As you may know, English is now the global language of business. More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language—Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Nokia, Renault, Samsung, SAP, Technicolor, and Microsoft in Beijing, to name a few.
Your life would be much easier if the international language of business was your native language.
But since English is the default language, it is important to develop and improve your English speaking skills.
The following 10 tips should help you improve your verbal communication skills and also help those that you speak with when using any second language.
1. Worrying about your accent
Everyone has an accent, but in a language speaking test such as IELTS, speaking with an accent is not important; proper pronunciation is important. There are many online audio resources that you can listen to and copy, but the best way is to ask a native speaker if you are pronouncing a word the correct way.
2. Speaking and writing at the level of the listener or reader
It is important to recognize the language level of the person you are speaking or writing to. If your second language skill is at an intermediate level and the listener or reader’s level is lower than your level, then you must speak or write at the level of the listener or reader ― doing this will result in better communications.
3. Using filler words
Everyone uses filler words, such as “um” “ah” “eh” “uh”.
We use these words for two reasons. First, we use them to buy some time (to take some time) to think of what we will say next. We also use filler words to let the listener know that we have not finished speaking.
It is important to use these filler words sparingly (i.e., not too often).
So, try not to use these words or sounds too often.
4. Using unnecessary, slang phrases
If you are using English or another second language when speaking to someone, you should not use phrases, such as “you know” or “like” or “right”. Too many English speakers finish every sentence with “you know”. It is not necessary to use these phrases ― they add nothing to the conversation and they are not professional.
In the past people would say, “Have a good day”, but in the last few years people often say “Have a good one”. When I hear someone say “Have a good one”, I feel like saying “Have a good WHAT?”
5. Speaking too quickly
Some people believe that speaking a second language quickly makes one sound more fluent; however, that’s not really true. Speaking too quickly may make it difficult for the listener to follow what you are saying and could lead to confusion on the part of the listener.
6. Speak 10% louder and 10% slower than usual
When two people speak using their native language, they can speak quickly and the other person will understand the speaker. But when we are using a second language, the listener will have more time to understand what we are saying if we speak 10% slower and 10% louder.
Doing this will help to make our conversation clearer.
7. Enunciating properly
Pronunciation and enunciation are closely related terms, but they do not have the same meaning.
Pronunciation is related to the way a word is spelled and how the word, its syllables, and combination of letters are spoken properly.
Enunciation refers to how clearly and distinctly words are spoken (the sound of your voice).
Enunciating each word clearly and separate from other words will lead to clearer communications.
8. If you speak to a native English speaker
─ ask them if you are speaking too quickly
─ ask them to tell you if you are speaking clearly
─ ask them if they understand all the words you are speaking
─ ask them to correct any pronunciation mistakes
If they do correct your pronunciation or enunciation, be sure to thank them for their help.
9. Using acronyms, abbreviations, and idioms
If you are using terms, acronyms, abbreviations, unfamiliar words, or technical jargon that the listener does not know, you need to ensure that the listener understands their meanings.
Ask the listener if they understand the expression you are using, and if necessary, explain the meaning to them.
10. Avoiding speaking because you may make a mistake
One thing that we can all be sure of is that we will all make one or more mistakes every day, even when we are speaking using our native language.
Saying “I want to buy computer” (without the article “a”) is not a big mistake, but some information such as technical terms, numbers, and units of measurement (Kg, Pounds, Km, and miles) is critical, especially in business.
So, don’t worry about small grammar mistakes, but be sure that the listener understands critical terms, numbers and data.