Sound Confident, Fluent And Professional in English

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You might be smart, you might have a degree, but do you sound confident, fluent, and professional? Today I’ll give you 7 tips you can use at your workplace, in an interview, or in any professional environment!

The way that you communicate through your words, through your tone, through your voice, and even through your gestures can really make or break your career and your professional advancements. These 7 tips tell you what NOT to do in your workplace, and how to replace them with things that you SHOULD do.

 

Tip #1: Use Common Business Vocabulary and Expressions

My first tip for you might start an online fight! There are other English fluency teachers online who suggest that you be concise. This means don’t use extra words that don’t mean anything. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay not to be concise all the time.

Now, you need to find a balance. You don’t want to go on and on and on, using a lot of words without really saying anything. I want to encourage you to use professional words and phrases. Sometimes, these phrases are a little bit longer than the concise expressions that are more basic English. If you want to sound professional, you need to use upper-level, advanced vocabulary and phrases.

Using these more advanced, professional words and phrases can really make your English shine. Just be sure you are not saying words just to say words. Let me show you some examples.

DON’T:  The new project will take between one and three months to complete.
DO:  To give you a ballpark figure, the new project will take between one and three months to complete.

DON’T:  I have a great manager, so I’m learning quickly.
DO:  I  have a great manager who’s been teaching me the ropes, so I’m learning quickly.

DON’T:  For our new advertising campaign, we really have to be creative.
DO:  For our new advertising campaign, we really have to think outside the box.

DON’T:  We need to start quickly.
DO:  We really need to hit the ground running .

DON’T:  Do we agree?
DO:  Are we on the same page?

 

Tip 2: Correct Intonation

Intonation is how your voice rises and falls as you speak. At the end of a question, our voice rises. Sometimes people mistakenly use rising intonation for declarative sentences and statements. This can make you sound unprofessional.

Be very careful with intonation. Your voice should fall as you say a statement, and rise as you ask a question. However, it does depend on the kind of question you are asking. Questions that begin with a question word like “what” or “who” will usually have falling intonation, just like a simple statement. You can hear me say these sentences with correct and incorrect intonation at 5:17 in the video.

Our end of the week reports are due on Fridays.
You can get free coffee in the company cafeteria.

 

Tip #3: Filler Words and Sounds

Filler words are words like “like,” “kind of,” and “well.”

DON’T:  It’s kind of late to finish this project today, so maybe I’ll finish tomorrow. Umm, it’s not due until like next week, anyway.
DO:  It’s late to finish this project today, so I’ll finish tomorrow. It’s not due until next week.

 

Tip #4: Use Silent Pauses Strategically

A little bit of silence is okay, and it can even create more interest to what you are saying. Sometimes, when we suddenly hear a quick pause, or silence, we stop and listen because we think the next thing we hear might be important.

You’ll notice that skilled speakers use silent pauses very strategically before they emphasize an important point. You can use this trick, too! It will help you sound confident, fluent, and professional and encourage people to listen to you.

 

Tip #5: Avoid Disclaimers

A disclaimer is saying something to make yourself appear modest or humble. In fact, it lowers other people’s expectations of what you are about to say. They may just tune out and not even listen to you. A disclaimer tells them that what you have to say is probably not very important. Here are some examples:

DON’T:  This may sound like a silly idea, but what if we changed the campaign to start on Monday?
DO:  What if we change the campaign to start on Monday?

DON’T:  I’m sure my suggestion isn’t very good, but what if we survey our clients to get their opinions?
DO:  What if we survey our clients to get their opinions?

 

Tip #6: Don’t say “I don’t know”

When you say I don’t know, you are passing the responsibility to someone else. You are saying, “I’m not responsible for this,” or “I have no idea.” It’s better to try to be helpful. Nobody knows everything, and that’s okay.

However, there are other phrases we can use so others see us as more professional, more knowledgeable, and more helpful. Here are some examples:

Excuse me, do you know how much this costs?

WRONG: I don’t know.
RIGHT: I don’t see a price tag or barcode, but let me find out for you.

 

Tip #7: Don’t Speak in a Boring or Monotonous Way

American culture is known for being very exuberant ,and we’re easily excitable. We use word stress and adjectives to say how “amazing” something is, that otherwise would just be “okay” or “good.” But here’s the thing – if you’re interacting with North Americans in the workplace, you want to match this level of excitement, if that is comfortable for you.

If you speak in a monotonous way, where every word has the same stress no matter what, it can be really hard for your co-worker to pay attention or even understand what’s really important. Even if you don’t want to get super excited over nothing, definitely use stress to help others understand your key points or ideas. Here are some examples. (You can listen to me say them at 8:55 in the video.)

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.
Either you run the day or the day runs you.
I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

To add to this last tip, don’t use basic adjectives like “nice” or “good.” Try having some more advanced adjectives in your English toolbox to describe events, things, or people.

DON’T:  You did a nice job.
DO:  You did a marvelous job!

DON’T:  John’s presentation was good.
DO:  John’s presentation made me feel so motivated! I enjoyed it immensely.

 

I hope these tips have helped you improve your business communication skills! Use them to add shine and sparkle to your English, and make you sound much more confident, fluent, and professional!

Do you use English for business? Check out this post with 25 phrases that business professionals use. Also, make sure to subscribe here and get free English tips delivered straight to your email inbox!

Also, don’t forget to check out our complete English program, Fluent Communication. It’s perfect for busy professionals who want to improve their English fluency, and sound more confident and professional. I hope this was helpful to you! Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week!

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