By researching my own students’ strengths and weaknesses, I’ve come to discover five common habits of theirs that I focus on helping improve to take their English communication skills to the next level. In this article, I have shared those five habits and what you can do as an English language learner and leader in your industry to improve these areas. In turn, this will help you to communicate more effectively with your own clients, colleagues, and employees. Let’s dive right in!
5 Critical Skills
- 1. Speaking pace: Speak and pronounce slowly and clearly. It’s easy to get so caught up in what you have to say that you forget to pay attention to your pace. Especially as a non-native speaker, it’s important to speak slowly and pronounce your words clearly to ensure that all those listening to you can clearly listen and understand what you are saying. You can gradually speed your pace to a more natural one after you have first practiced speaking slowly and pronouncing clearly.
- 2. Apply tone: Intonation is crucial to adding flavor and color to your speech. If you simply speak in a monotone voice the entire time, you will bore your listeners to sleep! Varying our tone and even pitch in our speech as we’re speaking (think “excited” vs “upset”) brings our language more to life. In turn, this can help us better connect with our listeners. This is how amazing storytellers and speakers captivate their audiences’ attention.
- 3. Be concise: Be concise by knowing and emphasizing your main points, weeding out the unnecessary details, and understanding and applying your listeners’ values to your content. To be concise means to be brief yet comprehensive. Don’t share what is irrelevant to the topic being discussed. In business, “time is money”, and by being concise, you ensure to efficiently and effectively deliver your speech and message.
- 4. Use formal words: Learn the formal and formal versions of different words and then use more of the formal versions! While the use of informal words is not necessarily bad, it can sometimes cause misunderstanding, cause you to appear rude, or simply show a lack of confidence. This is especially important to be aware of and handle quickly in the business world, where you want to ensure the image you present of yourself is professional. For example, use “I believe” instead of “I think”, “compelling speech” instead of “good speech”, “numerous” instead of “a lot”. Additionally, this is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary!
- 5. Smile: Don’t forget to smile! It’s so easy to get caught up practicing grammar and vocabulary that you pay less attention to the EQ aspect of communication. Vast amounts of research show that body language, including smiles, account for the majority of our communication. Therefore, use this as a tool and smile when you speak with others! By doing this, you help to build trust and better connect with your listeners. In turn, this can help you to better network and achieve the desired results.
As with anything in life, the only way to improve these skills is to practice, no shortcuts! Of course, by better understanding and being aware of where to target and practice more, you give your practice more direction. Start practicing and applying the skills discussed in this article and you will begin to see how your English communication skills take off and reach that next level!
These are all things I help my own clients with in my English communication skills digital course, The Career Accelerator for Life Science Managers. If you want to learn more, click here.