Tips on communicating more clearly
In this week’s episode of The Art of Business English we are going to highlight some tips on how you can communicate more clearly in English. Sometimes we forget the basics, and this can lead to frustration, we may ask ourselves, “why doesn’t anybody understand what I am trying to tell them?”. We often blame others for communication breakdown, we will often claim that the other person is not listening or that they “never” understand me.
Today I am going to show you why being an effective communicator comes down to a few key factors. Before I go any further though, you must accept that if you are the one that is trying to express an idea and make someone adopt something, then it is your job to ensure that you communicate clearly. This is especially important if you are leading teams and working closely with people. These skills are relevant for all languages, so listen carefully.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the list of vocabulary from this episode.
Watch the episode here
Word or expression
To hold responsible
Comes down to
To be essentially
Use an idea
Nervous or stressed
Be more important than
Ignorant to something
Point something out
Highlight or mention
Talk, speech, lecture
So, let’s dive in and look at some tips on communicating clearly.
Speed and pace
We are all busy, and some people get very excited, wound up, or frantic when they are at work. Sometimes we forget this, and we speak very quickly, or we write an email very quickly and then click send without even reviewing it and checking for mistakes and clarity.
As such, the first rule of communicating more clearly is to be aware of the speed and pace at which you speak. You need to moderate how fast you deliver information to people and ensure they can follow you.
From experience, many employees will never ask for clarification as they don’t want to look like the one who doesn’t understand, even when they are confused. Fear of embarrassment overrides a desire to ask for clarification.
Therefore, my first tip is to make sure you always speak slowly and at an even pace, of course you need to use intonation, but don’t speak too quickly. Secondly, you should also pace yourself when writing emails, and make sure you always check them before clicking send.
Finally, moderating speed and pace will lead to an overall increase in productivity as less mistakes will be made in the long run.
Learn to pause and reflect
My next tip is to learn how to use a pause and make time for reflection. This is a difficult skill to learn, many people are afraid of silence or it makes them feel uncomfortable. Yet, learning how to pause will help you to slow down, while learning how to reflect on ideas before answering will also give you time to think and formulate a more coherent response.
Some of the greatest speakers of all time and the most eloquent public presenters know the power of the pause. Remember, people will only start listening when you stop talking. Think about it, people need time to process what you are saying to them, so make sure you learn how to pause and allow for reflection.
Work on your pronunciation and cherish your accent
Having an accent should be cherished, everyone loves a non-native speaker with a cute or sexy accent. A non-native speaker of English can sound very exotic, think about it, you are the foreigner brining that diversity to the organisation.
Surprisingly, many non-native speakers are embarrassed about their accents, this is wrong, you should embrace it. In saying that though, we really need to be sure we work on our pronunciation.
Poor pronunciation can negatively impact on effective communication. The most typical mistakes are putting the stress on English words in the wrong syllable. To improve your pronunciation in English you need to learn how to use the “schwa” and you also need to make a conscious effort to mimic native speakers of English. This is what babies and children do to learn a language, so you should do the same, even though you may think you sound “silly”.
Choice of vocabulary
English language learners often try and use complex vocabulary or expressions that they have picked up to try and sound more advanced. This can be great when done correctly, however if you want to be an effective communicator then you need to use simple vocabulary and expressions to ensure that everyone in the room understands. There is no point using acronyms or “office” lingo when half the people don’t know what you are talking about.
Another problem I have seen is that learners of English pick up expressions in emails or during meetings and they “think” they have understood them in the right context when in fact they haven’t. They then start using this “new” vocabulary in the wrong context and it sounds wrong and confusing. Often people are blissfully unaware they are using this incorrectly until someone points it out to them.
Structure your ideas
Finally, it is important to remember that simply structuring your ideas will help in effective communication. To do this we can use simple linking language to organise them into a sequential discourse. For example, we can say “firstly”, “secondly”, “in conclusion”, “to sum up” and many more.
Learning how to use linking words effectively is a great skill. If you want to practice them, then you can download a copy of my linking words list below.
Being an effective communicator is essential to improving productivity in your organisation, think about it. How many meetings and emails do you need to attend or send to clarify and re-clarify ideas and concepts. Imagine how much more work you could get done if you did not need to repeat yourself.
Effective communication is the most important business skill you can have, so start working on improving yours now.
If you want to expand on your range of vocabulary, then make sure you download my eBook entitled “500 business English collocations for everyday use” below.
I hope you found this episode insightful, please leave me a comment or any questions below and I will be more than happy to reflect on them. That is it from me for this week, stay tuned for more episodes. See you all soon.
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