English & Enterprise: Brainstorming
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich start a new mini-series of podcasts called 'English & Enterprise'. For the next four podcasts, they will introduce lots of words and phrases (functional language) that are used in business. The topic in this episode is 'brainstorming' and the language focus is 'making suggestions'. Rich and Jack work for a tech company and have been asked to think of lots of ideas for a new football product the company can sell. Your task is to 'brainstorm' ideas for other football products with other listeners. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess, too. Enjoy!
Welcome - English & Enterprise - Brainstorming (Making Suggestions)
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re starting a new mini-series of podcasts that focus on enterprise skills. These are skills that will help you with your English at work or in the workplace.
Jack: For the next four podcasts, we’re going to be speaking about English and Enterprise or business English because there are important chunks of functional language that you need.
Rich: We’ll be introducing lots of words and phrases we use at work and when talking about business. We’ll look at the type of language you need in meetings at work; when you have to brainstorm or come up with lots of ideas with colleagues.
Jack: We’ll look at language connected to problem-solving or troubleshooting in the workplace.
Rich: We’ll look at the language you need when giving presentations.
Jack: And we’ll discuss negotiation skills and the language you need when you’re trying to make a business deal.
Rich: All of the language we use is going to be helpful if you have to use English at work now or in the future, but it will also be useful for those of you who want to improve your general English, too.
Jack: And there will always be a football connection or two.
Rich: In this podcast, we are going to talk about the language you need when you're discussing ideas or brainstorming with colleagues at work.
Jack: This is something that you often have to do either at work or in the classroom at school or at university.
Rich: The language focus will be on some of the words and phrases you need to participate in a brainstorming session or meeting successfully.
Jack: The roleplay will be colleagues at a technology company brainstorming ideas about possible new football products they could develop.
Rich: After the roleplay, we will have a task for you to do, which is when we ask you to use your English. This week we’re going to ask you to brainstorm ideas for a football product in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: And, don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have another football phrase for you to guess.
Football Phrase 1
Jack: But, before we look at all that, let’s look at last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week we’ll give you one more chance to guess and give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Rich: The phrase was _________. This is a word that you won’t find in dictionaries yet but is becoming more and more common. It describes the result in a knockout match when a small team beats a big team. The word is two common words put together. The first word is a synonym of trophy and the second word is a synonym of surprise in a football context.
Jack: Well done if you got the right answer last week. It was a difficult one and there were some interesting answers. However, a special well done to Elghoul from Algeria who got the right answer and wrote the correct answer on the Premier Skills English website.
Rich: He has got lots of our questions right over the years. I think his football English must be excellent now!
Jack: I bet it is. We’ll tell you the answer to this football phrase and we’ll have a new one at the end of the show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Jack: You are now going to listen to a roleplay.
Rich: You are going to hear two employees of a tech company (me and Jack), brainstorming ideas for a new product.
Jack: While you listen, try to answer these two questions: one: How many different ideas do we think of? And question two: What do we think is the best idea?
Boss: So we need something new - something exciting. We need a game changer OK? Get to work.
Rich: OK, so the boss wants something big. Something that is going to blow the competition out of the water.
Jack: I think we need to start by brainstorming some ideas. Let’s try to put some of the best ideas up on the board and we can come back to them later. Rich? Any ideas?
Rich: Well there are lots of new technology products coming out all the time. Sports tech has that new training app and TechEd have a great new app, too. Should we go for an app like the competition?
Jack: Yeah, I’ve heard that Footy Tech have got an app which allows fans to hear and see like they are one of the players on the pitch - live. It uses 3D glasses, the works.
Rich: We could make a better one. Something that tracks players movements and fans can watch on their phones.
Jack: Sounds good. I’ll put it up on the board. We could try to undercut our rivals. A better app at a better price.
Rich: With more competition, we’d have less income and less profit. The boss wants something big. Let’s try to think out of the box a little. Let’s think of something totally different.
Jack: What about a remote control ball or some kind of magnetic football gloves? Kids would love those.
Rich: They would. I’ve never seen anything like that. That would be a great USP - a ball that goes where you choose. Nobody else in the sector has that. I’ll put it up on the board.
Jack: It’s good but maybe only for kids. We want a big market. Let’s think about something that covers everyone. Something that we could sell to all football fans all over the world.
Rich: What about hair?
Jack: Everyone has hair. Well nearly everyone.
Rich: What about hair dye? Why don’t we produce hair dye in different team colours? Could we make something that fans could spray on just for the match?
Jack: I like it and I like the hair idea.
Rich: Or smart clothing. I haven’t really thought this through but we could have clothes that change colour depending on the score for your team or your mood at the match.
Jack: I like it but let’s go back to the hair idea. Here, what about this … hair moulds.
Rich: Hair moulds?
Jack: Yeah! Moulds for hairdressers or fans could do them themselves. You know, a mould is like when you make cakes or jelly. You put the mixture in a shape and cook it. You can have a star-shaped cake, a cake that looks like a boy or a football.
Rich: Kids have all kinds of shapes in their hair these days. What’s new? What’s the USP?
Jack: Let’s do moulds that are specific to your favourite player. Let’s make them 3D printable.
Rich: I like it. Go to the hairdresser and say I want an Eden Hazard or a Paul Pogba. You don’t get a haircut like the player, you get the player cut into your head!
Jack: Exactly. You could do them at home, too. These moulds. We get the patents … the rights. Nobody else can do them.
Rich: And building on that, we could get player moulds for pets, too. A Sergio Aguero dog or a Harry Kane cat.
Jack: No, a Harry Kanine. The boss is going to love this!
Jack: Before we take a look at the language we used in the roleplay, let’s give you the answers to those questions we asked.
Rich: The first question was: How many ideas did we think of in the brainstorm? Well, we spoke about lots of different possible football products: remote control footballs, 3D football apps, football team hair dyes and smart clothes that change colour when your team scores and of course the hair mould idea.
Jack: Well, that’s five ideas. And the second question was: Which idea did we think was the best?
Rich: The answer, of course, is the hair mould idea. The idea is to create pictures of players in your hair.
Jack: Now, let’s look at some of the language we used in the roleplay.
Jack: In the roleplay, you heard me and Rich brainstorming a problem. If you haven’t heard the word ‘brainstorm’ before it is the technique we use to generate lots of ideas in meetings.
Rich: Brainstorming is an opportunity for groups of people to make suggestions about an idea or a problem. We can use lots of different phrases to make suggestions in a brainstorm.
Jack: In the roleplay, Rich said, ‘What about hair dye? Why don’t we produce hair dye in different team colours? Could we make something that fans could spray on just for the match?’
Rich: In these examples, I used some basic phrases for making suggestions: ‘What about …?’, ‘Why don’t we …?’, and ‘Could we …?’. All of these are used in question forms but they are suggestions.
Jack: We could use some different phrases to show that the idea is a little more unusual. In the roleplay, Rich said, ’I haven’t really thought this through but we could have clothes that change depending on the score for your team or your mood at the match’.
Rich: We could use some other phrases to introduce more unusual ideas. Some examples are things like: ‘this might sound crazy but …’, ‘I’m just thinking aloud for a moment but maybe we could …’, and ‘in an ideal world we could …’.
Jack: Another common way of making a suggestion is by using ‘let’s + verb’.
Rich: In the roleplay, Jack said ‘Let’s do moulds that are specific to your favourite player. Let’s make them 3D printable.’
Jack: When we are brainstorming we also try to build on other people’s ideas. In the roleplay, Rich said ‘And building on that, we could get player moulds for pets, too.’
Rich: Building on that is giving an extra idea to one that has already been started. We could also use phrases such as ‘we could combine that with …’ or ‘that reminds me of what we said earlier …’
Jack: When we brainstorm an idea it’s also important that a group stays focused. There are some phrases we can use to make sure we do this. In the roleplay, I said ‘I like it but let’s go back to the hair idea.’
Rich: Jack’s using ‘let’s get back to’ to get back to the original idea or topic. We could use some other phrases in similar situations such as ‘we’re getting off track here’, ‘let’s get back to what we were talking about’ or ‘going back to what you were saying earlier’.
Jack: Right, we’ve got lots more vocabulary connected to brainstorming and business meetings on the Premier Skills English website. Find this lesson on the homepage or in the skills section and you will find lots of activities, the transcript and a quiz to test your understanding.
Rich: And that’s where you can write your answers to this week’s task, too!
Jack: This week’s task is to brainstorm ideas for a football product. In the roleplay, we spoke about lots of different possible football products: remote control football, 3D football apps, football team hair dyes and smart clothes that change colour when your team scores were just some of our strange ideas.
Rich: We want our listeners to work together and brainstorm as many ideas as possible. In a brainstorm, no idea is a bad idea.
Jack: We want you to think of a football product and use some of the language to make suggestions we have introduced in this podcast.
Rich: Then, we want you to reply to other listeners and say what you like about their product and how you can make them even better.
Jack: OK, so that’s your task this week. Write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page on the Premier Skills English website or in the review section on Apple Podcasts.
This week’s football phrase:
Jack: The final section this week is our football phrase.
Rich: The football phrase this week is ***** ****. In the past couple of weeks, Huddersfield Town and Fulham have been relegated from the Premier League. They are not staying up, they are ***** ****.
Jack: Let’s see who can get it right! If you know the answer, write it in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We will announce your name in next week’s podcast if you get it right.
Rich: We also need to give you the answer to the football phrase we set at the beginning of the show. The answer as you may already know was cupset.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
This app, it allows fans to hear and see like they are one of the players on the pitch - live. It uses 3D glasses, the works.
OK, so the boss wants something big. Something that is going to blow the competition out of the water.
What about something that tracks players' movements and fans can watch on their phones.
Let’s try to think out of the box a little.
There were a few more tricky words and phrases in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
Brainstorming - Making Suggestions
In the second roleplay, you heard Jack and Rich 'brainstorming' ideas for a new football product. 'Brainstorming' is a technique that is often used at work or in the classroom to generate new ideas. A 'brainstorm' is an opportunity for groups of people to make suggestions about an idea or a problem. We can use lots of different phrases to make suggestions in a brainstorm.
Here are some of the phrases that were used in the roleplay. Do you know the phrases in bold?
What about hair dye?
Why don't we produce hair dye in different team colours?
Could we make something that fans could spray on just for the match?
Let’s do moulds that are specific to your favourite player. Let’s make them 3D printable.
We often form suggestions as questions to be polite which include: 'What about ...?', 'Why don't we ...?', and 'How about ...?'. These types of questions are good for brainstorming as they are polite and the listener can respond by extending the idea if they like it or just say something like 'good idea' if they don't want to discuss that idea further.
We also use modal verbs (could, might, shall) when we make suggestions. We use 'could' in question forms and positive sentences, 'might' is more common in positive sentences and 'shall' in questions to make suggestions.
Another phrase that is very common to make suggestions is let's + verb. Remember that 'let's' means 'let us' so the suggestion always includes the speaker.
More unusual suggestions
In a brainstorm, we often hear the phrase that 'no idea is a bad idea'. During the roleplay, Rich and Jack had some more unusual ideas for new football products. When they spoke about their ideas they used some slightly different phrases. Do you know the phrases in bold?
I haven’t thought this through, but we could have clothes that change depending on the score for your team or your mood at the match.
This might sound crazy but …
I'm just thinking aloud for a moment but maybe we could
In an ideal world we could …
Extending other people's suggestions
When someone thinks of a good idea in a brainstorming session, colleagues or classmates often want to talk about that idea more or they have ideas that are similar. Here are some phrases you could use in that situation:
And building on that, we could get player moulds for pets, too.
We could combine that with the idea that you said earlier.
That reminds me of what we said earlier about needing something that would appeal to all football fans.
Getting back on topic
During a brainstorm, the focus can sometimes be lost and people move away from the topic. We may need to bring people back to the original topic. Some phrases that can be used in this situation include:
I like it but let’s go back to the hair idea.
We’re getting off track here, let's get back to the hair idea.’
Going back to what you were saying earlier.
Try the activity below, you need to read the dialogue of a brainstorming session and write the correct words in the gaps. All of the words were used in this podcast.
In both roleplays, Jack and Rich used quite a few words connected to business. Do you know the words in bold?
They have this new football product - a game-changer they call it.
Should we go for an app like the competition?
We could try to undercut our rivals. A better app at a better price.
With more competition, we’d have less income and less profit.
It’s good but only for kids. We want a big market. Let’s think about something that reaches everyone.
You could do them at home, too. These moulds. We get a patent … the rights. Nobody else can do them.
Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
A Brainstorm: Football Products
This week’s task is to brainstorm ideas for a football product. In the roleplay, we spoke about lots of different possible football products: remote control footballs, 3D football apps, football team hair dyes and smart clothes that change colour when your team scores were just some of our strange ideas.
We want you to think of another product (or use one of the ideas above) and say why you think it's a good idea and why it would make money. We want all of you to brainstorm ideas together.
- Write your suggestion in the comments section (use language for making suggestions we used in this podcast).
- Reply to other people's suggestions
- Try to keep our brainstorm together in one discussion!
Write your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at our football phrase.