Enhance Your Voice in Business Communication when English is a Second Language

Multicultural Meeting

Effective communication is a must in any workplace to ensure that businesses and their employees can meet operational goals and build productive business relationships with key stakeholders. In fact, it is estimated that 14% of the average work week can be wasted as a result of poor communication.[1] If English is not your first language, navigating the nuances of the English language can be a challenge. In today’s global business environment, the use of English in daily business communications and transactions is growing more than ever. In multinational companies, where English is a second language for many employees, finding ways to communicate effectively with coworkers and customers is becoming increasingly important.

The communication consultants at Speakeasy have compiled five key communication strategies you can use to effectively employ the English language and enhance your workplace communications.

Plan out your talking points. Preparing for a talk or presentation is essential even for native English speakers. Writing down the points you want to cover helps to make sure you stay on track during a video conference or meeting. This also allows time to double check the language you plan to use and ensure the wording is correct for the audience to understand. Business communication coaches suggest practicing your talking points in front of a mirror to examine your body language and ensure your tone is in line with what you want to portray.

Review your message for accuracy. With your talking points identified, now is a good time to review for grammatical mistakes or wording errors. Every language has nuances and common sayings or phrases may not be as well known to second language learners. You can always ask  a coworkers or friend review your talking points, ahead of time, to make sure your message(s) is/are worded correctly and easy for your audience to understand.

Learn the importance of nonverbal language. Hand gestures, facial expressions, and even meeting etiquette can be different across cultures. It is important to be aware of these differences and be sensitive to the communication styles and preferences of your audience. For example, in some cultures it may be acceptable to interrupt the speaker, whereas in other cultures it may be customary not to ask questions. Consider your own cultural communication norms and compare or contrast them with your audiences. If there are communication practices that are different, reflect on how they may be perceived by your audience.

Don’t be afraid to pause. During your talk, it is important to be aware of your tone, talking speed, and body position. If at any point you notice your body feeling tense, it is okay to take a pause and collect your thoughts. Building in strategic pauses throughout your presentation is a good way to ensure you are covering all of your talking points and giving the audience time to process your message.

Find opportunities to practice business language. Many English language learners can have a fear of mispronouncing words or having their words misinterpreted. To help overcome this challenge and improve your comfort with using English in interpersonal communication, find ways to practice using business English as often as possible. Taking conversational English classes or practicing impromptu speaking at home can be great ways to increase your speaking confidence and comfort. Keeping a running list of new words you learn or want to include in your future talks are also easy ways to keep improving your understanding of the English language in the workplace.

These are just a few strategies you can use to enhance your communications in the workplace, if English is not your native language. Patience and practice can go a long way in helping you achieve your communication goals. Here, at Speakeasy, our seasoned communication specialists are happy to work with you to not only improve your delivery of the English language, but to also teach you proven communication principles that can elevate your interpersonal communication skills. Contact us to today at 404-541-4800 or visit our communication program descriptions by clicking here.

[1] https://sites.google.com/site/linchpinlearning/value/the-costs-of-poor-communication