Preparing for your next conference call in English

Right now, it seems that everyone is conducting business via conference calls.  Unfortunately, they are the one thing that many non-native English speakers have the most difficulty with, particularly if native speakers are on the call.

But there are some things you can do to get yourself ready for a conference call in English.  And it all starts with the agenda.

The agenda can be a formal document, or it can be a simple bullet point list about what’s going to be discussed.  If there is no agenda attached to the meeting invitation, write back to the organiser and ask for one.

Hi Mary,

Thanks for the meeting invitation.  I look forward to it.  Is there an agenda?  If not, what will we be talking about?

Best regards,

Once you have the agenda, start preparing for the call by writing down any thoughts you have on each topic – in English of course.  This will get you thinking about the vocabulary you might need, as well as sentence structures, tenses, etc.  You might even practice saying some of the sentences if you are unsure about them.  Use a translation tool if necessary.

Think about questions you might have about each topic.  Write them down and keep them with you during the call.  Having specific questions gives you listening triggers, which makes it easier for you to hear the answers.

Think through any questions you may be asked and write down the answers in English as well.  This gives you time to think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

With the preparation done, you can focus on the call, listen for the information you need, and give your answers like a pro.  Who knows, you might even enjoy your next conference call!

For a downloadable handout with these tips and more, please click here.

What communications challenges are you facing at the moment? Leave a comment below and let’s get this conversation started!

My name is Laura Marshallsay, and I help professionals improve their English so they can present themselves to the world with confidence.

Just don’t learn English. Own it!

Have a question or comment? I'd love to hear from you!

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