Small Talk

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 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 84: Business Small Talk - Discussing Routine and Recent Past

14 Mar 2018



Small talk is important because it helps to break the ice. Learn to engage in small talk at job interviews, sales meetings, or other business meetings and encounters.

If it doesn't come naturally to you, take a few minutes beforehand to think of a few topics. You can always talk about the weather! You can ask about a friend, colleague or acquaintance you both know. You can ask someone how long they have lived in the area. Just find something to talk about other than business.

In this podcast lesson, we'll listen in on two social/business encounters. The language in both is quite informal as you might expect in these situations.

Situation 1

You’re now going to hear a conversation between Mark and his boss, Ms Davis. Mark is late for work again and his boss isn't happy with him. Mark is able to use small talk and a bit of humour to soften a difficult situation.


BEP32: Small Talk Before a Business Meeting

07 Aug 2017

“Results depend on relationships. That’s what Don Petersen says. He is the ex-CEO of America’s Ford Motor Company. You will find that being able to make small talk—especially before a business meeting—will help build good relationships. And, good business relationships will help you get the results you want. Think of small talk as an engraved business card: small but impressive. Impressive, that is, if you do it well.


Listen now to small talk used by Dan, who is about to make a presentation featuring his leadership training firm. He especially wants to win approval from Susan Lynch, head of employee relations for a multinational firm. Pay attention to Dan’s manner and manners as well.


BEP 82: Small Talk - Discussing a Colleague

09 Jul 2017



Small talk is essential in business. Whether you’re speaking to a colleague, a client or a customer, a little social chat will help to strengthen the relationship you have with them.

Small talk doesn’t need to be limited to informal situations such as over lunch or dinner. It is most effectively used when meeting someone for the first time, before and after formal meetings and even at the start of business telephone conversations. In these situations, the main purpose of the small talk is to break the ice and help create a more relaxed atmosphere.

In this podcast lesson, you’re going to hear a rather informal conversation between colleagues. The conversation never gets too informal, like it would between close friends; however, the language used is quite colloquial at times. Later on, we’ll look at some of the more informal language and show you how to use it in different contexts.


Richard Bent and Cristine Keen are work colleagues. They are having lunch near their office and are discussing the situation related to the new accountant in their department.


BEP27: Business Small Talk - Discussing Attitude and Performance

22 Sep 2016


There is a time and a place to talk about employee attitude and performance. Often this is done in an informal situation, sometimes when a manager is new or is taking over a team of new employees. There are many ways of discussing employees and how they are performing.

Let’s listen in as Darlene, the department manager, and her assistant, Richard, discuss a number of employees.