Business English Series – Meetings

Role Dialog
Narrator This scenario will help you learn and practice using the following terms:
1. AGM (annual general meeting), 2. AOB (any other business), 3. agenda, 4. ballot,
5. chairman, 6. conference call, 7. consensus, 8. matters, 9. minutes, 10. proxy vote,
11. show of hands, 12. unanimous, 13. video-conference, 14. vote or cast a vote, 15. invitee, 16. venue, 17. SWOT, 18. acting, 19. icebreaker, 20. portfolio
CEO Emma, our annual general meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.  Please send out this modified agenda to all invitees
Emma Yes, sir.  I’ll do it right now.
Narrator Emma drafts and sends the following email to all AGM invitees:

From:  CEO, Global Communications
To:       [all invitees] Subj:    AGM – Revised Agenda for

Please find attached a revised agenda for tomorrow’s annual general meeting.

Sincerely Yours,
  8:00  Breakfast
  8:30  Chairman and CEO Introductory Remarks
  8:45  Vote for venue for this year’s company Christmas party (revised)
  9:00  Last Year’s Annual Budget vs. Annual Expenses
10:00  This Year’s Budget vs. Last Year’s Budget
11:00  SWOT Discussion – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
12:00  Break for Lunch
13:00  SWOT Discussion – Continued
14:00  AOB (any other business)
15:00  Meeting adjourned (unless business discussions need more time)

Narrator It is now tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.  Attendees are arriving and grabbing some food from the catered breakfast buffet table setup outside the main conference room.  In the main conference room, the CEO is standing on the large stage watching the computer technicians make last-minute checks on the conference call phone lines and the video cameras for audio- and video-conference call-in attendees.
CEO How’s it looking, guys?
IT Tech Everything’s all set, sir.  Video cameras and conference call lines are operational.  The phone conference line is open, and some attendees have already joined the call and are standing by on speakerphone in their respective remote offices.  The video-conference lines are similarly operational.  You have a monitor at the podium that shows the webcams from the videoconferencing attendees.  At 8:30 sharp, we’ll begin recording all the meeting’s proceedings.
CEO Excellent, great job!
 Narrator 8:30 arrives and the attendees are all settled into their seats around a large conference table.  The CEO nods at the IT Tech, and the IT Tech nods back and begins his recording equipment so he can document and reproduce everything that happens in the meeting.  He gives a thumbs-up signal to the CEO to let him know the meeting is live.
CEO Good morning, everyone.  The usual chairman of these annual meetings, the General Manager (GM), called in sick this morning and sends his apologies for not being able to chair today’s meeting, so I’ll be acting Chairman of this meeting today.
Narrator The CEO gives his introductory remarks about the company’s overall performance last year and how he thinks the company will do this year.  It’s the usual “feel-good” icebreaker type of small talk that typically starts large meetings of this nature.
CEO Okay, if you’ll look at the agenda, you’ll see that we’re going to start out with a vote to see where we’ll hold our Christmas party this year.  Our hotel choices are the Sheraton, the Hilton, or the Renaissance.  You’ve all been give ballots with these three hotel names on them.  Please cast your vote by marking your ballot.  Pass your ballots to the end of your rows on the right, and Emma will circulate around and collect your ballots.  For the call-in attendees, please email your ballot selections to Emma.  Her email address is on the projector screen.  If anyone has a proxy vote form from someone that couldn’t make the meeting today, you should cast those proxy votes at this time as well.
Narrator The CEO uses a laser pointer to point to Emma’s email address on the projector screen.  Ten minutes later, he asks for a show of hands if anyone needs more time to vote.  No one raises their hand.  Fourteen minutes later, Emma approaches the CEO and whispers something in his ear, then leaves.
 CEO May I have your attention, pleaseThe votes are in.  It’s unanimous!  Everyone voted for the Renaissance Hotel.  I won’t need to cast a tie-breaking, deciding vote this year.  Looks like everyone was really impressed by the Renaissance Hotel last year and wants a repeat performance
Narrator A murmur of pleasure and agreement ripples through the attendees.  At 9:00 sharp, the CEO presents budget goals and cost overruns for last year.  It was not a good year for the company.  At 10:00, he moves on to this year’s goals and projections.  It promises to be a good year if all goes as planned and forecast.  The conference room clock now shows 11:00.  The CEO glances at the clock.
CEO Alright, we are right on schedule.  It’s time for our SWOT discussions, my favorite part of these annual meetings, a time to decide if we should stay the course or venture off into new directions.  What are some of our strengths that keep us a cut above the competition?
 CFO  We have a diverse portfolio.  Our capital (money) is invested in a broad range of industries, so we are not vulnerable to a market downtown in one or two industries.
CTO Our technology is state of the art.  We have the fastest and most reliable networks and communication lines available. 
CIO Our people are highly trained, well-paid, and highly motivated.  Our annual employee surveys show that our employees are optimistic about their future with the company, and they are pleased with their benefits and the culture and direction of the company — a remarkable achievement if you ask me.
CEO That’s terrific news!  We are indeed blessed as we move into this year.  What about our weaknesses?
Narrator They discuss a few minor weaknesses and also some opportunities for investments into some new business areas.
CEO Okay, what about threats?  What do we need to worry about the most?
CFO Well, President Trump’s, um, controversial financial decisions have thrown the stock markets into a bit of a tizzy.  There’s a lot of uncertainty in the markets right now.  And uncertainty means unpredictability, which is not good for planning purposes.  A, um, stupid decision on the part of the President at any moment could easily throw off our projections.
CTO And if he becomes too protectionist with his import tariffs and taxes, the cost of our imported high-technology equipment purchases could cost us more than projected, which would affect our bottom line (profit margin).
CIO And if these “Russian hackers” we keep hearing about turn out to be real, and they decide to turn their attention towards us, we’ll have to keep our computer network security as hack-proof as possible to prevent industrial espionage and sabotage.
Narrator After some discussions they all reach a consensus that these are the major threats that the company will face in this new year.  They finish the SWOT discussions and agree on some courses of action for the near-term and the far-term.  They move on to discuss a few other business matters and then adjourn the meeting.

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