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03 Beginning a Presentation

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Meeting A - Formal Meeting

Shawn: Thank you, Alex. And thank you to everyone who is here today. As you know, today’s presentation is designed to present our recommendations about how Vision Corporation can increase its market share by reaching more of its potential market. You should each have a copy of our handouts in front of you that correspond to the slides up here on the screen. This first slide shows our agenda for the day. First, I will begin with an overview of how our market share has been declining during the past twelve months, and the reasons for that decline. Then, Ms. Graff will present the data that she gathered from the focus groups and her ideas for clarifying our target market. She will be followed by Mr. Hanson, who will discuss adapting our product to meet market needs, and he’ll conclude with our main recommendations. Since we have limited time today, please hold your questions until the end of the presentation.

Meeting B - Informal Meeting

Shawn: All right, let me start by saying thanks to all of you for your interest in this presentation. Does everyone have the printed handouts? Great. Let’s start by taking a look at what we’re going to cover today. As you can see in this outline here, we’ll start off by talking about how our market share has been falling over the past year, and the reasons why. After that, Hannah’s going to tell you about the focus groups she conducted and what we can learn from them. She’ll also share her ideas about who our target market really should be. We’ll finish off with Chris talking about how his team has been able to change our product so that it has more appeal to our customers. Then he’ll wrap things up with our team’s recommendations. Any questions so far? If you have questions later on during the presentation, please feel free to interrupt me at any time.

GLOSSARY

Meeting A - Formal Meeting

to be designed to – to be made or created for a specific purpose
* The Internet was designed for scientists, but today almost everyone uses it.

recommendation – suggestion; advice, usually about what someone should do; one’s opinion about what another person should do
* The recommendations of the American Heart Association include eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly.

market share – the percentage of sales that a company has in a specific market
* The market share of the two largest Japanese car companies is growing in the United States.

handouts – papers that are given to people in the audience during a presentation
* When you make handouts, don’t forget to leave space for people to write their own notes on each page.

to correspond to – to match up with; to be related to
* The colors on the tickets correspond to how much people paid for their tickets.

slide – one page or picture in a visual presentation that is shown on a screen (flat white surface) so many people in a room can see it
* Your presentation will look more professional if each slide has the same colors and text size.

screen – a large piece of white fabric that hangs on a wall and is used to display pictures and images during a presentation so that many people in a room can
see it
* We didn’t have a screen, so we had to show the presentation on the wall.

agenda – a plan; a list of topics for a meeting; a list of things that will be discussed in a meeting and for how long
* If they follow the agenda, the meeting should last only two hours.

first – before anything else; to begin
* To make a cake, first turn on the oven.

overview – a summary without very much detail; a broad view of something
* The first chapter of the book has an overview of the county’s history, but the rest of the book is about the war.

to decline – to decrease; to become less or smaller; to fall
* The governor reported that the number of crimes is declining in our city.

then – next; later
* To go to their house, take bus number 42 across town and then get off at 122nd Street.

data – information; facts; results from a research project
* The scientists have gathered a lot of data from their experiments over 12 years.

to gather – to collect; to get from many sources or places
* The researchers called 100 homes to gather people’s opinions about the new law.

to clarify – to make something clearer or more understandable
* Could you please clarify what you just said? I don’t think I understood you correctly.

to be followed by – to have as the next event; to finish and to have something else begin
* Their wedding was followed by a large party at a restaurant.

to conclude – to end, usually a presentation or discussion
* Ms. Sanchez concluded the presentation by thanking everyone for having come to hear her speak.

to hold (one’s) questions – to wait to ask questions until the end of a meeting or presentation
* The presenter had to ask everyone to hold their questions. Otherwise, he wasn’t going to have enough time to finish his presentation.

Meeting B - Informal Meeting

to cover – to talk about; to discuss
* This math course covers advanced algebra and basic trigonometry.

to start off – to begin
* The runner started off too quickly and became tired after only a few minutes.

after that – next; once that has finished
* We’re going to eat dinner, and after that, we’ll see a movie.

to conduct – to organize and lead something; to arrange and do something
* Mr. Rehman conducts workshops to help people start online businesses.

to share (one’s) ideas – to say one’s ideas, thoughts, and opinions in front of other people
* When Penny shares her ideas, everyone listens because she is very creative and intelligent.

to finish off – to end something; to finish doing something
* We’ll finish off dinner with chocolate ice cream.

appeal – ability to attract people; pleasantness that other people like
* The appeal of a weekend trip to the country is that it helps people relax and forget about work.

to wrap things up – to end a presentation or project; to finish something
* At the end of our two-week vacation, we’re going to wrap things up with a trip to Disneyland.

please feel free – please do something; please don’t feel uncomfortable doing
something; it is okay to do something
* Please feel free to eat whatever you want to while you’re staying in our home.

to interrupt – to say or do something while another person is talking so that the other person has to stop speaking
* Many parents teach their children to say “excuse me” before they interrupt adults who are talking.


COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to ESLPod.com’s “Business Meetings” course: lesson two. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational
Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

In the second lesson of “Business Meetings,” we learned business vocabulary for introducing the participants at formal and informal business meetings. Now, in this third lesson, we're going to learn how to begin a presentation and let people know what's going to be discussed.

Let's begin by listening to the formal meeting.

[start of formal meeting script]

Shawn: Thank you, Alex. And thank you to everyone who is here today. As you know, today’s presentation is designed to present our recommendations about how Vision Corporation can increase its market share by reaching more of its potential market. You should each have a copy of our handouts in front of you that correspond to the slides up here on the screen. This first slide shows our agenda for the day. First, I will begin with an overview of how our market share has been declining during the past twelve months, and the reasons for that decline. Then, Ms. Graff will present the data that she gathered from the focus groups and her ideas for clarifying our target market. She will be followed by Mr. Hanson, who will discuss adapting our product to meet market needs, and he’ll conclude with our main recommendations. Since we have limited time today, please hold your questions until the end of the presentation.

[end of formal meeting script]

Shawn begins by thanking the people for coming to hear his presentation. He says that “today's presentation is designed to present our recommendations.” To be “designed” to do something means to be made or created for a specific purpose. The ESL Podcasts, for example, are designed to help you learn
English. In this case, the presentation is designed to present recommendations. A “recommendation” (recommendation) is a suggestion, an opinion, or advice about what someone should do. A doctor's recommendation might be for you to stop smoking, or a teacher's recommendation might be for you to study more. Shawn's recommendations are “about how Vision Corporation can increase its market share by reaching more of its potential market,” or the people who don't buy the product now, but might be interested in it. So, Shawn is going to make suggestions about how Vision Corporation can raise (or increase – make larger) its market share by reaching (or getting to) more of its potential market.

“Market share” is the percentage of sales that a company has in a specific market or a specific area or group of people. For example, Chinese companies have a large market share of the clothing sold in the United States – a lot of the clothing sold in the United States is made in China. So, Chinese companies
have a large market share (a large percentage) of the clothes sold here. Companies want to increase their market share by getting more customers to
buy their products, and that's what Shawn's presentation is about.

Shawn says that each person should have a copy of the “handouts” (handouts). A “handout,” is a piece of paper that is given to people in the audience (people who are listening to the presentation) during a presentation, so that they have more information. It’s a piece of paper that has, usually, information related to the presentation that you give people who are listening. Having handouts means that you don't have to spend as much time writing down notes as you're listening, because the information is already there on a piece of paper.

Shawn says that the handouts “correspond to the slides…on the screen.” To “correspond” to something means to match up with something or to be related to something. The amount of homework you have probably corresponds to the number of classes you're taking, meaning that if you take more classes you'll have more homework. In this case, the handouts correspond to the slides (they relate to the slides). A “slide” (slide) is one page in a visual presentation, such as a PowerPoint presentation. So what Shawn means is that the handouts have information for every slide in the presentation.

Shawn also says that the slides are on the “screen.” A “screen” (screen) is a large piece of white fabric (white material) that hangs on a wall and is used to display pictures and images during a presentation so that many people in the room can see it. When you go to a movie theater, you watch the movie on a
large screen. In a meeting, the screen is smaller.

Shawn says that the “first slide shows our agenda for the day.” An “agenda” (agenda) is a plan or a list of topics for a meeting. In other words, it's a list of things that will be discussed in a meeting and for how long. The agenda for this lesson is to listen to the formal meeting, discuss the vocabulary, listen to the meeting again, and then do the same things for an informal meeting.

Then Shawn talks about the specific things on the agenda for this presentation. He says, “First, I will begin with an overview.” “First” means before anything else, or to begin. When you want to cook dinner, first you need to buy the “ingredients” (what you are going to use to cook). So Shawn is going to start with an overview. An "overview” (overview) is a summary or a broad view of something without very much detail. On the first day of a class, a professor usually provides an overview of what the class will be about. In Shawn's presentation, the overview is about how the company's “market share has been declining during the past twelve months.” The verb “to decline” (decline) means to decrease or to become less or smaller. For example, populations of lions and elephants are declining. In this case, market share is declining, meaning that the company is losing customers.

Shawn says, “Then, Ms. Graff will present the data she gathered from focus groups.” The word “then” means next or later, so Shawn means that Ms. Graff will speak after he finishes the overview. In this lesson, after we discuss the formal meeting, “then” we'll talk about the informal meeting.

Ms. Graff is going to present her data. “Data” can be any information, facts, or results from a research project. In this case, Hannah's data is about why customers aren't buying the product as much as they used to. Hannah, or Ms. Graff’s data was “gathered” from the focus groups. To “gather” (gather) means to collect something or to get something from many sources or places. When you're planning a trip, you might gather information from many different travel books about the place where you're going. Hannah (Ms. Graff) gathered her data from the focus groups. “Focus groups” are the people who were asked to give or share their opinions about the company's product. Usually, a focus group has, maybe, 5, 10, possibly 15 people in it. It’s a way for companies to get information – detailed information about what people think about their products (the things they make).

Shawn says that Hannah will present her ideas for “clarifying” the target market. To “clarify“ (clarify) something means to make something clearer or more understandable. If someone doesn't understand something that you say, you may have to clarify it by saying the same idea again using different words. Hannah is clarifying the target market, meaning that she will clearly identify who the company should be selling its product to.

Shawn says that Hannah “will be followed by Mr. Hanson.” To “be followed by” someone or something means to finish and to have something else begin. My explanation of the vocabulary will be followed by listening to the formal meeting at a native rate of speech. Hannah being followed by Mr. Hanson means that once Hannah finishes speaking, Mr. Hanson will begin his part of the presentation.

Shawn says that Mr. Hanson will discuss adapting, or changing, the product to meet market needs and that he'll conclude with the main recommendations or suggestions. To “conclude” (conclude) means to end something; usually this is a verb we use with a presentation or discussion. A speaker might conclude his speech by thanking people for listening, or by asking people to fill out an evaluation form before they leave. That’s to “conclude,” to end a presentation or a discussion.

Finally, Shawn says that there isn't very much time, so he asks people to “hold their questions” until the end of the presentation. To “hold one's questions” means to wait to ask a question until the end of a meeting or a presentation. This is very common in formal meetings, but you'll see that in informal meetings it's more common for people to ask their questions whenever they think of them.

That “concludes” or ends our explanation of the vocabulary for the formal meeting. Let's listen to the meeting again, this time at a normal speed.

[start of formal meeting script]

Shawn: Thank you, Alex. And thank you to everyone who is here today. As you know, today’s presentation is designed to present our recommendations about how Vision Corporation can increase its market share by reaching more of its potential market. You should each have a copy of our handouts in front of you that correspond to the slides up here on the screen. This first slide shows our agenda for the day. First, I will begin with an overview of how our market share has been declining during the past twelve months, and the reasons for that decline. Then, Ms. Graff will present the data that she gathered from the focus groups and her ideas for clarifying our target market. She will be followed by Mr. Hanson, who will discuss adapting our product to meet market needs, and he’ll conclude with our main recommendations. Since we have limited time today, please hold your questions until the end of the presentation.

[end of formal meeting script]

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of the formal meeting. Now let's see how Shawn begins his presentation at an informal meeting.

[start of informal meeting script]

Shawn: All right, let me start by saying thanks to all of you for your interest in this presentation. Does everyone have the printed handouts? Great. Let’s start by taking a look at what we’re going to cover today. As you can see in this outline here, we’ll start off by talking about how our market share has been falling over the past year, and the reasons why. After that, Hannah’s going to tell you about the focus groups she conducted and what we can learn from them. She’ll also share her ideas about who our target market really should be. We’ll finish off with Chris talking about how his team has been able to change our product so that it has more appeal to our customers. Then he’ll wrap things up with our team’s recommendations. Any questions so far? If you have questions later on during the presentation, please feel free to interrupt me at any time.

[end of informal meeting script]

In the informal meeting, Shawn begins by thanking everyone for coming and then asks if everyone has a copy of the handouts, or the pieces of paper that have some of the information that will be presented.

Then Shawn says, “Let's start by taking a look at what we're going to cover today.” “Let’s start,” or let’s begin, “by taking a look at,” or examining, “what we are going to cover today.” The verb “to cover” (cover) here means to talk about or to discuss. This lesson covers the vocabulary for beginning a presentation. Your English class probably covers – if you have one – grammar, vocabulary, conversation, listening, and so forth.

Shawn says that he’ll “start off by talking about how our market share has been falling.” “To start off” is an informal way of saying “to begin.” For example, when you start off studying English, you should use a basic textbook. So Shawn’s presentation is going to start off, or begin, by talking about the falling, or decreasing – declining, market share.

He says that “after that,” Hannah will talk about the focus groups. The phrase “after that” means next, or once something else has finished. In other words,
after Shawn finishes talking about the falling market share, Hannah will begin talking about the focus groups that she conducted. To “conduct” (conduct) something means to organize and lead something, or to arrange or do something. Hannah conducted the focus groups, meaning that she organized them, invited people to them, and led the discussion.

Shawn says that Hannah will also “share her ideas” about the target market. “To share one’s ideas” means to say one’s ideas, or your thoughts and opinions, in front of other people. In class, your teacher might ask you to share your ideas about what you read the night before.

Shawn says that Chris will “finish off.” To “finish off” something means to end something or to finish doing something. We often finish off our phone calls by saying, “talk to you later.” In this case, Chris is going to “finish off,” or end, the presentation by talking about how his team has been able to change the product so that it has more appeal to the customers. “Appeal” (appeal) is the ability to attract people, or a pleasantness – a niceness – that other people like. The appeal of going to a restaurant is that you don’t have to cook at home. The appeal is what makes me want to go – it attracts me there. The appeal of a dishwasher might be that it makes your life easier because you don’t have to spend as much time washing dishes.

Shawn says that Chris will “wrap things up” with the team’s recommendations. “To wrap (wrap) things up” has the same meaning as “to conclude”: to end a presentation or a project, or to finish something. In other words, Chris is going to end the presentation by talking about the team’s recommendations. We’re going to “wrap things up” in this lesson by listening to the informal meeting at a native rate of speech.

Shawn asks the participants to “please feel free to interrupt” him during the presentation if they have any questions. When we tell someone to “please feel free” to do something, it’s a polite way to ask someone to please do something, or to let them know that it’s okay to do something. For example, you might say to someone, “Please feel free to call me if you have questions” – it’s okay for you to call me. The verb “interrupt” (interrupt) means to say or do something while another person is talking so that the other person has to stop speaking. It’s usually very rude (not polite) to interrupt another person, but in this case Shawn is asking people to “please feel free to interrupt” him, meaning that they should ask their questions whenever they have them, not waiting for him to stop speaking first.

Let’s listen to Shawn again as he speaks at a faster, native rate.

[start of informal meeting script]

Shawn: All right, let me start by saying thanks to all of you for your interest in this presentation. Does everyone have the printed handouts? Great. Let’s start by taking a look at what we’re going to cover today. As you can see in this outline here, we’ll start off by talking about how our market share has been falling over the past year, and the reasons why. After that, Hannah’s going to tell you about the focus groups she conducted and what we can learn from them. She’ll also share her ideas about who our target market really should be. We’ll finish off with Chris talking about how his team has been able to change our product so that it has more appeal to our customers. Then he’ll wrap things up with our team’s recommendations. Any questions so far? If you have questions later on during the presentation, please feel free to interrupt me at any time.

[end of informal meeting script]

I hope this lesson has helped you understand how to begin a presentation in formal and informal meetings in English. Our next lesson, number four, is about
giving the actual formal and informal presentations in English.

This course has been a production of the Center for Educational Development, in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Visit our web site at eslpod.com.

This course was produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2007.