The Secret to improving your Business English conversation skills
There is a "secret" that I tell my students that will help them improve their conversations in English when in a Business situation. The bonus is that it requires little to almost no effort. This could take place at a meeting, a negotiation or particularly when small-talking over a coffee, a beer (I'm British!) or a business lunch.
Obviously, as an experienced teacher of English for international business, I do not underestimate the value for the students of learning, practising and using the correct grammar. Familiarity with the building blocks of the language boosts their confidence as they present themselves to business acquaintances in English. However, usually, the partner with whom they are conversing will have done all the hard work for them!
Let me explain. I instruct my students that in question-answer situations, if the business contact asks, "Do you have markets in Asia?" your answer should be "Yes, we do" or, "No, we don’t", based on the principle that the answer should always match the question. "Are you responsible for sales in South America?", "Yes, I am" or "No, I'm not." To the question "How long have you been in business?" the reply is, "I've (or We've) been in business for over ten years".
So, what is the big "secret" here? In order to reply correctly to the questions posed by the business partner and so improve your conversations in English, you need to listen carefully before you reply! I frequently see my students so busy worrying about the grammar and vocabulary in order to give a good reply, they forget to pay attention to the question asked of them!
In some cultures, people have a tendency to interrupt and speak fast and furious, which may get their message across accurately in their native language, but which is a handicap when holding a conversation in a foreign language.
My take-away, therefore, is that in order to speak better English, the student should learn to listen more to the other side of the conversation.