You have an important meeting coming up and you’re dreading it.
You’ve tried to prepare but you know during the actual meeting you won’t be able to express yourself clearly.
You’ll sometimes trip up over your words, hesitate and repeat yourself.
You’re terrified you’ll have to answer a question that requires a long, complicated answer.
Everyone will be speaking too fast and you won’t be able to understand half of what they’re saying.
The topics will change so quickly, you’ll get lost.
You’re scared someone will ask you a question and you won’t understand them.
There are many reasons why you might find it difficult to participate in meetings in English.
You might be afraid that people will judge your English.
If you sound different when speaking English, this can make you feel less confident.
Maybe you don’t speak as loudly in English as in your native language, so you get drowned out in large or noisy meetings.
Perhaps you think you don’t have the vocabulary you need to express yourself properly.
You might think any misunderstandings are entirely your fault.
You don’t consider your English to be fluent enough.
Maybe you believe you need perfect English to communicate effectively.
Not all of these will be true!
You don’t need perfect English for meetings.
All misunderstandings will definitely not be your fault.
You probably don’t really need that much more English vocabulary.
It’s unlikely people are judging your English, they’re more likely to be focused on what you’re saying not how you’re saying it.
What you do need is:
some key language
and the right mindset.
He frequently got lost and panicked, thinking he’d missed an important point. Cédric would stop contributing in case his ideas had already been suggested by someone else or were no longer relevant.
- Cédric used a preparation checklist for important meetings and got the agenda at the earliest possible moment.
- This made Cédric feel more in control of his preparation and ability to perform well.
- Being familiar with the agenda helped Cédric follow the meeting, as he could anticipate what was coming next.
- Cédric also made notes on the agenda of points he wanted to make. He felt more relaxed, more confident and more able to participate.
- Remember you’re part of the meeting because your ideas and contributions are valued.
- After informing colleagues she had specific ideas to contribute prior to meetings, they directly requested Laura’s input if she hadn’t had the opportunity to do so.
- Laura’s confidence increased and she began to participate more fully in open discussions.
- Laura’s boss was impressed with her performance and she was promoted.
- Maria began to identify which points her clients would probably find it difficult to understand.
- She predicted questions they would probably ask and developed answers to these.
- Using more visual aids took the focus away from Maria and onto the concept she was explaining.
- While offering examples helped people process the complex information she was providing. This gave her breathing space and made her feel less nervous.