Skills 360 – Communicating Clearly in English (1)

Skills 360 Lesson - Communicating Clearly in English 1

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on communicating clearly in English.

Did you know that most of the conversations in English happening right now are between two non-native speakers? There’s a German doing business in Malaysia, and a Russian talking on the phone with a Korean, and a Brazilian visiting Spain. And they’re most likely using English to communicate with each other.

But English is not a simple language. For one thing, it has more words and idioms than other languages. For another thing, there are many different varieties of English. So the English you hear in Singapore or Miami or London can sound quite different. Given this situation – people around the world using a difficult language at different levels – it’s really important to be able to communicate clearly.

Let’s start with pronunciation. Of course, not everyone will, or should, speak exactly the same. Perfect pronunciation doesn’t exist, since there are so many different accents. So being clear isn’t so much about pronunciation as it is about enunciation. Enunciation simply means pronouncing things clearly and carefully.

Two other things that impact pronunciation are speed and volume. When we’re uncomfortable or nervous, we tend to speed up and speak more softly. But speaking quickly and quietly can damage our pronunciation. Instead, slow down a bit and speak a bit more loudly. This will add clarity to your speech.

Clarity is also affected by the words we choose. The important thing here is to keep it simple. When you’re giving someone instructions on the phone, or making an important point in a presentation, it’s not the time to impress people with your vocabulary. Stick to expressions you know people will understand. That means you should avoid using too much slang and too many idioms.

When it comes to word choice, there’s another thing to be careful with: acronyms and abbreviations. You might use “TBH” quite often, but not everyone knows that it means “to be honest.” You don’t have to use these abbreviations to get your point across. And you’ve probably been confused – and frustrated – when people use abbreviations that are common in their line of work but are not common knowledge.

As we’ve seen, communicating clearly in English might mean we have to adapt what we say and how we say it, depending on the audience. It’s always a good idea to speak up and to speak clearly. And if you want to make sure everyone understands, it’s wise to use simple and clear words, while avoiding slang, idioms, and abbreviations.

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Skills 360 – Leading Group Decision-Making Meetings (2)

Skills 360 Lesson - Facilitating a Meeting to Make a Decision 2

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to lead a group meeting to make a decision.

If you’re leading a group meeting to make a decision, you should expect a few obstacles along the way.

For one, people can get a bit personal and attack the person, as opposed to the idea. Call people out for personal attacks, and keep the discussion focused on ideas, not personality conflict. This is part of your role as the meeting facilitator. You’re supposed to encourage people to listen, prevent interruption, and generally make sure people feel respected and heard. As soon as people feel attacked personally, they’ll shut up.

Another thing you need to shut down is any off topic conversation. People do this without even realizing it. They hear something, it reminds them of something else, they start talking about it and soon enough the conversation has gone way off topic. Your job is to steer the conversation back. For people who love to hear themselves talk and go on and on, find an appropriate moment to jump in and provide a summary of their idea.

Another obstacle in a decision-making meeting is what we call “groupthink.” Groupthink is when people just follow along with the ideas being discussed, without thinking for themselves. To deal with groupthink, encourage creative thinking from the get-go. One thing you might try is having people write down their ideas individually before sharing them with the group. After having people write down their own ideas, go around the table and give each person a chance to speak. The more you leave it to the really vocal people, the more susceptible the meeting will be to groupthink.

Besides groupthink, another obstacle you may face is time. So watch the time carefully. And when you’re down to 25%, remind people. Don’t be afraid to push them a bit. In most cases, people are more willing to compromise than to drag an issue out longer than necessary. But if the group really can’t come to a good decision, or if people really can’t agree, or if there’s just more information needed, then consider other options. For one, you might table the decision. A delayed decision is often better than a bad decision. Or, you might assign a smaller group to make the decision.

Regardless, what you’re shooting for is the best possible decision. And as we’ve discussed, there are many possible obstacles to making a good decision within the time you’ve got. But if you play it right, if you manage the people well, and if you encourage good ideas, and new ideas, you should be able to come to a good group decision.

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Skills 360 – Leading Group Decision-Making Meetings (1)

Business English Skills 360 LESSON - Leading a Group Decision 1

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on Business English communication skills for leading a group to a decision.

In fact, it might be better to say we’re talking about how to lead groups to good decisions. After all, any meeting chairperson can push for a quick decision, or call a vote before matters have been fully discussed. But that’s not the kind of leadership I’m talking about. And that doesn’t necessarily produce good decisions. A good decision is one that people buy into, and one that has a strong rationale behind it.

So how can we go about leading a group to a decision? Well, right at the start of the meeting, you need to set the stage for a good discussion, and a good decision. Firstly, you need to be very clear about the purpose. If you’re meeting to make a decision, make sure everyone knows it.

It’s also a good idea to have a decision-making process for the meeting. And that process typically goes like this: start with information-sharing, then run through or brainstorm different options, then evaluate those options through discussion, and finally make a decision. Notice that generating ideas and evaluating ideas are separate steps. That helps prevent people feeling criticized or getting defensive.

Within this process, leading group decisions is all about facilitating good discussion. And the magic of good facilitation is making everyone in the room feel listened to and emotionally validated. Overall, you need to make sure that everyone has had a chance to speak and express themselves. Sometimes this means calling on people directly. Or it might simply mean staying attuned to how those weaker voices attempt to join the discussion.

By being clear about purpose upfront, following a basic decision-making process, and using your meetings English and facilitation skills, you can come to a good decision. And remember, a good decision is one that people buy into and that has a good rationale to support it.

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Skills 360 – Making your Ideas Stick (Part 2)

Business English Skills 360 Lesson - Making your Ideas Stick 2

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on making your ideas stick.

Have you ever been in a meeting or listened to a presentation where someone talks about their big idea? And then, forty PowerPoint slides later, you’re still not quite sure what they’re talking about, or why their idea is so great? Well, there might be a good idea somewhere behind it all, but for some reason it didn’t stick.

On the flip side, there are ideas that you couldn’t forget if you wanted to. For whatever reason, people understand them, they remember them, and they get behind them.

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Skills 360 – Making your Ideas Stick (Part 1)

Business English Skills 360 Lesson - Making your Ideas Stick 1

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how you can make your ideas stick.

Let’s face it: ideas are a dime a dozen. And just having a great idea doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t get other people to believe in it. And before you can get anyone to believe in it, you need to help them remember it. You need to make it stick. So today I want to share a couple of tips for helping your ideas stick. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving a presentation, proposing something in a meeting, or pitching to investors. The secrets to stickiness are the same.

Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
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