Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 85: Telephone Communication Problems Part 1 - A Bad Line

28 Nov 2019

telephoning

Introduction

We’ve become creatures of telephone habits. Having made and received thousands of telephone calls in our lifetimes, it is easy to assume that we have reasonable telephone skills. Most people do not even think there are any special challenges of telephone communication.

When all parts of the communications process work effectively together, telephone communication is clear and useful. Sometimes, however, even a well-practiced communication process can go wrong. Problems can occur in any of the following four parts of sending a message:

  • Trouble sending: The sender doesn't speak clearly, speaks in a heavy accent or speaks too quickly. What happens to the message? Will it be received?
  • Trouble with the message content: The message is confusing, disorganized or irrational. Is it likely that the receiver will understand what is being communicated?
  • Trouble with the channel: There is background noise or a bad line. Will the message be transmitted effectively? Will it be received?
  • Trouble with the receiver: The receiver is not listening closely, has fallen asleep or is distracted. Will the message be understood?

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to focus on trouble with the channel, where because of background noise or a temporary loss of signal, the message is sometimes lost or cannot be heard clearly.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to Beatrice, from Sterling Associates, take a call from a client, Dan Tomkins. Dan wants Beatrice to reschedule a meeting for him.

 

BEP31: Pitching a Sale - Elevator Speeches

07 Nov 2019

Imagine you have just entered an elevator. As the doors start to close, a man enters and smiles briefly. A moment later, he starts to chat and asks what you do. The response you give is called an “elevator speech.” As the name suggests, the speech must be short enough to provide essential details before the door opens again and the man gets off on his floor.

There are certain things all elevator speeches have. You must tell your name. You must also give the name of your company. And then, you must tell why your company is different from or better than other companies out there. You could tell, for example, a unique approach you take. Or, you could explain the types of problems you solve. You could even tell a story that shows a successful result you had with a given client.

In this podcast lesson, we'll teach you how to create a professional elevator speech.

 

BEP 79: Small Talk with Colleagues

16 Oct 2019

small_talk

Introduction

Many of you will be working for international companies where you come into daily contact with foreigners, some of whom will be native English speakers. Whether you’re working face to face with a foreign colleague in your office, or just bump into a foreigner you know in your company canteen, a corridor, a lift or when you are arriving or leaving work, you’ll need to make some conversation. You don’t always need to talk about work although this is what you have in common and it is easier to talk about things that you both know about.

Social conversations are important when you want to build better relationships with people and when you want to develop closer friendships. If you want to become more than just work colleagues, you’ll need to talk about things other than work!

Situation

Marcel and Donna, two colleagues at AEN Publicity, are chatting at the water-cooler. They don’t really know each other very well, but are quite happy to exchange a few words. The conversation is very informal so you may come across some interesting new words and expressions.

 

BEP 88: Accepting and Refusing Business Invitations

30 Aug 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

Accepting an invitation is easy. Refusing an invitation is more difficult. In business situations, it’s particularly important to know how to refuse an invitation politely so you don’t cause offence to the person who is inviting you.

In this podcast lesson you’re going to learn how to make, accept and refuse invitations in a business setting.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a short dialogue. Mary and David have just met each other at a business conference. During the conversation, Mary invites David to dinner.

 

BEP 75: Telephoning - Using Standard Phrases

06 Aug 2019

telephoning

Introduction

Making and receiving telephone calls is one of the hardest skills in English, especially for non-native speakers who often rely on non-verbal cues such as signs gestures and facial expressions to help their understanding.

In business situations, however, telephoning has a language of its own. We use standard phrases for every telephone function such as answering the phone, offering to help the caller, putting a caller on hold, taking a message, closing a call, etc.  Learning these phrases will help you not only better understand what the other person is saying, but also direct the telephone conversation so that you can communicate your message successfully and concisely. It’s a good idea for you to practice and becoming familiar with the most common standard telephone phrases.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll demonstrate the use of common standard telephone phrases through some short telephone conversations. Lynn is a receptionist at an international shipping company. You're going to listen to her take four routine calls.

 

BEP 95: Speculating About the Present

25 Jul 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

Speculating means guessing. When we make a guess about something, we may have some additional information which helps us to guess more accurately and with some degree of certainty. On the other hand, we may not have this information and in such cases our guess will be more uncertain.

Modal verbs allow us to speculate about past, present and future events. The modal verb you use depends upon how certain or uncertain you are. In this review we shall focus on speculating about present situations. When speculating, you should consider carefully the grammatical structures used. A review of the language focus page is recommended.

In this podcast lesson we shall focus on speculating about present or current situations using modal verbs.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a conversation between Ben and Jenny. Ben wants to talk to Jenny about her job and her future in the company.

 

BEP 52: Chairing a Business Meeting

11 Jul 2019

Most formal business meetings are chaired by an individual who structures the meeting and ensures that different roles are assigned to the participants in the meeting. The chairperson also manages the opening and closing remarks of the meeting, which are both essential to the outcome of the discussion. Chairing a meeting involves knowing how to make remarks and comments at the right times, getting the conversation back on track if any deviates, and making opening and closing remarks that emphasise the main points of the discussion.

Usually, it is only formal business meetings which are chaired, which means that the chairperson’s language also has to be more or less formal in nature. The language and usage of expressions depend on what kind of meeting is being chaired. Business meetings that are internal to a company can utilize more informal language, while meetings in which clients are present are usually more formally organised and conducted.

In this podcast lesson, we will examine the usage of language expressions in six different aspects of chairing a business meeting.

 

BEP 06 - Business Communication - Saying Goodbye

25 Jun 2019

In this podcast lesson, we'll be looking at some of the phrases you can use when you're saying goodbye to someone - either for a short time, or for a long time.

In our example, Victor is from another country, and he's about to go back home. At a conference, he meets Sam and Lin.

After completing all the listening and language exercises, you can download the podcast which includes the dialogues as well as detailed explanations of all the language points.

 

BEP 37: Wrapping Up a Business Presentation

30 May 2019

Presentations are an important aspect of working in a business environment. Since they give you an opportunity to showcase your abilities and thoughts, they should be planned well and organized in such a way that your main points are highlighted constantly. One of the best ways to do this is to end your presentation effectively. Remember, audiences tend to remember best what they hear last! An effective conclusion can help your listeners to quickly recollect your main points, and also set the stage for a discussion on the topic you have covered.

Here are some points to keep in mind for an effective conclusion to a presentation:

  • Always provide a brief summary of your main points (no more than two to three sentences).

  • Include recommendations for further research or exploration if possible.

  • End by checking with your audience if they need clarifications, or if they have any comments or questions.

Situation

You are now going to listen to a conversation with three participants. Tara is a language trainer at a large company. She has just completed a presentation on issues which need to be addressed by the company’s training department in the coming month. Alex and Rebecca are members of Tara’s team who ask her for clarifications.

 

BEP 21: Taking Telephone Messages

21 May 2019

Taking telephone messages well is a skill that saves time for both the caller and the receiver.

If you need to take a message for someone, get as much information as possible. Always include:

  • The date and time of the call.
  • The full name of the person calling (ask for correct spelling).
  • The company the caller is from.
  • The phone number and time available for callback.
  • The purpose of the call.

Give enough information to the caller so they know what to expect, such as when the person they are trying to reach will return.

 

BEP 24: Expressing Agreement and Disagreement

28 Apr 2019

Whenever people work together, there is always a possibility of disagreement. It’s usually fine to tell friends bluntly that you disagree with them. But in business, we have to be quite careful about how we disagree. It’s not that we can’t do it, but that we have to do it in ways that won’t cause offence. We have to disagree indirectly.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll be reviewing the language used to disagree politely with someone.

 

BEP 83: Expressing the Future and Future Certainty

29 Mar 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how people talk about future events. We’re also going to look at how to express future certainty, that is, to say how likely something will happen in the future.

What is the difference in usage between the future simple ‘will’ and ‘going to’? Many native English speakers would have problems answering this question in a grammatical sense, but they would automatically know how to use both future forms in conversation. In the lesson, we’ll make clear the difference between them.

Although seldom used by learners of English, native English speakers commonly use the present continuous tense to talk about the future. Seems strange to use a present tense for this purpose, but in certain contexts, it’s the right thing to do.

Three common verbs are also used to express the future: ‘plan,’ ‘intend,’ and ‘expect.’ We’ll show you how to use these verbs correctly in the right context.

And finally, we’ll show you how to talk about a future event in varying degrees of certainty.

Situation

Merta Motorparts, is going through a merger and, as a result, many changes are being planned in order to prepare the company for their new owners. Listen in as three employees from the Finance Department discuss some of the changes and how these changes will affect them.

Notice the use of “will,” “going to,” and verbs such as “plan,” “expect” and “intend” to talk about the future. Notice also how the speakers speculate about the future, i.e. say how likely a future event will happen, using words such as “probably,” “likely,” “possibly,” etc.

 

BEP 12 - Telephone Talk - Sales Techniques

22 Mar 2019

Telephone selling forms a major part of many companies’ sales strategy. Some people find the technique comes naturally but for others it is very difficult and they need to make a conscious effort to develop the necessary skills.

In this podcast lesson we present you with two telephone dialogues showing the right way and the wrong way to handle this type of call.

 

BEP 45: Business Meetings - Making Plans

07 Mar 2019

In planning a business event such as a conference, the type of language that we use commonly includes verbs which refer to the future. In this podcast, we will see how the future simple tense, ‘will,’ ‘going to’ and the present continuous tense can be used to refer to future actions. We will also look at examples of how modal verbs can be used in discussing business plans.

During the course of planning a business conference or workshop, we often need more than one meeting to plan the event. In this podcast lesson, we will listen to extracts from two meetings, one to plan a business conference and the other to discuss and assign specific tasks.

 

BEP 33: Dealing with Hostile Situations at Work

12 Feb 2019

Introduction

Conflicts between people are always going to happen. This is true for family relations as well as for workplace relations. Fortunately, most conflicts can be resolved. Patience is needed; so is a willingness to listen. And, of course, using the right words is critical. The English language has more than a million words. With some effort, you can find the right ones

Situation

Listen now to an exchange between Joe, the manager, and his subordinate Sally. Joe has generally tried to avoid encounters with her. He believes she has a hot temper and he doesn’t want to enflame it. This time, however, he has received a complaint from Rose, the project manager. And Joe must deal with the situation.

 
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