For many nonnative English speakers, it is difficult to speak concisely and to find the right words to clearly express often complex, technical ideas. Foreign accents add to the challenge of effective communication. Here are our 5 top tips for making it a little easier:
- Expand your general vocabulary: Often, our clients’ understanding and use of technical terminology is fine, but it is difficult to find the right words to explain broad concepts, and participate in discussions. There are many vocabulary development workbooks and software programs that are available for self-study. Ask your trainer for recommendations.
- Use notes: This can be jotted down notes on your pad or the notes section of PowerPoint slides for formal presentations. Write down what you want to say ahead of time, and color code key points so that you can remind yourself with a quick glance. You may even want to write down your transition statements when using PowerPoints.
- Utilize pauses: The important information stands out when we incorporate pauses, rather than inserting word fillers, such as "uh," "um," "ok", "you know," etc. Sometimes just giving yourself a few seconds of “thinking time” can help you organize your ideas. This is even true at the start of a presentation; take a few deep breaths, quiet your mind, look at your audience, and then begin speaking.
- Time yourself and edit your remarks: Practice saying a portion of what you need to say out loud. Time yourself and then see if you can “tighten” the message by eliminating extraneous comments. Reduce your time and see if you can say it more coherently and concisely.
- Plan ahead: Even if you are speaking without a lot of advance preparation time, try our acronym, TIES to organize your ideas.
T= State the topic I = Introduce your information E= Give some examples S= Summarize your thoughts
Speaking clearly and concisely is a critical workplace skill. The more you practice, the more adept you will become.