English Skills for Business Communication

by Andrew Button; Updated September 26, 2017
Communication is very important in business.

English communication skills are valued highly in the 21st century workplace in all corners of the globe. According to a report by the English language teaching organization Global English, 92 percent of workers surveyed around the globe reported using English on the job. Clearly, English proficiency is an important skill in the modern business world. Writing, interpretation and speaking are just some of the many skills used in business English.

Listening

Listening skills are very important in business. Business people attend presentations, negotiations and meetings regularly, and at these types of events, it is crucially important that everyone understands the details of what is being said. Business English listening skills go beyond simply paying attention; a good listener asks questions and takes notes on the contents of a presentation.

Reading

Business professionals of all types read English documents every day. Employees are often informed of policy changes through letters from management, while managers themselves often communicate with each other by email and other written means. Beyond technical comprehension, reading skills include interpretation and critical reflection (i.e. thinking about what is implied in a written document in addition to what is stated).

Writing

Many business professionals use formal and informal English writing styles in their day to day communications. Professionals, such as lawyers and consultants, use highly technical writing styles unique to their professions. Managers often communicate informally through email and other media, but may be responsible for some technical writing (e.g. statements in annual/quarterly reports) as well.

Speaking Skills

Speaking skills are crucial in business English. Conversational skills, which include turn-taking, diction and inflection, are used by all types of businessmen every day. Presentation skills, too, are important in business. Business leaders give presentations in many contexts: in meetings, at conferences, and to employees. Presentation skills used in business English communication include public speaking, "off the cuff" thinking (when responding to questions from an audience, for example), and slideshow/multimedia integration (such as making reference to videoclips and other media).

Vocabulary Skills

In business English, the ability to be concise and to the point is valued. Thus, possessing a wide vocabulary and being able to select precisely the right words to describe ideas is an indispensable skill set in business English.

Nonverbal Skills

While nonverbal skills are not technically part of the English language, business leaders need to use tonality and body language that match the words they use, as nonverbal communication conveys a great deal of information. It would be inappropriate to use an excited tone and excessive gesticulation when informing an employee that he is about to be terminated, just as it is inappropriate to be stiff and monotone while giving a presentation. The ability to choose proper tonality and body language to convey a message can be broken down into several smaller skills: diction, empathy, voice control and body language control.

About the Author

Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and cbc.ca. Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.

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