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 337 – Teleconference English: Running Online Meetings

BEP 337 - Conference Call English: Running Online Meetings

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on teleconferences and running online meetings and conference calls in English.

With today’s technology, people don’t have to be in the same room to have a meeting. We can connect with people around the world by phone or video chat apps like Skype. Amazing, isn’t it? Until it suddenly isn’t amazing, because people don’t know who’s saying what, others are having technical difficulties, and people are leaving and joining the meeting without anyone knowing.

A good conference call requires a good facilitator. Someone to make sure everyone knows who’s in the meeting and gives everyone the chance to speak. That means facilitating introductions at the start of the meeting and encouraging quiet people to share their ideas. After all, it’s pretty easy to hide or be ignored during an online meeting.

Sometimes there are technical problems that can get the meeting off track. At those times, it’s best to ask someone else to try to solve the problem so you can continue running the meeting. And just like any meeting, the facilitator should be encouraging input from everyone, including those who join late. It’s your job to integrate those latecomers into the meeting so they can participate too.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear an English teleconference led by Gabi. People from across the U.S. are joining the call to plan their company’s upcoming sales conference.

Listening Questions

1. What does Gabi ask people to include in their short self-introduction?
2. What problem does Gabi ask someone to help solve?
3. What does Gabi do when someone joins the meeting late?

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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?

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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?

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