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Episode 5 - Video
Episode 5 - Transcript
In this episode we look at how to keep to the point in meetings.

TAN: Well, I'm not convinced that the work is as urgent as this report suggests, so perhaps we should…

LIN: Oh come on - the building is practically falling down!

DENISE: Sorry Lin - I don't think Tan had finished. We'll get to you in a minute.

LIN: Sorry.

TAN: As I was saying, perhaps we should get a second opinion before we spend any money.

DENISE: Thankyou Tan. What's your opinion Walter?

WALTER: Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's a question of safety. So I think we should go ahead.

TAN: Are you suggesting that someone could get hurt?

WALTER: In my opinion, yes. If you ask me, there is a serious risk of an accident. And it's not a recent problem…

TAN: Are you implying we should have done something earlier?

WALTER: Much earlier. It's a real concern.

LIN: Hear hear!

TAN: In that case, I agree - we should do something now.

JOHN: I think so too.

DENISE: Thankyou Walter. Well, if there's no…

BARBARA: Excuse me Madame Chairperson.

DENISE: Yes Barbara.

BARBARA: What about the problem with parking? There were no places again this morning.

WALTER: Maybe if you got to work on time…

DENISE: All comments through the chair if you don't mind Walter. Parking isn't on the agenda for this meeting - perhaps you could suggest it for our next meeting Barbara. Well, if there's no more discussion - we'll put it it to a vote.

JOHN: Hear hear!
Today we're looking again at meetings. In meetings, especially formal meetings, it's important to keep the discussion relevant, and to the point. So we're looking at some words and phrases that a Chairperson might use to stop irrelevant discussion and interruptions. We're also looking at ways of stating an opinion, and agreeing or disagreeing.

First of all - notice how Tan states that he doesn't agree with the report.
Well, I'm not convinced that the work is as urgent as this report suggests.
Tan says 'I'm not convinced.' He means he disagrees with the report. But by saying he's 'not convinced' - he is leaving himself open to another point of view.

Let's look at some phrases you can use to express disagreement.
I'm afraid I'm not convinced.

I don't entirely agree.

I'm not sure about that.

I can't agree with you there.

I don't think that's quite correct.
Notice that all of these ways of disagreeing are polite. If you use stronger terms of disagreement - it can sound rude, or argumentative.
Well, I'm not convinced that the work is as urgent as this report suggests, so perhaps...

Don't be ridiculous!

Excuse me?
When disagreeing, the speaker normally also gives a reason for their opinion, and may use an expression showing that it is their opinion. Listen to Walter.
Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's a question of safety. So I think we should go ahead.

Are you suggesting that someone could get hurt?

In my opinion, yes.
Let's practise some phrases you can use to introduce your opinion about something.
In my opinion...

As far as I’m concerned...

If you ask me...

The way I see it is this...
And of course you can simply state ‘I think…’ or ‘I believe’...

Notice that Tan asks for clarification of the point Walter makes. He wants to make sure he understands what Walter is saying.

Let’s look at some ways of seeking clarification, and checking understanding. Practise these with Tan.
Are you suggesting that someone could get hurt?

Are you saying that someone could get hurt?

Do you mean someone could get hurt?

Are you implying that someone could get hurt?
One of the roles of the Chairperson is to make sure everyone gets to have their say. All discussion should go through the chair - that is, people talk to the Chairperson, not to each other directly. So the Chairperson sometimes has to interrupt, or stop someone from speaking. Let's see how Denise does this.
Well, I'm not convinced that the work is as urgent as this report suggests, so perhaps...

Oh come on - the building is practically falling down!

Sorry Lin - I don't think Tan had finished. We'll get to you in a minute.

Sorry.
By saying 'I don't think Tan had finished', Denise is politely telling Lin that she shouldn't interrupt, and Lin apologises. But what should you do if someone keeps trying to interrupt?
So perhaps...

Oh come on - the building is practically falling down!

Sorry Lin - I don't think Tan had finished. We'll get to you in a minute.

Well it's obvious...

Yes, but we do need to hear everyone's views on this...

Let's just vote on it

All in good time Lin. Please go on Tan...
Notice that the language the chairperson uses is always polite, but firm. She uses 'sorry' 'thankyou' and 'please' as a way of respecting the other members of the committee - although she is in charge.

On the other hand, there is a time factor - it may be necessary to cut people short.
...and furthermore, if we look more closely at some of the estimates, we can see...

Excuse me - sorry Tan, perhaps we should move on.

I'm nearly finished.

Yes but we do have to keep an eye on the time. Perhaps we can come back to that point later.

I think it's quite important.

It is important, but I think it's more important we hear everyone's views on this. Barbara?
There were two key phrases used to stop Tan from sending everyone to sleep. The first one - 'perhaps we should move on' is phrased as a suggestion - but it is said in a firm way - with a falling intonation at the end.

Practise with me:
'Perhaps we should move on.'
Perhaps we should move on.
This falling intonation makes it a more definite statement, rather than a suggestion.

The second one was put as a reason for moving on - that time is short - notice the emphasis on the word 'do', and practise after me:
'We do have to keep an eye on the time.'
We do have to keep an eye on the time.
Remember we said the discussion has to be relevant. What do we do if someone makes an irrelevant comment?
What about the problem with parking. There were no places again this morning.

Maybe if you got to work on time...

All comments through the chair if you don't mind Walter. Parking isn't on the agenda for this meeting - perhaps you could suggest it for our next meeting Barbara.
When Walter makes a comment directly to Barbara, Denise says:

'All comments through the Chair if you don't mind'. This is a way of reminding Walter of correct meeting procedure. 'All comments through the chair' means he must speak to the meeting, not directly to one person at the table. Denise suggests that 'Parking isn't on the agenda for this meeting'. But so that Barbara doesn't feel bad - she suggests it could be discussed at another time.

Finally - we've looked at disagreeing, let's look at ways of agreeing with a point.
Are you implying we should have done something earlier?

Much earlier. It's a real concern.

Hear hear!

Well, in that case, I agree - we should do something now.

I think so too.
Agreeing is simpler than disagreeing, as you don't have to state a reason. Repeat these phrases after me:
I agree
I agree
In that case, I agree.
In that case, I agree.
I'll go along with you.
I'll go along with you.
I couldn't agree more.
I couldn't agree more.
That's right.
That's right.
I concur.
I concur.
Absolutely!
Absolutely!
Let's review some of the other important expressions we've looked at in today's episode.
I'm afraid I'm not convinced.

Are you suggesting that someone could get hurt?

I can't quite agree with you there.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a question of safety.

Perhaps we should move on.

We do have to keep an eye on the time.
When giving opinions in a meeting, it's important to use phrases such as 'in my opinion'; 'From my point of view' or 'I think' - instead of just stating your opinions as facts. This is respectful of other people who may have different views.

But when you strongly agree with something someone else says - you can say 'Hear Hear!'

That's all for today - see you next time on The Business of English.
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