Socializing and networking for non-English business speakers

Socializing in English

Socializing in English

Socializing at networking events is often a stressful event for non-native English speakers. Let's cover some important tips that will help you not only survive but also be productive at networking events.

1. Body Language - First impressions are usually made in the first seven seconds upon meeting a stranger. Positive and professional body language helps to "even the odds" of making a positive impression. For more information, visit this blog post.

2. Be proactive –  "Break the ice"

Most non-native speakers of English feel nervous and unconfident about socialising and starting a conversation (breaking the ice). Unfortunately, the only way we can overcome that is practice. The more we practice being proactive and breaking the ice (starting conversation) the more relaxed and confident we will feel. We suggest preparing simple open-ended questions you can ask.

How are you enjoying the event?

Is this your first time to…?

Do you work for…?

What did you think of…?

2. What to talk about – safe conversation topics

This is all about talking and asking questions about 5 safe conversation topics.

- weather (What´s the weather like where you come from?)

- jobs and responsibilities (So what do you do exactly?)

- travel ( How was your flight? )( Have you ever been to….?)

- business (How’s business at the moment?)

- interests (So what are you interested in?)

3. Focus on them – not you

Focus on the other person in social situations, even if this means talking for an hour about something which you personally find boring. It´s a good way to find things you have in common to talk about as well as their interests. Focusing on them is also a good way to prolong the conversation, most people love to talk about themselves!

4. Active listening – give positive feedback

Show and tell people you´re listening by nodding your head and saying “ah-hum/ ok/ i agree/ i know what you mean”. Also use positive body language such as smiling, making eye contact and keeping your arms open and not crossed.  It may seem obvious but listening styles differ greatly across cultures and across personalities.

5. Inspire others

As a speaker, we should try to ‘inspire’ people listening to us. So when they walk away, they will be thinking positive thoughts like That was a really interesting conversation. / He’s a really nice guy. / That was fun. etc.  If we can achieve this, people will remember us.  The law of reciprocity means they might even want to help us because we gave them something.

6. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm in a conversation means being open and enthusiastic about what you say and what the other person says. For example, you can practice this by changing your responses from ‘It was fine” to ‘It was excellent.‘, from ‘It was quite interesting.’ to ‘It was amazing.’ Remember to combine this with open and positive body language!

Don't feel confident about your Business English? MANHATTAN English Studio conducts "English for Busy Professionals" twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to set you up with a free trial lesson!


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Make a positive first impression with your body language without English

If you are still learning English, it can be intimidating to meet English native speakers. However, you can use body language to communicate a positive attitude and impression that will help improve your communication without speaking a word of English.

Body Language

Body Language

It is said that a new acquaintance needs only seven seconds to determine if they have a positive impression of you. Imagine this, you meet a business acquaintance for the first time – it could be your new boss, a new member of your team, or a potential client you want to sign up.

The moment that stranger sees you, his or her brain makes a thousand observations: Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Are you friend or foe? Do you have status and authority? Are you trustworthy, competent, like-able, confident?

And these impressions are made at lightning speed — making major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting.

In business interactions, first impressions are crucial. While you can’t stop people from making snap decisions, you can understand how to make those decisions work in your favor.

First impressions are more heavily influenced by non-verbal cues than verbal cues. In fact, studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say. If you're not confident about your spoken English, use positive body language to your advantage before you even begin a conversation.

Here are seven nonverbal ways to make a positive first impression:

1. Manage your attitude. People pick up your attitude instantly. Before you turn to greet someone, or enter the boardroom, or step onstage to make a presentation, think about the situation and make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to project. If you feel nervous, perform one or two power stances privately in the restroom to help boost your self confidence. Researchers at Harvard have found that power posing for two minutes or more make you feel more confident.

Image credit: House of Cards/Netflix

Image credit: House of Cards/Netflix

2. Straighten your posture. Status and power are nonverbally conveyed by height and space. Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head straight are all signals of confidence and competence.

3. Smile. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says, “I’m friendly and approachable.”

4. Make eye contact. A common mistake is not to make confident eye contact. Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness. (To improve your eye contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you meet.)

5. Raise your eyebrows. Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the “eyebrow flash” that is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement.

6. Shake hands. A firm handshake is the quickest way to establish rapport. It’s also the most effective. Research shows it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake.

7. Lean in slightly. Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and interested. But be respectful of the other person’s space. That means, in most business situations, staying about two feet away.

Every encounter, from conferences to meetings to training sessions to business lunches, presents you with an opportunity to meet people, network, and expand your professional contacts by making a positive first impression. You’ve got just seven seconds – but if you handle it well, seven seconds are all you need! The best thing about body language? If you're still nervous about your English, positive body language helps to reinforce a good impression before you even speak!

Don't feel confident about your Business English? MANHATTAN English Studio conducts "English for Busy Professionals" twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to set you up with a free trial lesson!

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Common English mistakes for business people (Part 1)

Can a grammar mistake cost a person to lose a job?

It's unlikely to lose a job over a grammar mistake. However,  grammar mistakes can reflect poorly on your performance at work without a doubt. However, having the time to proofread your documents, emails and paperwork can be time consuming.   There are quick and easy methods to avoid making errors when writing.  Reading the material aloud while typing and simply doing a quick re-read can work wonders. In addition, being aware of these mistakes can actually help you avoid them.  Let's take a look at the most common business mistakes. 


"It" vs "There"

"It will be a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday " vs "There will be a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday".  When you read the second option it seems natural. This is one of the most common mistakes in business letters.  The word "There" is used to signify that something exist. It is grammatically correct to say "There will be a meeting". 


"Reason" vs "Because"

"The reason for the decline in sales is a lack of consumer interest" vs "The reason for the decline in sales is because of a lack of consumer interest" This is redundant. The word "because" introduces a "reason" . In addition, "is because" is improper grammar. 


"Good" vs "Well"

The word "good" is an adjective and "well" is adverb. An adjective highlights a noun and an adverb highlights a verb.  "I cook well"  vs "I cook good food".


Using "Are" with Money

45,000 dollars is good price or 45,000 are good price.

Grammatically, when we see a plural noun, we use the verb "are". However,  when talking about amount, money is not plural it's singular.  "There is 63,000 Francs in our expense account". 


"It's" vs "It's"

One of these structures is a contraction while the other is a possessive.  "It is time to go." Can be shorten to "It's time to go".   "Samsung has strengthened its brand over the past decade."  In this sentence, "Its" is a possessive pronoun. 



How to present an impressive presentation in English

Are you feeling stressed over an upcoming presentation in English? Business presentations can be stressful even for a native English speaker. In this post, we will cover some useful phrases to provide you with the basic structure of a presentation in English. Careful preparation using this easy guide will help your presentation to sound more coherent and well thought out.




On behalf of XYZ Company, I would like to welcome you here today. My name is Paul Sim and I am the Commercial Director of ACME Travel.

Hi, I'm Paul and I am the commercial director of ACME Travel.

Good morning/afternoon/evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Paul Sim and I am delighted to be here today to talk to you about…

I'd like to introduce my colleague Paul Sim.

Hi everyone, I'm Paul from Marketing and today I'd like to talk to you about…


Introducing the topic

Today I am here to talk to you about…

As you all know, today I am going to talk to you about…

I would like to take this opportunity to talk to you about…

I am delighted to be here today to tell you about…

Today I would like to outline…


Structuring the presentation

My presentation is divided into x parts.

I'll start with / Firstly I will talk about… / I'll begin with

then I will look at …


and finally…

I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have at the end.


Beginning the presentation

I'll start with some general information on…

I'd just like to give you some background information about…

Before I start, does anyone know…?

As you are all aware / As you all know…


Changing the topic/speaker

Right, let's move on to…

This leads me to my next point, which is…

I'd now like to look at / consider…

Now I will pass you over to /hand over to Max Mustermann.

Does anyone have any questions before I move on?



To sum up…

So to summarise the main points of my talk…

Just a quick recap of my main points…


Inviting questions

Does have anyone have any questions?

I will be happy to answer your questions now

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask

If you have any further questions, I will be happy to talk to you at the end.



I'd like to conclude by…

That brings me to the end of my presentation, thank for listening / for your attention.

Thank you all for listening, it was a pleasure being here today.

Well that's it from me. Thanks very much.


Other tips

Don't try to write every point on the slide, use a maximum of three to four points in each slide to make your presentation clear and concise. Fill in the rest of the details with your own words. This will make you seem more knowledgeable and the audience will need to listen to your presentation.

Don't feel confident about your Business English? MANHATTAN English Studio conducts "English for Busy Professionals" twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to set you up with a free trial lesson!



How to hold an effective conference call in English

Participating or leading conference calls in English can be stressful on non-native speakers. Here are 10 tips for to bear in mind to ensure a stress-free and productive conference call.

Business Conference Call in English

Business Conference Call in English


1) Be prepared - Multiple party calls or calls on a new conference call platform can be tricky to connect. Show up 5-10 minutes early to be prepared on how to dial in or ask an experienced co-worker to help.

2) Project Your Voice:  Articulate what you say, speak clearly, project your voice and speak comfortably. Speaking slowly and clearly is especially useful during overseas conference calls as there can sometimes be a delay in voice transmission.

3) Be careful with "Fillers": – “Um”, “uh huh”: Be careful not to overuse “fillers” as it can confuse and distract concentration.

4) Moments Of Silence: Use moments of silence (3-5 seconds) for the others to understand and digest complex ideas and information.  Don´t overuse it as too much silence can be uncomfortable!

5) Slow Down And Pause Between Ideas: Not everyone will have the same level of English so pause every three to five sentences to give non-native speakers an opportunity to understand before continuing.

6) Be Proactive: If you don´t understand or someone is speaking to fast, you need to communicate that to them either directly or indirectly. Use “I didn´t catch that”, “I didn´t follow that” , “Can you explain it in a different way?” “Can you repeat that?”

7) Play it back:  It's easy to mishear or mis-communicate during a conference call. If you'e unsure about what you heard during a call, take some time to repeat it back to the speaker to eliminate miscommunication.

8) Agenda points: – don´t mix them or move to fast to the next agenda points: For each agenda point, it is important everyone participates, follows the conversation and understands key ideas. If you mix agenda points or move too quickly to the next agenda point, you´ll lose the participation and engagement of some of the participants.

9) Plain and Simple English: Non-Native English Speakers are quick to blame their English level. During conference calls all native and non-native English speakers need to be reminded to use Plain and Simple English when communicating internationally.  

10) Company Acronyms and Jargon:  Not everyone inside or outside your company understands your company´s acronyms and jargon. Your options are either to check people´s understanding of Acronyms and Jargon or avoid excessive use.

Don't feel confident about your Business English? MANHATTAN English Studio conducts "English for Busy Professionals" twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to set you up with a free trial lesson!