a lot like negotiations, where you try to make an agreement that is in your favor.

In this back and forth of negotiation, you have to convince other people of your position. And when they attempt to convince you of something, you have to respond skillfully. That could mean remaining non-committal, when you don’t want to give a clear yes or no answer. It might also mean saying that you don’t have the power or responsibility to make a decision.

But if everyone remains non-committal and says they can’t make decisions, how can people come to an agreement? Well, sometimes you need to introduce creative solutions or ideas. But even when someone presents a good idea, you shouldn’t always just agree right away. Like I said, this is sort of like a negotiation. So you might want to express doubts about an idea, rather than just accepting it immediately.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a meeting between several people discussing the construction of a strip, or small shopping, mall. Jennifer is the architect on the new development, and Carlos is a consulting engineer. They need to come to agreement with Frank, who represents the local government. The meeting is chaired by Nicky, the project manager.

Listening Questions

1. Why does Jennifer think the city should give the developer a break on the number of turn lanes?
2. Who does Frank say insists on having two turn lanes?
3. What solution does Carlos suggest?

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925 English – Lesson 4: Talking about your Job in English

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In today’s 925 English lesson, we’re going to learn how to talk about your job.

There are lots of situations where you meet someone new and you want to tell them about your job. Maybe they ask you about it, or you just want to introduce yourself. So how do you do that? Do you just say “I am a salesman” and that’s it? No, you need to say a bit more than that.

925 English is a new business English podcast for beginners. 925 English lessons focus on chunks of language and English expressions that you can use in work and business. Each 925 English lesson features English phrases you can use in different situations and advice on why and how we use them in Business English.

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