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03 Attending the Morning Meeting

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SCRIPT

I arrive at the conference room right before the meeting starts, and sit down in a chair around the large conference table. Our manager passes out a handout of the meeting agenda with some announcements and goes over some bullet points regarding old and new business.

Then, he asks each person to give a status report on his or her projects. Each of us takes turns giving a quick rundown, while everyone else listens. Of course not everyone is paying attention, since they’re thinking about their own reports and what they plan to say. Sometimes our manager will make some comments or give us some feedback, but usually there’s very little discussion.

The meeting always ends the same way. Our manager gives a short summary of how our department is doing and a little pep talk to get us motivated.

Now it’s back to our desks to do some work!

GLOSSARY

conference room – a big room used for having meetings at work, usually with a big table and many chairs
* For Monday’s meeting, we need to have a large conference room with at least 23 chairs.

conference table – a big table in a conference room with chairs placed around it for meetings
* When the meeting ended, the conference table was covered with empty water bottles, coffee cups, papers, and pens.

manager – a person whose job is to be responsible for a department or a team; a group leader at work
* If you do your work well, the company might ask you to begin working as a department manager in a few years.

handout – a piece of paper that gives information about something that will be discussed during a presentation or meeting
* This handout has the main points of my presentation and my contact information: my name, phone number, and email address.

agenda – a plan for what will be discussed during a meeting, and in what order
* This agenda shows that there will be three breaks during today’s meeting.

announcement – something that is said or written to let people know about something important
* This morning Krista made an announcement that she and her husband are expecting their first baby!

to go over (something) – to talk about something in depth; to talk about a specific topic or plan
* Let’s go over the details again, just to make sure that everyone understands the new plan.

bullet point – a line of text in a list where each line begins with a small symbol (for example, •, !, !)
* If you have a long list of items, it’s easier to read them as bullet points than as a long sentence with lots of commas separating the ideas.

old business – things that were discussed in a previous meeting and still need to be talked about in today’s meeting
* We need to talk about some old business. We’ve already talked about hiring two new employees. Hector, have you been able to make any progress with
this?

new business – things that are being discussed in today’s meeting for the first time
* We received a very angry letter from one of our best customers, so in today’s new business I’d like us to talk about what went wrong.

status report – a quick spoken or written explanation of what one has done on a project or assignment; an explanation of what has been completed on a project
* At our staff meeting, each person was asked to give a three-minute status report about what he or she had done since we met last month.

to take turns – to do something in order, one person at a time, or one person after another
* Children, please take turns playing with the new toy.

rundown – a short spoken or written explanation of the most important points or ideas about something
* Carla, can you please give us a two-minute rundown of what you learned at the conference last week?

to pay attention to (something) – to listen carefully and try to understand something
* Please don’t play the piano right now. I need to pay attention to the news report to find out more about the fire.

feedback – positive or negative comments given in reaction to something that one has presented or done, designed to help one make it better next time
* After she finished her presentation, Clark gave her some helpful feedback about speaking more slowly in the future.

summary – a short written or oral description of the main points or main ideas of something longer
* Please write a one-page summary of what was discussed during the meeting.

pep talk – a short and encouraging speech; a short speech that is meant to help people do something faster, better, or with more enthusiasm
* Before every basketball game, the coach always gives his players a pep talk to help them win the game.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to lesson three of ESLPod.com’s “Using English at Work.” I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development.

In the second lesson of “Using English at Work,” we learned vocabulary for checking mail, email, and voicemail. In this third lesson, I’m going to talk about
attending, or going to, a morning meeting.

Let’s listen to the story first at a slow speed.

[start of script]

I arrive at the conference room right before the meeting starts, and sit down in a chair around the large conference table. Our manager passes out a handout of the meeting agenda with some announcements and goes over some bullet points regarding old and new business.

Then, he asks each person to give a status report on his or her projects. Each of us takes turns giving a quick rundown, while everyone else listens. Of course not everyone is paying attention, since they’re thinking about their own reports and what they plan to say. Sometimes our manager will make some comments or give us some feedback, but usually there’s very little discussion.

The meeting always ends the same way. Our manager gives a short summary of how our department is doing and a little pep talk to get us motivated.

Now it’s back to our desks to do some work!

[end of script]

The story begins when I arrive, or come to, the conference room right before the meeting starts, and sit down in a chair around the large conference table. A
“conference” is a type of large meeting, usually a formal meeting. A “conference room” is a large room in an office building that is used only for meetings; it’s not an office. A “conference table” is the large table inside the conference room. Conference tables are usually big, round, or perhaps rectangular tables that have chairs placed around them for the meetings. Usually the meeting leader, the person who is running the meeting, sits at one end of the conference table so everyone can see him or her.

After I sat down, the manager passes out a handout of the meeting agenda. A “manager” is a person who is in charge of, or responsible for, a department or a team at work. At a large company, for example, a salesperson begins working as a sales representative and, if he or she does well, might become a sales
manager in a few years. If he or she continues to do well, perhaps they will later become Vice President of Sales.

At this meeting, my manager passes out a handout of the meeting agenda. A “handout” is a piece of paper that has information about the things that will be
talked about during a meeting or a presentation. At the university, in the classes, the professors will often have handouts, things that they will give the students to look at that are related to their lecture or presentation. Each person at the meeting or presentation gets a copy of the handout. A presenter might give out handouts that have his or her contact information, for example, or handouts could have detailed financial information about a project. In this case, the handout is of the meeting agenda itself. An “agenda” is a plan for a meeting, showing what needs to be done, what needs to be discussed, in what order those things will be discussed. My manager’s handout of the meeting agenda is a piece of paper with a list of all the things that will be discussed during today’s meeting.

The handout has some announcements on it. An “announcement” is something that is written or said to let other people know about something. Your company president may make an announcement, saying that everyone can take Friday off – have Friday as a vacation day. That would never actually happen; that’s just an example!

My manager goes over some bullet points on the handout. “To go over something” means to talk about something, usually a document or report. You
might also go over your notes a few minutes before an exam to help yourself remember the most important things that you’ve studied – or that you didn’t
study! My manager is going over some bullet points. “Bullet points” are lines of text in a document where each line begins with a small circle; sometimes it’s a diamond or an arrow. We call those “bullets.” The text usually isn’t a complete sentence, but just a short phrase. Bullet points are often easier and faster to read than long sentences because each idea is on a separate line. They’re essentially a list of something. My manager’s bullet points are about old and new business. Everything you talk about at a meeting is either old business or new business. “Old business” is everything that you talk about that was already discussed at a previous meeting – makes sense! “New business” is everything that you are going to talk about that has not yet been discussed before. Most business meetings begin with old business and end with new business. Then, of course, the new business becomes the old business for the next meeting, if you still need to talk about it more.

My manager then asks each person to give a status report on his or her projects. A “status report” is a short explanation about what someone has done on a
project. In this case, the manager is asking us to tell everyone else what we have done on our projects since the last time that we spoke. Some departments
have weekly meetings where everyone is supposed to give a status report. At this meeting, each person takes turns giving a quick rundown while everyone
else listens. “To take turns” (always plural when used as a phrasal verb, as it is in this case) means to do something one person at a time, so that first one
person does something, then another, and then another until everyone in the group has finished. In a large meeting, you have to take turns talking; you can’t
all talk at the same time. Sometimes husbands and wives take turns washing the dishes, meaning that one night he does it, and the next night she does it. That’s not true in my house; I do the dishes every night. I’ll have to talk to my wife about taking turns!

At my meeting, we’re taking turns giving a quick rundown. A “rundown” is a very short explanation of the most important points of something. If your boss doesn’t have time to read a long report, she might ask you to read it for her and then give her a rundown of what it’s about. It’s a brief presentation, a summary. Our status reports are quick rundowns, quick summaries of what we’ve done since the last meeting. “Rundown” (rundown) is one word.

Not everyone, however, is paying attention at the meeting. “To pay attention to something” means to listen carefully and try to understand what someone else is saying. At the meeting, some people aren’t paying attention because they’re thinking about their own status reports and what they are going to say when it’s their turn – when it’s their time to talk. Sometimes our manger makes some comments or gives us some feedback, but there’s usually not very much
discussion at the meetings. “Feedback” is either positive or negative comments that are made in response to what someone has done or, in this case, said. If
you write a story and ask a friend to read it and let you know what he thinks, then you are asking him to give you feedback. The idea is that feedback will help make it better. Sometimes people will write a draft of their report, give it to their colleague, and ask for feedback so they can make the report better.

Our meetings always end the same way, meaning it’s the same ending every time we meet. Our manager gives a short summary of how our department is
doing. A “summary” is, as you know, like a rundown; it’s a short description of the most important points. After my manager gives a summary of how our
departments are doing, he gives a little pep talk to get us motivated. A “pep (pep) talk” is a short speech that is supposed to encourage people, helping them
to do something better, faster, or with more enthusiasm. Athletic coaches give their teams “pep talks” before important games to help the players play better, to get more excited, more enthusiastic. My manager’s pep talk is probably meant to help us feel that the work we are doing is very important for the company.

Finally, I say, “Now it’s back to our desks to do some work!” This means that the meeting is over – thank goodness – and we need to leave the conference room and return to our own desks to do the work in our regular jobs.

Now let’s listen to the description of the morning meeting again, this time at a normal speed.

[start of script]

I arrive at the conference room right before the meeting starts, and sit down in a chair around the large conference table. Our manager passes out a handout of the meeting agenda with some announcements and goes over some bullet points regarding old and new business.

Then, he asks each person to give a status report on his or her projects. Each of us takes turns giving a quick rundown, while everyone else listens. Of course not everyone is paying attention, since they’re thinking about their own reports and what they plan to say. Sometimes our manager will make some comments or give us some feedback, but usually there’s very little discussion.

The meeting always ends the same way. Our manager gives a short summary of how our department is doing and a little pep talk to get us motivated.

Now it’s back to our desks to do some work!

[end of script]

That brings us to the end of our third lesson about attending a morning meeting. In our next lesson, number four, I’m going to talk about working at my desk.

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