You can win your audience over with plain English. Yes, you can. I’ll give an example. Years ago, I walked into a meeting with some senior colleagues. We all knew English very well, no doubt. A manager stood up and started the presentation. The presentation was good but a little intimidating. The over use of jargons, big words and acronyms made us feel inadequate.
The manager made a great presentation but I wish he had used simpler words and simple sentence structures because he wasn’t showing his English prowess there. Fancy words here and there are fine but an over usage is not appreciated.
Some managers feel that complex structures, fancy words and jargons mean they are better, smarter and will definitely impress the board of directors. A promotion gets confirmed too. Truth is that good English is enough.
If your clients have to try hard to understand you, it’s not done.
If your co- workers feel unsure of your communication, it’s not done.
You many even intimidate your co-workers and create an intellectual gap between them and you. They will shy away from approaching you.
An effective business communicator has to make the audience feel good and sure of his communication. Fancy words are good but not always. Plain English is universal.
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Here are 3 strategies to win your audience with plain English.
Strategy 1: Always start from where your are. You already know a lot!
- Use the language you already know. You already know a lot of words. You just have to use them.
- Understand your listener’s level. Use the language they understand. Do not make it difficult for them to understand your message. Always make the language easy for them to understand.
- Don’t use jargons or acronyms, unless you are sure that your audience understands them.
- Use simple and common words to express complex ideas and messages.
- Your focus should be on the fact that your audience understand the message and gets inspired to take an action. Use words to inspire them and not mere impress them.
- Use words with which your audience connects. If your audience doesn’t connect, no matter how fancy your words are, they are of no use. Plain English is good enough for a connect.
Strategy 2: You can win a sudden argument, a debate or a discussion with plain English.
If you get caught in a situation where there is an argument, a sudden Q&A session or a lengthy discussion in English, how would you tackle it? I’ll tell you how!
We get into various situations in life. Sometimes we can’t find the right words immediately and worse, go blank. We are also in a vulnerable position of making grammar mistakes. PAUSE there.
You may think that pausing is not good. It may show your lack of expertise, highlight your hesitation and reveal to everyone that you’re not a fluent English speaker. That’s not true.
Pause is a secret weapon most often used by proficient English speakers. It is a secret weapon to become a confident communicator in English. Pauses are invaluable because it shows that you’ve listened to the question asked to you. It means you’re giving a thought to the question and respecting the questioner.
Next time, do the following to make use of your existing language skills.
- Take a pause before answering your colleague’s question. Make a conscious effort to pause and show your respect to the question.
- Pause for a few seconds, collect your thoughts and frame an answer.
- Listen carefully to fully understand the question. Take notes if required.
- Connect with your audience which may consist of your boss, a colleague, a friend or a family member. Notice their reaction.
You will turn the situation with a pause and plain English in your favour. Your English is adequate to make you win.
Strategy 3: You can impress your audience without perfect grammar. Yes, you can!
This strategy will help you conquer the fear of grammar. Communicate freely with this strategy. Before your next meeting, think about who your audience is and find out about their level of English. Are they fluent English speakers or do they understand two languages. What is the whole aim of the meeting? How can you achieve the business outcome? You will realise that the meeting is all about explaining the business agenda, strategies and outcomes. Well, your plain language will be enough to get the desired result.
- Clearly note your expectations from the meeting. Write down the information you need to pass on and gather from the meeting.
- Make notes of the information your clients want and you need to ask.
- Observe people during your interactions. Are they making mistakes while speaking in English? Are they using simple or complex sentence structures? What is their choice of words? This will give you an idea of their level of English.
- Most often we consider everyone to be better than us. Resist that temptation.
- Be aware of yourself. Are you panicking about your language structure? Don’t do it.
- Are you able to understand others despite their mistakes? Are they communicating effectively inspite of making grammatical mistakes? If yes, ask yourself why? Why that happened? How did they make themselves understood? The answer will help you.
- Focus on your struggling points and observe others with respect to them.
You will realise that people are more interested in the agenda of the meeting than finding mistakes in your English. Make your presentation strong. People will forgive you for your grammatical mistakes.
These were the three strategies to win your audience with plain English. Apply these strategies and you’ll develop confidence and find yourself making a way out in every situation. It will not happen overnight but small and mindful steps will help you in leaps and bounds.
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