Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

07 Scheduling a Meeting

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SCRIPT

At 3 p.m., I get a call from one of our vendors who wants to set up a meeting for the following week. Since I was away from my desk at the time, she left a
voicemail message. When I get back to my desk, I retrieve the message and listen to it, and then return her call. I call her twice, but she isn’t there, so I leave
a voicemail message for her. We’re playing phone tag. Finally, at 4 p.m., she calls again and since I am at my desk, we can talk at last.

Andrea asks me if it is possible for us to meet early in the week next week. I check my calendar and I tell her that I’m tied up Monday and Tuesday, but that
I’m free Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. She says that Wednesday afternoon suits her and asks what time would be good for me. I tell her the
earlier the better, since I will be entertaining clients that night and need to leave work a little early that day. She suggests 1 p.m. I check my scheduled again to confirm that 1 p.m. Wednesday is free and clear and it is. She says that she will send me an email Wednesday morning as a reminder and I thank her. After all of that back and forth, we finally have a meeting set for next week.

GLOSSARY

vendor – a company that sells a product or service to other companies
* Which company is your vendor for computer products?

to set up – to schedule; to arrange; to set a time for
* Let’s set up a meeting with all of the department heads for next Thursday at 11:30.

away from (one’s) desk – not at one’s desk; not near the phone at work; not in one’s office
* I put your mail on your chair when I saw that you were away from your desk.

retrieve – to get information that was stored on a computer or in a voicemail system
* Were you able to retrieve the files after your computer stopped working?

to return (one’s) call – to call someone back on the telephone after he or she has called you and left a message because you weren’t there
* I would appreciate it if you could return my call as soon as you get this message.

to play phone tag – to repeatedly leave messages for someone because he or she is not there to answer the phone when you call, and to have him or her
repeatedly call you back and leave messages for you when you are not there
* Monty and Vito both had several meetings this week, so they were playing phone tag with each other.

early in the week – Monday or Tuesday of a week; the first days of a week
* I’m available early in the week, but from Wednesday through Friday I will be at a conference.

calendar – schedule of appointments; appointment book; a piece of paper or book showing when one is available and when one is busy; a schedule showing
the days of the week or month
* Marco keeps Rhonda’s calendar, so if you want to make an appointment with Rhonda, you need to call Marco to find out when she’s available.

tied up – busy; occupied; not available
* Jorge was tied up in meetings all morning and we couldn’t speak to him until the afternoon.

free – available; not busy; not occupied
* When are you free for an interview next week?

to suit (someone) – to be convenient or good for someone; to not be inconvenient or bad for someone
* I’d like to send you my resume via email, if that suits you.

the earlier the better – as soon as possible; preferably very soon
* Please come to my office anytime tomorrow morning, the earlier the better because I have lots of afternoon appointments.

to entertain clients – to take important customers to dinner and/or a show while they are visiting one’s city to try to improve the relationship between them and one’s company
* When you’re entertaining clients, don’t talk about the company and our products too much or they’ll get tired of hearing about them.

to confirm – to verify; to say that something is correct or true after checking to make sure
* We’ll call to confirm your appointment with Dr. Litchman in one week.

free and clear – open; without appointments; available for a meeting
* This week is very busy, but next week is free and clear.

reminder – something that is said or written so that one does not forget about something important
* Sometimes people tie a piece of string around their finger as a reminder to do something.

back and forth – a conversation where two people alternate in speaking; a conversation where first one person speaks, then the second, then the first
again, and then the second again, especially when exchanging information
* It was interesting to hear the children’s back and forth as they tried to explain their math homework to each other.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

You’re listening to ESLPod.com’s “Using English at Work” lesson seven. I’m Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development, your host for this
course.

In the sixth lesson of “Using English at Work,” we learned vocabulary that is used when we’re having computer problems. In lesson seven, we’re going to learn how to schedule a work-related meeting in English.

We’ll get started by listening to our story at a slow speed.

[start of script]

At 3 p.m., I get a call from one of our vendors who wants to set up a meeting for the following week. Since I was away from my desk at the time, she left a
voicemail message. When I get back to my desk, I retrieve the message and listen to it, and then return her call. I call her twice, but she isn’t there, so I leave
a voicemail message for her. We’re playing phone tag. Finally, at 4 p.m., she calls again and since I am at my desk, we can talk at last.

Andrea asks me if it is possible for us to meet early in the week next week. I check my calendar and I tell her that I’m tied up Monday and Tuesday, but that
I’m free Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. She says that Wednesday afternoon suits her and asks what time would be good for me. I tell her the
earlier the better, since I will be entertaining clients that night and need to leave work a little early that day. She suggests 1 p.m. I check my scheduled again to confirm that 1 p.m. Wednesday is free and clear and it is. She says that she will send me an email Wednesday morning as a reminder and I thank her. After all of that back and forth, we finally have a meeting set for next week.

[end of script]

When this part of my day begins, it is 3 p.m. and I get a call from one of our vendors. A “vendor” is a company that sells a specific type of product to other
companies. Most companies have vendors for computer products, office supplies, maybe photocopy machines, and many other things – whatever that
company needs to buy from another business. The vendor who calls me wants to set up a meeting for the following week. “To set up a meeting” means to
schedule or arrange a meeting, or to find a time when two or more people are available to meet. You might set up a time to have lunch with a friend, or meet
someone to fix your broken sink in your house – you’ll set up a time. The vendor called to set up a meeting with me for the following, or next week.

Since I was away from my desk at the time that she called, she left a voicemail message. To be “away from your desk” means not to be in your office, maybe
because you’re having another meeting or you’re taking a break. Because I was away from my desk, I wasn’t able to answer my phone when it rang, so the
vendor left me a voicemail message. When I get back to my desk, or return to my office, I retrieve the message and listen to it. “To retrieve” means to get
something, especially when we’re talking about information that was stored on a computer or, in this case, in a voicemail system. To retrieve a voicemail
message, I have to call the voicemail system, enter my PIN (or personal identification number), and then I can listen to the recorded message.
Sometimes when you call someone in an office and they don’t answer their phone, you may hear a message like this: “I’m away from my desk right now.
Please leave a message and I’ll return your call when I get back.” That’s a very common outgoing message. “Outgoing,” here, means that’s what people will
hear when they call you.

After listening to the vendor’s message, then I return her call. “To return someone’s call” means to call someone back on the telephone after he or she
has called you and left a message. When people leave a message, they usually give their name, their telephone number, and the time they called. I call the vendor twice, but she isn’t there, meaning that she isn’t answering her phone. So I leave a voicemail message for her. Now we’re playing something we call
“phone tag.” “To play phone tag” means that two people are exchanging voicemail messages but aren’t able to actually speak to each other. For example, I start by calling you, but you don’t answer your phone so I leave you a message – a voicemail message. Then, when you get the message, you call me, but I don’t answer the phone, so you leave me a message. If we are both busy people – I’m not, but you probably are – we might continue to do this for a long time, and this is what we call “playing phone tag.” “Tag” (tag) is a game that children play, when one person is touched by another person and they become what we call “it.” You say, “You’re it!” and then that child has to run and touch someone else, and that person becomes “it,” and you don’t want to be “it.” I don’t
know why we say “it,” but that’s the word we use. Getting back to our story.

Fortunately, I don’t have to play phone tag with the vendor for very long. At 4 p.m. she calls me again, and because this time I’m at my desk, or in my office,
we can talk at last, or finally. Andrea, who works for the vendor, asks me if it is possible for us to meet early in the week next week. The phrase “early in the
week” usually means Monday or Tuesday – maybe Wednesday. The phrase “late in the week” usually means Thursday or Friday. The “middle of the week” or
“mid-week” usually means Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. So, someone may call you and say, “Let’s meet late next week,” they mean Thursday or
Friday. Or, “Let’s meet next week in the middle of the week,” Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday

Before responding to her question, I check my calendar. A “calendar” is a schedule of the days and months of the year. It’s also a person’s personal
schedule or list of when you are available to meet with someone and when you are busy – when you have other things going on or happening. I check my
calendar to see whether I am available to meet early in the week next week and I tell Andrea that I’m tied up Monday and Tuesday. To be “tied up,” here, means to be busy or occupied and therefore unable to meet at a certain time. In other words, I’m tied up on Monday and Tuesday because I have other appointments those days, so I cannot meet with her then. If your friend asks you if you want to play basketball on Saturday and you’re working that day, you would say, “I’m sorry. I’m tied up on Saturday, I can’t join you.” But if I tell my friend that I’m free on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon, then you’re saying that you have time to meet during those particular days. So “free” is the opposite of being “tied up.” If you’re free, you have time; if you’re tied up, you have something else on your schedule.

Andrea says that Wednesday afternoon suits her (I tell her that I am free on Wednesday afternoon). “To suit someone” means to be convenient for
someone, or not to create problems for someone. When Andrea says that Wednesday afternoon suits her, she means that she is available to meet with me
on Wednesday afternoon. “To suit someone” can also be used more generally to mean that it’s okay or it’s acceptable to someone. For example, if your husband or wife asks you if you want to go on vacation to beautiful Los Angeles, California, you might say, “That suits me!” meaning that you like the idea, it is acceptable to you.

Then Andrea asks me what time would be good for me. This is her way of asking me what time I would like to meet. I tell her the earlier the better. The
phrase “the earlier the better” means the sooner the better or as early as possible. I want to meet in the afternoon, not in the late afternoon. The late
afternoon would be after 3 or 4:00; I’m asking to meet in the early afternoon, in fact, the earlier the better. I explain that the reason meeting earlier is better for me is that I’ll be entertaining clients that night and I need to leave work a little early that day. “To entertain clients” means to take important customers for your business to dinner or perhaps to a play or some entertainment. This is supposed to improve their relationship with your company, or your relationship with them.


Usually managers are given a certain amount of money to entertain clients, taking them out for lunch or dinner, especially if they work in sales. Since I have
to entertain clients on Wednesday night, I need to leave the office early that day, and that’s why I would prefer to meet with Andrea earlier in the afternoon.

Andrea suggests 1 p.m. I check my schedule again, meaning that I look at my calendar to confirm that 1 p.m. on Wednesday is free and clear. To “confirm”
means to verify something, or to say that something is correct or true based on the information that you have. We often confirm appointments to make sure that the people we’re supposed to have a meeting with still have time to meet with us. Doctors’ and dentists’ offices usually call their patients to confirm their appointments to make sure that they will be coming at the scheduled time, often calling the day before, for example. When I say I’m “free and clear,” that’s just another way of saying I am open, I don’t have any meetings or other obligations during that time. I’m looking at my calendar to confirm, or check, that 1 p.m. on Wednesday is free and clear. It is free and clear, so Andrea and I agree to meet at 1:00 on that day.

Andrea says that she will send me an email Wednesday morning as a reminder. A “reminder” is something that is said or written so that the other person doesn’t forget about something important. So, when the dentist or doctor’s office calls you to confirm your appointment, they’re really giving you a reminder. Andrea doesn’t want me to forget our meeting, so she’s going to send me an email as a reminder. Many people write notes for themselves, for example, as reminders of the things they need to do. I thank Andrea for offering to send a reminder. After all of that back and forth, we finally have a meeting set for next week. “Back and forth” is a conversation where two people alternate in speaking, first I speak, then you speak, and so on and so on. We usually use this expression when there is a long conversation or we need to negotiate something. In this case, we’re trying to find the best time that will be good for both of us, so we go back and forth. I say something, she says a date, I say, “No, how about that date?” she says, “No, how about this date?” and so forth. Andrea and I have been going back and forth looking at our calendars, trying to find a time when we can both meet. Finally we have a meeting set for next week.

That’s a good example of how meetings are scheduled at work in the U.S. Now that we’ve talked about this part of my workday, let’s listen again as I describe how we scheduled the meeting, this time when I’m speaking at a normal pace.

[start of script]

At 3 p.m., I get a call from one of our vendors who wants to set up a meeting for the following week. Since I was away from my desk at the time, she left a
voicemail message. When I get back to my desk, I retrieve the message and listen to it, and then return her call. I call her twice, but she isn’t there, so I leave a voicemail message for her. We’re playing phone tag. Finally, at 4 p.m., she calls again and since I am at my desk, we can talk at last.

Andrea asks me if it is possible for us to meet early in the week next week. I check my calendar and I tell her that I’m tied up Monday and Tuesday, but that I’m free Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. She says that Wednesday afternoon suits her and asks what time would be good for me. I tell her the earlier the better, since I will be entertaining clients that night and need to leave work a little early that day. She suggests 1 p.m. I check my scheduled again to confirm that 1 p.m. Wednesday is free and clear and it is. She says that she will send me an email Wednesday morning as a reminder and I thank her. After all of that back and forth, we finally have a meeting set for next week.

[end of script]

I hope that listening to me schedule a meeting with Andrea has taught you some new vocabulary that you can use in your own job the next time you need to set up a meeting. In our next lesson, lesson eight, I’m going to talk about a meeting with my boss.

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

This course was produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2008.