Express Your Ideas Clearly & Confidently in English

Discussing topics that may have different points of view can be really difficult in your native language— and it’s much harder when trying to communicate in a second language. You probably know the feeling… You are in a meeting, and you have a GREAT idea or an opinion that you want to share, and you think. “I could explain this so well in Turkish, and I know HOW to “say” it in English, but I just don’t think I can say it well.”

And so you’re silent. And your colleagues miss out on the opportunity to hear your thoughts. At Fener, we like to say, “You have a voice, and we want to help you find it.” By this we mean that we believe you have important things to share, and we want to equip you to feel confident enough to say them!

Here are a few tips for making your point clear in English…

1) Keep the goal in mind

What does this mean? It means that your goal should NOT be to win the argument. It should to find the right answer.

For example, you are a manager at a large resort, and you’re in a meeting with several other people, and you’re trying to decide if you should remodel the patisserie or the kid’s club. You think you should remodel the patisserie, but several of your colleagues want to remodel the kids club. What is the goal? – to make the best decision for your hotel, NOT to get your way.

2) Be clear when communicating your point of view

Get to the point quickly. More words does not create more understanding. Especially when you’re speaking in another language, more words can lead to confusion. So say what you need to say quickly and clearly. Here are some ways to introduce your idea:

“Hey could I share something?”
“Can I share a different perspective?”
“I’d like to jump in here if that’s okay?”
“Hey I just want to make sure we’ve thought this through.”
“Here’s another option…”

Follow this up with…

“I think…”
“In my experience…”
“I personally think that…”

This point leads to the next one…

Prepare your ideas in advance so they come out clearly. Prepare in advance what you want to say and how you might say it. Use our Planning Tool (link to sign up for Fener Weekly with a note that the doc will go out with it) to process and plan what you want to say. If you’re speaking English, you might need to learn a few words beforehand. Then, practice communicating your idea before it’s time to share it.

Be clear about when you are finished speaking. Plan out your final statement, and have it memorized. It’s so difficult to think “on the fly” when it isn’t your native language. Try out sentences like this:

“And that’s why I think we should…..”
“So that’s why I think the best choice is to…..”
“Those are my thoughts. Do you have any questions?”

And then STOP. Don’t keep explaining! 🙂

3) Be understanding towards people with a different point of view

This is so important. If you create different “teams” with your speech, you make others feel like their job is to be your enemy. Remind everyone you are on the same team with the same GOAL. You can show understanding by:

  • Affirming others’ feelings/opinions. “Mike, I definitely see why you feel strongly about updating the kids’ club. I really wish we could update the kids’ club AND the patisserie.”
  • Being positive towards others. Do NOT insult them. Do NOT roll your eyes at them or look disengaged. Have positive body language; nod with understanding when they speak and ask thoughtful questions.
  • Assume the best about everyone in the room.

Your colleague is NOT your enemy. Remember, you are working together towards the same goal, and you’re all trying to arrive there together.

Always keep in mind that your job in ‘getting your point across’ isn’t to win. Rather it’s to communicate clearly and effectively. When you’re in an environment that requires you to have important conversations in English, these tips are especially important.