Written by Neenaz Ichaporia, Academic Manager, Blended Learning
Do you want to speak more confidently at work? Many of our students feel the same:
- “I have good knowledge of my field. But because of my weak communication skills, I am not able to convince my customers. I can do better if I improve my skills in public speaking.”
- “I have obtained a higher position at work, but my English is too simple. Sometimes I find it difficult to explain some situations.”
- “I always have this feeling that my English is not good enough. Improving it will help me in my career by boosting my confidence.”
As English is the international language of business communication, professionals are looking to improve their speaking skills. There are three main areas to consider:
- Business communication skills
People lack confidence in speaking English when they don’t have enough chances to practice. If that’s you, don’t worry! You can improve your speaking by using online resources.
Improve your fluency
This is the ability to express ideas quickly and clearly. This does not mean talking quickly – that can be very confusing for your listener!
- Use the ‘You’re Hired’ series from the British Council Learn English website. It helps you learn skills for finding a job. Watch the videos and then practice the dialogue.
- To improve anything, you need practice. So, practise speaking out loud, even if you are alone.
- You can use the BBC’s Get that Job series. The activities and quizzes build your knowledge of job-related vocabulary.
Improve your business communication skills
At work, you may need to do different tasks e.g. making a presentation, attending a meeting, or answering a telephone call. It’s helpful to learn useful language and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of business communication.
- Listen to the free Professionals podcasts from the British Council to improve English for your career. These are useful for intermediate to advanced levels.
- Use the pause button and repeat whole phrases after listening. This will help you say them right and remember them.
- Note down new phrases you hear and use them in conversations at work.
- Are you a job seeker or a young professional? You can do the free short course English for the Workplace. This will help you with language to find and start a job.
Improve your pronunciation
Having good, clear pronunciation can help you communicate clearly and sound more professional. Here’s how you can learn the features of good pronunciation.
- Start with individual sounds. Practise these out loud to better say them.
- You will find phonemic script very useful. It’s used to describe the sounds of language (not the spelling). The British Council has a free phonemic chart to download as an app.
- Understanding phonemic script is useful when you’re looking up words in the dictionary. Most good dictionaries use this to show the pronunciation of words.
- Do you know which sounds you find more difficult? Listen to and practise these sounds out loud.
We hope you have found these tips useful and are motivated to go online and practice. This will help improve your speaking skills and confidence.
Sign up for a myEnglish Workplace course to boost your career prospects. This online course is delivered by expert British Council teachers. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn live from the experts! Register now.
Following are the five essentials that creative entrepreneurs should focus on when approaching investors as highlighted during a recent pitching session with UK investors
1. Clarity of thought: Clearly articulate the core business idea focussing on what it aims to achieve. During the organic growth of the business, there is a tendency for the idea to expand and diversify which the entrepreneur feels compelled to cater to. However, it is essential to regularly re-focus to develop a growth strategy that is clearly in line with what the business had essentially set out to achieve.
2. Market knowledge: Clear understanding of the target customer and size of market the business is catering to. Does the market already exist or are you creating a market for your product or service? Is it a niche or mass market? If it exists, concentrate on one or two markets at a time while expanding your business. Know your competition well and their market share. The organic growth of your business can be the most sustainable option.
3. Team: Investors are always sceptical about one-man / woman businesses which are how most creative businesses are structured in the initial years. Build a team based on individual competencies which match with role requirements within the organisation’s structure. Clarity about roles and responsibilities, one’s ability to delegate is essential for smooth operation especially when you’re thinking about scaling up.
4. Building your brand & positioning it: Identify the core strength of your business and continuously reinstate that amongst your customers. Your existing customer base is crucial to your growth as word of mouth promotion is the most basic way to build your brand. Be clear about where you are now and where you would want your brand to be going forward. Collaborate with bigger brands to position yourself amongst the bigger players. Network and nurture relationships with those who will be your natural brand ambassadors.
5. Valuation of your business: Move away from only focussing on the qualitative analysis and success of your business. Focus on numbers and financials instead. This is essential as it will determine how much money you can ask for. Conversely it will portray the strength of your ability to get high enough return on investment for the investor.
For creative businesses, VC and private equity should not always be seen as the only source of investment as the rate of return is the highest when dealing with them. Please understand that they are business people who but naturally want to make the most of their investment. Government grants & schemes, banks, philanthropic institutions and foundations, corporate houses, family run businesses, and the quintessential ‘family, friends & fools’ are suitable options too. In each case, you will need to define a ‘hook’ and pitch your idea differently. If you’re profitable, plough that money back into your business and you may not need to look for outside investment. If you’re still keen to work with a VC, it might help to get them to mentor you instead. It is a good way for making them understand your business and see its growth. Their understanding of your capabilities & strength as an entrepreneur also helps to build a level of confidence & trust that is mutual. In future the same mentor can become your potential investor!
- Media and Entertainment is one of the fastest growing sectors inIndia. The entertainment industry estimated at about US$ 9.4 billion in revenues in year 2010 is expected to reach revenues of US$ 10.7 billion in 2011.
- With the advent of new technologies such as 2G and 3G, and increasing mobile penetrationIndia’s music industry is scaling on a high note.
- India is the largest film producing market in the world and one of the largest employment sectors in India.
- India is the third biggest Internet market, with over 100 million internet user base and the amount of time spent on the Internet for an average user in the country is 16 hours a week. According to Google estimates, 40 million users access Internet through mobile phones and download 30 million applications. New technologies such as 3G, broadband and mobile infrastructure are also helping in propelling this trend.
- The growth of the fashion industry in India is mainly driven by the growing exposure of domestic designers at international forums attracting a large number of international clients, launch of focused business education courses for emerging designers and the establishment of an industry association. Rising affluence has increased brand awareness among Indian consumers. The Indian textile industry provides direct employment to over 35 million people.
- Growing wealth and disposable incomes of the country’s middle and upper classes, facilitated by the growth in retail infrastructure for entertainment products and services, and the demands for creativity in business is all opening up vast opportunities for businesses in this sector.
Copyright: India Brand Equity Foundation, March 2011 (http://www.ibef.org)