The sales presentation opens and the junior sales manager begins his talk.
It makes sense; he speaks clearly and coherently — but there is something lacking. It doesn’t sound like it has any real conviction. It lacks some colour in the presentation somewhere.
And then the marketing department sent out some a newsletter. All in perfect English, apart from one or two phrases that just sounded off.
You can’t quite put your finger on it, but there is something not quite right.
This is down to your staff’s ability to speak a high level of English.
They may speak adequate English — enough to have got them through the interview. But in the way they present things, or in their writing — even at social events in the office — there is the odd choice of words or the wrong turn of phrase.
Your staff need to speak and write English at an advanced level. Using basic English in speaking and writing emails that may appear blunt to the reader can and will reflect poorly on your organisation.
You need to ensure that all your staff can speak and write English to a very high standard.
We all know that English is the most widely spoken language on the planet.
Yes, Chinese and Spanish have more native speakers of their respective languages — but many of these people are learning English as their second language. Go to a hotel in Buenos Aires and the staff are likely to communicate with you in English. Visit a bank in Shanghai and the staff there will use English.
Everyone around the world is learning it.
Let’s look at some facts about the English language.
There may only be 375 million native English speakers in the world, but there are 1.5 billion speakers of the language worldwide.
A cool one billion people speak English as their second language.
That equates to around one in every five people who can speak English.
English is the official language of 54 countries around the world (although not the United States, despite what many people may believe) making it the lingua franca for most people.
That means that if you are doing business with Kenya, Singapore, Vanuatu, Belize or Fiji, you can rest assured that you will engage with someone who speaks English.
English is the language of the internet, of media, of science and technology and many, many academic institutions.
It is also the main language for most pop culture — making it an undeniable force in the world we live in today.
In short, English is everywhere. We all know it. And there is nothing we or anyone else can do to change that simple fact.
Why Your Staff Should Speak Better English
Given that English is everywhere in the world, it stands to reason that your staff should speak English at a very high standard.
It’s good for them — but even better for your company.
These are just a few of the reasons why your staff should speak English.
English is an Absolute Must for any Business
Gone are the days when a vague understanding of English could be all the staff needed to get in the door — now it is an absolutely vital tool.
We expect that all staff should have a very good understanding of English — because if they don’t, why are they even here?
But now companies require that staff not only speak English but speak English to a very high calibre.
The staff should be fluent in both speaking and writing to a very high level. Not to impress you, but to impress your clients. Your staff’s ability to use English is something your clients will definitely think about, and that reflects upon your entire company.
Communicate with Colleagues
We live in a multicultural age. Go into any office and there will be staff working together from all over the world — how are they going to communicate with each other?
They all need a very high level of English, so there is no room for error or margins. If your staff can all communicate well with each other this ensures that everything is running smoothly and accurately.
Presentations in English
How would it look if your staff are making presentations that come across as bland and lifeless?
Yes, they can do the basics of presenting information, but can they use all the nuances and colour of the English language?
Can they present with above usual standards?
They need to be able to express clearly to YOUR audience—not just in English but in the language that your clients understand.
And it’s not just being able to string a load of sentences together using the right sentence structure and grammar — your clients need to understand what the staff are saying.
Can they speak coherently and clearly?
Yes, they may always have an accent, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that — but can they make themselves understood every time? Or is the client scratching his head, wondering what they are talking about?
And if you have Chinese staff—are they speaking Chinglish?
Or Indian—are they using Hinglish?
Or do you want them to speak British English, American English or a world standard English?
Accents are wonderful — they add colour to a grey world. But your staff should speak the kind of English that everyone can understand.
You need a bunch of your staff to go to a conference in Germany. Who are you going to take?
Of course, the person who can join in easily with the rest of the group. And they can do that mostly by communicating effectively.
Provide an Edge
If your staff can speak and write in a high level of English, then it gives your organisation an edge like no other. It makes the company appear as though everything they do is effortless and without any stress.
Everyone is on the same page and the client can see that immediately.
It makes your company look streets ahead.
The Staff Can Express Themselves to Anyone and Everyone
They fit in. They are an integral part of the machinery in your company. And they do with the greatest of ease.
What Do You Get Out Of It?
Yes, English can open more opportunities for the individual but if all your staff speak English, it can open opportunities for your company too. Many other organisations choose English as their official language — if your staff cannot communicate well with each other or your clients, what is going on?
If your staff can speak better English, it will increase their market value — but if all your staff speak better English, it will increase the company’s market value.
Your company will get more respect from clients, from visitors, from anyone that engages with your organisation.
The Staff have Access to More Knowledge
Most technology innovations today are in English. English is the language of high technology. Your staff should be able to access all of this knowledge with much greater flow.
Easier to Travel
Hotels, airlines, and a myriad of other travel companies operate in English. If someone is booking travel arrangements for a team of people, they will need to understand all the travel plans and bookings.
They will need to speak and write English to all the travel companies concerned.
Engagement on a Social Level
It’s not just English for business that you should be concerned about. Can your staff engage with others on a social level? Can they make small talk or have basic conversations they don’t sound stilted or awkward?
What Your Training Company Needs To Provide
So you want to provide English training for your staff. What are the things that the training company should provide?
A clear plan of what they will do and achieve for your staff. You need to see what steps they will take and what the end goals are.
A Time Line
Will it take 6 weeks, 4 months? This cannot be some vague idea in space.
The Right Trainers
Suits and ties may look great. But are the trainers qualified? Do they have the right experience?
Convenient Class Times
Make sure the classes take place at a time when staff can attend—but more importantly, want to attend. It is mostly a waste of time having classes on a late Friday afternoon when all the staff just want to get away from the office for the weekend. Also, Monday mornings, when they are catching up with the week ahead.
Can the training company provide active and engaging lessons that make the classes seem less like work and more like fun?
Is the HR department involved in all aspects of the training?
There are companies in Europe and Asia now that have an English-Only policy inside their premises. English is used more and more widely and unless your staff’s English is at the right level, your company will pay for it in the long run.
It is a waste of time expecting staff to provide their own training. If they do, everyone operates at different levels and there is no cohesion between all the employees.
Your company should provide English training for them, as it will benefit you far more than it will benefit them.
Don’t get left behind — take the right action today.