13 mini phrases to get you talking in your meetings in English
You sit in silence in that meeting dreading the moment you may be asked to contribute an idea or participate in the conversation in English.
Your mind is racing and you’re sweating. In your mind and without real proof, you tell yourself that you:
- Won’t find your words
- Will pause mid-sentence trying desperately to remember that word you know you know but has disappeared
- Won’t be able to explain your idea clearly in under 2 minutes and will irritate the others
- Won’t be able to give a quick answer
You tell yourself that your English isn’t good enough to share your voice. And if you’re perfectly honest, it’s so much safer to stay silent during your meetings in English.
You don’t have to worry about your mind going blank, using simple language, making grammar mistakes and pausing too much or risking making the wrong impression.
What you’ll do, instead, is to listen, especially to listen to understand.
As a senior business professional, you’re expected to participate, to show that you’re participating, and also, to lead and encourage the discussion. And all this needs you to share your voice.
But this is where your fear about your English blocks you because you fear that you don’t have enough language to sound professional and credible enough to use your voice.
Whilst, as a business English and Communication coach, I don’t normally focus on the language unless it’s crucial, I want to share some short phrases (that you know) that you could use in specific situations to help you find your voice and engage meaningfully in your meeting.
1/ improve understanding: Could you clarify that point, Eric?
2/ slow the speaker: Could you say that again, but more slowly, please?
3/ show your passion: I love that idea, Sonia.
4/ express a concern: This will be hard/tough to implement because…
5/ demonstrate curiosity: Raj, can you tell me more?
6/ express appreciation: Thank you for your work on this report, Paola.
7/ show you are following what they’re saying: Ah yes, I see your point.
8/ request help: I like the idea but we are going to need to get more help.
9/ encourage: I love the way you explained it. Tony.
10/ introduce an alternative idea: I have a suggestion. What if…?
11/ provide solutions: I might have a solution. How about…?
12/ support a colleague’s question: I was about to ask the same question
13/ share understanding to help yourself, and others: Let me confirm my understanding, Diego
By speaking up, you will sometimes add a lot of value, and other times just a little, but your silence is unlikely to add any value.
Deep down, you know this. You want to better understand, and positively impact the atmosphere, the decisions, directions and outcomes of your meetings, so you need to use your voice.
Your voice has value and when you focus on that, your English comes unstuck.