Why your fluency in business English sucks and what to do about it.

Veröffentlicht am 12. Februar 2024 um 12:36

Another online meeting that you left with an unsatisfactory feeling.
You are a bit grumpy and ashamed of yourself.

But what happened❓


Why your fluency in business English sucks and what to do about it


You couldn‘t speak as fast as you would have liked to because the English words didn‘t come to your mind as quickly as you wished they would.

And from your point of view, you should speak rather quickly because it means you are a competent and fluent speaker of English.

But what if you're wrong about that?

Everyone thinks that speaking quickly makes you fluent/makes you sound like a more confident business communicator. But here's the truth:

Speaking English quickly doesn't make you a more competent speaker.

Because speaking English quickly doesn‘t mean that you are a competent speaker.

💡It is more important to have a good range of vocabulary and to speak in a way that others understand you.

If you speak too quickly  you might mumble, speak unclearly, and find it hard to understand others.

You are still a fluent speaker when you speak a little slower, interact with your communication partner, and enjoy the conversation. 


1. How can you tell if your English Fluency is really a problem?


1️⃣  You consistently feel frustrated and can’t get your point across.


2️⃣  You have reasonable expectations and are not expecting perfection from your English (see this post if you are unsure ).


3️⃣  People seem to get impatient when you are speaking.


If you didn't say yes to these three questions, perhaps it's just time to take a breath and slow down. Rushing your English may do more harm than good. But what if you said “yes” to the above questions?


If you are truly lacking in fluency in your business English, forget trying to speak faster! Read on for some more effective ways to become a better communicator. 


2. Beyond speaking quickly - Business English strategies that work:


✅ Search for a role model who is a fluent but not a ‘fast’ communicator. 

Can you think of a role model from life work, television or even radio? Try to listen to and take inspiration from this person’s way of speaking.


✅ Develop your vocabulary on topics relevant to your career: Consider reading books, the newspaper, trade magazines, and participating in online forums.


✅ Practice your fluency on your own--where you will not feel the need to rush. You can do this by writing out conversations first, by recording yourself, in role plays with a qualified business English coach.


✅ Get help from someone who can assess roadblocks or gaps in your English knowledge, or language skills. If you are lacking structures you need to communicate or advanced grammar and vocabulary, your fluency won’t improve without targeted practice.


✅ Learn chunks of key sentences that are relevant to your line of business. For example, language for negotiation.


✅ Write flash cards with useful sentences that you need to learn to improve your business communication.


Are there other reasons that make you uncomfortable speaking English in business? My blog, ‘3 tricks to reduce your fear of speaking,‘ offers ideas on how to calm down when speaking English.


3. Conclusion

Successful communication in English doesn’t depend on the pace of your speech. It is more important to speak clearly and create meaning with your communication partner.


In fact, speaking fast can have the opposite effect. You might stumble across words and speak less clearly.


Nevertheless, if you need to improve your fluency, you can try some strategies either on your own or with the help from a coach.


Either way, when you communicate in international business, make sure that you speak as clearly as possible and pronounce the words correctly. Watch your conversation partner and his reactions to your way of communication. Then, you can adapt your speech to her/him and together create mutual understanding.


After reading this post, do you feel like you need to improve your English fluency? Where will you start?


Do you want more tips on how you can become a better Business English communicator with less stress? Sign up for my newsletter.


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