61 episodes

Business English Skills 360 podcast lessons provide essential tips and language for communicating in English. Free transcripts and PDF downloads are available on the website: https://www.BusinessEnglishPod.com

Business English Skills 360 www.BusinessEnglishPod.com

    • Language Learning

Business English Skills 360 podcast lessons provide essential tips and language for communicating in English. Free transcripts and PDF downloads are available on the website: https://www.BusinessEnglishPod.com

    Skills 360 – Getting the Most out of a Conference (1)

    Skills 360 – Getting the Most out of a Conference (1)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript









    Hello and welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast. I’m your host Tim Simmons, and today I want to talk about how to get the most out of a conference.



    The digital age has changed the way we communicate and build relationships. And while it’s great to be able to connect with someone on the other side of the world by email, phone, or chat apps, face to face contact is certainly not dead. In fact, in this hyperconnected world, face to face contact is even more valuable, and one of the best opportunities for face time is at a conference.



    Getting the most out of a conference begins before the conference, when you plan your trip. In many cases, you’ll have the option to stay at the conference venue. If so, it’s worth it. And if not, then stay as close as possible. You don’t want to miss out on any action because you’re spending time getting to and from the conference. And there’s lots of informal networking opportunities that can happen spontaneously around the conference location. You want to be able to capitalize on those opportunities as much as possible.



    Conference preparation also means having an early look at the agenda or lineup of talks and deciding which ones you want to attend. You might choose based on the topic, or because you want to meet the presenter. But don’t pack your schedule. Leave some time open for a tete a tete with a prospect or a potential partner.



    Now, you’ve probably seen people at conferences ducking out of presentations to take phone calls or madly sending emails during breaks? Don’t let that be you. If at all possible, carve time out of your schedule to be truly present at the conference. Let colleagues know you’ll be busy so they don’t inundate you with email.



    You’ve probably also seen people racing around trying to locate a phone charger, or apologizing because they don’t have any business cards on them. These are definitely things to avoid. Come prepared. Make sure you have all the tech and business cards you might need.



    So, imagine you’ve done all you should to prepare and you show up on the first day at the registration table. You get your name tag and your conference package and… now what? Well, I’d like to share some “dos” with you today. And in our next lesson I’ll go over some important “don’ts.”



    What kind of “dos” am I talking about? Well, my number one suggestion is to get out and meet people. If all you want is information or learning, then you can do that online, or in a class. A conference is one of the absolute best networking opportunities around. So don’t be shy. Be the first to break the ice. Other people will appreciate it. That conference room is full of potential customers and collaborators. Go find them. Be personable. And in every conversation try to establish a personal connection or something in common. That might mean a place, an interest, a mutual acquaintance, or an opinion on one of the speakers.



    Speaking of speakers, it’s a great idea to use the topics of their talk or workshop as a starting point for a conversation. And one thing you should do that will help you absorb and process what you learn is to take notes. Don’t assume you’ll remember everything you hear. Taking notes will also help you ask good questions at the end of a talk or presentation.

    • 7 min
    Skills 360 – Habits of Highly Effective Language Learners (2)

    Skills 360 – Habits of Highly Effective Language Learners (2)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript



    Welcome back to the Skills 360 as we continue our look at the habits of highly effective English learners.



    Yes, I said habits, because good habits are the foundation of a lot of success and achievement. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about getting fit or being productive or learning a new skill. Good habits will serve you well. Why else do you think that Stephen Covey has sold over 25 million copies of his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?”



    So, when it comes to learning a language, what are the habits that will get you where you want to go? Well, last time I talked about the importance of being regular, reviewing what you learn, setting goals, and taking risks. Today I want to start with an idea that a lot of people are happy to hear: read and listen to things you’re actually interested in.



    Seriously. Learning doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, a surefire way to lose motivation is to study dull textbooks full of information that you couldn’t care less about. And if you lose motivation, then you’ll have a hard time being regular, and you’ll never reach your goals. So why not focus on topics that arouse your interest? I mean, I assume that’s why you’re listening to this podcast about Business English: because it matters to you. And that’s a great start. So take advantage of the wealth of materials and media available to you, especially online. If what you’re studying is interesting, then you’ll look forward to it, and being regular won’t be hard at all.



    Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could learn a second language as easily as we learn our first? I mean, when we’re young, our brains are sponges that can absorb new information without even trying. But then we grow up and the old memory unit needs a bit of help. And that’s why you should get in the habit of writing things down, like new words, new expressions, interesting facts, or key points about how the language works.



    Of course, writing these things down will give you something to review, which I’ve already suggested doing. But it’s more than that. The very act of writing something down will help you process and remember it. It’s true! Because when you write it, you are using the part of the brain that makes language. And that means you’ve engaged both the understanding and the creating parts of your brain. The result? It sticks in your memory.



    But I assume that you’re learning English more than just to understand it. I’m guessing that you want to actually use it, which takes practice. And that’s why another important habit is finding a balance between input and output. Reading and listening don’t necessarily translate directly into writing and speaking ability. You need to practice producing the language. But if all you do is speak and you never take the time to read and listen, then you’ll have the opposite problem. So look for balance.



    Now, is all input and output equal? I mean, does it matter what you read and listen to and how you practice? You bet it does. And good language learners know that the best source of learning is native speakers. Why do I say that? Well, here’s an experience I’m sure you’ve had: in school you learned some useful English expressions fo...

    • 7 min
    Skills 360 – Habits of Highly Effective Language Learners (1)

    Skills 360 – Habits of Highly Effective Language Learners (1)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript



    Welcome back to the Skills 360 for today's lesson on the habits of highly effective language learners.



    How is it that some people seem to pick up language easily, while others struggle for years and can’t seem to get the hang of it? Well, you might think it’s all about talent, that some people just have a knack for languages, while others don’t. Talent is part of it, but only a small part of it. In fact, most people who do a good job of learning a language aren’t necessarily smarter than everyone else, they just have good habits.



    I’m using that word “habit” very deliberately. But what is a habit? It’s a behavior that is regular. And this is the very first and most important thing I want to talk about: regularity. It’s hard to learn a language if you go in fits and spurts every once in a while. I’m sure you’ve seen people do this: they decide they need to buckle down and study hard, so they buy a big English book and spend an entire weekend going through it. Then they don’t look at it again for the next two months.



    Does that sound like a recipe for success? No, it doesn’t. It’s better to spend a shorter amount of time every single day than putting in long study sessions every once in a while. Language is a skill, and if you’ve learned any other skill – whether it’s playing tennis or using Excel – you’ll know that regular practice, repetition, and routine are the keys to improvement. There’s no quick fix, no single book that will reveal the secret to fluency. Rather, it’s about practice, practice, practice. Even when things get difficult, you have to persist.



    Now if you make language learning a regular part of your daily routine, what does that learning involve? Does it mean trying to cram a bunch of new vocabulary into your brain and making it through 50 pages of a workbook? Well, it shouldn’t. Some people get too focused on how much material they’re covering and forget about the importance of review. I mean, why move on to new stuff when you’re not even clear on the last stuff you learned?



    So, just like I said practice, practice, practice, I advise you to review, review, review. That can mean going over lesson notes again and again, or testing yourself on vocabulary lists you’ve made, or making flashcards that will help you go through new words or concepts. You can also try blank recall, which is when you sit down and try to remember and write down everything you’ve learned in a session, or a day. This will help you solidify what you learn.



    Reviewing and being regular are related to another habit of good language learners: they set goals. Goals help to give us direction. They motivate us when things get hard. And they show us if and how we’re progressing.



    Goals come in all shapes and sizes. A large goal might be to get a certain score on a test, like a 90 on the TOEFL. A small goal might be to learn 10 new words each week. Or you might decide to study 10 podcasts in a month. Or you might want to start a conversation with one native speaker each day. Whatever your goal is, however, don’t let it override the quality of learning. That is, if you want to learn 10 new words in a week, make sure you are learning them well. Don’t cheat yourself by saying you’ve met your goal when you haven’t actually learned much.



    Okay, now if you ask my friend Abbass Abbass from Nazareth what the secret t...

    • 7 min
    Skills 360 – How to Sound Credible (2)

    Skills 360 – How to Sound Credible (2)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript



    Welcome back to the Skills 360 for today's lesson on how you can sound more credible or believable.



    In the last lesson, we looked at what you should say to sound credible. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at what not to say. In other words, there are some things that can damage your credibility. These are habits or expressions that will make people trust you less, not more.



    One thing that makes you sound less credible is talking about yourself too much. The words “I” and “me” are dangerous if you use them too much. Boasting about what you’ve done, and what you know, or who you know, won’t make most people trust you more. All right, it might work for some politicians with some listeners. But for the most part, talking at length about how great you are is not a good idea.



    Another thing to avoid is exaggeration. If your company earned $800,000, don’t say “We’ve made millions of dollars.” And if there have been a few dozen complaints, don’t say there have been hundreds, or thousands, of complaints. Just be straight up with people. Tell them the truth, then explain why it matters. Exaggerating for emotional effect does not make you sound more credible.



    A related habit is using too many superlatives and other extreme language. Superlatives are words like “the most” or “the best” or “the worst” or “the first.” And other extreme language includes “always” and “never.” I mean, if you’re debriefing after a corporate event that didn’t go too well, what do you think sounds more credible? The person who says “Never in my life have I experienced such a bad event. It was the worst failure in our company’s history.” Or the person who says “Attendance wasn’t as high as we had hoped and overall we need to do a better job of preparation and planning.”



    Well, that second statement actually gives evidence. That is, it doesn’t just make blanket statements, it talks about specifics, like “evidence” and “planning.” Giving evidence and providing specifics sounds far more credible than general statements using extreme language.



    So, what if you don’t have any evidence or don’t know any specifics? Well then you shouldn’t be talking about things you don’t understand. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting it. The person who says “I really don’t know about that” enjoys greater credibility than the person who rambles on despite his ignorance.



    One of the problems with rambling is that it leads to inconsistency. One day you say this, the next you say that. And pretty soon people don’t know what you actually think, and they doubt you really know what you’re talking about. In other words, you have no credibility. But if you’re prepared – like I suggested in our last lesson – and you stick to what you know, then you won’t have to backtrack. There’s nothing worse than having to say “Yeah, well, what I said before isn’t quite true.”



    Now, you’ve probably heard about “the power of positive thinking?” Or you’ve read that optimism leads to success and that focusing on the negatives will lead to failure? Well, positive thinking is great. But you can’t deny it: not everything is perfect. And the person who stands up and says everything is peachy when it’s ...

    • 6 min
    Skills 360 – How to Sound Credible (1)

    Skills 360 – How to Sound Credible (1)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript



    Hello and welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast. I’m your host, Tim Simmons, and today I want to look at how you can sound credible, or believable.



    And believe me: this is going to be one really great lesson. Trust me. It’s going to be great. Unbelievably great!



    Okay, but really folks, does that kind of thing sound familiar? It’s election year in the U.S., and you’ve probably been hearing some pretty big talk from the candidates. One of the most glaring problems with so much of these candidates’ statements is that of credibility.



    Sounding credible means that people can trust you, and trust what you say. And not just because you tell them to. Sounding credible also means people will respect you and believe you have the competence to get the job done. So, how do you make people believe that? What exactly should you say to sound credible? And what should you not say?



    Well, one thing that credible people do is talk about principles, or values. These are the basic ideas behind how we act and make decisions. So if you’re in a meeting and you’re arguing against an idea, make sure you reference the principles that have led you to your opinion. For example, that might sound like “I’m concerned about efficiency.” Or “this doesn’t match our company’s commitment to excellence.” Efficiency and a commitment to excellence are values. And talking about them makes you sound more credible.



    Now, because credibility is related to trust, it’s important to be transparent, or open and upfront about a situation or your intentions. If you’ve got some bad news to deliver, don’t pretend everything’s rosy. Or, say you’re trying to recruit someone for your team and you fail to mention all the challenges they might face. That’s not transparent. And your credibility will suffer if you’re not open and honest.



    Another essential habit of credible people is that they admit when they’re wrong, or when they’ve made a mistake. After all, we’re only human. It’s completely unreasonable to think that anyone is perfect. Nevertheless, a lot of leaders have a really tough time admitting their own fallibility. They’re afraid of being seen as incompetent. And some are simply arrogant enough to think they don’t make mistakes. But there’s a ton of research to show that a leader who admits to mistakes enjoys greater respect than one who doesn’t.



    Of course, it’s not just enough to admit a mistake. The next step is accepting responsibility for that mistake. That means correcting yourself. Or working to make things right again. And that whole idea of “making things right” ties back in with values and principles. People who don’t try to right their wrongs, on the other hand, lack credibility.



    Now you might be thinking: but if a person makes too many mistakes, even if they admit it, will people still believe in him? In other words, isn’t there a limit to how many mistakes people will accept?



    Sure there is. You can’t just screw up everything you touch and expect people to still believe in you. And that’s why credible people know the importance of research and preparation. Talking about what you don’t know, or don’t understand is a recipe for disaster. You need to make sure you know what you’re talking about, because the more you know or understand, the fewer mistakes you’ll make.

    • 6 min
    Skills 360 – Presentations: Connecting to your Audience (2)

    Skills 360 – Presentations: Connecting to your Audience (2)

    Free Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript



    Transcript



    Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 for today's lesson on how to connect with your audience while you’re actually delivering your presentation in English.



    It’s easy to leave your connection with the audience to chance. I mean, you might think that giving a presentation should be about conveying a message rather than “connecting” with your audience. But I assure you, whatever your message is, you’ll get it across with much greater success if you have a good connection with your audience. And that connection isn't a chance occurrence. You have to work on it.



    Last time I gave you some tips on what you can do before you start your presentation. Today I want to talk about what you can do during your presentation. And a great place to begin is at the beginning. One thing you should definitely do in your opening is to tell your listeners why your presentation matters. That might sound like this: “The information I’ll give you today will help you come to a decision about such and such.” Or it might be: “Today I’d like to share some ideas that could completely change the way you talk to your customers.”



    In your opening, it’s also a good idea to provoke their curiosity with something interesting, and relevant. That could sound like this: “10 years ago I was working at a conference just like this… as a cleaner.” Or maybe: “we had some pretty big goals for the third quarter… so, did we actually meet them?” In these two ways, you are connecting by making your presentation relevant and interesting.



    I know you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to grab the audience’s attention with a joke, or a shocking idea, or an eye-catching visual that makes them sit up and take notice. To be perfectly honest, this bit of advice has led to a lot of really lame openings. I mean, you can’t just tack on a surprise to the start of a boring presentation and think that you’ve done the tough work of audience engagement. If you’re funny, and you’ve got a relevant joke, then tell it. Otherwise, don’t. Because it’s not authentic. I can’t emphasize the importance of authenticity enough. Be yourself, and people will be more likely to connect with you.



    But remember, it’s not all about you, it’s about your audience. If you learned something about them before your presentation, drop that information in somewhere during your presentation. Give examples from their own lives, or work. Another really simple but effective way to connect is using people’s names. If you’re presenting to a group of people you don’t know, it’s a good idea to find out a few names beforehand. So, by using people’s names and information that matters to them, you make the presentation about them.



    I’ve been talking a bit about what you should say or mention in your presentation. But no relationship is a one-way street. And it’s much much easier to keep people engaged if you invite them to do a bit of talking themselves. Even just a bit helps. How do you do that? Well, you ask questions. Asking questions is one way to make people feel like participants, not just listeners. Hearing from the audience also gives you ongoing feedback on how they’re feeling and what’s important to them. And you can use that feedback to adapt on the fly.

    • 6 min

Top Podcasts In Language Learning

Listeners Also Subscribed To