Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 63: Business Presentations - Referring to Visual Aids

29 Oct 2018

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is certainly true of business presentations in which a graph, table or image can present a clear picture of what you want to say. Many people find it easier to understand information when it is presented visually, and visual aids are essential to most business presentations.

To create an effective presentation, it is important to strike the right balance between text and graphics. Text should be brief, and organised into bullet points for easier reading. You should use a combination of different kinds of graphics, such as images, graphs and pie diagrams, to keep your audience’s attention.

Every image or graph should be relevant to your topic. Never use an image just to brighten up your presentation.

You should also familiarise yourself with the operating system and projector well before your presentation, so that you do not have any technical difficulties during your presentation.

In this lesson, we will listen to two presentations where the speakers use visual aids to enhance the effect of what they are saying.

Situation 1

You will now listen to a presentation on product training made by Susan, who works as a trainer at an insurance company. Susan makes use of several visual aids during her talk on training needs assessments for a new product that is to be launched by her company.


BEP 43: Business Meetings - Interrupting Effectively

28 Oct 2018

Interrupting may sound like an impolite aspect of conversation, but it can be effective if it is done with politeness and skill. Interrupting may be preceded by non–intrusive gestures such as lifting your hand so that the person speaking is not caught by surprise. People speaking in meetings often tend to get carried away with what they are saying and may not know when to stop, so it is perfectly acceptable to interrupt someone if you need to make a point or ask a question.

In this podcast lesson you’re going to hear examples of effective as well as ineffective interruptions. You will also be introduced to the INSET technique for interrupting in business meetings. Understanding and applying this technique will make you a better contributor in your workplace meetings.

Situation 1

In the first dialogue Andrew, Elsa and Brad discuss arrangements for an upcoming marketing tour. Focus on how each person interrupts another while they’re talking. Do you think these interruptions are effective?


BEP 20 - Employment Interview Techniques

28 Oct 2018

In this podcast lesson you're going to listen to an employment interview. Pay close attention to the questions asked by the interviewer – he uses a range of common interview question types.


Vivian Ren is a Human Resources Assistant Manager for a large international accounting company; she has been looking for a new position as she feels her current job isn't challenging enough after being in the position for over eight years. She has been asked to an interview by a large airlines company for the Head of the Human Resources.


BEP 15: Business Meetings - Developing and Argument Part 1

18 Sep 2018

In business meetings, you may often need to argue that something needs to be done, undone, changed, etc. And to be taken seriously, you’ll need to clearly explain your argument in order for it to be accepted. You’ll also need to know how to respond to questions and criticism, especially if you haven't made your case clearly and backed it up with facts, figures and logical reasoning.


BEP 60: Explaining a Company's Organisation

22 Aug 2018

When you meet clients at the workplace or talk to people at presentations, meetings and conferences, you may have to talk about your company. Apart from explaining how your company is organised, you should also be able to describe your company’s operations.

In this lesson, we will show you how to talk about your company, and how to answer questions about your company.

Two of the most important language points when talking about your company are the correct usage of verb tenses and the passive voice. You will need to use a variety of verb tenses to talk about the past, present and future of your company. You’ll also need to use the passive voice when talking about your company’s organisation and structure.


You will now listen to a brief presentation that George makes about his company which sells car accessories. George is making a presentation in which he needs to talk about his company. He is talking to a few representatives from a firm that is interested in doing business with his company, so it is important for George to make a good impression.


BEP 80: Passing on Telephone Messages to Clients

06 Aug 2018



Remember when passing on messages to clients, details are very important. It does no good to relay a message if you’ve forgotten the time of the appointment or can’t remember the name of the person calling. Everyone makes mistakes and sooner or later most people forget a detail, but the most important thing is communicating this information clearly and accurately. 

When you’re being given a message to pass on to someone, never be afraid to ask for clarification, repetition or anything else, particularly when dealing with detailed information. It’s much more important to ask a few times and be sure it’s right than to give out the wrong information.

In this podcast lesson, you're going to listen to Beth relaying some messages to her company's clients. Beth works as a receptionist for a large garment manufacturer. Today is the first day back in the office after a one-week holiday, and several managers are still on vacation. They've instructed Beth to pass on messages to clients they know will be calling.

Situation 1

In the first situation you’re going to listen to Beth passing on a message to a client.


BEP 89: Getting Acquainted in Work Situations

23 Jul 2018



In this month's podcast lesson we're looking at a typical conversation you might have with someone you've only just met in a business situation – at a conference for example. What sort of things can you talk about – and what topics should be avoided?


In the following situation, David and Jenny are attending a business conference in Sydney, Australia. David is an Australian, while Jenny is from England. Let's look at how David and Jenny get acquainted.


BEP 92: Handling Difficult Requests

04 Jul 2018



In a perfect world, we’d never have to talk about problems or need to face difficult situations. But as we all know, discussing problems and finding solutions to problems are both necessary to maintain good business relationships. We shouldn’t avoid these situations but look at them as an opportunity to improve business communication with colleagues and customers.

We cannot always say “yes” to a difficult request from a client or a colleague. Sometimes, it may not be possible to grant a request. At other times, a compromise may be reached. In such situations, the language and tone you use are important. You don’t want to offend or upset the person making the request.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll use a telephone dialogue to illustrate how to deal with difficult requests without causing offence.


Wynn Newberry works for a Marketwatch Magazine, a fashion and style magazine that is holding a public event the launch of a new bar. He wants to print 10,000 publicity flyers to hand out at an upcoming event and as time is limited, he needs the flyers quickly. He calls Sara, his printer.


BEP22: Business Small Talk - First Meetings

20 Jun 2018


Many of you will be working for international companies where you come into daily contact with foreigners. 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!


You're now going to listen to two dialogues. In the first dialogue, Barbara Powers and Lee Lu, colleagues in Parma, a large multinational banking company, meet for the first time. Lee has recently been transferred to the Beijing office where Barbara is a manager.


BEP 03: Controling Meetings and Expressing Opinions

04 Jun 2018

In this podcast lesson we’re looking at a more formal meeting – and in particular at the role of the chairperson – or the person who runs the meeting.

Our Chairperson is SIMON. Let’s look at how he starts things off.

Has everybody got a copy of the agenda?

Would you mind taking minutes John?

Not at all.

Good. Well then, let’s get started.

SIMON first makes sure everyone has an agenda – or a list of the items to be discussed at the meeting.

Then he asks someone to take minutes – or keep a record of the meeting. Then he announces the start of the meeting – he officially begins it.

Let’s practise some useful phrases for these three purposes.


BEP 46: Business Small Talk - Switching Techniques

22 May 2018

Small talk may be used to fill silences or get to know someone you’ve just been introduced to. In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how to switch the topic of conversation when you want to move on from small talk to a business-related issue.

You will now listen to a conversation between Jill, a managing editor in an e-learning firm, and Michael, an associate in the company. As you hear the dialogue, try to identify at least three topics that Jill and Michael talk about that are not related to business.


BEP 90: Showing Empathy in Work Situations

14 May 2018



Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels by imagining yourself in their position.

The ability to show empathy is a very important social skill in making and maintaining friendships. In business, too, it’s important to be able to show empathy with customers, clients and even co-workers, particularly when dealing with disputes, complaints and other negative situations.

You're much more likely to be able to resolve a problem with someone if you show them that you understand their position or how they feel.

Some people are naturally empathetic; others have to actively work on developing the skill. There are a number of useful techniques for showing empathy which we’ll look at in this podcast lesson.

Situation 1

In the following situation, Mary discusses a problem with her colleague, John.


BEP 91: Expressing Opinions and Agreement

02 May 2018



We are often askedto give our opinion on various things at work. We also often ask for the opinion of colleagues and superiors.

Asking for and giving opinions is an important part of English, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the language you will need to do this. You’ll also need to know how to respond when someone gives you their opinion. You can either agree or disagree, and within this you can choose to agree or disagree strongly or mildly. Subtle changes to the language you use will allow you to find the right level of agreement or disagreement.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll show you how to express an opinion and show agreement and disagreement through three short dialogues.


You’re now going to listen to three short dialogues. In each dialogue, you’ll hear people expressing their opinions and being asked about their opinions.


BEP 87: Criticizing Someone in the Right Way

04 Apr 2018



We all make mistakes and learning how to correct them is an important part of doing business. But what about when other people make mistakes?

It’s a good idea to learn how to criticize in a professional manner without causing offence, especially if you're talking to an employee. There are ways of telling someone they didn’t do their work as completely, correctly or accurately as they might have.

In this podcast lesson we’ll focus on some techniques you can use to criticise in a way that won’t cause offence. We’ll also introduce you to some useful phrases to help you achieve this.


You’re now going to listen to a short dialogue. You’ll hear Mr Brown talking to Sandra, one of his employees, about some work she has done recently.


BEP 70: Handling Customer Complaints

20 Mar 2018


When you speak on the telephone to customers, your voice represents your company to the caller. Without the benefit of using body language (handshakes, smiles, nodding your head, etc.), your tone of voice and customer service techniques are all you have to gain customer confidence.

You should always try to adopt a polite, friendly, helpful, efficient and professional tone when speaking on the telephone to customers. Using standard telephone expressions will make you sound polite and professional. Listening and taking the time to understand your customers will make you sound helpful and efficient.

Situation 1

DVD retailer, Music Box Ltd, have just received this letter of complaint from Albert Hui, one of their corporate customers. Read through the letter and consider how you would handle the complaint.