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 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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BEP 271 – Brainstorming Meetings (Part 2)

Business English for Brainstorming Meetings 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on running an effective brainstorming session.

The basic idea of brainstorming is quite simple: you have a problem to solve and you bring together a group of people to generate ideas. You don’t evaluate those ideas immediately, you just want to generate as many ideas as possible. And with the right focus, a good facilitator, and respect for the process, brainstorming can bring out some great ideas.

Today we’ll look at some useful language and techniques for group brainstorming sessions. For facilitators, we’ll look at encouraging more ideas and resisting evaluation. For participants, we’ll cover qualifying your own ideas, introducing an unusual idea, and praising other people’s suggestions.

In the dialog, we’ll rejoin Sally, Melissa, Noah, and Eric, who work for a coffee shop faced with increasing competition. The group is trying to come up with ways of attracting more customers to the shop. Sally is the store manager, and she’s facilitating the session.

Listening Questions

1. Melissa introduces an idea that she says might be “a small thing.” What is it?
2. Noah questions Eric’s suggestion about being more creative with product names. How does Sally deal with Noah’s reaction?
3. How does Noah respond to Melissa’s idea about a delivery service?

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BEP 270 – Brainstorming Meetings (Part 1)

Business English for Brainstorming Meetings 1

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on running a brainstorming meeting.

Brainstorming sessions can be a great way to generate new ideas, whether you’re naming a new product, thinking of ways to cut costs, or figuring out ways of solving tricky business problems. But running – and participating in – a brainstorming session can be a challenge. Groups need to feel comfortable and open, but still maintain focus. And everyone involved needs be diplomatic about how they suggest and respond to ideas.

Fortunately, there are techniques and language that you can use to make brainstorming more effective. Today we’ll look at some of this language. We’ll cover language the facilitator can use to invite new ideas, ask for clarification, and qualify ideas. And we’ll also look at useful techniques for participating, such as building on someone else’s idea and introducing new ones.

In the dialog, we’ll hear several people who work at a coffee shop in a busy commercial area. The shop is facing increased competition and they want to brainstorm ways of attracting new customers and keeping their current customers coming back. The brainstorming session is being led by Sally, who’s the manager of the shop. We’ll also hear Melissa, Noah, and Eric, who are employees.

Listening Questions

1. Noah mentions an loyalty program. Melissa uses this idea to introduce another one. What is it?
2. What new idea does Eric introduce that relates to “relationships and such?”
3. How does Sally respond to Eric’s new idea?

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Skills 360 – Running a Brainstorming Session 2

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Welcome back to Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to run an effective brainstorming session.

Have you ever conducted a brainstorming session that simply goes nowhere? A few people throw out some ideas, but most participants seem uninspired or bored? You ask questions, but people don’t answer? Well, today I want to give you some tips for kickstarting the process and getting the juices flowing.

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