Dec 11

How to overcome nervousness in meetings and presentations

By Castells Immerscom | Business English

How to overcome nervousness in meetings & presentations

Welcome back to Castells Immerscom. Today we are going to share with you some techniques to help you overcome your fear and nervousness when you have to meet or present in English. Many people hate presenting or attending meetings in their native language, let alone in a foreign language. So, what can we do to improve our confidence and make that next meeting or presentation a big success.

Today you are going look at 5 key skill areas. These easy to follow tips will have you mastering your meetings and presentations in English, in no time.

Let’s start by looking at, preparation.

Preparation

All good meetings and presentations require preparation. If you are not the type of person who usually organises your meetings or presentations well, then you should follow these steps. Attending meetings and presenting is much harder in English than in your native language so preparation is essential.

Firstly, we should understand the topic well and prepare our notes. We need to internalise the information we want to give and not memorise word for word. If you have ever seen someone present who has memorised their presentation, then you know what I mean. It sounds robotic and not natural.

If we are attending a meeting, then we need to make sure we have the objectives or desired outcomes of the meeting clear in our mind. Once we have the meeting topic and outcomes clear, we can then do some research on idioms, expressions or vocabulary we would like to use in the meeting. Remember, preparing a list of expressions to use before a meeting is a fast way to improve your English skills. It will also make us feel more confident when we use our pre-prepared phrases.

In both cases, meeting and presenting, do some research on our audience. Who are they, what are they expecting, what do they already know and what do we want them to take away from their time with us. These questions will help you to better appreciate what information you need to prepare.

Thus, with these steps we should be able to form the base of a good, effective and successful meeting or presentation.

The next thing we need to look at is question brainstorming.

Question brainstorm

What is question brainstorming you might ask? Well, many people dedicate a lot of time to preparing their presentation or meeting. They understand the topic inside out. They have everything memorised. However, they fail to anticipate what type of questions they will get asked.

To overcome this problem, we need to do a question brainstorming session before the meeting or presentation.

So how can we do this? Well, as with most things, it is easier than you think. Firstly, you need to divide your meeting or presentation into its parts. Review each part and try and identify the areas where you are adding information or negotiating different aspects of a contract, for example. What we need to do is try and identify the areas where questions or confusion may be generated. Once we have done this, we can start to brainstorm the questions that we think we will be asked.

The beauty of question brainstorming is that we are able to anticipate problems, confusion or misunderstanding and provide some pre-prepared answers. If you question brainstorm, you then have a chance to prepare answers to these questions, meaning that when you meet or present you will already have the confidence to deal with these problems as you have already anticipated them coming.

So, what do we do if we don’t understand the question someone asks us? Well, in this case, we need to ask a clarifying question.

Clarifying questions

If you are new to clarifying questions, then you should take a look at our free e-book, where we discuss these in more detail. However, clarifying questions are a powerful tool to help you feel more confident, while getting the answers you need.

When someone asks us something that we don’t understand, instead of saying, sorry, could you repeat that. Or, sorry, I don’t understand. We can ask them a clarifying question, which makes the other person responsible for clarifying their previous statement. Some examples of clarifying questions are:

  • Sorry, did you say 15 or 50?
  • Sorry, when you said 3 days, did you mean from the time it leaves your factory or from the time the order is received?
  • Could you clarify your last point?
  • I’m not sure I follow you, could we go over your last point again?

As you can see, these statements sound much more confident than just saying, sorry, I don’t understand.

Once we have considered the questions, and prepared for our meeting or presentation, then we can move on to the next stage. Recording ourselves.

Recording yourself

Many people hate being in front of the camera. It’s true. Even if you are at home alone, put yourself in front of a camera and record yourself explaining something. You will instantly start to mumble and turn red and feel embarrassed. This is normal, it takes time to get used to the process.

So, what is the best thing about being at home alone? Even though you feel like a complete idiot, no one is there to see you or judge you. As such, you can take retake after retake without dying of embarrassment. So, let’s look at the strategy.

Firstly, if you are working on a presentation, then record yourself delivering it. Then go back and review it. For example, I notice then when I deliver something, I continually repeat, OK. If that annoys you, then at least after seeing yourself you are aware of the things you don’t like. Then you can actively try and correct them.

Secondly, we suddenly become aware of our body language and we can really see with our own eyes if we are transmitting confidence and authority, or shyness and self-doubt. With this image in mind we can then go about trying to improve our external appearance and through practice we can gain more internal confidence as well as project more external confidence.

So to sum up, it is easy to record yourself, it is not something that we do often, but a powerful tool to help us gain more insight into what we project to others.

So, that leads me to my last point.

Body awareness and breathing skills

As a result of seeing ourselves on camera, we are suddenly aware of what we externalise to our audience. Here we become aware of our body language. So, let’s look at my advice for how to improve your confidence and overcome nervousness with regards to your body language, as well as some tips on breathing.

In the first place, we need to look at the way we move our hands to articulate our story. We must be conscious of our eye movement. Remember, if you can’t look your audience in the eye, then you will transmit a lack of trust and confidence. If you look down, then it is impossible to connect with you audience.

Secondly, by recording ourselves we may realise that we engage in nervous hand rubbing or have some strange body movement that we were not aware of. This is the positive aspect of recording ourselves presenting or delivering a story. Try and avoid all nervous hand gestures, such as rubbing your hands together, picking at your nails, touching your face or covering your mouth. Running your hands through your hair, putting your hands in your pockets or touching yourself unconsciously. Your hands must be an extension of your story and you must use them to help articulate what you are trying to say.

Finally, we can also use simple breathing techniques before a meeting or presentation to calm us down. Remember, yoga and meditation exercises are focused around breathing to help you relax and focus on one thing. What I am not saying is that you being to do yoga stretching exercises at your desk, but you can just simply close your eyes and take a moment to regulate your breathing. Another powerful tool, is what I call a mini-visualisation session. Just take five minutes to close your eyes, regulate your breathing and start to visualise yourself in the meeting or delivering the presentation. By doing so, you can actually use this positive thought to anticipate the meeting or presentation and prepare yourself mentally for what you are going to say and how you are going to look. This will give you confidence as you go into the meeting or presentation as you have already visualised yourself doing it.

Final thoughts.

So, there you have it, 5 top tips to help you overcome nervousness in your next meeting or presentation. Remember, preparation is the foundation to a great meeting or presentation. Secondly, part of that preparation is thinking about what questions are coming. Thirdly, we need to confidently clarify with our own questions when we are not sure. Fourthly, recording yourself is an easy way to feel more confident as well as gain insight into your external appearance. Finally, our body language and breathing control can make us feel even more confident.

I am sure you will agree that these 5 tips are easy to follow and will make a huge difference to your level of nervousness and under-confidence in your next meeting. Without a doubt, if you implement these strategies you will feel much more confident and ready to excel in your next business meeting or presentation in English.

As always, if you have any questions or if you would like some advice, please feel free to leave us a comment or contact us on our Facebook page. If you liked this article, then don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.

Until next time, take care and keep improving your business English.

Joan Serra
Dec 03

005 How to work abroad and deal with different cultures with Joan Serra

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Interview , Podcast

​Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a high powered chief financial officer in an international company, working overseas? What would be the challenges? What would the experience be like living and working abroad?

If you have ever wanted to work abroad, of if you have ever wondered how to deal with different cultures then don’t miss today’s episode.

In today’s episode Joan Serra will be sharing his experience while working in China and the US, as the CFO of a Spanish multinational. He will give us insight into how to deal with different cultures. How to adapt to living in a new country and city. How to deal with the language and cultural barriers.

If you want to get inspired to live and work abroad then you won’t want to miss this episode. It is full of advice and you will learn first-hand from both Joan and Andrew as they share their experiences living and working abroad.

​Listen on iTunes

Nov 20

004 Idioms for negotiating with Andrew Ambrosius

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Idioms , Interview

Hi there, welcome back to The Art of Business English. Today we are going to look at idioms for negotiating. Negotiating is not something new, in fact most of us have to negotiate every single day of our working life. Furthermore, many negotiations take place in the home, between wife and husband, kids and parents.

As you can imagine, English has a wide range of idiomatic expressions for negotiating. Sometimes these expressions can be a little confusing for a non-native speaker.

Today at AOBE we are going to start by looking at some of the most common expression for negotiating in business.

At the end of the today’s lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • learn common idioms for negotiating
  • understand their meaning
  • understand in what context they are used and at what part of the negotiating phase

So, let’s get started with a look at some common idioms.

​Listen on iTunes

Nov 17

Idioms for negotiating

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Idioms

​Idioms for negotiating

Hi there, welcome back to The Art of Business English. Today we are going to look at idioms for negotiating. Negotiating is not something new, in fact most of us have to negotiate every single day of our working life. Furthermore, many negotiations take place in the home, between wife and husband, kids and parents.

As you can imagine, English has a wide range of idiomatic expressions for negotiating. Sometimes these expressions can be a little confusing for a non-native speaker.

Today at AOBE we are going to start by looking at some of the most common expression for negotiating in business.

At the end of the today’s lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • learn common idioms for negotiating
  • understand their meaning
  • understand in what context they are used and at what part of the negotiating phase

So, let’s get started with a look at some common idioms.

Opening the negotiation

When opening a negotiation, you should follow the following steps.

  • Welcome all participants.
  • Introduce each person from your team to the other team or if alone introduce yourself to the other person (Remember to use full name and job title).
  • Start with some small to, this helps everyone to get comfortable.           
  • Set the agenda. Discuss in a brief summary what you are negotiating about.
 State interests. Here you tell the other party briefly what you would like to achieve as a result of the talks.


Small talk

Meaning

Example

How’s tricks?

How are things going?

How’s things at work?

To feel under the weather

Feel ill

I feel a bit under the weather this week.

To be on top of the world

Very excited and feeling good

I’m on top of the world! I just got promoted.

To ask someone over

Invite to your house

You should come over some time with your family.

To drop in

Visit unexpectedly

Why don’t you drop in sometime?

To meet up

Arrange to meet

Let’s meet up when we close this deal.

To see the sights

Tourism

Have you seen the sights since you arrived?

Set the agenda

Meaning

Example

To get the ball rolling

Get started

Let’s get the ball rolling.

To kick off

Begin

Who wants to kick things off?

To go over the agenda

Review the agenda

I think we should start by going over the agenda

To wrap things up

Finish

I hope to have the meeting wrapped up by 3pm.

Stating interests

Meaning

Example

To be looking to…

Have as an objective

Our company is looking to diversify.

To take into consideration

Consider

An important thing to take into consideration is…

To be keen to…

Be eager or willing

Our company is keen to work with new talent.

Making ​proposals 

At the proposal stage of a negotiation, delegates make proposals, react to them, and if they don´t agree with the suggestion made, they may offer a counter-proposal as an alternative. When reacting to proposals, using diplomatic language such as “I´m afraid that is not really what we had in mind” instead of “No, that´s not good enough” can help you sound less direct or negative. This can promote a good working relationship between you and your business partner, and is more likely to lead to a successful outcome in the negotiation.

Making proposals

Meaning

Example

To have a tight budget

Limited amount to spend

I know you’re on a tight budget, so I will offer you my lowest price.

To squeeze someone on cost

Pressure someone on price

The buyer really squeezed me on price per unit.

To provide someone with a quote

Give someone a cost estimate

Before we can proceed, we will need an official quote.

Bone of contention

An unresolved problem

There is still the bone of contention regarding delivery times.

To push it

Be overly insistent or forward

I don’t think we should push it, he is offering a good deal.

To draw the line

Set a limit

I draw the line at that price offering.

To have something in mind

Be thinking about

Do you have in mind what conditions we can offer?

To be afraid

Be sorry

I am afraid I can’t accept those conditions.

To lead to a successful outcome

Reach a positive conclusion

The negotiation led to a successful outcome for all parties.

To have some reservations about something

Have concerns about

I have some reservations about your last point.

To give ground

Retreat

Let’s give some ground and see if they will meet us halfway.

Reaching agreement

In order to reach an agreement, we need to use persuading and bargaining skills. We must listen carefully, and we should always check and clarify what the other person has offered, while at the same time giving reassurances.

When bargaining we often use conditionals. The first conditional suggests there is a more real possibility (If you give us a discount we will order more units…). This is much more probably than using the inversion (Were you to give us a discount then, we would order more units) or the second conditional.

Grammar notes

To form the first conditional, use if + (do) + will/can/may (do):

If you reduce the price, I will accept your offer.

To form the second conditional, use if + (did) + would/could/might (do):

If you reduced the price, I´d accept your offer.


At this stage of the negotiation it is advisable to give the condition before the offer because your counterpart will have to wait to hear what you have to say rather than interrupting.

Finally, learn to read between the lines. “I might meet Friday´s deadline”, does not necessarily mean “I will meet Friday´s deadline”.

Remember, will is a promise, whereas might is a probability.

Reaching agreement

Meaning

Example

To close a deal

Formally conclude bargaining

We finally closed the deal after 2 hours of negotiations.

To come to an agreement

Reach agreement

We came to an agreement on the last point.

A gentleman’s agreement

A legally non-binding arrangement that is guaranteed only by a verbal or mutually understood agreement

We made a gentleman’s agreement until the official papers are signed.

To reach an accord

To agree

Despite our differences we reached an accord.

An agreement in principle

An agreement in which the general terms and/or conditions of a deal are accepted without the complete details having been specified or necessarily agreed upon.

Even though we didn’t finish the negotiation, we reached an agreement in principle, which we will finalise next week.

Couldn’t agree more

Total agreement

I couldn’t agree more with what you said.


So, there you have it, a quick overview of some idioms to use at the different stages of a negotiation. Of course, there are many more that we can learn. If you have some more idioms to add to the list, then please post them in the comments section below.

If you have any questions regarding these idioms, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you. Until next time, keep learning and improving your business English.

Nov 12

How to become a professional footballer

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Interview

​​Today AOBE launches its first podcast interview and we are very excited to welcome a good friend of mine Pep Setvalls, ex-professional football player to share his wisdom on the world of football and to give listeners an insight into the world of professional football.

If you are a parent with a potential football star in the making, then you won’t want to miss this insightful episode in the AOBE podcast interview series.

Pep will explain his beginnings in a small town just outside of Barcelona and how he progressed to play in the first and second division for teams such as Barcelona and Levante.

He also offers insight into life after injury, what it takes to make it to the first division as well as his post professional life as a footballer scout and agent for some of the biggest names in football.

So, if you are mad about football and want to improve your English at the same time as getting interesting insight into this world then don’t miss this episode.

​Listen on iTunes

Nov 10

October FCE & CAE Results

By Castells Immerscom | News

​Congratulations to all our FCE and CAE students who sat the official exam in October. We are very proud to announce that our school obtained 82% pass rate in FCE and a 100% pass rate in CAE. Excellent results thanks to the hard work of both our students and teaching staff. 

Nov 08

Collocations & Idioms Podcast

By Castells Immerscom | Podcast , Vocabulary & Expressions

Collocations & Idioms ​So, if you want to take your English to the next level then you really need to start understanding and using collocations, and idioms. These 2 aspects of the English language are used every day by native speakers. Furthermore, they are commonly used in daily business interactions. They can be found in emails or spoken in a meeting. So, let’s look at what they are and how we can use them.

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Nov 06

5 Day English Challenge

By Castells Immerscom | News

5 Day English Challenge

Hey guys, I just finished working on a new free course.

Are you looking for the perfect excuse to start interacting on daily basis with native trainers and other English learners to improve your business English?

If you answered yes to this, then we have the perfect thing to get you motivated. The AOBE 5 day English challenge! And best of all, it’s free!

All you need to do is go over to the AOBE website, and take the free course. Click below to get started.

Join the AOBE team as we treat  you to a free 5 day English challenge course. Over the 5 days you will cover the following areas:

  1. Become a member of our private Facebook group
  2. Have the opportunity to share your “pain points” with the community
  3. Get useful and inspirational feedback and advice to help you improve your business English
  4. Practice your writing while getting insightful corrections and ideas from the AOBE team
  5. Have the opportunity to interact with other learners and offer them advice
  6. Practice your reading and give your opinion on a wide range of issues
  7. Participate in healthy debates

Don’t wait! Take the 5 day email challenge now and join a wonderful community of learners.

Oct 25

Podcast Collocations & Idioms in Business

By Castells Immerscom | News

​Collocations & Idioms

<p>Collocations &amp; Idioms</p>

​So, if you want to take your English to the next level then you really need to start understanding and using collocations, and idioms. These 2 aspects of the English language are used every day by native speakers. Furthermore, they are commonly used in daily business interactions. They can be found in emails or spoken in a meeting. So, let’s look at what they are and how we can use them.

Insert your tweetable quote/phrase here

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