Student Dilemmas: Meetings In English – How To Participate And Ask Questions With Courage
Business English Student Dilemmas
— Problem: Meetings In English – How To Participate And Ask Questions Without Fear —
“They think we’re shy in English, they should hear out meetings in Spanish ;)!”. “Participate and ask questions in meetings in English is hard”.
These are two things said by a group of professionals we were helping with Business meetings in English.
So we dug deeper and asked this group of professionals “what are your main challenges in meetings in English?”
And the answers were “participate with confidence”, “not making mistakes when speaking” and “follow the conversation in English” and “the natives speak quickly and not clearly”.
And when we ask, “how do you use questions to help you in meetings in English?” the responses are often “I don’t”.
Many professionals don’t like asking questions in meeting in English, for some of the following reasons:
- they feel embarrassed by their ‘bad English level’
- they think they don’t have enough vocabulary to ask good questions
- they focus on speaking in English, they forget to ask questions
- they don’t want to make mistakes in front of colleagues
- they think only the native English speakers ask good questions in English
But as we like to say in our Business English training, “Questions are key in meetings. They help meetings to be bi-directional, to build better relationships between participants and make things clearer for all the participants and not just one or two”.
Asking questions can be easy than we think. Start with simple questions as some of the best questions in history have been simple ones.
Here are the the steps we use with our students:
1) practice writing different types of questions…
- open questions (with an answer that is more than yes or no)
- closed questions (with a yes or no answer)
- “6 W” journalist questions (who, what, where, when, why and how)
- questions that check information
- question that clarify information
- questions that allow you to mirror (communicate their key points in your own words for e.g. “so what you´re saying is…., is that right?”)
- questions that ask for other people’s opinions
- questions that ask about the level of agreement (full, partial and no agreement)
2) Limit word length for questions. Try writing questions with 5 words, 1o words then no more than 15 words.
3) Listen very well with your ears and eyes (e.g. use active listening)
4) Take good and brief notes about key points (to help you ask good questions).
This group of students now…
— feel better and more confident in meetings
— they feel more included.
— feel they show their colleagues who they really are and not a fake image of ‘shyness’.
— feel their meetings are clearer for them and for the other participants. (e.g – they have received good feedback about how useful their questions were for the meetings).
I hope this helps you in your professional career! Christopher Wright
The English Training Company – helping companies and professionals to become Advanced Business English Speakers.