Speaking English Professionally #2: Video Conference

Lecture notes from Georgia Tech’s “Speak English Professionally” course. Here’s the Part 1

Just looking through it won’t give you much. Please try to find and participate in some online hangouts.

Video Conferencing

It’s pretty much the same as talking with a group of people in real life. Here are some important points:

  • Respect other participants
  • Watch how long you speak
  • Be sure everyone has a turn
  • When you are not speaking, turn off your mic
  • Remain attentive – look engaged and friendly

Group discussion language

There’s no such thing as a curated list of words you have to use in a group discussion. But here are some recommendations for you:

  1. To Agree – Just nodding would be fine in my opinion.
    • Yes, I agree
    • It looks good to me
    • I definitely agree
    • I think so, too
  2. To disagree – You can always politely disagree and continue the conversation in a positive way
    • I’m afraid I don’t agree
    • I’m sorry, but I don’t agree
    • That’s interesting. But I’d prefer something different
    • Actually, I disagree
  3. To clarify – It’s crucial that you follow what’s going on in the conversation. It’s better to ask than to let the discussion go on without understanding
    • Excuse me, I didn’t hear that. Could say it again?
    • I’m sorry, I missed what you just said. Could you repeat that please?
    • I’m sorry, Could you explain that again?
    • Excuse me, could you tell me what that means?
  4. To say that you understand – After you asked for clarification, now it’s time for you to turn your attention into the speaker. Look at his/her eyes and gently nod as he/she speaks.
    • Thanks, now I get it.
    • Thank you, it’s a lot clearer for me now.
    • Restate what you’ve just heard
  5. To make a contribution –
    • Excuse me. Can I say something here?
    • Could I interrupt you for a minute?
    • Sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to say something here.
  6. To include others
    • So, what do you think?
    • Can you give me your thoughts on this?
    • Do you agree?
    • What’s your opinion?
  7. To show interest – Be curious. Then you can find a glimpse of fun in almost everything
    • That’s interesting
    • Really?
    • I see.
  8. To invite others to discussion
    • So, what do you think?
    • Can you give me your thoughts on this?
    • What’s your opinion?
  9. To check connection issues
    • Excuse me, can you still hear us?
    • Excuse me, are we still connected?
    • Is there a problem with your connection?
  10. To leave the meeting all of a sudden
    • I have to leave now for another appointment, I’m sorry.
    • I’m very sorry. I’ll have to continue this discussion at a later date.
    • Excuse me, something important has just come up, and I have to leave. I’ll be in touch very soon.

Cultural Considerations

In Mongolia, it’s really common to hear yourself addressed as ‘bro’, ‘sis’ or ‘my brother’  by complete strangers. So common, it found its way into our corporate culture. But addressing someone with titles such Mr or Ms is considered extremely formal…

In your culture, how do you address other people?

  • By using titles such as Mr. Ms. Dr., etc.
  • By their first name such as John, Chris. (In most western countries, people use this.)

If you’re not sure about how to address, just use Sir or Madam.

When should you smile? 

Whether you should smile and look directly into their eyes or looking more formal and serious is entirely dependent upon the situation. If the people you are talking to are close to you and you know them well, you should be more relaxed. If it’s the first time you’re talking to, it should be more formal.

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