“How to speak English better” is a question that comes up a lot from ESL students all round the world. If you are a non-native English speaker, working in the English speaking corporate world, a key requirement for success is to present your ideas well in English at meetings and interviews. Sometimes even the best of ideas when articulated poorly sound mediocre and not well thought-out, and the worst ideas can be made to look polished and sophisticated when presented well.
Here are some tips that will be helpful to a non-native English speaker speak English more fluently at meetings and interviews.
It is mandatory to learn some “clarification” phrases to when you are running a fast paced, interactive session. You are not going to “get” everything said in the meeting, but you should be able to clarify anything using phrases like.
“Sorry, just so we are on the same page, can we go through point A again?” – When you are not clear about the point that was made and would like to hear it again.
“Sorry, but could you outline the main points again so that I get my notes complete?” – When you try to recollect the points that were made during the session of meeting
“I’m not sure I follow your point about…” – When you are not sure about it and were not able to follow the talk
“Just to make sure I understand correctly”- to clear the talk by saying them what you understood
Bonus point: This is a great article on how to speak English better using American idioms. Remember, idiomatic expressions are very popular in the US workplace.
As they say in Real Estate business, location is everything. If you are non-native English speaker, and if you know that the conversations are going to happen in English, make sure you sit in a position where you can see (and be seen by) the chair, and other participants. When others speak, look at them and try to make good eye contact. Understanding is far harder if you can’t see the person while they speak. Seeing the speaker will help you understand their body language and get in a better position to follow the conversation and respond if needed.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. When you know a meeting is to be held, make sure that you get the agenda of the meeting well in advance so that you can prepare. You can’t just simply go there without any proper prior preparations, especially if you are a non-native English speaker participating in a meeting run in English. As a non-native English speaker, you are starting with the added disadvantage of having to speak in a language which is not your first. The way to negate this is to collect your thoughts in advance and prepare your talking points beforehand. This will allow you to articulate your ideas more confidently and convincingly.
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