Ways to Improve your Business English

12 Ways to Improve your Business English


Do not stall or get lost the next time you speak in public. Learn how to store and retrieve the words that you need, when you need them. This will project you in a positive business light and help to expel the butterflies in your stomach.

 "To speak and to speak well are two different things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks." ~Ben Jonson

 1. Check your level and set some goals: Come up with a plan of how you will take your speaking to a whole new level. Begin by testing yourself to establish where you currently stand. Take a Business English Level Test or General English Test. Then work towards improving your scores within a given time.

 2. Subscribe to a word-of-the day. Ensure that you internalize both its usage, and its proper pronunciation. Consider merriam-webster or wordsmith.

 3. Desist from using acronyms and abbreviations unless they are in common parlance. Their intrinsic ambiguity can mean that not everyone will know exactly what you are alluding to. For example; to one ‘ASAP’ means ‘As Soon As Possible’ while to another it connotes the ‘Automated Standard Application for Payments.’

 People interpret acronyms and abbreviations based on their own understanding, not yours!

 4. Read authoritative, well-written business literature. Newspapers such as The Financial Times, magazines such as The Economist, business books and financial reports.

 5. Re-evaluate what you watch and listen to. Listen largely to speakers who have English as their first language. Tune in to the BBC, listen to CDs as you travel and invest in audio-books as well. Where possible, listen and repeat out loud. Furthermore, hold conversations with those who are fluent, articulate and resourceful in the language. It will rub off on you. After all, you are the company you keep. As one proverb advises: “Whoever keeps the company of wolves will learn to howl.”

 6. Seek professional instruction: Take a course in professional Public Speaking to learn some basics or opt for executive coaching sessions to realize specific goals in your own time and at your own convenience.

 7. Activate your vocabulary: Practice, practice, practice. Do not just harvest and store language. Employ the new words and expressions in conversations to build your fluency. Make the effort to use the new words, phrases, anecdotes and expressions in everyday conversations and presentations. Take quizzes online  and attend a speaking club.

 8. Subscribe to a quote-of-the day.

9. Write articles for business or pleasure. Taking some time to write avails you the opportunity to access your passive vocabulary and turn it into active. Participate in online discussion forums or start a business blog.

10. Learn some anecdotes and use them to pepper your next public appearance. Use resources such as businessballs stories 

11. Build up your list of business metaphors, funny quotes, sayings and maxims with a twist. A brilliant compilation is available at businessballs quotes

12. Design and keep to a set schedule: Decide how much time you want to dedicate to this project or how to re-think your entire way of life, in addition to how much you want to learn. Make a plan that works for you, and work with it!

With a little effort and focus you can improve upon how you speak, how you communicate and ultimately how you influence others.

“People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.” ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat's Cradle

Copyright© Caroline Nderitu-Benjamin, Public Speaking Coach – Nairobi, Kenya