Today we’re looking at presenting information using charts and graphs.
You’ll notice that sales rose steadily in the first few months, then there was a marked increase in April. They peaked in May at around 3.2 million, and levelled off, then there was a dramatic drop in the following month, followed by a significant increase in August, and this trend has continued up until the present.
JOHN: What was the reason for the sudden drop in July?
TAN: This was mainly due to a drop off in air conditioner sales – so it’s a seasonal effect.
DENISE: Could it be a consequence of the negative effect of the interest rate rise?
TAN: Possibly. Now, if I could draw your attention to this next diagram. This is a line graph of sales – the blue line represents air conditioner sales, the red line shows heaters. As you’ll note, air conditioner sales dropped steadily from January to July, bottoming out then, while heater sales experienced a sharp increase from March to June, then dropped markedly from June to July, then declined through to September, with a pronounced drop in October.
JOHN: Does this explain the fluctuation in total sales?
TAN: Largely – if we look at this pie diagram, you can see that air conditioners and heaters together represent more than half of our total sales – but they vary seasonally, while other appliances are fairly steady through the year.
JOHN: Well, we can’t sell air conditioners when it’s cold. What’s the solution?
TAN: Export to Europe and America!
DENISE: Easier said than done.
A bar or column graph
A line graph
And a pie chart.
Look at how Tan introduced his presentation.
When referring to a diagram or graph, first direct your audience’s attention to that diagram. Practise with Tan some phrases to use for this.
If we have a look at this graph…
If I could direct your attention to the graph.
Looking at the graph on the screen…
Tan said the sales rose steadily at first, then there was a marked increase in April.
This levelled off, then there was a dramatic drop, and then a significant increase.
In describing trends, we use two words – one of those words is a noun or verb.
For example we may talk about an increase, or a decrease in numbers. Other words for an increase are rise, climb, improvement, upturn.
Most of these words can also be used as a verb: to increase; to rise; to climb; to improve.
Other words for a decrease are fall, decline, worsening, downturn.
These also have verbs from them: to decrease; to fall; to decline; to worsen.
So we say – there was an improvement in the figures for April, or the figures for April have improved.
There has been a decline in sales since June, or sales since June have declined.
But we often add more descriptive words -adjectives and adverbs. Remember adjectives go before nouns, and adverbs go after verbs.
These describe the change in figures – was it big or small, fast or slow?
Other words for a big change are significant, marked, massive, pronounced, substantial.
Most adjectives can also be made into adverbs, just by adding ‘ly’ or ‘lee’. There is no adverb for ‘big’, but informally we say ‘a lot’.
Other words for small are slight, insignificant, and their adverbs slightly, insignifanctly.
Other words for a fast or quick change are sharp, dramatic, sudden, and again we add ‘ly’ for the adverbs.
And for a slow or medium change, we can use steady or moderate, and the adverbs steadily and moderately
Now – try changing the phrases from noun phrases into verb phrases – for example – if Tan says ‘There was a dramatic increase in sales’ – you say ‘Sales increased dramatically.’
Have a try.
Sales rose steadily.
There was a significant fall in sales.
Sales fell significantly.
There was a slight recovery in sales.
Sales recovered slightly.
This was mainly due to the drop off in air conditioner sales – so it’s a seasonal effect.
Could it be a consequence of the negative effect of the interest rate rise?
The drop in sales is due to an interest rate rise.
A consequence of
The drop in sales is a consequence of an interest rate rise.
The drop in sales is because of an interest rate rise.
A result of
The drop in sales is a result of an interest rate rise.
How does Tan explain his next diagram?
Then he says they ‘experienced a sharp increase’. And he says there was a ‘pronounced’ drop in heater sales in October. ‘Pronounced’ here means significant, or large. Finally, look at how Tan talks about his pie diagram.
More than half of sales are represented by air conditioners and heaters.
We could say washing machines represent 15% of sales.
Washing machines account for 15% of sales.
Washing machines make up 15% of sales.
And that’s accounted for our time today in the Business of English. See you next time.
Episodes of The Business of English
- The Business of English E15: Until Next Time
- The Business of English E14: A Formal Speech
- The Business of English E13: We Might Have a Deal
- The Business of English E12: Negotiating
- The Business of English E11: Can I Help You?
- The Business of English E10: Wrapping It Up
- The Business of English E09: A Customer Survey
- The Business of English E08: Graphs and Trends
- The Business of English E07: A Report on Progress
- The Business of English E06: What are the options?
- The Business of English E05: Hear!Hear!
- The Business of English E04: Any Other Business
- The Business of English E03: Getting Aquainted
- The Business of English E02: Why don’t you join us?
- The Business of English E01: Pleased to meet you
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