Friday, February 3, 2012

Please Do Not Take A Seat! Stand up and Learn Some English!

The Wall Street Journal just published a great article called "No More Angling for the Best Seat; More Meetings Are Stand-Up Jobs." This article describes the growing practice of stand-up meetings. Apparently, when people aren't sitting down all nice and comfortable, meetings are a lot more efficient. In fact, the meetings are one third less long, with no less quality in decision making. Let's learn some English from a piece of this article (words and business English expressions we'll explore are in bold):

Atomic Object, a Grand Rapids, Michigan software-development firm, holds company meetings first thing in the morning. Employees follow strict rules: Attendance is mandatory, nonwork chitchat is kept to a minimum and, above all, everyone has to stand up.

Atomic Object even frowns upon tables during meetings. "They make it too easy to lean or rest laptops," explains Michael Marsiglia, vice president. At the end of the meetings, which rarely last more than five minutes, employees typically do a quick stretch and then "go on with their day," he says....

The current wave of stand-up meeting is being fueled by the growing use of "Agile," an approach to software development, crystallized in a manifesto published by 17 software professionals in 2001. The method calls for compressing development projects into short pieces. It also involves daily stand-up meetings where participants are supposed to quickly update their peers with three things: What they have done since yesterday's meeting; what they are doing today; and any obstacles that stand in the way of getting work done.

Time to explore the business expressions in this piece of the article:

first thing in the morning - early in the morning, probably right after the employee has turned on his or her computer and grabbed a cup of coffee

chitchat - talk; gossip (social conversations not related to work - clearly this type of talk would not fit into a very short meeting!)

above all - most importantly

(to) frown upon - to discourage; to view something negatively

go on with one's day - continue with one's daily activities or work

fueled by - powered by; motivated by

(to) stand in the way - to block (here they are talking about obstacles standing in the way -- in other words, things that happen that slow down the progress of a project)

Okay, that's our Business English for today. Can you believe I typed all of this SITTING DOWN? I guess I'd better stand up now. Maybe I can go find a stand-up meeting to attend!

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