Speaking clearly for an international audience
In the world of business and international sports, English is the primary language of communication. Native English speakers (and those who speak English with native-level fluency) often assume that everyone else can understand their level of English. But in the international sports world, you may interact with professionals at all levels - executives, managers, staff, etc. - from around the world whose understanding of English requires you to adjust the way you communicate. Here are a few hints that will help you communicate effectively in English when speaking to an international audience. Try them out - you may find that you are able to improve your communication skills and deepen your relationships with important colleagues and contacts.
Hint no.1: Monitor your accent
Your dialect of English may not be the same as what a non-native English speaker learned in school. For example, American English speakers should be aware of the differences between American and British English. Even for native English speakers it can be tough to understand other accents so for those that aren't as adverse in English is becomes even harder. Combining words, dropping letters and swallowing syllables can be very difficult for non-native English speakers to understand, so be sure to monitor your audience's understanding of your accent and adapt to a basic English when possible.
Hint no.2: Use simple words
In English, there are many words that mean the same thing - some more difficult to understand than others. To avoid confusion, opt for the simplest word. A good example is the word small. Native English speakers would easily understand comparable words such as tiny, miniscule or microscopic. However, non-native speakers may not have learned these advanced synonyms. You can facilitate clear understanding and reduce confusion by using simple words.
Hint no.3: Avoid using contractions
In many languages, native speakers have developed shortened ways of saying common words and phrases. In English, common contractions include don't (do not), won't (will not) and isn't (is not). Many non-native speakers do not understand these shortened forms, so it is better to use the long form instead. Consider the word can't. Non-native English speakers have a very difficult time hearing the difference between can and can't. Using the word can't could easily lead your audience to misunderstand you in a way that communicates the exact opposite of what you intended. Try using the long form of contractions whenever possible.
Hint no.4: Avoid filler
Every language has patterns of speech and local expressions that are understood universally among other native speakers. However, for non-native speakers, these patterns and expressions can be very confusing and distracting. Words such as um, like and totally do not clarify statements in any way, yet they can be easily misunderstood and distracting. These words do not add anything to your messages, so eliminating them from your speech may lead to a lot more heads nodding at your next meeting with an international audience.
Hint no.5: Speak explicitly and clearly
You do not have to over-annunciate each syllable to help non-native speakers understand you. Instead, speak explicitly and clearly. A classic example is the use of yes and no. Many native English speakers say "Uh-huh" or "Nuh-uh" to mean yes and no respectively. The very subtle variations between these two substitutions can make it difficult to distinguish their intended meanings. Instead, native English speakers should simply use the proper word - "Yes" or "No" - in response to simple questions.