How you can speak up the smart way in English–even in stressful situations. [+Worksheet]

speaking at stressful meetings

Have you ever had to speak up and explain your ideas at a stressful meeting…in English? 

Going into your meeting with a plan can make the difference between sounding smart…and sounding confused or feeling embarrassed.

Today, I’ll help you come up with a plan that’s perfect for you. But first…

Let’s say “no” to work horror stories in English!

I want to take a minute and say that this particular video is one I made after I heard one of my own client’s work horror stories. We’ll call her Anna. (Not her real name, of course!)

You know what kind of story this is going to be. We all have work horror stories of our own.  And if you do business in English or work on an international team, you can probably think of a time you said the wrong thing, or felt embarrassed. Me too.

So what happened to Anna? And how can you avoid similar situations? 

Read on and we’ll fight English at work horror stories together.

I’ll also help you come up with your very own plan for speaking up the smart way at important meetings in English. 

These tips I’m going to share are inspired by a great article at Harvard Business Review–they’re real-life suggestions for business people–I’ve adjusted them a bit to help professionals who are working on their English–like you.


Get the worksheet to test what you learn in this lesson!

Did you know that I’ve made a worksheet to go with this lesson so that you can practice everything you see here today? I want you to make this part of the English you actually use in real life!

GET THE WORKSHEET: Make sure you practice these expressions so you can use them in real life with this worksheet made for you by a Neurolanguage coach.


Index:

1. Has this ever happened to you? “Too many words” when you’re nervous in English.
2. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Slow down.
3. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Organize your ideas.
4. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Permission to think out loud.
5. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Practice typical responses.


1. Has this ever happened to you? “Too many words” when you’re nervous in English.

This might sound familiar to you.  Because it happens–a lot. Imagine yourself in Anna’s situation.

In an important meeting with a big client, her boss asked her to explain her company’s solution to their problem.  
And it didn’t go so well. 

In fact, Anna got so nervous that she took way too long to make her point. 
She confused everyone in the room, including herself.  She didn’t sound confident. 
I know just what that’s like since I have to do business in French.

When you get nervous you say something like:

“I will tell you about an answer with a solution that I have come up with from what I have been thinking about that will help with the problem…”

When what you wanted to say was:

“I have a solution and it is…”

And the worst part?

After the meeting her boss took her aside and said:

“Hey you’re taking too long to answer questions. Get to the point.”

Ouch!

Just to be clear–not every boss will tell you something like that.

And, yes, it was really embarrassing for Anna.
But here’s what you should know:

People won’t tell you you’re not effective in meetings.
But they might be thinking it!

Do you need a plan for getting to the point in meetings in English?
Maybe–because you never know when something like this can happen to you.
Let’s create a plan together.


2. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Slow down.

The most important thing you can remember is that it’s ok to slow down!

You can take a deep breath before you speak.  And you don’t have to speak quickly.

This is true for everyone in business–but especially for you (and me) when we’re speaking in another language!

Also check out my lesson: Conversation secrets for business success [Free Video Lesson]


3. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Organize your ideas.

Tell the people at your meeting what ideas you’re going to share.

For example, if your client asks why your solution is different from other solutions, you could say:

There are two main differences. 
First, we offer 24-hour tech support.
Second, we only work with companies in the automotive industry, so we’re experts.”

Or to explain why you suggest a specific solution to your client say:

There are three reasons you should consider letting us help you with your cyber security…”

And then go on to list your ideas.

Are you taking notes here? Let me make it easier for you, so you can show your expertise in Business–in English. 


4. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Permission to think out loud.

One thing we might do in a meeting in English is ‘think out loud.’  

That means that you’re trying to find the solution as you speak. 
At a meeting, for example, maybe a new problem comes up and you haven’t had a chance to consider a solution for it yet. You could say:

“I see, well let me just think out loud for a minute--and feel free to come in with more ideas… What if we…?”

And add your idea or ideas–and then check-in to see if anyone has something to add. 

It’s basically giving permission to problem-solve together.

GET THE WORKSHEET: Make sure you practice these expressions so you can use them in real life with this worksheet made for you by a Neurolanguage coach.


5. Your plan for speaking up the smart way in English: Practice typical responses.

Remember that article I mentioned in Harvard Business Review? 
This is actually their advice.

Learn some typical sentences that you can use in tricky situations in meetings. 

Does it surprise you to learn native speakers take time to practice set answers in important situations in advance?  
So what are some phrases you could learn to say in response to surprises in meetings?
When you’re not sure if you’ve completely understood. Say this:

“Could you tell us a bit more about what you’re saying?”

If you don’t have the answer to a question. You could say:
“I don’t have that information right now.  I will get it to you by 3 PM.”

Saying that you are willing to find out and when you will is an excellent solution.

If you’ve been listening to your client for a while…but you still disagree, here’s how you can say so politely. 

“I think I understand your point, but I see it a bit differently–may I explain?”

This is a polite way to show that you are listening…and that you have other ideas. 

Also check out my lesson: More fluency & confidence in English, in less time


Now you have a plan for speaking up the smart way in meetings in English.

There you have it–concrete and simple steps you can take right now as a professional to have better meetings.

And avoid English at Work Horror Stories like Anna’s.

And remember…


Take the next step: Improve your English in the comments

The best way to become more confident using Business English is to practice!

Here’s your Confidence Challenge for this week:

  • Do you have a work horror story related to English? Share it with us! Everyone loves a good horror story, and it’s good to share these kinds of experiences. 

If you learned something from this lesson, please share it with your coworkers & friends. You can send your message to them in English for more practice!

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Do you want to learn to speak up the smart way and say “no” to work horror stories in English.  Don’t miss out on my next lesson in this series.

Do you want to avoid “embarrassing English” moments at work?  

Are you ready to feel confident, credible, and competent in business situations in English?

I’m passionate about making and sharing new lessons to help you reach your Business English goals, so you can reach all your goals.

If you want to get all my future lessons, videos, worksheets, plus my English Habit Starter Kit to make it feel easier to learn more each day, sign up here. 

See you for the next lesson in this series!

Christina

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