The Business of English – Episode 8: Graphs and trends


Now, I’d like to refer to the first graph.
As you can see this is a bar graph measuring net sales over the first ten months of the
year. 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. What was the reason for the sudden drop in
July? This was mainly due to a 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? 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. Does this explain the fluctuation in total
sales? 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.
Well, we can’t sell air conditioners when it’s cold. What’s the solution? Export to Europe and America! Easier said than done.
Today we’re looking at presenting information using charts and graphs. We saw three types
of diagram: a bar or column graph
a line graph and a pie chart.
Look at how Tan introduced his presentation. Now, I’d like to refer to the first graph
– as you can see this is a bar graph measuring net sales over the first nine months of the
year. Tan says, “I’d like to refer to the first
graph.” 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. I’d like to refer to the first graph If we have a look at this graph If I could direct your attention to the graph Looking at the graph on the screen
Let’s look at the language Tan uses to describe what the graph shows.
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 n August,
and this trend has continued up until the present.
Here’s our graph: 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, insignifantly. 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.
There was a steady rise in sales. Sales rose steadily. There was a significant fall in sales. Sales fell significantly. There was a slight recovery in sales. Sales recovered slightly.
Now let’s look at how Tan handles a question about the graph.
What was the reason for this sudden drop in July? 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? Here are four useful phrases for describing
causes: due to
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 because of
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?
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. He says air conditioner sales ‘bottomed out’
in July. This means they reached their lowest level. 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.
If we look at this pie diagram, you can see that air conditioners and heater sales together
represent more than half of our total sales – but they vary seasonally, while other appliances
are fairly steady through the year. Tan says air conditioners and heaters ‘represent’
more than half of sales. This means they account for more than half of the sales. We could
put this another way: 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.

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