Business English Pod publishes audio and video Business English podcast lessons and online learning materials for intermediate and advanced Business English learners. The lessons cover a comprehensive range of business English skills for meetings, presentations, telephoning, negotiating, job interviews, travel, and more.
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There’s a lot of buzz around 5G technology these days. And it’s not just tech giants like Samsung, Ericsson and Huawei that are getting excited. Everyone from consumers to governments are paying attention. And with the excitement comes no small amount of controversy. But what’s all the hype about? And for starters, what exactly is 5G? Technology website Inventiva explains:
Put simply, 5G is an innovative mobile technology, which is expected to impact all aspects of our lives, including our homes, entertainment, work, and travel. In part, this is because it enables download speeds 10 to 20 times faster than the 4G networks of today. But it’s also much more responsive than the current networks, and allows many more devices to be connected to the internet. In short, it radically improves network bandwidth. With such speed and capacity, 5G is expected to transform everything around us.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to give instructions in English.
Telling people what to do isn’t just something the boss does. Any time you’re helping someone with a problem, training someone, giving technical advice, or telling a colleague how to do something, you’re giving instructions.
Of course, it’s very important to be clear when you’re giving instructions. And for that reason, we sometimes explain things step-by-step, in a sequence of instructions.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
In the past, meeting with clients often meant you had to travel. That might mean across town, or it might mean across the country or overseas. But with modern video conferencing tools, you can now meet with your clients without ever leaving your office.
But running a virtual meeting in English doesn’t look exactly the same as an in-person meeting. While you use a lot of the same skills, those skills will sound a bit different in action. And there are some new skills you’ll need to develop, as you have to manage not only a group of people, but also the technology.
At the start of a meeting, you’ll probably get things going with a semi-formal welcome, before giving a rough outline for the meeting. At some point, you’ll have to ask for people’s patience while you take care of a technical issue, like sharing your screen or admitting new people to the meeting room.
One big difference between in-person and virtual meetings is how you deal with questions. Yes, you’ll have to call on people that you can see have a question, but you may also need to deal with questions or comments that come through the chat function.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a meeting being run by Adam and Cathy, two business consultants. They’re talking with a group of managers, including Sophie and Fareed, at Healthwise, a chain of health food stores that is trying to improve their online sales. You will hear Adam and Cathy demonstrate the skills you need to run a client meeting by video conference.
1. What is the rough outline for the meeting that Adam provides?
2. Adam asks for his clients’ patience while he deals with what technical matter?
3. How does Adam know that Sophie has a question?
Managers today have to juggle lots of different communication channels, even more so with the rise of remote teams and virtual meetings. It’s not all face-to-face anymore, with so many teams working remotely and videoconferencing with apps like Zoom becoming a daily occurrence. And this means managers need a new set of approaches and skills to manage their teams. One situation where we see these skills come into play is in virtual meetings and one-on-one chats with your team members.
When you’re holding a video conference in English with a team member, you’ll typically start with a bit of small talk before switching to the main topic. With remote work, people may have more anxiety, and as a manager part of your job is to relieve that anxiety. Emotional leadership and building trust may also require you to show vulnerability.
At the same time, supporting your staff will involve outlining very clearly your expectations about communication. After all, we have so many more options in today’s business world. For example, if you’re using Zoom or another video conferencing tool, you’ll find yourself sending resources through the chat function, rather than handing someone a document or sending a link through email. And as people adapt to new ways of communicating, you will have to give solid technical or logistical advice.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between Heather, a manager in a consulting firm, and her employee Adam. Adam is a junior consultant preparing for a meeting with an important client. Heather is demonstrating her skills in managing her team remotely.
1. What does Heather say to show her vulnerability?
2. What expectations does Heather emphasize about communicating with clients?
3. What bit of technical advice does Heather give Adam?
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.
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?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to explain a problem in English.
Much of your work probably involves solving problems. And sometimes we can’t do it alone. But cooperating with someone to solve a problem means explaining it clearly.
Before you explain the problem however, you’ll need to ask for help. Two really useful words in this situation are “would” and “could.” These words help you make polite requests. For example, you might say “could you help me?” or “would you help me with this?” And we can add to these expressions to get longer, even more polite expressions.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
The world first heard about cases of a novel coronavirus on December 31st, 2019. In just two short months, the World Health Organization had declared a global pandemic. The impact on the world economy was instantaneous, as the World Economic Forum explains:
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit global trade and investment at an unprecedented speed and scale. Multinational companies faced an initial supply shock, then a demand shock as more and more countries ordered people to stay at home. Governments, businesses and individual consumers suddenly struggled to procure basic products and materials, and were forced to confront the fragility of the modern supply chain.
Now, as we approach summer, supply chains still don’t feel completely secure. Economic forecasts look pretty gloomy as nations emerging from lockdown attempt to kickstart their economies. The stock market, however, has provided some surprises amid the crisis.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
We’ve talked a lot about how important it is to find the right vendor. They can make or break your business. That’s why we put so much work into meeting, interviewing, screening, and qualifying potential vendors. But once you’ve found the right vendor, you still need to actually make a deal. Specifically, you need to agree on price and terms.
To set yourself up for success, it’s a good idea to do some research and preparation. If you know what things should cost, and you know what you need from a deal, and you can anticipate what the vendor needs, then you’ll be in a good position to negotiate.
In your discussion, you’ll likely make price comparisons in your efforts to get a deal. You’ll have to propose terms to the vendor, and show consideration for their position in the negotiation. Because things like delivery and quality are so important, you’ll also want to discuss penalties. And, like any negotiation, at some point you’ll probably suggest a compromise. With these skills, you should be able to get a price and terms that work for you.
In today’s business English conversation, we’ll hear Adam, a purchasing manager who works for a company that makes fitness equipment called XFit. He’s been talking with Jenny, a sales rep for a manufacturer that can make pulleys for XFit’s equipment. XFit has chosen Jenny’s company as a vendor, so Adam now has to negotiate the price and terms.
1. What is the first issue that Adam brings up in the negotiation?
2. What does Adam first propose for delivery terms?
3. What is Adam willing to agree to if Jenny agrees to his suggestion about penalties?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for purchasing and qualifying vendors.
Whether you’re buying raw materials, equipment, or services, purchasing decisions are high stakes. Make a bad decision, and it’ll cost you time, money, and goodwill. Make the right decision, and you can increase your revenue, improve operations, and gain more customers.
Because purchasing decisions are so important, companies invest a lot of energy into the process of vendor selection. In previous lessons, we’ve looked at sourcing suppliers and discussing vendor criteria. Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you need and you’ve had some discussions with possible vendors, then you need to qualify them.
Basically, vendor qualification is about talking to a vendor to make sure they’re the right fit. And that’s best done during a visit to their facilities. Vendor qualification includes asking for documentation and getting samples, as proof of quality and a clean track record. As you talk, you may try to identify any inconsistencies between what you have heard and what you see. It’s also important to ensure comprehensive quality management and to probe for proof of consistency.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Adam, a purchasing manager who works for xFit, a company that makes fitness equipment. Adam has just taken a tour of a potential vendor’s factory. He’s talking with the manufacturer’s representative Jenny, and asking questions to see if her company is a good fit to supply parts for xFit’s exercise equipment.
1. Why does Adam want product samples?
2. Why does Adam mention that he didn’t see the equipment or a set-up for the “powder coating” process?
3. What does Adam want Jenny to provide in order to show proof of consistency?
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson for the final part of our series on English interview skills.
In previous lessons, we’ve gone over some of the fundamental questions about who you are and what you’ve done. Today I want to take a closer look at talking about your career goals and researching prospective employers. Interviewers don’t just want to know whether you’ve got the skills, personality, and qualifications. They also want to know that you’re a good fit, and that they are a good fit for you.
One important question you need to be ready for in an interview in English is “why are you leaving your current position?” This question makes a lot of people squirm. But it’s actually an opportunity to talk about growth and change. Nobody stays at the same job their entire life. And this question isn’t necessarily fishing for problems in your past.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Skills 360 for today’s lesson on tips for succeeding in a job interview in English.
In our last lesson, we talked about preparation for introducing yourself and questions about strengths and weaknesses. That’s all about you as a person, or your character. In this lesson, I’d like to home in on what you’ve done, or your actions and behavior.
The first big question you’ll get about what you have done pertains to achievements. As in: “what achievements are you most proud of?” Or “tell us about a recent achievement?”
Now, when you think back on your accomplishments, what should you choose to discuss? Well, rather than boasting about purely individual accomplishments, think of something that connects to the bigger picture. Or state why your accomplishment helped the company.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to look at how to prepare for an interview in English.
When I say “prepare,” I’m not talking about making an appointment at the hair salon or picking out a clean shirt. I’m talking about doing some research, anticipating what you’ll be asked, and practicing how to respond. Yeah, I know I’m always going on about preparation, but this time it’s not just a suggestion, it’s essential. If you do it right, you’ll be able to head into the interview feeling relaxed and confident. And that will increase your chances of landing the job.
Now here’s the thing: most interviews cover the same basic territory. Sure, you might get a couple of curveballs, but for the most part you can predict what questions you’ll be asked. And that means you can plan your answers. I don’t mean script your answers. It’s pretty tough to appear authentic and natural while delivering a memorized response. But you can outline your answers and practice your delivery.
So how do we go about doing that? Well, let’s start by talking about how to introduce yourself in an job interview in English. The old “tell me about yourself” question. It’s amazing how many people are thrown by this question, or fumble through an awkward response as they wait for the real interview questions. But first impressions are important! And you need a good answer for “tell me about yourself.”Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Spring is a busy time for accountants in the U.S. and many other countries. That’s because spring is when corporations and individuals have to file a tax return with the government. It’s our yearly reminder that we don’t get to keep everything we earn.
Of course, those busy accountants aren’t just calculating your revenue and costs. They’re looking for ways to reduce the amount you – or your business – have to pay in tax. And that’s why the chatter around offices and board rooms is all about ways to avoid handing over too much money to the tax man.
Listen to these conversations and you’ll notice many useful expressions. For example, I’ve already used the phrase “file a tax return.” That verb “file” always goes with “return” when we talk about our annual submission to the government. You can learn those words together, as one expression or “collocation.”
A collocation is just a natural combination of words that native English speakers learn as a chunk. With English collocations, we don’t have to go searching for every word in our brain. Instead, we pull out a string of words that matches our intended meaning. Learning these strings of words is more efficient, and will make you sound more natural. As you listen to today’s conversation, try to pick out some of these collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll continue with a conversation about the tax situation of a company called Brando Equipment. Christie has been giving an update to two senior managers: Glen and Ivana. Last time, Christie gave them an overall picture of the tax situation, and today she’s providing more detail.
1. What does Christie say is one factor that increased their reported income?
2. What helped reduce the company’s reported income by about $50,000?
3. What important issue does Ivana want to discuss in more detail at the end of the dialog?”
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English collocations related to taxes.
There’s an old saying in English that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” But, although taxes are certain, the exact amount you have to pay isn’t. Just ask any accountant. For both companies and individuals, there are all sorts of ways to lower your tax bill. And a lower tax bill means more money in our pockets, or in our shareholders pockets. For this reason, tax is a popular topic of discussion, especially in the spring when most taxes are due.
In this financial English lesson, we’ll listen to three managers at Brando Equipment discuss their tax situation. During the conversation, the managers use a lot of common expressions related to taxes. We call these expressions “collocations.” A collocation is just a group of words that go together naturally.
Some English collocations, such as “take a chance,” are widely used. But many collocations are particular to a certain field of work or topic. And to work in that field or discuss that topic, you need to know these special expressions. When it comes to taxes, for example, you need to know that we use the verb “file” with “taxes” to talk about our yearly report to the government. Learning collocations like this in different fields will develop your vocabulary and help you sound more natural.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Christie, Glen, and Ivana discuss the tax situation at Brando Equipment, a subsidiary their company has recently purchased. Glen and Ivana are corporate managers, while Christie is an accountant. The three colleagues use many English collocations and vocabulary specific to taxes as they talk about how much tax Brando Equipment owes.
1. What does Ivana hope that they finish by the 30th of the month?
2. Near the start of the conversation, what does Christie say is higher than they anticipated?
3. What key piece of information does Glen want to know?
Change is a constant, and the earth’s climate has never been perfectly stable. But in recent years the pace of climate change has accelerated to the point of crisis. Scientists around the world are sounding the alarm, and more and more people and institutions are realizing that drastic times require drastic measures. Business is not immune. According to the New York Times:
The Carbon Disclosure Project analyzed submissions from 215 of the world’s 500 biggest corporations. They found that these companies faced roughly $1 trillion in potential costs related to climate change in the decades ahead, unless they took proactive steps to prepare. By the companies’ own estimates, the bulk of those financial risks could start to materialize in the next five years or so.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on reviewing progress in a coaching program.
Do you set goals for yourself? More than likely, right. And this is something we hear a lot about, especially in the New Year. Setting goals is a fundamental part of success. And if you are in a coaching role, you have probably helped other people set goals for themselves. But the real work isn’t in setting the goals; it’s in following through and putting energy into meeting these goals.
And as someone’s coach, your work isn’t done once you help someone decide on some objectives. The next step is following up, which typically means sitting down with the person you’re coaching to review progress. You ask them how things have been going, and listen as they describe what they’ve done. But sometimes, the person hasn’t really followed through. What then?
That’s when you prove your value by holding the person accountable. And that might include reinforcing your company’s values, as you try to hold the person to their commitments. Of course, the person might have encountered barriers, which you can ask about and discuss. Still, those barriers shouldn’t serve as excuses, and you may have to push the person a bit to reach their potential. And, of course, a good coach remains supportive throughout this kind of process.
In today’s dialog, we’ll continue listening to a conversation between two lawyers, Marion and Rachel. Marion has been coaching Rachel as she adapts to her new job as a young attorney. They’ve discussed some of the problems Rachel faces, and set some goals. Now Marion is following up and reviewing progress toward those goals.
1. What does Marion ask Rachel about at the start of the conversation?
2. What short-term objective does Rachel identify for herself?
3. What does Marion say she is “sure about” and has “no doubt about?”
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on setting goals during a coaching session.
You’ve probably heard that an important part of coaching is listening and showing empathy. A good coach tries hard to understand the person he or she is trying to coach. That helps build trust, which creates a constructive relationship. But what is that relationship for? What kind of work does that trust allow?
Once you build a good relationship as a coach, then you can start talking about improvements. After all, coaches don’t exist just to hear about people’s problems. Their whole purpose is to help people get better. And a big part of getting better is setting goals, which is something a good coach can help with.
So how do we work with someone on their goals? Well, that might start with asking about their motivation. After all, goals have to be directed at something. If someone’s motivated by the idea of getting a promotion, then the goals have to relate to that. And that underlines the fact that they are the other person’s goals. We don’t set goals for them. We ask them about their goals. Then we can help them break their goals into smaller objectives.
Of course, another important role of a coach is to give encouragement. So when we help someone set goals, we are in a good position to show confidence in their ability to meet them. And finally, we might ask them about their next steps. That is, what are the concrete activities that the person will take as she tries to accomplish her goals?
In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin two lawyers: Marion and Rachel. Marion has been coaching Rachel as she learns how to be a better lawyer. In the previous lesson, we heard Marion trying to figure out Rachel’s challenges. Now we’ll hear her help Rachel set some goals.
1. What does Marion ask Rachel about at the start of the conversation?
2. What short-term objective does Rachel identify for herself?
3. What does Marion say she is “sure about” and has “no doubt about?”
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for coaching.
Everyone understands the importance of a good coach in sports, but what about a good coach at work? In fact, coaching is an important part of every manager’s job. Managing people isn’t just about telling them what to do and how to do it. A good manager helps employees develop and reach their full potential, just like in sports. And that requires an open and constructive coaching relationship.
Coaching involves an ongoing dialog between you and the employee. Together you’ll assess the situation, set goals, monitor those goals, and adjust your activities and objectives as you go along. Yes, I said “together.” The 21st century manager isn’t the same as the 1980s manager. The relationship is different. You have to be the boss without being bossy. You need to maintain your authority and the employee’s autonomy at the same time. That’s a fine line to walk.
Coaching often begins with a needs analysis. That is, you’re meeting with an employee to figure out what is working well, what’s not working at all, and what can be improved. That conversation will involve a lot of open-ended questions. It will also involve showing empathy, which is an important part of leadership.
When you talk about the employee’s performance, it’s important to give very specific examples of behavior. It’s also important to ask for their perspective on those behaviors. Ultimately, you want to get the employee to agree about what his or her challenges are. Only then can you move on to talk about solutions.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Marion, an experienced lawyer, coaching a younger lawyer named Rachel. Marion and Rachel are having an open discussion about Rachel’s performance, and trying to establish what her needs might be.
1. Why does Marion mention her own experience at her first job?
2. What example of Rachel’s performance does Marion bring up for discussion?
3. After assessing the problem, what does Marion ask Rachel at the end of the conversation?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to make generalizations in English.
Don’t you hate it when people say things like “Americans are rude”? I mean, not all Americans are rude. And people in other countries are rude too. It’s simply not helpful to say something is true of a whole group of people. When it’s negative like that, it feels wrong.
But it can be helpful to describe a group of people, as long as we are clear that it’s not everyone we’re talking about. We call this a “generalization.” For example, “many of my friends work in finance.” I’m making a “generalization” about my friends. And it doesn’t have to be people. If I say “most of our online sales come from Europe,” I’m generalizing about sales.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to make sure you get a great year-end bonus.
When I say “bonus,” I’m not talking about a Christmas card from the boss with a $20 gift certificate for Starbucks. I’m not talking about tokens of appreciation. I’m talking about a nice fat year-end bonus that says your employer believes you’re worth investing in.
In our last lesson, I talked about how to demonstrate your value through your approach to work. Today, I want to focus not just on your approach, but on the work itself. When all is said and done, it’s your performance that will be valued above all else. So how can you show that?Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to secure a great year-end bonus.
We all know that money’s not the only workplace incentive, but it sure is an effective one. Nothing beats a nice cheque at the end of the year to say “thanks for all the hard work.” That bonus can help us enjoy the holiday season more, and feel better about heading back to the office when the holiday is over.
So, how can you make sure you get that bonus? Or how can you increase the size of your bonus? Well, first of all, if you just started thinking about this now, you might be out of luck. You can’t just suck up to your boss in December and expect to be rewarded. If you’re looking for an easy workaround to hard work, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
And if you think that you deserve a bonus because you showed up on time every day and never ducked out early, then think again. If you make hamburgers at McDonalds, then your employer pays you for your time, in the form of a wage. But in professional settings, where people earn salaries, it’s not your time that your employer pays for. It’s your value.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on business English idioms for describing relationships.
We all spend a lot of time every week at work. So much, in fact, that sometimes it feels like our colleagues are a kind of family. And just like families, workplace relationships can be a source of both satisfaction and stress. Sometimes we support each other, while at other times we argue bitterly. And sometimes our disagreements are constructive, while at other times they can generate conflict.
In any case, whether they’re positive or negative, workplace relationships are a constant source of fascination. And English has many idioms and expressions to describe how people get along, or don’t get along. These idioms will help you discuss the often complicated relationships in your workplace.
In the dialog, we’ll rejoin three colleagues at an insurance company. They’ve been talking about the relationships between the people on a new team. In their discussion, they use many English idioms to describe how people get along, both past and present.
1. How was the relationship between Dave and Diego?
2. What happened when Ivan and Dave were asked to open a new office together?
3. What does Mark say about his relationship with Chuck?
Hello and welcome back to Business English Pod. My name’s Edwin, and I’ll be your host for today’s lesson on business English idioms for talking about relationships.
They say that success in business is all about relationships. Certainly, your success in a particular workplace is greatly dependent on how you relate to those around you. That includes your colleagues, your collaborators, your staff, and your bosses. If you don’t develop good relationships, then it probably doesn’t matter how great your work is.
Relationships aren’t just important, they’re also interesting. What do you and your colleagues talk about when you chat socially? A lot of your conversations are probably about the people at your workplace. Who isn’t getting along, who is getting along a little too well, who doesn’t like who, and who is being a bit too nice to everyone.
Whatever kind of relationships you’re talking about, there are hundreds of English idioms you can use. If you listened to our 925 English lesson on describing people, then you learned some useful basic expressions. In this lesson, we’ll take that to the next level with some great idioms for describing relationships.
In the dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between three colleagues: Brooke, Mark, and Ivan. They work for an insurance company that has just put together a new team to work on a new product. The three colleagues are keen to talk about the complex web of relationships among the people on this team.
1. What is the relationship between Chuck and Dave?
2. What does Brooke think will change between Dave and Anna?
3. What’s the relationship between Becky and Dave?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to describe people and their characteristics in English.
Listen in on any office conversation or meeting and you’ll hear a lot of talk about people. Who we like, who we don’t like, who’s right for a team, who should get a promotion, who is going on vacation”¦ The list of topics goes on and on.
And one aspect of people we often discuss is their appearance, or how they look. To do that, we use adjectives, like “tall” or “short” or “well-dressed” or “heavy” or “thin.” When we describe people, we also talk about the color of their hair. And here’s a couple of special hair words for you: “brunette” means someone with brown hair, and “blonde” refers to someone with light hair or yellow hair.
925 English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2). With 925 English lessons you can learn English phrases and expressions for business and work.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for purchasing and discussing product requirements.
For purchasing managers, choosing the right vendor can be like choosing a business partner. After all, your company’s reputation is tied directly to the performance of your vendors. People judge you by the goods you use to run your business or build your products. If something goes wrong, your customers blame you, not your vendors.
But what makes the “right” vendor? Well, that discussion begins with your needs. If you’re in manufacturing or product development, you’ll be talking about design requirements. These design requirements, or product specifications, are going to help you determine whether a vendor can do the job. And the engineers or merchandizers in the room are going to have some strict technical requirements.
Once you have a sense of what you need, then you can discuss vendor criteria and qualifications. And because purchasing relationships are ongoing, you may also want to establish performance indicators to ensure everything goes well once you’ve selected a vendor.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a meeting in a company called xFit, which makes fitness equipment. Adam is a purchasing manager in Asia who has been looking for a new manufacturer of an important component. He’s on the phone with Crystal, another manager who is leading the meeting, and Jason, an engineer. The team is talking about the product requirements and vendor criteria.
1. What does Jason emphasize as a “must” in terms of design requirements?
2. What does Crystal say is the most important criteria for evaluating potential vendors?
3. What other criteria does Adam want to discuss?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for purchasing and sourcing suppliers.
Every company is in the business of selling something. But you can’t be a seller of goods or services without also being a buyer of goods and services. All companies require professional services, equipment, and supplies in order to function. And if they sell goods, they also need the raw materials and parts to build those goods.
Buying all these goods and services is called purchasing. Purchasing managers work hard to find the right products and suppliers, and to negotiate good prices. Bad purchasing decisions can impact profit margins, efficiency, and quality. Good decisions can make a company a lot more competitive and profitable. While purchasing managers can find suppliers in a variety of ways, one common way is looking for suppliers at trade shows.
And what kinds of questions do purchasing managers need to ask when talking with potential suppliers at a trade show? Well, for starters, you can begin the conversation by commenting on display products. Next, you can ask about their experience, their capabilities, and their turnaround time. And finally, you’ll also want to ask about their company’s business priorities. After all, a regular supplier functions a bit like a business partner, and you want a good overall match.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Adam, a purchasing manager who works for xFit, a company that makes fitness equipment. Adam’s at a trade show looking for a new supplier for an important part for one of their fitness machines. He’s talking with Jenny, who is representing a Vietnamese manufacturer. Adam is trying to find out if Jenny’s company is a good fit.
1. What does Adam comment on to begin the conversation?
2. What does Adam suggest might cause challenges for a company in Vietnam?
3. After Jenny talks about tariffs, what specific issue does Adam ask about?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to talk about times and dates in English.
If you’re like most people in business, every day is scheduled down to the minute. We’ve all got meetings, timelines, tasks, and deadlines to worry about. And it seems like our phones are constantly buzzing with calendar notifications.
To keep these complex schedules up to date, we often have to ask people when something is going to happen. An easy way to do that is with the word “when,” like “when is the meeting?” That could mean either the date – or calendar day – or the time. So if you need to be more specific, you might ask “at what time is the meeting?” Or “what’s the date for the meeting?”
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2). With 925 English videos you can learn business English expressions and phrases to use at work.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English collocations for talking about sales.
Sales has never been tougher. In the digital age, competition for people’s attention is fierce. And customers are armed with more knowledge than ever before. For these reasons, companies can’t get lazy about their approach to sales. They need to be strategic; they have to find new ways to manage customer relationships, and they need effective ways to track how they’re doing.
In this lesson, we’ll listen to a pharmaceutical sales team discuss new strategies to improve and track their performance. In their discussion, you’ll hear a lot of what we call “collocations.” Collocations are just groups of words that combine naturally. For example, if you want to say that someone finishes making a sale, you can say that he “closes a sale.” Everyone uses that verb “close.” Nobody says “shut a sale” or “do a sale.” The correct collocation is “close a sale.”
Native speakers learn and use these collocations naturally. And if you want to improve your vocabulary and sound more fluent, you can learn to use them too. As you listen to the dialog, try to pick out some of these collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll listen to a discussion between Fran, Gus, and Nick. In our last lesson, the team discussed the need to improve their company’s sales. Now they’re talking about ways to do that. During their discussion, they use many English collocations related to sales.
1. What does Nick think his colleague Dennis is doing wrong?
2. What does Nick believe is an outdated way of measuring their success?
3. What does Nick believe will happen if they improve their performance metrics?
Hello and welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English collocations related to sales.
Sales is at the heart of any business. Without the hard work of salespeople who move prospects down the funnel, turning interest into sales, no business would even exist. But the game of sales is constantly changing. Good salespeople, and good companies, learn to adapt to changes in the marketplace, in consumer preferences, and in the competition.
In this lesson, we’ll listen in on a sales team meeting in a pharmaceutical company. The team is discussing past performance and future strategy. During their discussion, they use many expressions that we call “collocations.” A collocation is just a natural combination of words that native speakers learn as one expression. For example, the first collocation you’ll hear is “sales volume,” which refers to the number of units sold in a given period of time.
Native English speakers use collocations like this automatically. And people in a certain field of work share an understanding of these special expressions specific to their area. By studying these collocations in different fields, you’ll improve your vocabulary and sound more fluent. As you listen to the dialog, try to pick out some of these English collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Fran, Gus, and Nick. Fran is the sales manager, and she’s just finished talking about the past year’s sales results. Now she wants to talk about reasons for their disappointing results and strategies for improving them. The three colleagues use many sales English collocations and vocabulary specific to the pharmaceutical industry.
1. What is the group hoping to increase or improve by discussing sales performance and strategy?
2. What does Fran believe is the reason for a reasonably good third quarter?
3. What have better sales analytics helped the company understand?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to talk about possibility in English.
What do I mean by “possibility?” I mean answering questions like: will the stock market go up? Will you get that job you applied for? Will your manager be in a good mood today? Maybe? Probably? Or probably not? This is how we talk about possibility.
Let’s start with “probably.” That means you are pretty sure something will happen. You’re not certain. It’s not 100%. But you can say you’re “fairly certain that something will happen.” That’s like saying it’s 80 or 90 percent. Another way of saying the same thing is “there’s a really good chance.” In that case, “chance” doesn’t mean opportunity. It means “probability.”
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2) English learners. With 925 English video lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on the top 10 business English skills.
In our last lesson, I focused on small talk and English conversation skills such as expressing opinions, asking questions, rejecting ideas, and getting action. Of course, “conversation” is what comes to mind when someone talks about language skills. But a lot of our English communication is not conversation, per se. Your skill set has to include a lot more than expressing opinions, agreeing, disagreeing, and making small talk.
Imagine for a second that you’re delivering a presentation in English or conducting a training session. What kind of skills do you need in those situations? Well, one thing you need to master is talking about how something happens or how something is done. By that I mean describing a process or giving instructions.
The key skill here is what we call sequencing, or putting your ideas in a logical order and making that order clear to your audience. To do this, you might use simple words like “first,” “second,” “third,” “next,” and “finally.” But you might also use expressions like “at this point,” “meanwhile,” and “subsequently.” Using this kind of language helps you organize your ideas, and you’ll be less likely to lose your audience.
Connecting words aren’t limited to processes and instructions. Adept English speakers will use all sorts of words to connect their ideas and structure a good argument. Think about proposing an idea to your boss. Will you rattle on and hope he picks up the thread of what you’re trying to say? Or will you present a cohesive and persuasive argument using expressions like “because of this,” “therefore,” “nevertheless,” and “furthermore?”
Now I am not suggesting that you pepper your speech with these kinds of words just to sound intelligent. There’s a time and place for these formal expressions. But the importance of organizing your ideas holds true in any situation. And in more casual circumstances, you can simply rely more on simpler words like “and,” “but,” and “so.”
Besides presentations or training, another important situation with a special skill set is bargaining, or negotiating in English. And I’m not just talking about high-level talks on corporate partnerships or negotiating a major business deal. Any situation that involves give and take, cooperation, or compromise involves a kind of bargaining.
Maybe you and a colleague are trying to design a website together. Or you and your boss are trying to figure out a work schedule. Or you are trying to get two of your employees to agree on a project budget. These are all situations that demand bargaining skills. You need to acknowledge both sides and propose trade-offs. Often this requires you to make conditional sentences, using words like “if,” “unless,” and “as long as.” And if those statements are hypothetical, you’ll have to make sure you get a handle on important helping verbs like “would” and “could.”
I’ve talked a lot today about organizing your ideas, and about situations that require clarity of information. This brings me to another essential skill: summarizing. What happens after you’ve presented a clear and logical argument, or you’ve negotiated a compromise in a meeting? Well, you need to ensure everyone can latch on to the main ideas. That’s when you summarize.
You might hear a summary introduced with expressions like “to sum up,” or “let’s recap briefly.” But the real skill is figuring out what those main ideas or points are and then stating them concisely. You can’t repeat everything that was said verbatim. You need to distill only what is essential and paraphrase ideas appropriately.
Now before I do exactly that with my own ideas for this lesson, I’ve got one more essential but challenging skill for you: speaking clearly. You probably know some people who seem to just have a knack for clear speech. But it’s not just innate talent. You can learn to sound clear too, if you put in the time and effort.
So practice correct pronunciation. Try to enunciate clearly, even when it doesn’t feel natural for your mouth to make certain shapes or sounds. It gets easier with practice. But if you mumble, or don’t make the effort to try to produce the right sounds and intonation, then it doesn’t matter what you say, because people won’t be able to understand you.
Now how about that summary? I’ve covered five essential skills for every ace English speaker. First, there’s the ability to present a sequence or step-by-step instructions. Next is the skill of connecting your ideas logically. Then there’s bargaining and summarizing. And finally, you need to work on your pronunciation and intonation.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on the business English skills everyone needs in order to be successful.
As any guru worth his weight in salt will tell you, business is all about relationships. That means connecting with new people, and maintaining good relations with people in your existing network. And one of the ways we do this is through small talk.
We call it small talk because it’s not about big important business topics. It’s about things like the weekend, the weather, sports, or family. Making small talk in English allows us to connect with people, find out more about them, and set a mood. This kind of conversation involves a back and forth of simple comments, questions, and answers. You need to show interest in the other person, but also reveal a bit about yourself. And it’s important to stick to topics that are common to both people.
Once you’ve broken the ice with small talk, then you can move on to bigger topics. And that’s where you bring in the skill of expressing opinions in English. Exactly how you do that depends on the situation. If you’re in a meeting and want to add your perspective, you might just introduce it with an expression like “the way I see things” or “as far as I’m concerned.”
But if you’re making a suggestion or pitching an idea, there are a couple of ways to go about it. You might do it carefully with words like “perhaps” or “maybe” or “we could.” Or, if you want to state something more confidently, you can use stronger words like “have to” or “should.” The important thing here is that you assess the situation and adapt your language accordingly.
After all, English conversation isn’t just about speaking; it’s also about listening, and that leads me to asking questions. I don’t just mean “yes or no” questions. I mean substantive questions that show that you’re listening and engaged. This also includes discerning and sincere questions about people’s ideas. This is a big part of being an active listener, which means listening to understand, not just listening to respond.
Of course, being a good listener doesn’t mean being a yes-man. Participating in a meeting or negotiations in English requires the ability to reject ideas. And that’s not as simple as saying “no” or “I disagree.” Most situations require a more nuanced or careful approach.
But be careful with this kind of softening language. If you’re in a position to say no or reject something, be clear about it. You can still be diplomatic without waffling. To do that, you can comment on the positive aspects of the idea, or the intention behind them, before saying “no.”
Rejecting ideas effectively is one aspect of being decisive and getting results. And that brings me to one last skill I want to mention today: getting people to take action. You’ve probably been in an English meeting where there was a lot of great discussion, but no real action points. So you need to learn how to delegate effectively.
Alright, so we’ve looked at five essential business English skills. Let’s do a quick recap: you need to know how to make small talk, express opinions, and ask good questions. At the same time, you need to be able to reject ideas and get action from people.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on resolving conflict in the workplace.
Conflict happens. There’s no way around it. But not everyone has the same attitude toward conflict. Some people run from it, or refuse to even admit it exists. Other people acknowledge it but simply hope it goes away on its own. And some people are able to approach it with confidence, dealing with it openly and honestly.
The first step in conflict resolution is for the people involved to sit down and try to work it out themselves. But that doesn’t always work, and in many cases it takes a third party to attempt to find solutions. That third party might be a peer, or colleague. But mostly it’s a manager or leader. In fact, helping mediate conflict between people is an important function of a manager.
Effective mediation is a tricky business. You need to help people have the open and honest conversations that they might not be able to have on their own. Part of that involves ensuring each person has their turn to speak. One of your aims, of course, is common understanding, so you may need to encourage empathy and confirm understanding at different steps along the way.
As a conflict mediator, your ultimate aim it to find a solution. To do that, you’ll want to have people agree on a common goal. You may also ask them to focus on positive actions, rather than negative ones. Positive actions are more solution-focused.
In today’s dialog, we’ll continue hearing about a conflict between Trevor and Andrew, two retail managers in the same company. Trevor has tried talking with Andrew about their personal conflict, but they haven’t been able to reach a clear solution. So their boss Ann has stepped in as a third-party to help resolve the conflict.
1. What does Ann do when Trevor interrupts Andrew at the start of the dialog?
2. After Andrew explains his side of the story, what does Ann ask Trevor?
3. What is the common goal for the solution Ann proposes?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to resolve conflict.
Just say the word “conflict” and people usually get uncomfortable. Most people want to avoid conflict at all costs. But conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. In fact, it’s a natural result of people working in groups. And in a healthy organization, conflict can actually be constructive. It can lead to personal and professional growth, as well as new ideas and ways of working.
But those positive results of conflict can only be realized if people are willing to face conflict directly and honestly. If people ignore conflict, or refuse to face it, then bad things can happen. Unresolved conflict leads to toxicity and poisoned relationships or teams. Given enough time, it can destroy a company.
So if you experience conflict with someone at work, what can you do? Well, the first step involves trying to work things out one-on-one. You need to talk, privately and openly. And when you do, it’s important to focus on the impact of the other person’s behavior and to try to identify the root cause of the problem. At the same time, you should consider the other sides views and ask them about their perceptions, rather than just focusing on yours. Stick to the facts as you try to resist arguing, and always look for possible solutions.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a retail manager named Trevor try to resolve a conflict he’s having with Andrew, a manager at another store in the same company. Trevor is trying to calmly deal with the situation and find a way to improve their working relationship.
1. What does Trevor say he felt as a result of Andrew’s behavior?
2. How does Trevor respond when Andrew gives him examples of employees that have changed workplaces?
3. What solution does Trevor propose?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to talk about hypothetical situations in English.
Humans are always using their imagination. Sometimes we think about what might happen in the future. Other times we have to imagine different situations in order to figure out what is the best decision to make today or in the future. And when we talk about ideas like this, we use particular words and structures.
For example, when we introduce a hypothetical – or imagined – situation, there are a few expressions we can use. We often start with the words “say” or “suppose.” So, something like “suppose you were the boss” is understood as “imagine you were the boss.” You can also ask a question using “what if,” such as “what if you were the boss?” That word “if” is especially important. We’ll see that word again later in this lesson.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
According to Donald Trump, “trade wars are easy to win.” However, as usual, reality appears to contradict Trump’s claims. In the current dispute between the U.S. and China, it doesn’t look like a winner will emerge any time soon. As CNN notes:
The Trump administration made good on its threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports from 10% to 25%, marking a sharp rise in tensions between the world’s two largest economies. After months of talks aimed at ending a year-long dispute that has already hurt global growth and rattled stock markets around the world, the latest US salvo risks triggering a new wave of tit-for-tat responses.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on second round interviews in English.
You may know all about the basic English job interview questions. And you might be comfortable talking about your basic qualifications and experience. But most companies don’t stop the selection process after one round of interviews. They create a shortlist and invite a few outstanding candidates back for a second interview.
In many cases, that second interview is what we call a behavioral interview. Interviewers will ask questions about how you acted or reacted to challenges in past work, and how you dealt with or adapted to different situations. In this way, they can find out whether you have the right attitude, approach, and abilities for the job.
The behavioral interview is a special opportunity to demonstrate soft skills, such as leadership, or how you take a principled approach to problems. You might also want to show that you can remain calm in conflict. In many cases, the STAR approach can help shape your responses. This is when you describe four things: the situation, the task, the action, and the result. And in this kind of English interview, you have to be careful, because some interviewers will try to give you leading questions to get you to reveal mistakes or problems.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Kat, who is applying for a job with a private healthcare company. She is being interviewed by Denise. Denise is asking Kat some tough behavioral questions, and Kat is doing a good job of demonstrating some important soft skills.
1. What example does Kat give of how she showed leadership and went above and beyond?
2. What situation does Kat describe in response to a question about an unpopular decision?
3. What attitude or attribute does Kat demonstrate when describing a situation of conflict?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on succeeding in a technical interview in English.
While we have lots of lessons on job interviews in English, nearly all of them are about the first round of an interview, or the initial screening interview. If you succeed at that, you’ll get called back for a second interview. And it’s the English interview skills for these 2nd round interviews we want to look at now. Today, we’ll focus on the technical interview. And in the next lesson, we’ll look at the behavioral interview.
Just like any interview, preparation for a technical interview is key. And you can think beforehand about how you might show things like innovative experience or a learning attitude. You might also decide to highlight certain attributes that you think are beneficial, like being a team player.
But what about the problem-solving part of the technical job interview? Can you actually prepare for every possible problem? No, you can’t. But remember that the purpose is not to trick you, or make you feel stupid. The interviewers just want to see how you approach problems. So it’s important for you to start by clarifying the question, and then clearly explaining your solution.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a software developer named Kevin, who’s doing a technical interview for a new job. Kevin not only has to face questions about his experience, but he also has to explain a solution to a technical problem. He’s being interviewed by Mick. We’ll hear how Kevin navigates the interview.
1. What kind of experience does Kevin demonstrate when he talks about an exciting project he worked on?
2. Besides having a happy client, why was the project so successful?
3. When Mick gives Kevin a technical problem, what is the first thing Kevin does?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to use questions in English to ask for details.
It would be great if everyone always told us exactly what we need to know. But it doesn’t usually happen. When we want detailed information, we need to go out and get it. And that means asking people questions.
You can confirm information with simple yes / no questions, like “Do you sell printers?” or “Are you the manager?” But I want to start by looking at questions that get different kinds of information, not just a “yes” or “no” answer. And one of the best ways to get information is with WH questions. We have five WH words in English: who, what, where, when, and why. You might also use “how,” which has a “w” and an “h” but not in that order.
925 English is a course of business English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2) English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Pod for our final lesson on business English idioms related to food.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at a lot of different English idioms connected to food. It should be no surprise that so many expressions are related to eating and drinking. After all, we do it three times a day, or more. Food is not just a necessity, it’s a big part of life and culture.
When you’re looking at idioms, it’s important to remember that they are fixed expressions where the words don’t have a literal meaning. So when you hear that someone is “in a pickle,” you have to understand that there’s no actual pickle. It just means that someone’s in a difficult situation. You have to figure it out from the context, because there’s not really an obvious connection between pickles and difficult situations.
In the lesson, we’ll rejoin a conversation between three colleagues. Jessie has been trying to convince Luke and Ben to join her in starting a business together. Today, we’ll hear them talking about the possible challenges of running their own business.
1. What example does Ben give of a possibly difficult business situation?
2. What does Jessie say is one important benefit of running your own business?
3. According to Jessie, what is necessary for people to have a good business partnership?
What do you think when someone says that another person is “out to lunch?” Of course, it might mean that the person is actually out of the office, at a restaurant, eating a nice sandwich. But it might have nothing to do with actually eating. “Out to lunch” can mean acting crazy, not paying attention, or not understanding reality. In other words, “out to lunch” is an English idiom.
An idiom is any expression where one thing actually means something else, like when “out to lunch” means crazy. English has a huge variety of idioms for every situation. And many of those idioms are related to food. Some are related to meals, like “to put food on the table” and “to sing for your supper.” And others are related to specific foods, like “cool as a cucumber” and “small potatoes.” Learning idioms like these is a great way to improve your English.
In today’s lesson, we’ll continue listening to a conversation among three colleagues. Jessie has just told Luke and Ben about her idea to start a business. She wants them to consider joining her in the new venture. During their discussion, they use many English idioms related to food.
1. After saying he likes Jessie’s idea, what does Ben say he’s concerned about?
2. How does Luke feel about managing people?
3. What does Jessie think about the fact that they are always talking about how bad their workplace is?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on business English idioms related to food.
Food is an important part of life and culture. And even when we’re not eating, or talking about food, it slips into our conversation in the form of idioms. What do I mean when I say “idiom?” I mean special expressions where one thing actually means another. For example, we have the idiom “to go bananas,” which has nothing at all to do with bananas. It means “to go crazy.”
English has idioms that come from specific foods, like bananas, butter, bacon, and bread. We also have English idioms that come from meals or use the word “food” itself. Some of these idioms describe people and activities, while others describe situations, relationships, and ideas. Learning how to use these idioms can really help “spice up” your conversation in English.
In today’s lesson, we’ll hear a conversation among three coworkers: Jessie, Luke, and Ben. They are discussing their general work situation and Jessie’s idea to start her own company. During their discussion, they use many useful idioms related to food.
1. How did Ben feel about working with Ian?
2. Why does Luke say he is not willing to complain to Ian about his approach to work?
3. What does Luke say Jessie is always stressed out about?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to make and respond to suggestions in English.
In work situations, people are continually making suggestions. It could be about something simple, like where to go for lunch. Or it could be about a complex problem, like how to increase sales. You might make a suggestion in English to one person, or to a whole group of people in a meeting.
Making a suggestion means stating one possible option. And that’s why we often use a question to make a suggestion, such as “What about”¦” or “Have you tried”¦” And with these expressions, you have to use the -ing form of the verb, such as “What about asking our manager?” But there are other expressions that just use the base form of the verb, without adding -ing. The expressions “Why don’t we”¦” and “Let’s”¦” both work in this way. For example, we might say “Why don’t we go to Spain?”
925 English is a course of business English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2) English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
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.
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?
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.
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?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to ask for and give directions in English.
It would be great if the map apps on our phones were perfect. But even with the help of technology, we can get confused in a new city, a new neighborhood, or a new office building. And when we do, we need to be able to ask for help.
One simple way to ask for directions in English is to ask if someone “knows where something is.” Or you can just say that you’re looking for a certain place, whether it’s a building, or a room inside a building. One other polite way to ask for directions is with the expression “could you tell me how to get to” a place.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English collocations used to discuss change management.
In the 21st century the pace of change is very fast. And businesses have to fight to keep up, to adapt to changes in both the world and the economy. In meeting rooms around the world, people are debating issues of change. How do we attract and retain millennials? How do we make good use of emerging media? How do we become more efficient? How can we outsource? The list of questions goes on and on.
In today’s lesson, we’ll listen to a meeting in a company that has experienced a lot of growth. But with success comes growing pains. They’re talking about restructuring their company, and trying to figure out exactly how to go about it.
During their discussion, you’ll hear many English expressions that we call “collocations.” A collocation is a natural combination of words. For example, you’ll hear people talking about making a “smooth transition.” We don’t say “soft” transition or “clean” transition. Native English speakers always say “smooth transition” because that’s what they grew up hearing, so now it’s a natural “collocation.”
Even if you didn’t grow up with English, you can learn these natural expressions. By studying business English collocations, you’ll improve your vocabulary and sound more fluent. As you listen to the dialog, try to pick out some of these collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Lauren, Finn, and Jake. They’re trying to determine how to take the company they founded to the next level. In particular, they’re talking about how to involve company employees in their discussions about change.
1. According to Finn, what do they need to show employees rather than just telling them?
2. Besides talking to employees, what does Lauren think they will need to assess?
3. What does Jake say they will do during the “discussion phase” of the process?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English collocations for discussing change management.
Change is a constant. Nowhere is this more true than in business. Just look at the list of Fortune 500 companies from 50 years ago. You might be surprised by how many of those well-known companies are now gone. So what’s the difference between a company that survives and one that dies? A lot of it is about how they manage change.
In this lesson, we’ll listen to a meeting featuring three colleagues who are trying to figure out how to restructure their company. During the discussion, you’ll hear lots of useful expressions that we call “collocations.” And what is a collocation? Well, it’s just a group of words that go together naturally. You heard me use the expression “restructure a company.” That’s a collocation. The words go together as one expression.
Native speakers learn collocations naturally. They simply repeat expressions that they’ve heard hundreds of times. If English is your second language, however, it might not come so automatically. But, by studying collocations, you can improve your vocabulary and sound more fluent at the same time. As you listen to today’s conversation, try to pick out some of these business English collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Jake, Finn, and Lauren. The company they founded has grown, and now they need to carefully manage the transition to a larger company.
1. What does Finn think is required to manage change in their company?
2. What does Lauren say is the first step in change management?
3. What does Jake believe is driving change in the company?
Think about how you speak in your first language. Do you talk the same way to your colleagues as your wife? Or the same to your friends as your boss? Of course not. Different people, and different situations, mean different levels of formality.
We can think about four different levels of formality in spoken English. First, is “formal” English. This is what you might use when you’re giving a public presentation or speech. Next is what we call “consultative,” which is basically professional conversation like talking to your colleagues in a meeting. Then there is “casual,” which is the style you use when talking with your friends. And finally, there’s “intimate” language, which is used with your spouse or family members.
But what if you’re not sure about whether the situation requires formal or more casual language? Well, in that case, stick to language that you know is neutral. And remember, neutral language is acceptable at all levels. Also note that there are individual differences in formality. Different people have different conversational styles. Some tend to be more formal, while others are more casual.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Imagine you are looking for a job, and you have an interview at a big company. You walk into the interview room and say to the panel of interviewers: “hey there, how’s it going?” Believe me, that’s a bad first impression.
Or what if you go to the bar to meet an old friend and when you see him you extend your hand and say “Good evening, and how do you do?” Chances are your friend is going to ask you whether you’re feeling okay.
In both these situations, the problem is that you used the wrong level of formality or register. You simply can’t use the same expressions, words, and idioms in every situation. You need to gauge the situation and adapt how you speak accordingly.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Project management can be a messy business. You can plan, but you can’t really predict all the challenges and obstacles that will come up. So on every project, and especially in agile project management, you have to learn and adapt as you go along. And at the end, it’s a good idea to discuss what you’ve learned in a project debrief meeting. If you’re following an agile approach, you might also hold sprint retrospectives, which are like mini-debriefs at the end of each sprint. Whether it’s a project debrief or one of these sprint retrospectives, you’ll cover similar topics.
A project debrief meeting might start out with a review of the project goals. You want to look back and see what you set out to do in the first place. Then you can talk about successes during the project. What did you do well? What would you do again? From there, you can move on to discuss mistakes, and what you’d like to change in the future. And finally, you’ll want to summarize everything that you’ve learned. The whole idea, of course, is that you’ll be able to do things better next time.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a project manager named Martin, who’s running a debrief meeting at the end of a software development project. We’ll also hear Jill and Sumita, two of the engineers who’ve worked on the project. Together, the group is discussing the work they’ve done and what they’ve learned.
1. After discussing the project goals, what does Martin ask about?
2. The discussion of mistakes leads Martin to ask a related question about what topic?
3. What does Martin do at the end of the meeting?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn some ways of clarifying what someone means.
Sure, you can just nod and smile when you don’t understand. People do that all the time. But they also feel foolish later, especially when the speaker realizes what has happened. Or when you have to ask a question that clearly shows you didn’t understand the first time.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of one word you don’t know. In this case, don’t be afraid to stop someone for clarification. You can always begin by saying you’re sorry, then just ask what the word means. Or you can say you’re “not quite clear what you mean by” a certain word.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Everyone knows that business is a competitive world, sometimes brutally competitive. But it’s not all “dog eat dog,” as they say. Good business people know that one of the keys to success is collaboration. You find other people and businesses that are doing great things, and you cooperate so that you both benefit.
In fact, forging good partnerships is an important aspect of business development. And every partnership begins with a conversation in English. Or a few conversations, I should say.
Once you’ve identified someone as a potential partner, you’ll want to follow up, by phone or in person. And that conversation might involve asking about the person’s work activities, before steering the conversation toward your own field of work and what your company is doing. From there, you can carefully move toward the idea of working together. You might even propose a small joint effort to get the partnership going.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Nick, a business development executive with Quest HR. Nick is talking to Ian, who works with a management consulting firm. The two met at a conference, and Nick quickly identified Ian’s company as a potential partner. Now Nick is trying to figure out how they might be able to work together.
1. What does Nick say his company believes is the secret to success?
2. What does Nick suggest Ian do if he’s interested in the work of Nick’s company?
3. What joint effort does Nick propose at the end of the conversation?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on following up with prospects.
English for Business development is all about the art of conversation. A smile, some chit chat, and a few good questions should be able to tell you if someone’s worth following up with. And when you do follow up, you’ll need to take your English conversation skills to next level.
When you’re following up with a prospect, you’ll likely start off with some English small talk. But pretty soon you’ll have to steer the conversation toward business. More specifically, you might ask leading questions to get the prospect to talk about their challenges. From there, you can set up solutions, and connect these solutions to their goals. If they have doubts along the way, you’ll need to address them. And if you’re successful, you should be able to arrange a follow-up meeting.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Nick, who works in business development for an HR consulting company. He is talking on the phone with Andria, the HR manager for a manufacturing company. Nick met Andria at a conference, and now he’s trying to find out more about Andria’s potential as a customer.
1. What does Nick say he wants to understand about HR departments?
2. What does Nick say engagement surveys can help with?
3. What doubts does Nick ask Andria to explain in more detail?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to clarify something you didn’t hear properly.
If you don’t hear what someone says, the easiest thing to do is just let it go. Move on. Let them keep talking. But that can be a very dangerous strategy. I mean, what if they asked you to do something important? Or what if they told you some important information? Do you really want to miss that?
So rather than letting it go, it’s easy to just ask the person to repeat what they said. To do that politely, we might say “Could you repeat that please?” Or you can use the expression “I beg your pardon?” Then the person knows you haven’t heard them, and they’ll repeat it for you.PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Welcome back to Business English Pod. My name’s Edwin, and I’ll be your host for today’s lesson on business English idioms for giving advice and warnings.
People don’t usually deal with problems or make big decisions on their own. No, they usually turn to those around them for advice. And unless you work alone on an island, you probably find yourself giving advice to others on a regular basis. Could be a colleague coming by your office to chat about a difficult project. Or it might be a friend calling you up for help with a workplace conflict.
But we sometimes find ourselves giving advice even when it’s not asked for. You might be chatting with an employee and realize they’re about to take a big risk. Or a co-worker might be about to accept a bad deal. Whatever the case, it’s your job to warn them about the hazards of their choices.
When you give advice, you can rely on the usual language of suggestions, and expressions like “should” and “how about doing” something. But we also have a lot of English idioms for these situations. And it’s these idioms of advice that we’ll look at today.
In the dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between two work friends, Ryan and Dana. Dana has had ongoing problems with another colleague named Jane. She’s telling Ryan all about the latest developments in the conflict. And Ryan is giving both advice and warnings to her about her approach to the problem. In their conversation, they use lots of useful business English idioms.
1. What does Ryan think Dana should do instead of avoiding Jane?
2. What does Ryan say about Dana’s plan to send Jane an email?
3. Dana misunderstands some of Ryan’s advice. What does she incorrectly think he is telling her to do?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on Business English idioms for giving advice and warnings.
Everyone needs a bit of advice from time to time. Maybe we’re dealing with a difficult colleague, or maybe we’re deciding whether to accept a job offer. At some point we all turn to a colleague, a mentor, a boss, or a friend for a bit of guidance. And sometimes we get advice when we’re not even looking for it. These same people might warn us about things we aren’t even aware of.
At some point, all of us will be called to serve on the other side of the advice equation. Colleagues and friends may come to us for help when they have problems. Our job is to advise, to warn, and to guide them. Whichever side of the equation you’re on, there’s lots of useful Business English idioms for these situations. It’s these English idioms for advice and warnings that we’ll learn today.
In the lesson, we’ll hear a conversation between two friends. Sheldon is having difficulties at work and is considering quitting his job. His friend Tanya is providing some advice and guidance on Sheldon’s situation. She uses many English idioms of advice and warning in their discussion.
1. What did Tanya previously advise Sheldon to do?
2. What does Tanya think Sheldon should do instead of quitting his job?
3. At the end of the dialog, what does Sheldon say about his own approach?
There are times when you want to impress people with your language abilities. But there are actually far more situations that require the opposite approach – situations where you don’t want to risk confusing people, so you want to make sure you’re communicating clearly.
In our last lesson, I talked about clear pronunciation and word choice. Today I want to look at making clear sentences and organizing your message.
When it comes to sentences, shoot for simple and short. Rather than stringing a bunch of ideas into one long sentence, break it up into several short ones. Use simple words like “but” and “so?” instead of words like “nevertheless” and “consequently”.
There’s something else that can add clutter to our sentences: the softening words and phrases we use to be diplomatic, polite, or careful. These expressions can be very important when the situation requires. But not all situations or audiences require such diplomacy. We also have some very confusing ways of asking questions in English. And if you’re trying to be clear, you should avoid some of these. That includes tag questions, such as “you’re quite busy, aren’t you?” And negative questions, like “aren’t you going to read my report?”
The last thing I want to talk about is how we structure our messages. And I mean longer messages, like a set of instructions or something. First off, it’s good to be clear about purpose. Tell people what you’re going to tell them. That’s exactly what I did when I said “the last thing I want to talk about is how we structure our messages.” You see, when you heard that, you knew exactly what I was going to talk about next.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to use words like “secondly.” We call this “signposting.” Signposting is basically giving clear structure and logic to what you’re saying. That means introducing things clearly. It means outlining, using words like “first, second, third” and “last.” But it also means being clear about how your ideas fit together. Signposting makes it a lot easier for people to follow what you’re saying, and to remember it!
Lastly, it’s a good idea to summarize what you’ve said. Just a little recap is good enough. And you can introduce your summary using signposting expressions like “to sum up” or “what I’ve been trying to say is”¦”Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Did you know that most of the conversations in English happening right now are between two non-native speakers? There’s a German doing business in Malaysia, and a Russian talking on the phone with a Korean, and a Brazilian visiting Spain. And they’re most likely using English to communicate with each other.
But English is not a simple language. For one thing, it has more words and idioms than other languages. For another thing, there are many different varieties of English. So the English you hear in Singapore or Miami or London can sound quite different. Given this situation – people around the world using a difficult language at different levels – it’s really important to be able to communicate clearly.
Let’s start with pronunciation. Of course, not everyone will, or should, speak exactly the same. Perfect pronunciation doesn’t exist, since there are so many different accents. So being clear isn’t so much about pronunciation as it is about enunciation. Enunciation simply means pronouncing things clearly and carefully.
Two other things that impact pronunciation are speed and volume. When we’re uncomfortable or nervous, we tend to speed up and speak more softly. But speaking quickly and quietly can damage our pronunciation. Instead, slow down a bit and speak a bit more loudly. This will add clarity to your speech.
Clarity is also affected by the words we choose. The important thing here is to keep it simple. When you’re giving someone instructions on the phone, or making an important point in a presentation, it’s not the time to impress people with your vocabulary. Stick to expressions you know people will understand. That means you should avoid using too much slang and too many idioms.
When it comes to word choice, there’s another thing to be careful with: acronyms and abbreviations. You might use “TBH” quite often, but not everyone knows that it means “to be honest.” You don’t have to use these abbreviations to get your point across. And you’ve probably been confused – and frustrated – when people use abbreviations that are common in their line of work but are not common knowledge.
As we’ve seen, communicating clearly in English might mean we have to adapt what we say and how we say it, depending on the audience. It’s always a good idea to speak up and to speak clearly. And if you want to make sure everyone understands, it’s wise to use simple and clear words, while avoiding slang, idioms, and abbreviations.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Nobody forgets to hold a kickoff meeting to get a project started. But unfortunately, many teams fail to hold a final meeting to bring their project cleanly to a close. Whether you’re following agile or a more traditional approach, a project handover meeting is essential. For one thing, it’s a chance to talk about how the project went and get some valuable feedback from the client. It’s also a chance to take care of any small contractual issues and make sure the client agrees that you’ve fulfilled the project goals.
But a final project handover meeting isn’t only about looking back at what’s already been done. It’s also about opening the door to future work. After all, it’s much easier to sell more to existing clients than it is to find new clients. That could mean future work that builds on what you’ve just completed. Or it might mean identifying new needs that you can help address.
But before you start talking about future work, you should set a positive tone and ask the client for their impressions of the project. You might learn something useful that you can use in other projects. Then you can remind the client how your work fits into a broader plan for the future. That will set the stage for discussing possible future upgrades or additional support.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Martin, a project manager with a software company called OptiTech. They’ve just finished developing software for a logistics company. Martin is meeting with Liam, the IT manager for the logistics company, for the final project handover. During the discussion, Martin will use some useful project management English to steer the meeting to a successful conclusion.
1. What is the first question that Martin asks Liam?
2. What does Martin suggest Liam’s company might need if they grow or change?
3. What does Martin propose that Liam consider at the end of the dialog?
Wouldn’t it be nice if every project went exactly as planned? But that’s simply not realistic. Projects are just as diverse as the people involved. And every project runs into hurdles, challenges, or even major breakdowns. Good planning can help avoid some of these issues, but it’s more than likely that you’ll need to use your problem-solving skills at some point.
Some of these problems might be with your project team. But others could involve the client. In many cases, this means something comes up mid-project that neither of you anticipated. Lack of information, timeline issues, scope changes”¦ there are a thousand different issues that might come up that will test your project management skills.
Solving these kinds of problems will require more than just basic project management English. For starters, you may need to explain different options to the client. But you’ll need to be careful to avoid liability when you can, and you might also need to resist committing to a timeline. These are important aspects of English for negotiating a solution.
And that word “solution” is the key. Your goal is to get to a solution that you can both agree to so that the project can still meet its original goals. And just like in any negotiation, that will probably involve proposing a compromise. Of course, agreements should be put in writing, so you’ll have to document any solutions you agree on.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Jill, a project manager with a software developer. They’ve been building a new system for a logistics company. Jill is talking with the Liam, the IT manager for the client, about a problem that has come up near the end of their project. Jill needs to negotiate a good solution to the problem.
1. What are the options Jill lays out at the start of the meeting?
2. When Liam asks about how long it will take, how does Jill respond?
3. What is the compromise solution that Jill suggests?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to make requests in English.
There’s a reason why making requests is one of the first things English-speaking parents teach their children. It’s because we can’t get along in life – and that includes work – without asking people to give us things or to do things for us.
In some situations, our requests are quite direct. For example, with people you know well or colleagues, you don’t need to be too formal. In this case, you can make a question with “Can you” or “Could I get you to.” That’s a simple and direct way to ask someone to do something.
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginner level English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.
Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to make an offer in English.
There’s give and take in every relationship. And giving involves making an offer. It might be something simple like offering a cup of coffee. Or it might be something big like help with a project.
In some situations – like offering a drink – we can make the offer very directly. One common way to do this is with the word “can.” So you can ask a question, like “Can I help you with that?” Or you can make a statement, like “I can get you a cup of coffee if you want.”
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginner level English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.
Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
The digital age has brought unprecedented access to information and new online services. And in exchange, people have proven very willing to provide personal information and to have their online activities monitored. But is it worth it? As Wired reports, more and more people are questioning this trade-off:
The US has found itself in the middle of a data privacy awakening, and you can credit the recent spate of headline-grabbing scandals as the kick-starter. Cambridge Analytica illicitly took the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users and turned it into targeted political ads. And Equifax let slip the sensitive details of 148 million Americans because it couldn’t be bothered to patch a known vulnerability.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
Imagine you’re in a difficult meeting where everyone is disagreeing. Tension is high. And the boss turns to you and says “so what do you think?” In this situation, you need to express your opinion. But giving an opinion isn’t always easy, as you surely know. You’ve got to say it the right way.
But the right way has changed a bit. Ten to fifteen years ago business meetings were often quite formal. But many business English meetings today tend to be more informal. And you can see this change in the different ways of expressing your opinion in English. Sometimes we need to be cautious, while at other times we might want to be more direct or stronger. And there’s still a difference between giving opinions in a group setting and speaking informally.
When we want to be informal, we are often more direct. We say exactly what we think. But when we’re being formal or cautious, we tend to add words and expressions to soften our opinions. We also use words like “might” and “could” instead of “must” and “should.” Overall, we try not to sound too strong or direct.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between Kerry, Nick, Gregory, and Lola. Their company hired a freelance writer to do some work, but the writer hasn’t communicated with them lately. Kerry is asking the group for their opinions about what they should do.
1. How does Kerry ask Vincent for his opinion near the start of the meeting?
2. What expression does Gregory use to introduce his strong opinion?
3. What is one expression that Lola uses to make her opinion careful or cautious?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on business English idioms that come from football, or soccer.
Since sports and business are so similar, it’s easy to see how there could be so many related English idioms. Companies are like teams; employees are like players. Ideas are like balls that get kicked around. Success is like scoring a goal. And there’s always plenty of competition.
In the previous lesson, Marilyn and Karl, two colleagues at a publishing firm, discussed Karl’s interest in a job at the company’s Sydney branch. Karl isn’t completely sure it’s the right move for him and has asked Marilyn for her opinion. Today, we’ll hear more of their conversation, as Karl explains his hesitation about applying.
1. How does Karl’s wife feel about moving to Sydney?
2. Why does Karl feel like he’s cheating on his own company?
3. What advice does Marilyn give at the end of the conversation?
Have you ever stopped to think about how many similarities there are between business and sports? Groups of employees work together as teams. Teams, or companies, compete against each other, trying to win recognition, profits, or new clients. Given these similarities, it’s not surprising that language would be similar when we talk about business and sports. And a number of different sports have contributed idioms to the English language.
Today, our focus will be on English football idioms. As you listen to the dialog, you might hear some phrases that are new to you. Thinking about the relationship between business and sports may help you guess their meaning. And off course, we’ll go over them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Karl and Marilyn, two friends who work at a publishing company. Karl is thinking about applying for a job at the company’s Sydney office. He has some doubts though, so he asks Marilyn what she thinks.
1. Why does Karl want to leave his current job?
2. What are two points Marilyn mentions about the Sydney branch?
3. What has Karl heard about the Sydney branch?
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to ask for and give advice in English.
Everybody needs a little help sometimes. And when you need help, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice. Maybe you ask a friend or colleague, or maybe you ask a boss or mentor. Whatever the case, I want to give you some good ways to get advice.
One nice way is to ask for advice before you explain your problem. For example, you might say “I was wondering if you could give me some advice?” Or, if the person already understands the situation, you can just ask “What do you think I should do?” Or maybe “What do you think I should say?”
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.
Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Every business development professional knows that doing business in English means knowing how to work a room. You go to events, parties, and gatherings. You smile, shake hands, and talk to new people. But that’s not all. You have to figure out how those people might fit into your network. Are they potential customers? Or are they potential partners?
The strategies you use with potential partners are similar to those you might use in any sales English conversation. You need to start by breaking the ice and asking about someone’s company and work. But once you realize you’ve got someone who might be a good partner, you should start finding overlaps in your work and build a connection with that person.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Nick, a business development professional with Quest HR Consulting. Nick is at an after-dinner party at a conference, when he starts a conversation with Ian, a strategy consultant. Nick uses some important techniques to start the conversation and develop Ian as a potential partner.
1. What topic does Nick comment on to break the ice with Ian?
2. What are the overlaps in Nick and Ian’s work?
3. What theme does Ian mention that Nick agrees with or echoes?
If you work in sales or business development, a big part of your job is meeting new people in search of new customers. That might include cold-calling, where you phone someone at work or drop by their office. But often this kind of networking takes place at events, like conferences, forums, and pretty much anywhere else you have a lot of people in one place.
At these events, you don’t usually begin a conversation talking about business. Instead, you talk about the weather, or sports, or other non-work topics. This is where socializing in English and doing business in English are closely connected. You’ve got to break the ice socially before you introduce your company, the work that you do, and other clients. And then you’ve got to lead into talking about the customer’s needs and asking to follow up at a later time. The trick is doing this naturally.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Nick, who works in business development for an HR consulting company. Nick is at a dinner event during a big HR conference. He is seated at a table with Andria. Nick clearly demonstrates how an English sales conversation works, as he identifies Andria as a potential customer.
1. How does Nick introduce his company?
2. What do Nick’s company and Andria’s company have in common?
3. What does Nick ask to identify a gap in Andria’s HR strategy?
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
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
Every company’s goal is to make a profit. But how they go about that is different. Different industries, different business models, different approaches”¦ There’s no simple recipe for success. And there’s no simple, single way to measure whether a company is performing well.
Instead, we look at many different factors when we measure company performance. We’ve also got a lot of different expressions in English for discussing the topic. And many of these English expressions are what we call “collocations.”
What’s a collocation? Well, it’s just a natural combination of words. Ever heard the expressions “turn a profit” or “boost the bottom line?” We don’t say “grow a profit” or “up the bottom line.” Those simply aren’t natural collocations. And if you say something like that, you won’t sound natural.
So studying collocations is a great way to sound more natural with your vocabulary. You can learn combinations of words, rather than single words on their own. As you listen to the dialog today, try to pick out some of these collocations, and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll rejoin a meeting at a private equity firm. Three colleagues, Maria, Claudia, and Taylor, are talking about some of the companies they’ve invested in. They’ll use lots of great collocations as they discuss the performance of these companies.
1. What does Claudia think about SmartMoney?
2. What does Taylor think they should do before selling off SmartMoney?
3. What has Claudia been focusing on with Byron Industries?
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for talking about company performance.
The economy is in a state of constant change. Companies grow, and companies shrink. New companies are born, and old ones disappear. And you don’t have to be an investor to get excited about the boom and bust of markets and the story of how company’s respond. But if you are an investor, your whole retirement might depend on whether companies make the right moves at the right time.
This makes company performance a popular topic around the business table, or at the pub. And when we talk about company performance, we often use special expressions called collocations. An English collocation is a combination of words that are commonly used together, such as “company performance” or “state of change.”
Native speakers use these collocations automatically. In fact, our brains store these groups of words together, as if they were one word. You can learn to remember and use these collocations too. Studying collocations is a great way to learn vocabulary and sound more natural. So, as you listen to the dialog, try to pick out some of these collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Maria, Claudia, and Taylor, who work at a private equity firm. Basically, it’s their job to invest in the right companies for maximum profit. The three are discussing the performance of several companies they’ve chosen to invest in.
1. Why does Claudia feel positive about Ranger Gold’s performance?
2. What is Taylor worried will happen if Ranger Gold builds a new mine?
3. What does Maria think Intuition Software needs to do to remain profitable?