Business English blog articles

What makes a great business English learner?

Ninety percent of the time, when a participant tells me “I am just not good with languages,” it turns out to be false. Much more common is that the person’s previous experience with poor learning materials and inadequate methods led them to have two limiting beliefs: that they were not cut out for learning a language, and that language learning is a difficult, boring process. The following success story of InCorporate training participant Karl from Germany shows what is possible even for a busy manager in his 50’s with an active private life. Find out what attitudes and behaviors drove Karl’s rapid progress, how he enjoyed doing it, and how you can improve your own journey by learning from Karl’s success.

As business English specialists, we often talk about what makes great training. From focusing on and developing the skills and qualities that make fantastic trainers, to highlighting the importance of the behaviors and characteristics required by clients to maximize the impact of training on their organizations, we’ve learned that every stakeholder holds unique responsibilities in ensuring great results.

Of course, great trainers, innovative, pragmatic training concepts, and supportive clients are all essential to excellent training programs. Equally important however—if not even more important— are the behaviors, qualities, and attitudes of the participants themselves. The most qualified and skilled trainers, the highest-quality training materials, and an unlimited training budget cannot go very far without motivated, ambitious, and proactive participants.

So, what does it take to be the kind of participant who gets the most out of training? Most people seem to believe that there are only two options: you are either naturally good with languages, or you must spend every minute of your spare time doing boring grammar exercises and memorizing lists of new vocabulary words. Well, I’m here to tell you, from years of experience as a trainer and from my formal studies of how languages are learned, that this is simply not true, and that improving can and should be enjoyable.

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Meet Karl

Occasionally as an InCorporate Trainer, I meet a participant who exemplifies the qualities and behaviors of an excellent learner, and that’s exactly what happened when I met Karl. Karl, a group leader in an accounting department of a large German company, has attended weekly one-to-one sessions with me for the last year. When he first told me about his incredible results—that he had gone from A1 (beginner) to C1 (proficient) English in just a couple of years—I almost couldn’t believe my ears. After just a few sessions with him, though, it became very clear to me why he had made such remarkable progress. I can summarize the four key characteristics that led to Karl’s success as proactivity, curiosity, consistency, and reflectiveness.

Let’s explore each one in a bit more detail.


When Karl made the decision to improve his English to increase his personal enjoyment and professional success, he took matters into his own hands. He didn’t overthink it. Instead, he started doing whatever he could do get a basic grasp of the language. As soon as he had a basic understanding, he spent as much time as he could immersing himself in the language. Specifically, he began listening to podcasts and news in English on his commute to work and found that his understanding kept getting better and better. He also found that this was a great way to make use of the time, as he had to be in the car anyway.

When he realized that he could understand more than he could speak, he hired some ‘tutors’ online—basically just people to practice conversing with. He found that this dramatically improved his confidence using the language, and it was incredibly interesting to chat with people from all over the world.

Finally, as soon as he realized that an InCorporate Trainer was available to him for private training, he jumped at the opportunity, and began integrating his foundational language skills with his professional life. Then, things really took off.


This one might come as a surprise to hard-working, results-driven people. Why does curiosity matter and how did it help Karl achieve such great results? There are at least two reasons.

Firstly, curiosity—wanting to know and learn more—is a highly motivating trait. Karl soon realized that improving his English connected him with the world and helped him to answer questions that he had. As his understanding improved, he began to forget that he was even listening, reading, and talking in English because he was so focused on the content of what he was listening to, reading, and talking about. We know from research into how people learn languages that this is hugely important: we learn language by understanding and really focusing on the message of what we are listening to. Karl’s curiosity about the world, current events, and the forces impacting his career and company became a highly motivating force for his journey.

Secondly, Karl had an attitude of curiosity about the language itself. Every week, he came to his training session with questions and comments about something he had encountered in English at work. An idiom, a pun, a slogan, an abbreviation—Karl noticed that there is always something to be learned, discussed, and explored. He also brought in presentations, documents, and emails from his working life. This openness means that he is always paying attention to the little details, and attention drives learning. (In contrast, I sometimes ask participants about what the English around them means or if they have ever explored it or thought about it. “GPD? I have no idea…it’s just what we call the talk with our boss each year.” Karl wouldn’t let the abbreviation GPD pass by him without dissecting it, analyzing it, and learning something from it).


This one is easy to understand but particularly important in practice. Not only was he consistent with his self-directed learning, but he also prioritized attending his training sessions very regularly, ensuring near-weekly practice. This gave us plenty of time to review previous material and integrate current work issues and world events into our ongoing conversation.

Under consistency, I would also file Karl’s focus on ‘little wins.’ Instead of needing to be perfect right away, he learned to enjoy the small successes, from delivering a successful presentation at work, to navigating a difficult situation while traveling in the US. He focused on what he could do thanks to training and learning as opposed to what he couldn’t do yet.


We’ve already seen how Karl reflects on the English around him as an active and curious learner. But importantly, he also reflects on the learning process itself. Not only did he come to training with specific language related questions, but he also came with questions and reflections about the process of learning a language and the strategies he used to improve.

It was interesting to hear how many of his experiences matched what I know about learning from a scholarly perspective. For example, Karl would often say things like  “I don’t really know any rules, I just have an intuitive feel for what I’m saying.” Karl’s experience matches research in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) —knowing about language (knowing ‘rules’) is a very different thing than knowing language (being able to use language naturally). In fact, with such a good intuitive understanding, developed through many hours of listening, reading, and conversing in English, when Karl did need to polish up his English with a rule, he was able to grasp it very quickly and easily. In contrast, people who focus too much on the rules of language, without enough exposure to input and practice using language, often struggle for many years to improve their skills. Karl’s experience highlights the importance of learning by doing when it comes to language learning.

Learning from Karl

While having a great trainer, quality training materials, and a supportive client are essential for effective language training, the behaviors, qualities, and attitudes of participants themselves are equally important. Participants like Karl, who are proactive, curious, consistent, and reflective, are the ones who achieve remarkable progress in their language learning journey. Here are some practical takeaways from Karl’s success story:

  • Be proactive: There has never been a better time to be a language learner. Find ways to include more English in your daily routine. Listen and read about things that interest you and take opportunities to practice speaking and writing. Take your learning into your own hands. If you are lucky enough to have an InCorporate Trainer, use them! Your trainer is there to support you with on-the-job training.
  • Be curious: Use your natural interests to drive your learning and develop an attitude of curiosity towards the language itself. Here’s an easy way to start: Go to YouTube. Search for a hobby, an interest of yours, or a professional topic or skill you want to know more about, in English. Find content that truly interests and engages you and get lost in it.
  • Be consistent: Practicing a little but often beats a lot of practice once in a while. Karl listened to podcasts on his commute to and from work, had two conversations per week with his tutors, and showed up every week to his private training session. Think of ways you can take a little-by-little approach. If you have InCorporate Training, attend training as often as you can. Also, focus on the small successes. Can you do or say something in English this month that you couldn’t last month? Congratulations. That’s real progress.
  • Be reflective: If you work for an international company like Karl, chances are, English is all around you. Engage with it daily. InCorporate Trainers are thrilled when participants bring in documents, emails, questions, and ideas to explore in training. You don’t need a coursebook when you are surrounded by a real-world coursebook and have a professional trainer to guide you.

Mastering a language is a lengthy process, but you’d be surprised at how quickly things get moving when you get the basic behaviors and mindset in place. Importantly, you have to find ways to enjoy the journey itself, just like Karl.



What will training look like in 2030? (survey)

Our clients have trusted us to deliver practical training solutions since 1994. One of the lessons we’ve learned over the years is the importance of spotting patterns. Being able to proactively meet our clients’ needs adds value and feels right. With that in mind, towards the end of 2020 we began gathering perspectives from our network. We spoke with 94 of our clients, leads and contacts (43 L&D professionals and 51 team leaders). 31 people were interviewed face to face.  The remaining 63 were initially interviewed through an online survey. Some excerpts and the results of the survey are below. If you are interested to read the full document, you can download it here.

The rise in individualised, self service training clearly shifts the obligation onto the learner

Almost everyone who took part in our survey envisaged training increasingly becoming personalised. This means that, for better or for worse, the responsibility for learning will shift to the learner. Employees will be expected to select, organise and take part in training, rather than have management and L&D mandate it and organize it.


“Training will be like scheduled TV and Netflix. Individuals will expect to find what they want when they want it and how they want it. Central L&D departments will be about making helping and guiding learners and scheduling if required. Learning is learner driven. The L&D departments are less needed” N.L. (CEO)


Technology is enabling and driving learning on demand

Almost all interviewees see technology playing an increasingly pivotal role in learning and feelings are mixed. More and more interviewees expect learners to access learning in a range of formats via smartphones and tablets. Many employers will choose this route as a low cost training solution. Some see technology as the driver behind this change, but interestingly a few pointed out that the very human desire to communicate itself is what pushes the advancements in the technology. Either way, technology in training is key to enabling and driving learning on demand.


“I see this digital training world being about learning on demand. Short, focused learning will be the majority. People have a problem or a need and then they find their own solution.” G.R. (L&D EMEA)


“I anticipate that the trends I’m seeing today will continue flexible learning, bite sized learning, the fragmentation of learning so that people focus on what they need to know or learn at that moment. This will be software based and virtual … and I feel that the solutions we see today with the big platforms is bullshit, but everybody believes in it. We used to have books and now
we have ‘animated summaries’. This isn’t learning” K.K. (L&D Manager)


Managers believe their companies will be investing more in learning but L&D professionals believe the opposite

This finding deserves to be explored more. None of the line managers expected to see L&D investment shrink BUT 41% of L&D professionals did. Equally surprising was that 60% of line managers expected to see more money invested in L&D … compared to just 18% of L&D professionals.


Thoughts are divided on the need to develop English language skills in staff

Both L&D managers and line managers are split down the middle on whether companies will need to be investing in Business English training. Our first assumption was that this was connected to the type of industry, the country or even the company size, but we could not find a pattern with the sample size (of 43 L&D professionals and 51 team leaders, managers and senior


“We will less likely hire staff who don’t have necessary language skills, and if we do we will be looking for a service to bring them up to speed fast so they can perform on the job”. D.F. (Technical Manager)


“I hear a lot from our HR that our new hires can work in English. I don’t think this is accurate. Some of them have spent a year in a foreign country, and many of them have good English listening
skills. But many of them aren’t so called advanced. They don’t have the communication skills we need and the emails they are writing just aren’t professional enough!” C.G. (Senior Manager)



Download the full version

If you are interested to read more about training in 2030, you can download the full version of the survey here.

Rescheduling meetings in English

As an InCorporate Trainer, I provide business English training and support to an engineering multinational within their offices. Most of my participants attend meetings with clients, partners and colleagues, and sometimes it’s necessary to reschedule a meeting via email. My participants are concerned about the tone of the email, letting others down, and losing trust and credibility. Based on my work with them, here are a few examples, tips and phrases that you can use when you need to reschedule a meeting in English. 

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Reschedule with as much notice as possible

This gives others the chance to use their time as efficiently as possible and reduces the impact and inconvenience. Waiting until the last minute to reschedule the meeting, means no one else will have a chance to schedule another activity during this time. If it happens frequently it damages your emotional bank account. As you can see from the example mail below, the reason for the change has been given. Transparency is valued and builds trust. If you have a reasonable reason for rescheduling the meeting and you share this, others will find the change easier to accept. If you are informing them a few days in advance a polite email to is usually fine. This email has 3 steps:

  1. Shares the reason why
  2. Says sorry for the inconvenience
  3. Suggests another time

Dear Ralf,

I’m very sorry, but I need to reschedule our status update meeting set for Thursday. I need to stand in for my colleague who is unexpectedly unable to lead a client workshop. I am aware that our meeting needs to happen before we can move on the next quality gate, so I’d like to suggest that we meet on Monday 6th instead. I believe everyone is able to attend, right? If not, please let me know and I’ll look for another alternative. Sorry again for the inconvenience and I hope that we are able to find a suitable solution.

Thanks in advance,

Reschedule at the last minute

How you handle rescheduling your meeting at the last minute depends very much on whom you’re meeting, why you are meeting and how big a problem it is to reschedule the day before. Sickness and family disasters aside, rescheduling on the day of the meeting really does deserve a personal phone call. Using the phone is personal, shows you care and also speeds up the process of finding a new date that fits both sides. On those very rare occasions when you need to cancel a meeting an hour before then get ready to eat humble pie. Again, do it by phone, apologize, explain why and show you want to find a new date –  even if you can’t do this right then and there. Then consider showing you appreciate their patience by following up later with a thank you email. For example …

Dear Ralf,

I just wanted to write and say thank you once again for your flexibility. I really do appreciate it. Talking though our options regarding the NCC presentation is very important to me and I’d like to reschedule quickly and find a time that suits you.  I can move things around and find time to meet on Monday (10:00 – 14:15) or Thursday (9:00 – 13.00). If neither of these work for you then please make some suggestions and I’ll do my very best to find a solution. Once again, I’m very sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for your understanding.


Explaining the reason

  • There is an urgent work-related problem which I need to solve.
  • I’ve been called away to deal with a problem.
  • I’ve been double booked and need to prioritize the client meeting.  I hope you understand.
  • I need to cover for a colleague who is out of the office for several days.
  • I have a family situation I need to prioritize.

Showing appreciation

  • I appreciate your flexibility.
  • Thank you in advance for your understanding.
  • I really appreciate your support/help.

Phrases for apologizing

  • I’m sorry, I’m afraid I will need to move the date of our meeting.
  • Can we please find a new date? I’m really sorry, things have changed on my side.
  • I’m truly sorry but I can’t make the day/time we planned.
  • I apologize for changing things last minute.
  • I’m sorry about this, I was looking forward to our meeting.

Suggesting an alternative meeting time

  • Does X, Y, or Z work for you?
  • I can offer X or Y. If neither of those fit, please make a couple of suggestions and I will do my best to make it work.
  • I’m available on X, or Y, at A or B.
  • I can offer… / I’m free on…
  • Anytime on Friday works me.
Fore more information

If you would like to learn more about how our InCorporate Trainers provide on-the-job support and coaching for clients then take a look at

The secret L&D manager: What makes training effective?

This month’s secret training manager is Italian and has worked in a variety of fields including public research organizations and service companies. Here she talks with Scott Levey about the basic elements that make training and trainers effective.

eBook: The definitive checklist for qualifying training providers

What makes training effective?

To me an effective training is a training that uses most of the senses. Meaning: seeing, hearing, touching. The learners need to experience things and be actively engaged. Of course, the training needs to cover the thinking side, but adult learners need to learn by doing things. A good training event also has to be designed to have different activities and moments. For example, it needs moments to listen and get input and ideas, moments to pause and ponder on the theory that was just presented to you, moments to experiment, and moments to recap. I want the trainer to also plan in multiple moments where they cover again the main and salient points of the training.  For me this is essential.  I would also say that effective training sessions need to have a certain pace and this pace changes depending on the moment.  After lunch the trainer will increase the pace to get people moving again. Alternatively, the pace may slow down if the trainer sees that the participants aren’t following what the trainer is trying to do or trying to say.  So that’s what I think makes an effective training.

What makes the trainer effective? I mean you yourself have worked with many trainers and you have also trained yourself, haven’t you?

Well the most obvious answer would be that the trainer is the subject matter expert. She is an expert in her field and has real experience … but that isn’t enough. I’m going to give you a trivial example but I think everyone can relate to it. It’s about my daughter. She’s in high school right now and her math teacher is brilliant. He has a very brilliant mind … but he is not a pedagogue, so he is a teacher by definition but he is not a teacher through experience, and he is not patient with them. He knows his stuff, and is really smart, but he doesn’t know how to convey the salient points to my daughter or his class.  When I think back to the many companies I have worked in, I have also seen similar experiences with internal training sessions ran in various topics. It could be IT related, quality management, HR or technical skills.  Being a subject matter expert is the start but not the end.

Being an expert is not enough; you also need to be an expert in pedagogy, you need to be patient and you need to be attentive to the participants and allow them to ask questions. You need also to be able to shut down any conversation that strays from the topic because it can become difficult and you can waste time and not reach your training goals. This is not good because as we know training has an agenda and you need to stay on track.

Somehow a trainer also needs to be very confident and have some leadership behaviors, because she’s the leader of the group for the time of the training. Finally, I think an effective trainer has to have those storytelling skills where you put theory and experience into a nice little story that illustrates the point. And is easy to understand and remember

So, what I’m saying is an effective trainer is somebody who

  1. Is a subject matter expert
  2. Is a good communicator
  3. Is people-oriented
  4. Can lead a group
  5. Has the skills needed to design training so there are the right moments at the right times
  6. Has the skills to deliver the training in an engaging way and manage the pace
  7. Is focused and reaches the objective set for the training

Train-the-trainer courses can really help for both new and confident trainers … but it is my opinion that nothing really beats experience. So that’s what I think makes a trainer a good trainer.

Who is the secret L&D manager?

The “secret L&D manager” is actually a group of L&D managers. They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with their peers.

You can meet more of our secret L&D managers here …


Practical rules and resources for writing quality emails

This might be difficult to imagine if you are under 35, but when I started my career in finance there was no email. All written communication was by letter, and if something was really urgent you might send a telex or a fax. Written communication was an investment – an investment in time and in labour.  The process of sending a letter was a slow one; dictating it, the secretary/typist typing it, checking it, finally signing it, putting it in an envelope and posting it. There was no word processing software – if you wanted to make changes to the content, you returned it to the typist who would retype it.  Again, this may be difficult to imagine, but in some ways this wasn’t such a bad thing and there was a plus side to the writer and the reader. Exactly because it was so time consuming and labour intensive, you thought carefully about what you wanted to say and how you were going to say it. You invested in the quality of your written communication.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Today email communication, combined with documents being available online, has replaced the letter. Email beats snail mail letters. Approximately 280 billion emails are sent every day, and the average number of business emails sent each day is around 125 billion. In a recent workshop on Managing conflict in virtual teams one purchaser shared he had received 68 from a single person in one day!

Writing emails requires little effort and little thought– and obviously this is not always a good thing. Take a look at your inbox and ask yourself how many of these emails are unclear, unnecessary or simply unwanted. So why do we send so many? The simple answer is because we can. The process is simple, quick and easy. The challenge organizations face today is keeping the good stuff (quick, easy, simple) while eliminating the down sides.  This is made harder by our convictions that our writing is clear and understandable despite research showing we often overestimate this.

So if you want your mails to be clear, necessary and wanted then start with these 3 practical rules.

Write clear and understandable subject lines

It’s very likely that your reader is busy and that they have a lot of pulls on their time. Regardless of whether they are using a laptop, tablet or phone they will see your name/email address and your subject line. A clear and understandable subject line helps them prioritize your email, shows respect for their time, and builds trust. A clear subject line can also help catch your recipient’s attention and encourage them to deal with your mail quickly. Consider using BLUF (bottom line up front) in your subject line and also at the very start of your email.  Another simple tip that many virtual teams adopt is to  agree with your team members on a selection of limited key words (e.g Info, Action, Decision).  For more simple and practical advice plus a training activity on effective subject lines check out this post.
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Write it how you’d say it

Many of us (and I am guilty of this) use a different style when writing.  Some people opt for different words, more complicated expressions and generally take longer to say something in writing than we would face to face.

For example…. “It has been brought to my attention that the complexities of the user interface are making life difficult for some of our users. I’d like to suggest we discuss this together”. Flipping it around some people also write emails in note form, or an overly casual style e.g. “Heard user interface difficult 4 user. Talk?” Writing as you speak would give you  “Some of our users are finding the user interface difficult to use. Can we talk about this together?”

Writing in a clear and direct style definitely helps clarity.  Pay attention to tone, and as a reader try to give the writer the benefit of the doubt when you feel the tone is odd.

Take a moment before you hit send

In the days when we sent letters we took a lot of time to think about what we were writing. We planned and drafted and there were many opportunities to change what we wanted to say or how we wanted to say it. You could read your letter through before signing it and at that moment decide if you really wanted to send it.
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Today these inbuilt pauses don’t exist. You quickly read a mail, write the response and hit send. It is often done on the move and squeezed between other tasks, conversations etc.  That is generally OK for short, routine communications but for those that are longer, complicated or sensitive, type once but look twice is a good rule to follow.  Write your email, don’t add the address and put it in your drafts folder (or email it to yourself). Read it later and if it’s clear, understandable and unemotional – send it. For more help on writing emotionally neutral emails, see here.


How to avoid your emails going viral

“Worst email ever?”  was the headline that got my attention when I read my newspaper on a Saturday morning. The story was about an Australian manager who had sent an email which he later described himself as a “Gordon Ramsay meets Donald Trump-style email rant”.  His email went viral on Twitter (#bossoftheyear) and the story was an online sensation for a couple of days. 

Although, or maybe because, we send and receive countless emails every day it is sometimes easy to forget some of the golden rules of email etiquette. To give the manager his dues he later apologized to his staff (“It seems I am becoming an online sensation for how NOT to communicate – and in hindsight I agree!!”), but his story is a timely reminder to review some important dos and don’ts for emailing. Starting with the most important one, here are six tips for you to consider…

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Tip 1 – Don’t send emails when you are angry / frustrated/ tired etc

This is, and always will be, the first rule of email communication. In “Writing emails that people read”, our most downloaded ebook with 18,000 downloads to date, we suggest you write the whole email if it will make you feel better and help you to get some-thing out of your system – BUT only add the recipients and send it after you have had space and time to reflect and think about what you are sending and its potential impact. Rule #2 builds on this by emphasizing that email is great for giving information, sharing updates or making simple requests. However, use the phone if something could be a sensitive or emotional topic. When it comes to management communication, in our Practical Toolbox for Managers training we also suggest that emotional communication is done face-to-face, via Webex or over the phone. Email just doesn’t help … although you might feel better for a few minutes.

As the Australian manger himself later said, he sent it “in a moment of seeing red and it most definitely should not have happened”.

Tip 2 – Watch your tone, mind your language

Emails need to be respectful and clear. Body language, facial expressions and tone of voice cannot be communicated by email. How an email sounds and the message it sends are determined only by the words that we use. Read this blog post if you want to learn more about tone in emails. Make sure that your message is respectful and clear. In his viral email the manager knew he’d misjudged this and later wrote “Obviously some of you know me pretty well and know I shoot from the hip, but obviously others don’t”.

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Tip 3 – Get the person’s name right

This is a very personal tip for me. I get a lot of emails from French contacts and probably 20% start with Hi Taylor (my first name is Ian). When you type the recipient’s name in the “To” line or select them from your address book – make sure it’s the right person. (In 2000, a British schoolgirl was on the receiving end of inappropriate business emails after a US naval commander accidentally added her to his confidential mailing list.) Be sure that the name you use at the beginning of the mail is the name of the person in the address line and that you have spelt it correctly.

Tip 4 – KISS: Keep it short and simple

Everybody is busy and everybody gets a lot of emails.  The average number of emails received per day in 2018 is 97!  If each email takes just 2 minutes to read and deal with this is 3 hours of your day done already!

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5 typische Fehler beheben, die deutschsprachige Personen auf Englisch machen.

Deutsche sprechen in der Regel gutes Business Englisch. In einer von Harvard Business Review veröffentlichten weltweiten Studie belegte Deutschland den 14. Platz für die Kompetenz der englischen Mitarbeiter (oder “hoch” mit 60,2 von 100 Punkten). In einer weiteren Studie gaben 100% der befragten deutschen Arbeitgeber an, dass Englischkenntnisse für ihr Unternehmen von Bedeutung sind. Solche Beweise zeigen, warum die Deutschen zu Recht stolz auf ihre Englischkenntnisse sind – und die überwiegende Mehrheit der Deutschen, mit denen wir zusammenarbeiten, will noch besser werden. Wenn Ihre Muttersprache Deutsch ist und Sie Ihr Englisch bei der Arbeit verbessern möchten, könnte es für Sie frustrierend sein, dass Ihre englischsprachigen Kollegen Sie nicht korrigieren. Schließlich kann man nicht besser werden, wenn man nicht weiß, was man falsch macht! In diesem Beitrag werfen wir einen Blick auf eine Handvoll deutschsprachiger Fehler, die im Business Englisch wirklich häufig vorkommen. Die gute Nachricht? Sie sind wirklich einfach zu beheben.
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1. „We discussed about last month’s figures at the meeting.“

Auf Englisch diskutieren wir nicht über (about) etwas. Um das zu beheben, lassen Sie das about hinter dem Verb discuss weg. Der richtige englische Satz lautet also: “We discussed last month’s figures at the meeting.” Beachten Sie, dass Sie about nach dem Substantiv discussions verwenden können, wie in “There were discussions about last month’s figures at the meeting”.

2. „Good morning together.“

Dies ist eine direkte Übersetzung einer schönen (und effizienten) deutschen Art, alle gleichzeitig zu begrüßen. Together ist zu 100% logisch, aber es funktioniert im Englischen nicht. Wie kannst du es beheben? Wie im letzten Beispiel: Lassen Sie es komplett raus. Der richtige englische Satz lautet einfach “Good morning”. Sie können auch Alternativen wie “Good morning everyone” oder “Morning all” (ugs.) nutzen.

3. „We see us tomorrow.“

Dies ist auch eine Direktübersetzung aus dem Deutschen. Wir haben keinen identischen Satz auf Englisch, also klingt es zwar verständlich, aber seltsam auf Englisch. In diesem Fall müssen Sie einen anderen Ausdruck verwenden. Der korrekte englische Satz lautet also: “We’ll see each other tomorrow”. Sie können auch “See you tomorrow.” order “Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.” verwenden.

4. „I visit normally on Thursdays my clients in Bamberg.“

Die Wortfolge ist deutsch. Der Satz ist 100% verständlich, aber er klingt im Englischen einfach falsch (ebenso wie, wenn Englisch sprechende Personen Deutsch sprechen, kann es zwar verständlich, aber grammatikalisch falsch sein). Adverbien der Häufigkeit (Wörter wie: normally, sometimes, always, never) kommen fast immer zwischen der Person (I) und dem Verb (visit). Der richtige englische Satz lautet also: “I normally visit my clients in Bamberg on Thursdays.

5. „I work since five years by my company.“

Es gibt hier nur 8 Wörter, aber eigentlich sind 4 Fehler in diesem Satz.

  1. Die Zeitform (work) ist falsch.
  2. Man kann das Wort since nicht mit einer Zeitspanne kombinieren.
  3. By ist nicht die richtige Präposition.
  4. Die Wortfolge ist deutsch.

So beheben Sie es:

  • Wenn etwas in der Vergangenheit begonnen hat, jetzt geschieht und wahrscheinlich auch in Zukunft weitergehen wird, dann verwenden wir in der Regel die present perfect simple oder continuous Form, z. B. I have worked / I have been working…
  • Wir verwenden since für einem Zeitpunkt, und for für einem Zeitraum. z. B. since 2012/ for 5 years.
  • Es gibt nur sehr wenige konkrete Regeln für Präpositionen. Du musst also ein Gefühl für sie entwickeln und sie in einem Kontext erlernen. Auf Englisch sagen wir “We work for a company”.
  • Wortfolge. Dies ist ähnlich wie beim letzten Beispiel – eine Zeitangabe kommt üblicherweise an das Ende eines Satzes im Englischen.

Der richtige englische Satz lautet also: “I have been working for my company for five years.”

Wenn Sie mehr Übung wünschen, dann schauen Sie sich unser aktuelles Ebook an: “Common English mistakes (Germans make) and how to correct them”.

Schnelle Behebung von 5 typischen Fehlern, die deutschsprachige Personen auf Englisch machen.

Germans generally speak good business English. A worldwide study published by Harvard Business review ranked Germany 14th for English workforce proficiency  (or “high” and with a score of 60.2 out of 100).  In another study, 100% of German employers interviewed said that English skills are significant for their organization. Evidence like this shows why Germans are rightfully proud of their English skills – and the vast majority of Germans we work with want to be even better. If your first language is German, and you want to improve your English at work, you might find it frustrating that your English-speaking colleagues don’t correct you. After all, you can’t get better if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong! In this post, we’re going to take a look at a handful of German speaker errors that are really common in Business English. The good news? They’re really easily fixed.
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1. „We discussed about last month’s figures at the meeting.“

In English we don’t discuss about something. To fix it, leave out the about after the verb discuss. So the correct English sentence is “We discussed last month’s figures at the meeting.” Keep in mind that you can use about after the noun “discussions” as in “There were discussions about last month’s figures at the meeting”.

2. „Good morning together.“

This is a direct translation of a lovely (and efficient) German way of greeting everyone at the same time. Logically, together, makes 100% sense but it doesn’t work in English. How can you fix it? As with about in the last example, cut it out completely. The correct English phrase is simply “Good morning”.  You can also use alternatives like “Good morning everyone” or “Morning all” (informal)

3. „We see us tomorrow.“

This is also a direct translation from German. We don’t have an identical phrase in English, so it sounds understandable, but strange in English. In this case, you need to use another expression. So the correct English sentence is “We’ll see each other tomorrow”.  You can also use “See you tomorrow.” or “Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

4. „I visit normally on Thursdays my clients in Bamberg.“

The word order is German. The sentence is 100% understandable, but it simply sounds wrong in English (likewise when English speakers speak German it can be understandable but grammatically wrong). Adverbs of frequency (words like: normally, sometimes, always, never) almost always go between the person (I) and the verb (visit). So, the correct English sentence is “ I normally visit my clients in Bamberg on Thursdays.”

5. „I work since five years by my company.“

There are only 8 words here, but there are actually 4 mistakes in this sentence.

  1. The tense (work) is wrong.
  2. We can’t combine since and a period of time.
  3. By is not the right preposition.
  4. The word order is German.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • If something started in the past, is happening now, and is likely to continue in the future, then we usually use present perfect simple or continuous e.g. I have worked / I have been working…
  • We can use since with a point in time, and for with a period of time. e.g. since 2012/ for 5 years.
  • There are very few concrete rules for prepositions. You just need to develop a feel for them and learn them in a context. In English we say “ We work for a company”.
  • Word order. This is the same as in the last example – time generally goes to the end of the sentence in English.

So, the correct English sentence is “I have been working for my company for five years.”

And if you’d like more practice then check out our latest Ebook „Common English mistakes (Germans make) and how to correct them“.

Business English training: on-the-job training (for the job)

On-the-job (OTJ) training has been a cornerstone in our approach to in-house Business English training since our first InCorporate Trainers started their jobs (one of them was Scott Levey). When we explain the concept of on-the-job training to potential clients, they “understand” what we’re saying … BUT …they don’t really “get” how effective and beneficial on-the-job training is until they have seen it in action. This post aims to explain what it is, how it works, and how participants benefit, using some non-specific examples of on-the-job training.

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The benefits of on-the-job training

OTJ training is highly effective because the training takes place alongside and as part of your daily work. The trainer uses your work situations (your emails, your virtual meetings, your plant tours) as the basis for your learning. On-the-job training takes place at work, while you are working. This brings two huge benefits.

  1. You maximize your time because you are benefiting from training while you are working.
  2. You can directly transfer what you learn to your job. Your training is completely based on a real and concrete task. Everything you learn is relevant.

If you are familiar with the 70-20-10 model, you’ll know that 70% of learning comes through “doing” and from “experience”. Learning while you work is highly effective and this is the heart of on-the-job training.

“I helped Hans to de-escalate a situation in Supply Chain Management. Hans felt that the American party was wound-up and overly difficult. Hans brainstormed phrases with my help and he wrote a draft email. I helped him improve the structure and tone of the email and suggested he rewrote some of his sentences in plain English. A few hours later, the American party positively replied and the whole thing was solved by the time Hans went home.”

What exactly is on-the-job training and how does it work?

With on-the-job training, the trainer is there when you need assistance in preparing emails, specifications, manuals, reports, slides and other documentation. The trainer can support you in the planning, writing and reviewing stage. The trainer is also available to you for preparing meetings, phone calls, web meetings, teleconferences, presentations and negotiations.  They can then shadow you in action and provide personalized and situationally-based feedback.

On-the-job training focuses on your priorities at work and on you improving your business English in those areas. It can be

  • reactive where you ask the trainer for help “Can you help me improve these slides?”
  • proactive where the trainer encourages you to share work you have done/are doing in English “I heard you are involved in writing the R-Spec for the new project. How can I support you?”

“One of my participants, a product manager, had to deliver two presentations in English. It was basically the same presentation, but for two different audiences.  Observing her in our first practice session, I made a note of language points to work on. We worked on these, and a few other things (key messages, adapting messages to different audiences, Q&A session) over the next week. She delivered the presentations to me again, already with much more confidence and fluency – and then she practised with a few colleagues in a weekly group session and benefitted from both their positive feedback and the confidence boost.  Finally, I watched her deliver from the back and she did great.  After the presentations we debriefed and I shared my feedback (what went really well, what would she like to focus more on next time etc) . She was too critical of her performance and I helped her to be realistic about what she needs to focus on.”

What on-the-job training isn’t

What the trainer does not do is write the email/document for you (where’s the learning in that?). One common misconception is that on-the-job trainers are translators or proof readers. They’re not, in the same way that translators and proof readers aren’t trainers. Collaborative proof reading and translation can be an option, but the ownership needs to stay with the learner.

Another misconception is that on-the-job training is traditional “classroom training” during work time. The trainer will certainly use the “insider” view and what they have seen on-the-job to tailor traditional “off the job” training. This means your group training, coaching, 1-1 training, and seminars are closer to your workplace and that the transfer of learning is smoother.  But “on the job” training is learning while actually doing. There’s a good example of how this looks in action in an R&D department here.

“Three of my participants had written a 300-page instruction manual and they came to me with the request to help them improve it. Nobody in their department understood it enough to successfully use the system that it was meant to explain. I told them I would read it. Oh boy. We worked on writing with the reader in mind, structuring documents to make them scannable and writing in plain English. Visuals replaced paragraphs and we even created a few video tutorials too.  Four weeks later, they produced a second manual. Over one hundred pages lighter, it was clear, comprehensive, mistake free, and written in a style that everyone could understand, even me. As a result, the system that was supposed to make everyone’s job easier made everyone’s job easier.”

Bringing on-the-job training to life

We sign confidentiality agreements with our clients. Even when we don’t, we wouldn’t use their actual documentation online, so these examples are non-specific and Hans is not really called Hans … she’s called XXXX.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of this approach, don’t hesitate to contact us.

10 weitere sportliche Redewendungen, die Sie in Business Meetings hören werden.

Im vergangenen Jahr haben wir eine Liste von 10 gängigen amerikanischen Sport Redewendungen zusammengestellt, die von unseren Kunden und Lesern gut aufgenommen wurden.  Da der Blog-Post so beliebt war, wollten wir noch weitere Sportbegriffe teilen, die Sie im Büro hören können…

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

to take a rain check

Aus dem Baseball, es bedeutet: „Ich kann jetzt nicht, aber machen wir es ein anderes Mal.’.  „Thanks for the invite to happy hour, but can I take a rain check?  I need to get home for dinner with my family.”

a Hail Mary pass

Aus dem American Football, was soviel bedeutet wie „ein verzweifelter Versuch in letzter Minute, etwas zu schaffen“. „We offered the client a 15% reduction in price as a Hail Mary to win their business.”

to touch base (with someone)

Aus dem Baseball, was soviel bedeutet wie „mit jemandem in Kontakt treten“. “Can you touch base with Chester next week to see how he is doing with the forecast numbers?”

a front runner

Aus dem Pferderennen: „die Person, die führend ist, aber noch nicht gewonnen hat“. “I think we are the front runner for the winning the account, but XYZ’s offer was also very strong.”

the ball is in (someone’s) court

Aus dem Tennis: „Es ist jemand an der Reihe, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen oder den nächsten Zug zu machen“. . “I received an offer for a new job.  The ball is now in my court to ask for more money or decline it.”

the home stretch

Aus dem Pferderennsport, d.h.’kurz vor dem Ende sein‘ oder ‚in der letzten Phase oder Etappe zu sein‘.  “This has certainly been a challenging project, but we are now in the home stretch so let’s stay focussed and keep on schedule.”

to get the ball rolling

Aus Ballsportarten: „etwas anfangen“.. “OK, now we’re all here for today’s meeting let’s get the ball rolling. Heinz, can you start with an update on ….”

to keep your eye on the ball

Aus Ballsportarten: „wachsam, auf der Hut sein“. “We have worked with this client before and we know that they can be chaotic. We need to keep our eyes on the ball, especially when it comes to safety on site.

par for the course

Aus dem Golf, was soviel bedeutet wie „etwas Normales oder Erwartetes“.  ‘Jim was late for the meeting again today.  That is par for the course with him.’

to strike out

Aus dem Baseball: bei etwas zu versagen.  ‘I have tried to get a meeting with the Head of Purchasing 5 times but have struck out each time.’

Virtuelles Training vs. Präsenztraining: Wie sieht es im Vergleich aus?

James Culver ist Partner der Target Training Gmbh und verfügt über 25 Jahre Erfahrung in der Entwicklung maßgeschneiderter Trainingslösungen. Er war in seinen beruflichen Stationen ein HR Training Manager, ein Major der US Army National Guard und ein Dozent an der International School of Management. Er ist auch ein talentierter Perkussionist und Geschichtenerzähler. Im letzten Teil dieser Serie von Blog-Posts über die Durchführung von virutellem Training beantwortete er die folgenden Fragen…

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Sie verfügen über 25 Jahre Erfahrung in der Durchführung von Schulungen. Seit wann bieten Sie virtuelles Training an?

James Seit den 90er Jahren. In den Vereinigten Staaten haben wir sehr früh mit der virtuellen Vortragsweise im Community College-System begonnen. Wir hatten oft  kleine Gruppen von Studenten an abgelegeneren Standorten, die dennoch die Vorteile von Kursen nutzen wollten, die wir auf dem Hauptcampus anbieten würden, also begannen wir, virtuelle Schulungen anzubieten. Als ich anfing, mit virtuellem Training zu arbeiten, war es extrem teuer, einen Teil dieser Arbeit zu erledigen. Unser System war im Grunde genommen eine Kameraeinrichtung und der Professor oder der Trainer sprach nur mit der Kamera. Es gab nur sehr wenig Interaktion mit den anderen Standorten und es war wie eine Art TV- Schule.

Wie sehen Sie den Vergleich von virtuellem Training zu fact-to-face Training?

James Es gibt wahrscheinlich zwei Dinge, über die man nachdenken sollte. Eines ist der Inhalt, den man vorträgt und das andere ist der Kontext. Mit Kontext meine ich alles, was den Inhalt umgibt. Wie die Dinge gemacht werden, wer mit wem interagiert und wie sie interagieren – das Gros der Kommunikation. Was den Inhalt betrifft, so sind das behandelte Thema und die geteilten Informationen auf virtueller und persönlicher Ebene gut zu vergleichen. Tatsächlich sind die virtuellen Plattformen, die wir bei Target Training einsetzen, maßgeschneidert für die Bereitstellung vieler Inhalte auf interessante Weise. Es ist sehr einfach, Videos, Aufnahmen, Whiteboards usw. hinzuzufügen. Wenn wir zum Beispiel Inhalte haben, die auf einem Slide vorbereitet und den Leuten zur Verfügung gestellt werden, können sie diese kommentieren, Fragen stellen usw. Das ist auf einer virtuellen Plattform wirklich sehr einfach..

Was meistens schwieriger ist, ist alles, was damit zu tun hat, im selben Raum wie jemand anderes zu sein: Gesichtsausdruck ändern, Körpersprache ändern. Wir sehen oder bekommen das oft nicht in einer virtuellen Umgebung mit, selbst mit den marktführenden Systemen. Die Herausforderung als Trainer besteht darin, einen großen Teil der Informationen zu verlieren, die wir von den Teilnehmern eines klassischen Präsenztrainings erhalten würden. Das ist eine harte Nuss. Als Trainer im Präsenztraining habe ich ein Gefühl dafür, wie es läuft, weil ich im Raum bin. Es ist viel schwieriger, ein Gefühl dafür zu haben, wie es läuft, wenn man sich in einer virtuellen Umgebung befindet. Und du brauchst dieses „Gefühl“, damit du dich anpassen und den Teilnehmern die bestmögliche Lernerfahrung bieten kannst..

Welche Workaround-Strategien gibt es dafür?

James Es gibt Workaround-Strategien und durch externe und interne Schulungen und On-the-job-Erfahrungen nutzen unsere Trainer diese. Eine Strategie ist, dass man viele offene und geschlossene „Check-Fragen“ stellen muss. Fragen wie „Bist du bei mir“, „Ist das klar?“, „Was sind also die Kernpunkte, die du daraus ableitest“, „Was sind deine bisherigen Fragen?“ Erfahrene virtuelle Trainer werden diese Art von Fragen alle 2 bis 3 Minuten stellen.  Im Wesentlichen hat ein Trainer ein Zeitlimit von 2 bis 3 Minuten für seinen Input, bevor er eine Check-Frage stellen sollte. Die Check-Fragen sollten sowohl offen für die Gruppe als auch für eine Einzelperson bestimmt sein.

Welche Schulungsthemen eignen sich am besten für die virtuelle Vortragsweise und welche nicht?

James Die Themen, die sich am besten für die virtuelle Vortragsweise eignen, sind diejenigen, die stärker auf Inhalte ausgerichtet sind – zum Beispiel klassische Präsentationsfähigkeiten oder virtuell ausgeführte Präsentationen.  Diese Art von Trainingslösungen konzentrieren sich auf Input, Tipps, Do’s und Don’ts, Best Practice Sharing und dann Praxis – Feedback – Praxis – Feedback etc..

Another theme that works very well for us when delivered virtually is virtual team training, whether it be working in virtual teams or leading virtual teams. By their very nature, virtual teams are dispersed so the virtual delivery format fits naturally. Plus, you are training them using the tools they need to master themselves. And of course, another benefit is if the training is for a specific virtual team the shared training experience strengthens the team itself.

Ein weiteres Thema, das für uns virtuell sehr gut funktioniert, ist das virtuelle Teamtraining, sei es in virtuellen Teams oder bei der Leitung virtueller Teams. Virtuelle Teams sind naturgemäß so verteilt, dass das virtuelle Übertragungsformat auf natürliche Weise passt. Außerdem trainieren Sie sie mit den Werkzeugen, die sie später selbst beherrschen sollten. Und natürlich ist ein weiterer Vorteil: Das Training für ein bestimmtes virtuelles Team, stärkt die gemeinsame Trainingserfahrung des Teams.

Die Arten von Trainingslösungen, die virtuell eine größere Herausforderung darstellen, sind diejenigen, bei denen wir versuchen, uns selbst oder andere zu verändern. Themen wie Durchsetzungsfähigkeit oder effektiveres Arbeiten müssen sorgfältig durchdacht und entwickelt werden, wenn sie mehr als ein Informationsdepot sein sollen. Hier ist der Coaching-Aspekt weitaus wichtiger.

Schließlich, und vielleicht überraschenderweise, kann das Management- und Führungstraining wirklich gut funktionieren, wenn es virtuell durchgeführt wird. Unsere Lösung Hochleistung zu erzielen ist ein gutes Beispiel dafür. Das Geheimnis dabei ist, das kleine Lernen zu betonen, zusätzliche Ressourcen außerhalb der Sitzung bereitzustellen, z.B. umgedrehter Unterricht (flipped classroom) mit relevanten Videos und Artikeln, und auch Möglichkeiten für Einzelgespräche zu bieten.

Virtuelle Meetings: Dos and Don’ts

Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihre virtuellen Meetings produktiv sind

Virtuelle Meetings können manchmal knifflig sein. Sind sie eher wie ein Telefonat oder ein persönliches Treffen? Nun, sie sind eine Kombination aus beidem und sollten unterschiedlich behandelt werden. Hier sind einige schnelle und einfache „Dos and Don’ts“ für virtuelle Meetings.

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Virtuelle Meetings: “Dos”

  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass alle Beteiligten, die für die Erreichung der Ziele von wesentlicher Bedeutung sind, anwesend sind – ansonsten vereinbaren Sie einen neuen Termin.
  • Seien Sie flexibel mit der Besprechungszeit damit Mitarbeiter in anderen Zeitzonen ebenfalls teilnehmen können.
  • Erstellen Sie eine Agenda, die die Ziele des Meetings beschreibt.
  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass die Besprechungspunkte/Prioritäten/Zeiten mit den Besprechungszielen übereinstimmen.
  • Sagen Sie ein regelmäßig stattfindendes Meeting ab, wenn Sie der Meinung sind, dass die Zeit besser anderweitig genutzt werden könnte.
  • Senden Sie mindestens drei Tage vor dem Meeting eine Erinnerung mit der Tagesordnung, den benötigten Materialien und Informationen über die zu verwendende Technologie.
  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass alle am Meeting teilnehmen und mitwirken
  • Eliminieren Sie Ablenkungen: Schalten Sie alle Smartphones aus und vermeiden Sie E-Mails und Instant Messaging während des Meetings.
  • Machen Sie Nebengespräche über ein Thema zur offiziellen Funktion des Treffens.
  • Entscheidungen und weitere Schritte dokumentieren

Virtuelle Meetings “Don’ts”

  • Halten Sie keine Besprechung ab, wenn Sie die Frage „Was ist der Zweck und das erwartete Ergebnis?“ nicht eindeutig beantworten können.
  • Treffen nicht zur „Gewohnheit“ werden lassen
  • Versuchen Sie nicht, mehr als fünf spezifische Punkte pro Sitzung abzudecken.
  • Lassen Sie weder Nebensächlichkeiten, „Experten“ oder Muttersprachler das Meeting dominieren.
  • Halten Sie keine Sitzung, wenn die für die Ziele der Sitzung wesentlichen Interessengruppen nicht teilnehmen können.
  • Nehmen Sie nicht an, dass die Teammitglieder sich über ihre Rolle und die Ziele des Meetings im Klaren sind.
  • Halten Sie keine kontinuierlichen „Marathon“-Sitzungen ohne Brainstorming oder Pausen in kleinen Gruppen
  • Behandeln Sie kritische Themen nicht zu Beginn des Meetings
  • Lassen Sie die Besprechung nicht aus dem Ruder laufen, indem Sie die Details einer Aktion besprechen, die für die Ziele der Besprechung nicht relevant sind.
  • Fangen Sie nicht später an

Mehr Tipps zu virtuellen Teams?

Diese Dos and Don’ts sind nur eine kleine Auswahl der Tipps in unserem neuesten Ebook: The ultimate book of Virtual Teams checklists. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Sie eine Kopie herunterladen, wenn Sie daran interessiert sind, die Wirkung Ihres virtuellen Teams zu maximieren. Viel Spaß beim Lesen und…. lassen Sie uns wissen, was für Ihr virtuelles Team funktioniert!!

Warum, statistisch gesehen, Ihre E-Mails nicht so klar sind, wie Sie glauben.

Zum Zeitpunkt der Erstellung dieses Blogs werden schätzungsweise 269 Milliarden Mails pro Tag verschickt. Sobald wir alle Spam-Mails (sagen wir 50%) entfernt haben, ist das immer noch eine Menge Kommunikation. Doch wie effektiv ist E-Mail als Kommunikationsmittel wirklich? Einfach ausgedrückt – es kommt darauf an. Wenn eine Mail gut geschrieben ist, zum Beispiel mit dem SUGAR-Ansatz, kann E-Mail ein effektiver Weg sein, um Informationen zu kommunizieren und Ideen auszutauschen. Allerdings, wo E-Mail beginnt zu straucheln ist, wenn sie Emotionen enthält oder vermittelt. Und wir sprechen hier nicht über GROSSE EMOTIONEN – die meisten von uns wissen, dass es keine gute Idee ist, E-Mails zu verschicken, wenn sie müde, verärgert, wütend usw. sind. E-Mail-Kommunikation hat allerdings auch Probleme, wenn wir versuchen, viel subtilere Emotionen zu vermitteln – Ironie, Sarkasmus, Zufriedenheit etc.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Warum haben wir Probleme damit, Emotionen per E-Mail zu kommunizieren?

In unseren Gesprächen vermitteln wir Emotionen sowohl durch Worte als auch durch paralinguistische Hinweise (Körpersprache, Gesichtsbewegungen, Ausdrücke, Gesten, Ton, Intonation usw.). In der Tat wird es sogar komplizierter, da manchmal das Fehlen eines erwarteten paralinguistischen Stichwortes die Emotion oder einen gemeinsamen Kontext vermittelt, zum Beispiel beim Ausdrücken von Ironie oder Sarkasmus.

Wenn es um E-Mail geht, versuchen wir, Emotionen durch Wortwahl, Satzstrukturen und – ob man sie nun mag oder nicht – Visuals wie Emojis zu vermitteln (ja, sie sind mittlerweile auch im Geschäftsleben üblich).  Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zeigen jedoch, dass wir unsere Fähigkeiten beim Schreiben von E-Mails immer wieder überschätzen.


Warum das Schreiben einer E-Mail anders ist

Schriftliche Kommunikation ist nicht neu – aber die Allgegenwart und Verbreitung von E-Mail ist es!  Das Schreiben und Briefe verschicken bedeutete, dass wir in größerem Maße planten und überlegten, was wir schrieben und wie wir es schrieben. Niemand hat einen 3-zeiligen Brief geschrieben.  Heutzutage bedeutet die Geschwindigkeit und Bequemlichkeit von E-Mails, dass wir zu oft nur tippen und senden. Dies bringt eine ganze Reihe neuer Verhaltensweisen mit sich, und weil es so sehr Teil der modernen Kommunikation ist, nehmen wir uns keine Zeit, um zu beurteilen, wie wir die E-Mail verwenden oder unsere Schreibfähigkeiten zu schärfen.

Forschung zeigt: unsere Kommunikation per E-Mail ist nicht so gut, wie wir denken.

Es gibt viel Forschung von Sozialpsychologen darüber, wie wir per E-Mail kommunizieren. Eine interessante Studie zeigt, dass die Grenzen von E-Mail oft unterschätzt werden, wenn es darum geht, eine beabsichtigte Emotion zu kommunizieren – und dass wir beim Schreiben einer E-Mail immer wieder überschätzen, wie gut unser Leser verstehen, was wir sagen.

Veröffentlicht im Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, führten Kruger, Epley, Parker und Zhi-Wen Ng eine Reihe von Studien durch, in denen sie verglichen, wie gut ein E-Mail-Autor seine E-Mails gegenüber dem Leser bewertet hat.

  • In einer Studie erwarteten 97% der Autoren, dass die ernsten und halbsarkastischen Sätze in ihrer E-Mail korrekt entschlüsselt werden. Die Leser haben nur 84% erfolgreich entschlüsselt.
  • Eine andere Studie verglich das übersteigerte Selbstvertrauen bei der sprachlichen Kommunikation mit dem übersteigerten Selbstvertrauen bei der Kommunikation per E-Mail. Bei der Kommunikation mit der Stimme glaubten 77,9%, dass ihr Ton verstanden werden würde – während es in Wirklichkeit 73,1% waren. Eine spürbare Lücke ABER deutlich besser als die E-Mail-Ergebnisse, wo 78% glauben, dass ihr Ton verstanden würde, während es eigentlich nur 56% waren!
  • Aber es ist anders, wenn Sie einem Kollegen schreiben, der Sie gut kennt, oder? Möglicherweise nicht – eine dritte Studie betrachtete übersteigertes Selbstvertrauen, wenn sie mit Fremden oder mit Freunden kommunizierten. Überraschenderweise deuteten die Ergebnisse darauf hin, dass Vertrautheit nicht in Kommunikationsgenauigkeit übersetzt werden kann.
  • Und schließlich hat eine weitere Studie gezeigt, dass E-Mail-Autoren in ihrer Fähigkeit, in einer E-Mail lustig zu sein, sich stets selbst überschätzt haben!

Warum sind wir so überzeugt, dass unsere E-Mails leicht zu entschlüsseln sind?

Es ist einfach, den Lesern die Schuld zu geben. Vielleicht haben sie die Mail zu schnell gelesen, oder sie haben sie am Handy überflogen, als sie zu ihrem nächsten Meeting gingen. Vielleicht sind ihre Sprachkenntnisse nicht stark genug und sie müssen ihr Geschäftsenglisch verbessern. Oder – wagen wir es zu sagen – vielleicht sind sie einfach zu „blöd“, um unsere gut geschriebenen E-Mails zu verstehen!

Tatsächlich liegt es oft daran, dass wir egozentrisch sind. Studien wie Elizabeth Newtons „Tapping-Studie“ – in der die Teilnehmer gebeten wurden, den Rhythmus eines bekannten Liedes, das sie hörten, zu klopfen  und dann abzuschätzen, ob ein anderer Zuhörer das Lied anhand ihres (überaus geschickten) Klopfens erraten würde (50% vs. 3%) – zeigen, wie leicht wir uns selbst davon überzeugen können, dass unsere Realität offensichtlich ist. Die Studien beleuchten auch, wie schwierig es ist, sich die Perspektive eines anderen vorzustellen (z.B. „Ich meinte es ganz klar ironisch – wie konnten sie das nicht verstehen?!)

Was können Sie also tun, damit Ihre Leser Ihre E-Mails richtig interpretieren können?

Hier sind drei Dinge, die Sie sich für die Zukunft merken können:

  • Bevor Sie auf Senden klicken, lesen Sie Ihre E-Mail mit Ihrem „Mehrdeutigkeits-Radar“ erneut durch. Wenn etwas anders verstanden werden könnte, dann schreiben Sie es neu, erklären Sie es – oder löschen Sie es einfach.
  • Wenn die Mail eine emotionale Komponente hat, lassen Sie sie dreißig Minuten lang in Ruhe und lesen Sie sie dann erneut.
  • Wenn etwas ein Witz ist, benutzen Sie Emojis.

Und schließlich, wenn Sie nicht sicher sind, benutzen Sie das Telefon


Ihre erste virtuelle Präsentation – praktische Planungstipps für Einsteiger

Der Schritt zur virtuellen Präsentation ist für die meisten von uns nicht selbstverständlich.  Einfach ausgedrückt – es fühlt sich seltsam an. Hier, die gute Nachricht: die meisten der Grundprinzipien, die hinter einer effektiven Präsentation stehen, sind nach wie vor gültig. Sie müssen wissen, was Ihre Botschaft ist, wer Ihr Publikum ist, Ihre Botschaft mit den Interessen des Publikums verschmelzen, eine klare Struktur haben, und und und. In vielerlei Hinsicht erfordert eine Präsentation praktisch das gleiche Wissen und Können… aber es gibt auch Unterschiede. Wenn Sie ein Anfänger sind, Präsentationen online zu halten, gibt es 2 Bereiche an die Sie denken müssen – Vorbereitung und Durchführung oder Übertragung.  Unsere Kunden sagen uns oft, dass die Übertragung der Bereich ist, der sie am meisten beunruhigt, aber wir können nicht genug betonen, dass Änderungen an der Art und Weise, wie Sie Ihre virtuelle Präsentation planen, die Voraussetzung für den Erfolg sind.  Dieser Blogbeitrag schaut daher genauer auf die Planung. 

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Wenn Sie mit der Planung Ihrer virtuellen Präsentationen beginnen, sollten Sie sich folgende 3 Fragen stellen

  • Wie soll ich die Aufmerksamkeit aufrechthalten?
  • Was kann ich im Voraus tun, um mich wohler zu fühlen?
  • Was, wenn etwas mit der Technologie schief geht?

Wie soll ich die Aufmerksamkeit aufrechthalten?

Die Aufmerksamkeitsspanne Ihres Publikums (wie lange sie sich auf Sie und Ihre Botschaft konzentrieren wird) ist online kürzer als offline. Teilweise liegt es daran, dass man sich nicht persönlich auf Sie konzentrieren kann. Andererseits wird das Publikum auch von anderen Dingen abgelenkt (eMail, andere Kollegen usw.) UND es besteht ebenfalls die Möglichkeit, dass die Aufmerksamkeit schwindet, weil Sie als Redner ja manchmal nicht sehen können, ob man Ihnen überhaupt zuhört. Um ihre Aufmerksamkeit aufrecht zu halten, müssen Sie also:

  • Halten Sie Ihre virtuelle Präsentation so kurz wie möglich. Kein Rat, den wir Ihnen geben können, hilft Ihrem Publikum, 2 Stunden lang konzentriert zu bleiben. Maximal 40 Minuten sind das Ziel. Brechen Sie es in 2 Teile  auf, wenn es länger dauern sollte.
  • Halten Sie sich von textlastigen Folien fern. Wir können mindestens doppelt so schnell lesen, wie wir zuhören können []. Das heißt, wenn alle Ihre Informationen auf der Folie geschrieben sind, wird Ihr Publikum dies gelesen haben, bevor Sie auch nur zur Hälfte darüber gesprochen haben. Ihr Publikum wird dann abschalten und etwas anderes tun, während Sie ihnen sagen, was bereits jeder gelesen hat.
  • Das bedeutet, dass Sie die Art und Weise, wie Sie Ihre Folien gestalten, überdenken müssen. Ihre Folien sind oft die wichtigste visuelle Verbindung, die Sie zu Ihrem Hörer haben. Das bedeutet, dass Ihre „Slides“ sehr visuell sein müssen. Behalten Sie diese drei Tipps im Auge: ein starkes Bild ist besser als viele, ungewöhnliche Bilder werden die Aufmerksamkeit hoch halten und Diagramme müssen klar sein.  Vergleichen Sie die 2 Beispiele unten.

Was kann ich im Voraus tun, um mich wohler zu fühlen?

Wenn Sie zum ersten Mal virtuell präsentieren, dann

  • Verinnerlichen Sie Ihren Inhalt! Das gilt natürlich auch, wenn Sie eine Präsentation „leibhaftig“ halten, aber unsere Erfahrung ist, dass Moderatoren die Inhalte eher in viele Notizen verwandeln und dann von ihnen ablesen, wenn sie virtuell präsentieren.  Ich erinnere mich an einen Einkäufer, der ein komplettes Skript mit Notizen zum Pausieren geschrieben hat!  Lesen statt Sprechen wird Ihre Energieniveaus negativ beeinflussen – Sie werden weniger natürlich klingen und letztendlich Ihr Publikum ermutigen, Multi-Tasking zu beginnen. Sie müssen wissen, was Sie sagen wollen, damit Sie sich darauf konzentrieren können, wie Sie es sagen. (mehr in Teil 2)
  • Üben, üben und nochmals üben – Wenn dies Ihr erstes Mal ist, können Sie nicht genug Zeit mit jemand anderem üben. Sie können auch einen zweiten Computer einrichten, damit Sie sehen können, was eine andere Person sehen würde. Dies hilft Ihnen, sich sicherer und selbstbewusster zu fühlen. Ihr Publikum wird es Ihnen danken. Denken Sie daran, dass dies eine Lernkurve ist und je früher Sie beginnen, desto besser. NICHT einfach anfangen und dann schauen was passiert!
  • Denken Sie über die Raum nach, von wo aus Sie präsentieren werden, und versuchen Sie, Ablenkungen und Unterbrechungen zu begrenzen. Wenn Sie können, präsentieren Sie aus einem Besprechungsraum, der ruhig ist.  Von Ihrem Schreibtisch aus in einem großen, offenen Büro zu präsentieren, wird schwierig sein, egal wie viel Erfahrung Sie haben.
  • Schließlich müssen Sie Zeit investieren, um Ihre Web- oder Videokonferenzplattform wirklich gut zu kennen! Hier schafft Praxis Mehrwert. Fast alle Conferencing-Tools haben Tutorials, leichte Erklärungen, Tipps und Benutzerhandbücher. Einige bieten sogar kostenlose Online-Kurse an. Nutzen Sie sie und machen Sie sich mit Ihrer Technologie vertraut.

Was, wenn etwas mit der Technologie schief geht?

Obwohl es eher unwahrscheinlich ist, steht die Angst davor, dass etwas mit der Technik schief läuft, bei vielen Neulingen von virtuellen Präsentation auf Platz 1. Hier sind 3 Dinge, die Sie tun können…

  • Üben Sie den Umgang mit dem System. Je mehr Übung, desto mehr Vertrauen in die Technik. Ich weiß, ich wiederhole mich und ich werde es wieder tun…. Praxis mit dem System ist das A und O.
  • Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihr Computer aktualisiert ist (Updates herunterladen), dass Sie eine zweite Stromquelle haben (verlassen Sie sich nicht nur auf Ihren Akku) und dass Sie alle Programme geschlossen haben, die Sie nicht benötigen.
  • Organisieren Sie, dass ein erfahrener Kollege vor Ort ist, der Sie unterstützt. Bei Präsentationen vor einem größeren Publikum ist sind diese „zusätzlichen Paar Hände im Cyberspace“ unerlässlich.  Sie konzentrieren sich auf die Präsentation und er/sie auf die Technik.


Der Erfolg beginnt mit der Planung Ihrer Inhalte, der Anpassung Ihres Bildmaterials, der Kenntnis Ihrer Inhalte, damit Sie natürlich sprechen können, der Kontrolle Ihrer Umgebung und der Vorbereitung auf das gefürchtete technische Problem. Es gibt noch einiges mehr. worauf beim Präsentieren in einer virtuellen Umgebung zu achten ist und einige dieser Dinge werden in einem zukünftigen Beitrag diskutiert werden. In der Zwischenzeit gibt es hier ein eBook, das Ihnen hilft, mit all Ihren Präsentationen fertig zu werden – virtuell oder nicht.

eBook: The definitive checklist for qualifying training providers

Virtuelle Teamkonferenzen

Häufige Probleme bei wöchentlichen virtuellen Telefonkonferenzen

Es ist Montag, und jeden Montag nehme ich an einer virtuellen Telefonkonferenz teil. Ein Teil von mir schätzt diesen regelmäßigen Kontakt, aber ein anderer Teil von mir mag diese Treffen nicht so sehr wie unsere persönlichen. Warum? Grob gesagt, weil sie so verschieden sind.

Ich kann niemanden sehen

Das ist offensichtlich, aber nicht weniger frustrierend. Wenn wir nicht sehen können, wer spricht, wer sprechen möchte oder welche Reaktionen die Menschen haben, ist die emotionale Seite des Gesprächs weitesgehend verschwunden.

Sich abwechseln

Ich weiß nie, wann ich an der Reihe bin zu sprechen, und es fühlt sich an, als ob es auch niemand anders tut. Das heißt, es wird nicht viel gesagt.

Auf der Bühne stehen

Wenn ich endlich an der Reihe bin, etwas zu sagen, habe ich das Gefühl, auf der Bühne zu stehen. Es herrscht Stille, ich kann weder Ermutigung noch Interesse sehen oder fühlen. Ich habe keine Ahnung, ob mir tatsächlich jemand zuhört, und falls sie mir zuhören, verurteilen sie mich? Verschwende ich ihre Zeit?

Der Zwangsjacken-Effekt

Wenn ich meine persönlichen Treffen mit unseren virtuellen Team-Telefonkonferenzen vergleiche, habe ich das Gefühl, in den Telefonkonferenzen eine Zwangsjacke zu tragen. In den persönlichen Besprechungen ist alles fließender, und wir plaudern und scherzen mehr – im Wesentlichen gibt es ein warmes, ermutigendes Umfeld.

Virtual team teleconference

Während wir Unternehmen schulen, wie sie ihre Teams in virtuellen Teams effektiv arbeiten lassen, setzen wir in unseren eigenen Telekonferenzen ein Beispiel und befolgen alle Regeln in dieser Checkliste.

Der Schlüssel zu einer effektiven virtuellen Teamkonferenz

  • Planen Sie das Meeting
  • Bestimmen Sie Zeit und Länge der Konferenz
  • Ziele setzen
  • Entwickeln Sie eine realistische Agenda, die die Ziele und die verfügbare Zeit widerspiegelt
  • Listen Sie spezifische Ergebnisse auf, die erreicht werden sollen
  • Priorisieren Sie Themen, die besprochen werden sollen
  • Identifizieren Sie, wer anwesend sein muss
  • Bestätigen Sie die Teilnahme und Verfügbarkeit
  • Ernennen Sie einen Leiter für jede Sitzung
  • Verteilen Sie Besprechungsmaterialien
  • Pünktlich beginnen
  • Einführung durch Vorstellung der Teilnehmer
  • Überprüfen Sie Ziele und Zeit für das Treffen
  • Aktive Teilnahme fördern
  • Fragen stellen
  • Fokus auf das Wesentliche – Nicht-Tagesordnungspunkte auf zukünftige Meetings verschieben
  • Rechtzeitig zum Ende kommen und ein paar Minuten für die Nachbereitung und Verabschiedung lassen
  • Sprechen Sie auf natürliche Weise in Richtung des Mikrofons
  • Machen Sie sich bemerkbar, wenn nötig
  • Gelegentlich pausieren, damit andere Kommentare abgeben können

Eine solche gründliche Liste gilt normalerweise nicht für ein persönliches Treffen, ist aber logisch notwendig, um erfolgreiche Ergebnisse in der virtuellen Umgebung sicherzustellen. Ich bin mit dem Logikteil d’accord, aber was kann man gegen den “Zwangsjacken-Effekt” machen? Ich habe oben “Aktive Teilnahme fördern“ hervorgehoben. Wenn dies effektiv gemacht wird, kann sich die Zwangsjacke lockern und schließlich abfallen.

Aktives Zuhören in virtuellen Team-Telekonferenzen

Wenn wir aktiv zuhören, konzentrieren wir uns voll und ganz auf den Sprecher, bauen Rapport auf, erkennen die Bedenken des Sprechers an, zeigen Verständnis und entspannen die Situation. Ein “Anklagebank-Szenario” wird so in ein warmes, unterstützendes und ermutigendes Umfeld verwandelt. Der wichtigste Weg, um dies umzusetzen, ist durch Sprache.

Hier sind einige Redewendugen, die wir in unseren virtuellen Team-Telefonkonferenzen verwenden:

Verständnis und Interesse zeigen:
  • Was hat Sie dazu gebracht ……?
  • Warum haben Sie sich entschieden ……?
  • Wie wichtig ist das für Sie?
Unterstützung, Hilfe anbieten:
  • Was kann ich tun, um Ihnen zu helfen?
  • Was brauchen Sie, um …
  • Haben Sie konkrete Vorschläge, wie ich Ihnen helfen kann?
Die Bedenken der Redner anerkennen:
  • Ich verstehe
  • Ich kann Ihre Besorgnis nachvollziehen.
  • Das muss sehr schwierig sein.
Um Klärung bitten:
  • Wenn Sie XYZ erwähnen, was meinen Sie genau?
  • Ich habe nicht genau verstanden, was Sie gesagt haben – könnten Sie das wiederholen?
  • Können Sie mir mehr über XYZ erzählen?
Die Konversation vorantreiben:
  • Sie haben erwähnt, dass … – Wie gehen Sie damit um ?
  • Wann haben Sie zuletzt…?
  • Es ist interessant, was Sie über XYZ gesagt haben…

Für die meisten von uns ist eine Videokonferenz für virtuelle Teams niemals das gleiche wie eine persönliche Besprechung. Wenn uns jedoch bewusst wird, wie andere sich fühlen, wird die Konzentration auf unsere verwendete Sprache, dazu beitragen, eine unterstützende und produktive Umgebung zu gestalten. Haben Sie irgendwelche Tipps oder Sätze, die für Sie funktioniert haben? Lassen Sie es uns im Kommentarbereich wissen. Klicken Sie hier, um Ihre virtuellen Team-Telekonferenzen mit Target Training zu verbessern.

Virtuelle Team-Meetings: Empathie und Rapport aufbauen

How are your Virtual Team meetings?

More and more meetings are being held virtually. Virtual team meetings are a trend that is bound to continue as it is far cheaper than getting everyone together. But it isn’t the same, is it? Unless you use webcams, you can’t pick up on any nonverbal communication going on. You can’t see people’s faces. You can’t see what they are thinking. To be honest, you don’t know what they’re actually even doing. You also, and this point bothers me the most, can’t have that cup of coffee together at the beginning where you exchange a few words often unrelated to business.

Why is the social aspect so important?

You completely miss out on the opportunity to establish any empathy or rapport with the people you are working with. Imagine for example that you are having a virtual team meeting to discuss solving a problem you have. If you don’t have any form of relationship with these people, how can you expect them to help? Isn’t it easier to request help from someone you know a little about? If you don’t know them at all, how can you choose the right way of talking to them to win them over? Of course, the need for empathy building will vary from culture to culture. Some will take an order as an order and just do it, but not that many. And what happens if you have a multi-cultural team?

What can you do to establish virtual empathy and rapport?

It is doubtful as to whether empathy can actually be taught. But there are techniques which help to develop it. Here are a few:

  • Begin the webmeeting on time, with a quick round of self introductions. It is important to hear everyone’s voice and know who is present. Remind participants that each time they speak, they should identify themselves again.
  • Log in early and encourage small talk while waiting for everyone to join in and at the beginning of the meeting itself – have that cup of coffee virtually. This will help to make a connection between people and give them a bit of character. In a remote meeting you often feel distant from each other, and this can make it difficult to interact. This feeling of distance happens, because the participants are in different places and often can’t see each other. Small talk helps to ‘bridge the distances’. Small talk also helps you to get to know each other and each other’s voices, so you know who is speaking and when. This will help communication later on in the meeting.VTchecklists

What can you talk about and what should you say?

Small talk can also give you valuable information about the other participants which could be important to the success of the meeting. What mood are they in? Are they having computer problems? Are they calling from a quiet location? Here are some topics we recommend using and some language to get you started. There are literally hundreds of things you could say, but it can be helpful to have a few prepared. You’ll see that some of these are particular to virtual meetings:


  • F: Von wo aus sprechen Sie gerade?
  • A: Ich bin an meinem Schreibtisch. Wie ist es bei Ihnen?


  • F: Wie ist das Wetter bei Ihnen? Bei uns ist es ziemlich düster!
  • A: Wir haben blauen Himmel und Sonnenschein. Hoffentlich kommt das bald zu Ihnen rüber!


  • F: Wie haben Sie sich eingeloggt? Ich hatte ein paar Probleme.
  • A: Es hat gut geklappt. Welche Probleme hatten Sie?


  • F: Können Sie mich gut hören?
  • A: Tut mir leid, es ist etwas leise. Könnten Sie lauter sprechen?


  • F: Ich kämpfe hier mit einer ernsthaften Verzögerung. Wie ist es bei Ihnen?
  • A: Bei mir klappt es gut. Vielleicht ist es Ihre Internetverbindung?


  • F: Wie läuft es momentan im Marketing?
  • A: Ach, Sie wissen doch, beschäftigt wie immer. Wie sieht es in Ihrer Abteilung aus?

If you give lots of information in your answers, it makes it easier for the other person to ask more questions and keep the conversation going. If you just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it will stop the conversation. If you’re asking questions, remember to use open questions so that they can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”.

More on this topic can be found in our Using Collaborative Technologies Seminar. Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how to build empathy and rapport in your virtual team meetings? Let us know in the comments area below.


Getting people to read (and respond to) your emails

As everyone already knows, email is ubiquitous – in both our private and professional lives. Emails are easy to write and send – and we are inundated with them daily. As an in-house business English trainer at a major production site, I see daily the frustrations this can cause – not just for those receiving 90+ mails day (or 1 every 5 minutes!), but also for those sending the mails – knowing they may need to wait a while before hearing a reply. Recently, a manager I train in the automotive industry asked “How can I increase the chances that people respond to my emails?”

Studies have shown that people are more likely to respond to emails written in a simple, straightforward manner than to emails with more complex language. In fact, emails written at a 3rd grade level have been shown to have the highest response rate! So put away those thesauruses and get rid of those dependent clauses! Simple, concise writing is a main driver in increasing your response rate. As with any writing, placing your reader’s needs first is a must. There is no one magic formula for guaranteeing that people will respond to your email, but it’s important that you write emails that people will read. The tips outlined below will definitely tip the odds in your favour!

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadTIP 1 – Keep your subject line obvious and short

Short, simple and obvious subject lines of only 3-4 words get the most responses. The most important thing, though, is to make sure the meaning is clear. Clarity beats ambiguity every time! Military personnel often use keywords e.g. ACTION, REQUEST, DECISION, INFO. This helps the reader immediately understand the purpose of the email. Then, just a couple more words to clarify the subject.


  • Prod Spec (vague)
  • End User Prod spec file plz send (relevant words but could be easier to understand the meaning!)
  • Request- Send Product Specifications file (optimal!)

TIP 2 – Use simple language

As part of my job, I work with engineers providing on-the-job English training. Last week Klaus (not his real name) asked me to help him understand a mail from a supplier. Klaus was struggling to understand …“Hitherto now, I have been unable to place the whereabouts of your aforementioned order, to which I would like to offer the following proposal, able to be fulfilled forthwith”.

Working together with Klaus we simplified it into “We’re sorry but we can’t find the order you mentioned in your email. However, we can suggest the following immediate solution …”.  As Klaus rightly said – why didn’t they just say that?

TIP 3 – Write human

In addition to simplicity, write with emotion! It doesn’t matter if that emotion is positive or negative, writing with any emotion is better than writing a neutral email with absolutely no emotion. The bottom line is: use a believable amount of emotion without getting too hostile or overly-sentimental.

Example of increasing positive emotion:

  • I want to meet next week to discuss my proposal. (neutral)
  • I would love to meet next week to discuss my proposal. (better but maybe a little over the top)
  • I’m definitely interested in meeting next week to discuss my proposal with you! (best!)

Example of increasing negative emotion:

  • Our experience with your product did not meet our expectations. (neutral)
  • From my experience today, I find the quality of your product to be sub-par. (better but “sub par” isn’t simple English)
  • Your product sucks. (too much human)
  • Based on my experiences today, the quality of your product is far below our expectations (best!)

TIP 4 – Write short sentences and paragraphs

When writing your email, make sure it’s an appropriate length. Imagine if you received a novel in your inbox. Would you even bother to read the first sentence? Probably not! The optimal length of an email is roughly 50-125 words, and the response rate slowly drops off as the emails get longer.  When you really need to write longer emails use sub-headings to break the text up.

TIP 5 – Keep the dialogue moving with clear questions

One final way to increase the chances your email will receive a response is to include a task, so ask a few questions! Otherwise, the recipient will most likely assume the purpose of your email is nothing more than to inform. Statistically, 1-3 questions are optimal. Any longer and it becomes a questionnaire, which quickly sends the email to the “do later” box. As I wrote earlier, you won’t get a response to every email you write, but you can change how you write your emails so that you are more likely to get a response when it counts most! And remember to use the phone or video calls if something is important, urgent or contains an emotional message.

Keep on developing your email writing skills with these blog posts

And if you’re looking for training (delivered virtually or face to face) then check out …

50 ways to start a conversation in English at work

Socializing and networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Whether it be a language issue  or a question of skills and behaviors, many professionals struggle when networking and socializing with new people. How do you start a conversation when you walk into a meeting room and there are a lot of people you don’t know? Introducing yourself is the obvious first step: “Hi, my name’s Renate and I’m a member of the purchasing team.” … Easy… but what comes next?  If you are shy this can be awkward in your own language –  AND doing it in a foreign language can be really challenging!  Our InCorporate Trainers often find that seemingly small challenges such as this can cause an unnecessary amount of pressure. A few trainers have come up with 50 phrases to help you break the ice and start a conversation. Many of the phrases can be used in any context – but some are only used in certain situations. You don’t need to remember them all just pick the ones you feel comfortable with and can say naturally.
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Collecting someone from reception

  1. Did you have any problems finding us?
  2. Did you find the parking area ok?
  3. How are things going?
  4. I like your laptop bag. Where did you get it?
  5. Do you know…?
  6. What are you hoping to get out of today?
  7. How was your weekend?
  8. Did you hear that…?
  9. What have you been up to lately?
  10. Are many of your colleagues coming today?

Waiting for the presentation/meeting to start

  1. Is it OK if I sit here?
  2. I don’t think we’ve met before. My name is…
  3. Where are you from?
  4. I think you were at the XXX meeting last month, weren’t you?
  5. Do you know what the Wi-Fi code is?
  6. When did you arrive?
  7. What brings you here today?
  8. How was your journey?
  9. Nice weather / terrible weather, isn’t it?
  10. I could really use a coffee. Do you know where the machine is?

During the coffee break

  1. Do you mind if I join you?
  2. How’s the coffee?
  3. Can I pour you a coffee?
  4. What do you think of it so far?
  5. I was a bit late this morning; did I miss anything in the first 10 minutes?
  6. Which department are you in?
  7. Don’t you work with…?
  8. I can’t believe how many people are here today.
  9. Do you find it hot in here?
  10. I found it interesting that XX said …?

During lunch

  1. Is this seat taken?
  2. So, what do you think of this morning?
  3. Have you eaten here before?
  4. How’s your steak / fish etc.?
  5. Have you had a good day so far?
  6. Do you know many people here?
  7. Do you know what the program is for this afternoon?
  8. How did you get into this business?
  9. What do you do?
  10. Did you travel in today or come last night?

After a presentation/meeting

  1. What did you think of today?
  2. What’s been the highlight of the day for you?
  3. What have you learned today?
  4. I liked what xxx said about yyy.
  5. How’s today been for you?
  6. What do you think about…?
  7. What are you working on at the moment?
  8. How long have you been working here?
  9. Are you taking a taxi to the hotel/ train station / airport ?
  10. Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Even more resources

You’ve now got 50 practical phrases and of course there are  many, many more. Here are 5 more tips for you.

6 ways to improve your Business English by yourself

Whether you have English training at your companies or private training out of work, you probably know that to really improve your business English you need to take responsibility and control of your learning.  Just sitting passively in a training session once a week isn’t enough.  The good news is that according to popular research into language learning, we are all born autonomous learners. It is in our nature to be proactive, explore, and respond to our environment.  We naturally take charge of our learning by setting ourselves goals and we are driven by our own motivations and needs. This could be getting a promotion at work, being able to participate effectively in a meeting, working confidently on an international project or giving a successful presentation. To help you learn autonomously, knowing effective ways you can improve your business English independently is essential.  Here are some tried and tested strategies to improve your Business English by yourself!

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Set yourself learning goals

Setting yourself goals is motivating in anything you do and a great way to understand your own learning process. These goals can be daily, weekly or monthly and ones, which are achievable and realistic. Try to focus on SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).   Your goals can be as simple as “I will record and learn 10 new business phrases I can use in project meetings”.  Once you have set yourself a goal you can assess yourself using simple online tools such as Quizlet. You can also download the app on your phone in order to review and assess progress on the go!


Put yourself in real life situations where you have to use business English. Take every opportunity to speak to your international business colleagues. Instead of writing an email, go ahead and pick up the phone! Try to participate in meetings, events, conferences and projects where you have the opportunity to practice. Communicate and socialize with English speakers you know at work or out of work, this could be going for a coffee, lunch or dinner.

Watch and listen

Try to take a little time every day to watch or listen to business related resources online. This could be news, podcasts, or videos.  The more you watch and listen to business English, the more you will train this skill and the easier it will get when you have a real situation at work.  The web is full of resources but to get you started TED Talks always has interesting speakers, The BBC’s Business Daily site has plenty of videos and audio reports and check out the Harvard Business Reviews’ Ideacast (also available on itunes) and videos.

Recording new vocabulary

Keep a small notebook or use your notes on your phone to record useful/ relevant business English phrases and words. If you want to get more creative, I suggest using a voice recorder to record this information.  Instead of just writing the English word and the equivalent in your language, try to also write an example sentence, something relevant/ personal to you and something you are likely to remember e.g. Word: negotiate “We had to negotiate with the supplier to get the best price”.  Try to review the new vocabulary daily in order to internalize it and challenge yourself to use a new word during your next meeting, in an email or on a presentation slide.

Writing practice

Start by downloading Grammarly. This is a free tool with which you can check all daily emails, presentations and documents in order to avoid grammar mistakes and punctuation errors. You can also keep a diary of your day or about your learning experience, which will give you some extra writing practice and is a great strategy for self-reflection. I train a senior project manager who takes 10 minutes at the end of each day to write notes on reflections, insights and ideas. He does this to practice writing notes in English to help with his many meetings, but also to ensure he has reflection time and can focus on what is important to his project.

Reading business related material

Reading improves all areas of a language, including vocabulary, grammar, spelling and writing. The more you read the more input the brain gets about how the language works.  Context helps you figure out meaning and repetition of vocabulary helps you remember the words.  If you don’t want to read long articles or blogs you can always download Twitter and subscribe to news or anything of interest to get your 15 minutes of reading practice a day. Our blog is a great place to start so bookmark it and there are plenty of online magazines and newspapers which are free.

The single most important thing though is to .. do something regularly.