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Working in Norway

Quick Tips for Teleconferencing

Written by Karin Lee Published: Apr. 27 2020

Is English your second language? Do you have a job that’s gone remote? Does that mean you have to do a lot more teleconferencing (Skype, Zoom, etc.) than ever before? Is that a problem for you?

If you answered “um, yes, yes, yes and yes” to these questions, you’re not alone.

Especially the last one – believe me, you’re not alone.

Over the course of my many years teaching business English courses to second language speakers, that’s the one challenge my students have told me comes up again and again.

They say that while writing e-mails in English can make them insecure – correct grammar? use of idioms? appropriate tone? – having to speak to someone face-to-face on a screen is much worse.

It’s the need for making the instant right reply that gets to them. The need to suppress their wanting to ask the other person to repeat themselves (sometimes over and over) so they can get the gist of what’s being said.

Modern communication technology at its nervewracking finest.

So we talk about what they can do to help themselves, focusing on the simple word preparation.

Which means making a short list before they even push the green button, asking:

  • What information do I want to get out of this meeting?
  • What information do I want to give at this meeting?

Too simple? Perhaps. But it’s a good place to start.

A few other questions these second-language Skypers/Zoomers can ask themselves:

  • How can I make sure I understand the information I’m being given?
  • Should I take notes during/ask questions during/ask questions at the end of our meeting?
  • Should I give the other person a quick summary of what I’ve understood to have been said before we sign off? Should I ask them to do this?

And an important final question they should give an honest answer to:

  • Can I get over my sense of pride and fear of looking/sounding dumb by doing all of these things?

Hope this is not a problem. Because if they (you) can get over it, they’ll (you’ll) both give and get a lot more out of our new world of remote work.

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