Office party planning

Listen to the conversation with an event planner to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Ayako: Hello, sales department. This is Ayako speaking. How can I help you?

Sam: Hi, Ayako, this is Sam from Events-4-U. I'm calling about the piano you want at your Christmas party next month.

Ayako: Oh, good. It would be a great surprise to have one there for our boss for the night. He can play and it would be a great addition for the party. Have you been able to source one?

Sam: Well, yes, I have, but …

Ayako: But what?

Sam: Well, we're going to either have an issue with the logistics or the budget, or possibly both.

Ayako: Oh dear.

Sam: Well, we've found a baby grand piano, as you requested, and it's available for the date you want.

Ayako: OK, great. So what's the issue? Is it too expensive?

Sam: No, it's within the budget you gave me, so everything there is OK. But it's too wide for the entrance doorway into the building.

Ayako: Oh, I see. So what are our options? Could we dismantle it outside and reassemble it inside?

Sam: Er, no. Unfortunately, you can't really do that with pianos. But don't worry, I'm sure we can find some inventive solution.

Ayako: Do you have any ideas?

Sam: Well, we could hoist it up to the first-floor balcony. The door there would be large enough to fit it through.

Ayako: Great. That sounds like a good plan.

Sam: That would work, though it would increase the cost considerably as we'd need a crane, an extension on the insurance policy and probably two to three additional people to manage getting it successfully into the building.

Ayako: Oh, I see. Well, we can definitely stretch the budget by about ten per cent, but we shouldn't go over that. If we exceed the budget by more than ten per cent, then other areas of the party budget will have to be cut. And we don't really want that.

Sam: OK, so this idea won't work then. Sorry if I wasn't being clear. The considerable budget increase I was referring to would add a further fifty per cent. You know, cranes are expensive.

Ayako: Oh … um … OK. So what other options do we have?

Sam: Well, how fixed are you on the piano being a baby grand? Would an upright piano be an option?

Ayako: Hmm. I don't know.

Sam: It would fit through the door on the ground floor and cause fewer problems. I've also got the option on a really nice white vintage upright piano, with black design work.

Ayako: OK. That sounds like it might work. Could you send me over some photos of it?

Sam: I'll do it now, together with the rental and delivery information and costs.

Ayako: Great. Thanks, Sam. Let me think about it and I'll call you back later today.

Sam: Sure, no problem. I'll wait for your call. 

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Worksheet82.28 KB

Submitted by 600020876 on Mon, 27/06/2022 - 11:07


i really like this site, its so pro! i like the people on this site aswell they my brodas luv u!!!!!!

Submitted by jmajo on Thu, 12/05/2022 - 15:35


Usually I have to do that at my work, last week I have to work on a solution to a problem where there was an issue with a service at my work, so the clients where calling at us to complain about an internal website, I had to call to the webmaster and get a solution with him, it wasn't very easy to find it but at the end of the day, he could fix the bug and all went fine to the clients.

Thanks for the episode.
Great site!

Submitted by ninaals on Wed, 23/02/2022 - 14:15


It wasn't a discussion,however there was one time I had to receive instructions and couldn't hear very well so I also had to repeat myself.

Submitted by misty on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 21:03


It is not actually a problem, but I have discussed changes of appointments through phone call. It is quite challenging to change dates and time of appointment especially now due to pandemic.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Tue, 12/10/2021 - 15:10


I don't work yet but I solve a problem daily with friends on call.
I like to do that.

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Mon, 04/10/2021 - 23:59


The last time I had to discus a problem of a mobile phone contract on the phone was last year in March 2020.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Mon, 30/08/2021 - 22:25

Nowdays is widespread to solve our problems and not only problems, even happy moments on the phone. I think is faster than to talk face to face and if you`re shy is more easy for you. That`s modern way to solve our problems on the phone. But I think solve problem face to face is more real, you can see face expression,gesture.... even you can understand if the person in front of you is worry, shy, lie.... COVID change everything now :/

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Sun, 25/04/2021 - 12:39

I was solved many problems on phone. When my friends feels any problems related to study they they call me and asked solutions for it. I liked to solve friend's problem. My friends appreciate my knowledge. In this time covid is very dangerous in my country. I'm sad to see this situation.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 13:43

Kids shouldn't use a phone after10.00 pm....that's what I was told by my parents. :0

Submitted by kawa on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 09:57

actually, nowadays we face problems daily because of the social distancing and we have to tackle them on the phone appropriately, so this requires patience and flexibility. Face to face is totally better as the communication is not just based on the tune of a person, but there other ways a person can explain his/her ideas in a perfect way such as mimics, gestures body movements. however, the phone is very helpful since it shortens and saves time.
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Submitted by El Cuy Mágico on Sat, 06/02/2021 - 20:39

As I read before in several comments I prefer to don’t solve a problem on the phone. I like to talk face to face. I think it’s the best way cause your corporal language can be a plus and you may feel more comfortable when you see the other person. Last discuss I had was one year ago. I had to solve a university problem. Unfortunately there was no solution then I had to go and solve it in person.

Submitted by Layria on Fri, 29/01/2021 - 19:34

Well, erm...I always have to discuss something about a service or product because I work as a customer assistant, so it´s my day. When I have to solve the issue I listen actively to the client and try to offer the best option to him, even if I have to pass note to another department and takes time to reach an agreement. You have to be very patient...

Submitted by Diogo1606 on Thu, 28/01/2021 - 00:28

Well, I remember the last time I had to discuss a problem on the phone was something around two weeks ago. I was trying to solve a problem about a party I had paid but that I didn't want to go because the moment we're living right now isn't propitious to celebrate (with or without security measures).

Submitted by Saad786 on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 15:40

It was last month when school organized a trip. I discussed with my friends about our party food and drinks. It was better to discuss on phone rather than sending emails .

Submitted by Asni on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 22:21

Usually, I prefer to solve that kind of problems by going in person to the office, because phone calls are not ideal in such situations. Moreover, technical assistance might not be as good as expected or there might be some misunderstanding, and sometimes many calls are necessary to get your problem solved. Unfortunatley, I had an issue with my credit card a few months ago. As I wasn't in Spain, I had no choice but to try to fix it by calling the customer service of my bank. I admit I was extremely worried and didn't expect much from them, luckily, the assistance didn't meet my expectations and was very good actually. I could have my credit card working again in a short time and I was happy with the service.
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Submitted by DJ Singh on Wed, 02/12/2020 - 08:14

I don't like talking about problems on phone. In my opinion, it's just a waste of time if the person is not engaged in the conversation fully. Talking face to face helps humans to fully-in, in the topic they are discussing. But when it's really important and one has no options then only I prefer to discuss something really important.
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Submitted by danisep on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 23:34

I don’t remember when was the last time that I have a discussion by phone, I think that I’m not really good discussing I get upset easily so I just hung up when the other person explode or start to tell me lies or whatever. But how I read before in one comment and I agree that discuss by phone could be good because you can call immediately when the problem arise and get a quick solution.
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Submitted by javibuendi on Mon, 23/11/2020 - 10:19

I have never had to discuss a problem on the phone because I do not like talking on the phone, whether a discussion or a normal conversation. It drives me crazy. I rather to talk on Whatsapp or face to face, in the event we could. Cheers from Madrid.

Submitted by mcambindo22 on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 20:57

Last time, I had been discussing something on the phone, I was talking to my boss about a problem related to a project because it had a delay, so the timming schedule got some changes.

Submitted by zahid ali shah on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 09:29

I don't like to talk on phone but some time it is more important and necessary to use phone. Instead of calling I had proffered to texting someone if it is required.

Submitted by mcambindo22 on Thu, 01/10/2020 - 15:00

It is not a discussion by phone, the conversations trough the phone has been to convey any kind of information related to work or maybe about family or according to the time at the moment.
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Submitted by Hennadii on Mon, 21/09/2020 - 14:19

Well, telling the truth, I don't remember when exactly it was but, of course, I did it many times before. Now, when we tend to communicate with others by phone but not tet-a-tet, we mostly discuss everything this way. I think it's easier and harder at the same time. Harder, because you can't see the true reaction of your opponent. You can't be sure what he (or she) thinking truly. So you have to rely on the intonation and hope you get things right. It's funny but it's easier for the same reason. Your opponent can't see your face and your reaction. This gives you a chance to hide your emotions and manipulate the situation. Of course, video calls can easily ruin all this pretense but, hand on heart, how often do we use them? Another good point to discuss problems on the phone is an instance. If something has just happened, you don't need to wait for the face-to-face meeting. You can phone immediately to share your problems, discuss it and, maybe, get a solution as soon as possible.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 15:52

I think it was last month when I discussed a problem with my colleagues on a phone. Talking is quicker and easier than sending emails. ;)

Submitted by fahri on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 16:05

Dear team. From lesson Above. 'to source' means to find or locate something. The other: to source:to get something, especially products or materials, from a particular place: The question: Which one the true??? Thank you very much for your answer

Hi fahri,

Both of these definitions of source are correct. It can mean to get something, or to find out where you can get something. Also, the second definition is a bit more detailed than the first one. It's correct to say that it's usually products or materials that are sourced, in a business context.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kbravoz on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 02:15

In the last question is ambiguous: when you say "that sounds like it might work", it's like you agree with the idea.

Hello kbravoz,

'That sounds like' + a clause is a very common structure. As you have noticed, it doesn't refer to sounds -- it refers to an idea. 'That sounds like it might work' means something like 'I think it might work'.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nona nasr on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 21:39

Last problem I discussed on phone was about my new earbuds I complained to customer service that as I can’t hear clearly with stuff, the Staff was really helpful and respectful so much and they solved my problem by promising to change it as soon as possible.

Submitted by hisar on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 10:43

I realized one argue over telephone speaking. My project team mate was not working as good as me and we had to catch up our schedule. I called him. And I said that if you didnt have any time, you had to quit this project.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 11/05/2020 - 16:32

Just of recent. I had to made discussion about a problem on phone.

Submitted by Wesley54 on Sun, 19/04/2020 - 01:38

It was a few weeks ago. A friend of mine wanted to study German again, since she started working full-time, as a matter of fact, she didn't have time and the enough money to continue her classes. Unfortunately my sister kept on her virtual classes from university because of the current pandemic and the quarantine as a preventive fact. My friend started practising German with me from 9 o'clock to 11, however, my sister must attend to virtual classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the same time, and the Internet connection is quite slower than usual at that time. I explained her that issue and she proposed me to practise earlier, at 5 o'clock. I agree with her and fron that instant on we practise in the afternoon. Hopefully my sister thanked my gesture!

Submitted by becgabi on Sun, 05/04/2020 - 18:34

Today morning I got a call from my parents and I helped them with modifying a scanned document. It was quite hard since they don't have any IT knowledge so I had to give them instructions via video call. Not to mention the bad quality of the video because of the overloading of the internet... You know everybody stays home and on the internet nowadays.

Submitted by yoyoraw on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 16:10

The last time was two weeks ago when i had to talk to the delivery man on the phone on how he could get to my house. It was a problem to me since iam not the best at describing roads to people

Submitted by I P on Fri, 10/01/2020 - 15:50

The last time I had to discuss problem was with my friends. The night before we we made a deal about time for going out. But before that I needed to go to hairdresser, and it lasts logner than I thought, in the same time my friend called me to say that she couldn t make it, so both of us couldn t come on time,so someone have to call third friend to say about exchanged plan. But there was misunderstanding and guess what, neither I nor my friend do that! So she has stayed there and wonder where we were.

Submitted by Sajedeh on Fri, 13/12/2019 - 09:16

Hello, how can I download the podcasts?

Hello Sajedeh

It's a little tricky to do on phones or tablets, but on a computer, you can right-click on the audio player and then choose the 'Save As' option. The mp3 should then download to your computer.

Happy listening!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Magedelabd on Wed, 11/12/2019 - 15:53

Last week I had to discuss a problem on the phone , as a service manager for an automotive service center I had to tell the customer about a problem in his car and the coast to fix it as well and the customer complained about that and asked to fix the problem under warranty .

Submitted by nikisyazwani on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 18:47

I have completed the lesson for 'Office Party Planning'. The level I chose was Upper Intermediate B2.
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Submitted by kamicounciler on Sun, 29/09/2019 - 17:19

last time i remember i had to discuss a problem on phone, was over a year ago , when i tried to convince an online shop customer service to give me back some part of money i had paid, because of a missing part in my delivery.
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 17:18

The last time I discussed a problem on the phone was with a girl I had just met with, through an app to exchange conversations with strangers. We both aimed to have conversations beyond the trivial approach in which is addressed the typical conversations when it comes to be about practice your speaking. As soon as we started to talk about ourselves she started, arguably, portraiting me derogatorily regarding to the way I was approaching to her, meaning about my word choice, and voice tonality, as far as im concerned addressed in a framework of biases. Then the conversation turned into a quarrell that was prone to end up with some of us suddenly hanging up, and that's exactly how ended my first conversation with a foreign :,) .
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Submitted by AL-Mustafa on Sun, 23/06/2019 - 08:06

The last time i was discussing a problem , it was with my brother two days back . We want to rental an apartment or a house , but we can't found a nice place with good price .
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Submitted by mehrazin on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 07:32

Dear British Council Team the last time I had to discuss a problem with my old friend was a day before yesterday, when I had to tell him not to try thinking of a start up a relationship again. I tried to persuade him by both logical and rational reasons that the relationship is much more be annoying me tather than making me be refreshed. best wishes

Submitted by marcasti on Mon, 15/04/2019 - 20:31

The last time I had to discuss a problem on the phone was three days ago, with the TV operator in my city.