Professional Language Choices

Training & Learning

Professional-English

If you have been attempting to stand out in today's ultra-competitive global business world, the chances are high that you are using personal branding, thought leadership, or influencer status on social media to try and get your message across.

If you are aiming your message at a global audience, that means that the language of your content is - or at least should be - English.

Below is a link to a LinkedIn guide with tips on how to improve the visibility of your writing.

An “Easy” readability level (Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score of 80-89) attracts more post views, shares, and likes to a LinkedIn post.

Source: https://okdork.com/linkedin-publishing-success/

For the sake of clarity, that last point states that if you want traction on social media, you should write content that is easily readable by an 11-year-old!

If you want your language to be that easy to read, then it has to be succinct and unambiguous - there can be no room for misunderstanding. Poor language choices, use of jargon and cliche, and poor structure can make your content vague, confusing, difficult to read, or inaccurate.

And it is not just with social media content that we should be precise with our language. Whether you are speaking to colleagues in a meeting, giving a presentation, or handling daily email correspondence, awkward use of language can cast a shadow over your professional persona.

To help you make better professional language choices, here are my top six tips for how to combine the best aspects of language learning and communication training.

1. Use real words

  • Avoid slang and try not to use too many contractions. Instead of "hi", use "hello", instead of "yeah", use "yes", say "I cannot" instead of "I can't.
  • Try to avoid using interjections such as “huh” and “uh-huh”, as these can make you sound uncertain.

Speak in complete, grammatically correct sentences as much as you can, unless you are deliberately doing it for effect.

2. Know the difference

The key point to remember is that you are trying to get your message through to your audience. 

Using big words = educated.

Using words that everyone understands = articulate.

3. Use correct grammar

If you want to sound professional and like you know what you are talking about, it is important to use correct grammatical structures. Know how to use the following correctly.

  • Definite and indefinite articles =  I work in a team of six people, not I work in the team of six people.
  • Using the wrong prepositions = I spoke at a seminar, not in a seminar.
  • Subject verb agreement = she and I were discussing, not she and I was discussing.
  • Correct verb tense = profits have improved significantly this year, not profits improve significantly this year

The difference between right and wrong grammar may mean the difference between your audience taking what you say seriously, or not. Make sure you use correct grammar.

4. Make your sentences sound firm and decisive

Try to avoid ending too many sentences with a question.

Also avoid having rising intonation at the end of sentence. This is known as “up-speak” (or “Valleyspeak”) and it can make you sound very uncertain, as if you're constantly asking for affirmation.

5. Be concise (or, get to the point)

English is an initial-focus language. If you want your audience to pay proper attention, you need to get to the point straight away.

Long explanations and lots of background leading up to a point can make the audience tune out long before you get there.

Get to the point right away, and you will be more effective. The explanations of why can come afterwards.

6. Eliminate verbal pauses

English speakers use interjections such as “um” and “like” to keep their place in a conversation while they are thinking of what to say.

In professional contexts, though, they detract from what you are trying to say; a nonverbal pause is much better.

When you are searching for words, using a nonverbal pause in the right place can give the effect of a studied thought or thoughtful pause. It confirms that you are in control over what you are saying.

Summary

Going back to where we started, in today’s business world, if you want to have a competitive edge you need credible communication skills – maybe even incredible skills – whether or not you are an active learner of English.

Rightly or wrongly, we often judge someone’s knowledge and decide how credible they are according to their communication skills in a language, even if that language is the speaker's second or third language.

Being seen, heard and read as the professional you have worked so hard to be can be achieved the hard way - through trial and error - or through cultural and communication training.

Find out more about our tailored learning solutions!