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THHow to explain things well

Our students often come to us with a variety of objectives for their intensive course: they want to be more fluent, they want to improve their listening ability, they want to write better emails. Regardless of these bigger goals, when we analyse the sub-set of skills, we find that knowing how to explain is very useful. If you think about it, we spend a great deal of time explaining an idea, a procedure or summarising a more lengthy discussion. Let’s look at ways to do this and what phrases are helpful.

Focus on making your thinking clear.

One of the reasons we often cannot explain things clearly is because our thinking is fuzzy or not clear. It sounds obvious but a good place to start is jotting down some key points, in bullet point form or by drawing a mind map (see Tony Buzan’s influential work here on mindmaps: If you need to explain in English, make sure you start the whole process in English: it helps the brain to start activating the language you need.

Focus on the language

Once you have your ideas clearer, you can now focus on the language that links your ideas. On our intensive courses, we often need to focus on cause and effect language: the reason for (the increase in sales) is most likely due to (the end of year promotion), to give just one example. We look at your business context and work out examples which you can use immediately. Additionally, for interview practice, we look at the STAR system of explaining or answering (situation, task, action, result) and feed in language you can use in a very practical way.

Focus on your listener

While explaining, pay attention to the facial expressions of your listener(s). If they are looking confused, you need to use language to re-frame your ideas. Examples might be ‘What I mean is….’, ‘in other words’, ‘ let me put it another way’ etc. Later, you’ll also need to understand their questions and ask for clarification – we look at how to handle questions on our courses too and give you plenty of practice, perhaps in a role play in a group session or in a one-to-one (with an option to take away a final recording of the session).

Being able to explain complex issues or topics in a clear and simple way is not always easy. And yet, if you want to be a successful business communicator, learning how to explain things clearly and simply is important. Why not take a course with us and we’ll help you to explain to the best of your ability!

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