You might have something to say in English but when the spotlight’s on you, suddenly you freeze. A word might be on the tip of your tongue but the wrong word comes out instead. Or sometimes you might just be silent when you don’t want to.
Well first of all, you’re not alone with any of this. When communicating in a new language, this can often happen. What I’m sharing in this lesson are 7 strategies to help you communicate confidently in English. When you want to express yourself confidently, clearly, and easily you’ll know what to do.
If you’re ready, let’s get into it!
We have 7 strategies to help you communicate confidently. And the first one is to plan and prepare.
Plan and Prepare
If you know that you’re going to be at a meeting, or you have dinner plans with a friend or a coffee date with a coworker then you can plan ahead. Have a few bullet points that you will be speaking about. It’s better to just write down a few words per bullet point. The fewer the better, if you’re going to be using it as a form of notes. The idea is to jog your memory.
Let’s look at a few examples of bullet points for each of these communication situations.
Example 1: At a meeting.
Bullet point number one: you write on the notecard “launch update” because you want to discuss the updates for the new product launch that you’re in charge of.
Bullet point number two: you write on the notecard “outreach” because you want to know about the community outreach program taking place.
Lastly, bullet point number three: you write on the notecard “evals” this is short for evaluations because you would like to remind the team that year end reviews and evaluations will be taking place.
Notice how there were only one or two words in the bullet point, and in one case there was even an abbreviation. Make your life easy, don’t create more work for yourself without needing to.
Example 2: dinner plans with friends.
You conveniently plan a few bullet points because you have some items you’d like to discuss. Let’s take a look at the bullet points.
Bullet point number one: you write “housewarming” because you are having a housewarming party to celebrate moving into a new apartment and you’d like to invite them
Bullet point number two: you write “hiking” because you’re new to the area and since they’ve lived there for a while they might have suggestions for hiking trails
Bullet point number three: you write “job hunt” because you want to ask them how their job search is going and get updates on that process, offering any help necessary.
Again, in this communication situation we have just one or two words in our bullet points because its sole purpose is to jog our memory.
Example 3: meeting over coffee with a coworker (aka coffee date)
In the final communication situation, coffee date with a coworker you are meeting someone from your team as a check in. Let’s look at what goes into the bullet points.
Bullet point number one: you write “logo” because you would like the updates about the new logo the design team is working on.
Bullet point number two: you write “podcast” because you have a podcast episode to share with them.
Lastly, bullet point number three: you write “feedback” because you have feedback from the performance review that you are giving them in today’s coffee chat.
Nice and easy!
Onto the next strategy.
Recon Ahead of Time
This means you familiarize yourself with the setting. This can be a physical space as in an actual location but it can also be the online space as in the virtual realm.
Recon stands for reconnaissance (ruh·kaa·nuh·sns) which is a word we’ve borrowed from French. In English it means to conduct research or do some preliminary surveying. So in the physical space you can actually go to the location and start to get comfortable in the space. For example, if you are giving a speech head to the stage, walk around, test the AV equipment, do a mic check, test out your visual aids and practice your talk. In another example, if you have an upcoming meeting go to the boardroom and practice your talking points.
What about in the online space? Well you can just as easily practice in this medium. For example, say you have an online interview next week; practice your elevator with a friend or family member in a Zoom call. It’s as simple as that. Getting familiar with the unknown is going to help increase your confidence for when it counts.
Connect the Dots
This is similar to a mind map where you add additional information for elaboration but the difference is you find a way to connect the dots. This allows you to link one idea to the next. It provides some structure to what you are sharing because you’re finding the common thread and there is a clear flow. So in your mind map diagram, you can add the linking phrase or idea that ties all the dots together. This will allow you to be prepared anytime someone asks “so what”, “how does this relate to the bigger picture”, and “why are these connections being made?” You can provide the answers!
Be as concise as possible. Don’t feel like you need to fill every minute. Say things in simple terms. If you need to elaborate or explain something further, you will. By being concise, you’ll have more time to think and you’ll also be giving the other person time to process the information. The other benefit to being concise is that you’ll have an easier time remembering what you want to say. With this approach, even though you might have bullet points on a notecard, you might not even need to use it!
Use Your Nonverbals
Using your nonverbal communication is important not only to be easily understood, but also for you to express yourself as effectively as possible. For example, the hand gestures you use should emphasize your words. If you are demonstrating something use your body language! If you are describing something, being able to show that with your hand gestures is very powerful.
Use Visual Aids
This is most appropriate in meetings, presentations or talks. You might decide to use a chart or graph, but this could also be a PowerPoint presentation, just as easily as it could be a short video clip. Used correctly, visual aids help us convey our thoughts clearly. They aid us with our message. A word of advice here though: don’t overwhelm yourself or the audience with a lot of information. So don’t crowd slides with words or graphics and don’t try to jam and cram things into a poster. In this case, less is more.
Don’t Overthink it. Just do it!
As long as you’ve done strategies one through five and perhaps six if you are using visual aids, then you should be all set! You’ve taken the necessary steps to successfully express yourself in English. So the last strategy is to just go for it! There’s no need to psych yourself out or feel unprepared because you are ready. Go into the communication situation with the confidence knowing that you’ve done what you needed to. Now you’re letting it unfold and let pieces fall where they may.
So those are seven ways to prepare for a talk, meeting, or speech. You can use these strategies in casual conversation as well as in business situations. Whenever you’re using English and you want to express yourself with confidence and ease, you’ll know how. Practice these techniques, make them your own, and test them out in the real world!
Alright Advanced English learners, thanks for joining me in this lesson. The full transcript of this lesson can be found on our blog, so be sure to check out advanced english dot co forward slash blog. If you prefer to listen to this lesson, check out our podcast; it's available on our website. And if you love the podcast, be sure to leave us a nice review, that really helps us out! How has your experience been so far when expressing your thoughts in English? Feel free to share that with us in the comments below.
See you in the next one where we’ll continue advancing your English together! Until then, keep up the awesome work.