Success in cross-border business relies on communicating effectively. The hard part when you’re doing business in a second language? Communicating is different than speaking.
Communicators create energy and motivate others – which makes it easier to close more deals, earn more money and generate more opportunities.
Let’s look at what makes an English communicator different from an English speaker.
What are the key characteristics of an English “communicator” (as opposed to an English “speaker”)?
Typically, English speakers who aren’t effective communicators think of it as ‘learning a language.’ When you’re focused on finding exactly the right vocabulary or the correct grammar, you can lose focus on the overall message.
In contrast, English communicators convey confidence, even when they’re not using precisely the right word or modal verb.
In my experience, the following characteristics separate English communicators from English speakers:
- Concentrating on what your audience wants to hear, not what you want to say
To make a good impression, you must be aware of your audience and what they’re looking to achieve from the interaction – and then tailor your approach to that.
For every point you want to make, your listener/reader is thinking, “Why should I care about this? What’s in it for me?” Effective communicators frame what they say with that in mind. It’s not about “we” or “me” [the speaker/your business], it’s about “you” [your audience].
- Engaging and entertaining readers/listeners – even in professional settings
When communicating in English, French and Italian professionals are often so focused on using the correct language that they lose their natural enthusiasm and become monotone. This makes it harder for people to stay focused on what you’re saying.
Effective English communicators engage their audience – and aren’t fazed if they occasionally use the wrong word. This isn’t just striking the right tone, although tone certainly has an impact. It’s also about incorporating nuance and cultural reference points – and making your passion obvious and infectious.
- Focusing on impact
When doing business in English, you must get straight to the point – a key cultural difference from French and Italian. Native French and Italian speakers are often carried away by narrative. Don’t fall into this trap.
Instead, be concise and direct. Avoid jargon and idioms unless you’re confident that you’re using them in the correct context, and headline the key takeaways, so your audience is in no doubt of the key messages you want to get across.
How do you transition from English speaker to English communicator?
There are 2 key elements to this:
- Get practical guidance on using English in your everyday working life – Boredom, frustration and distraction often hinder progress in English communication, especially if you’re squeezing learning in between a busy work and home life. You need focused, interactive and practical training for tasks like writing emails, giving presentations and participating in videos calls
- See what a best-practice approach looks like in your situation – Not sure if your email is communicating with impact? Concerned your proposal isn’t focused enough on your audience? Have a mother-tongue speaker review it – and then see what changes they make
With TLG, you get help with both these areas – we give you the practical English skills and support needed to conduct cross-border business with confidence.
Get free advice on becoming a more effective English communicator
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Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid