English Communication Confidence Blog

Conquering Communication: 9 Essential Principles for Effective Business English

Feb 28, 2024

Communication happens from the moment we wake up and interact with our household members onto connection with our peers and into the world where we shop, eat, and gather with other humans. Yet, it seems that very few of us have taken the time to understand communication as a skill. Yes, you can be born with an innate ability at anything, including speech, but even the best public speakers in the world learn the necessary tools of great orators. I want you to think about communication as the cornerstone of success in all aspects of your life, and today, you’ll be reading about how essential it is in the business world.  


Conquering Communication: 9 Essential Principles for Effective Business English

Whether you're delivering a presentation, negotiating a deal, or simply engaging in everyday conversations, how you communicate can make or break you. For non-native English speakers, mastering the art of communication in English can be particularly challenging. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that.

However, by understanding and applying key principles, anyone can improve their skills and become a more effective communicator. In this blog post, we'll explore nine communication principles from The Diamond MethodTM:

  1. Breath,
  2. Relaxation,
  3. Posture,
  4. Voice,
  5. Body,
  6. Content,
  7. Preparation and Practice
  8. Impromptu Speech
  9. Self-Awareness 

My goal is to show you where to point your focus so you can be better understood and feel prepared for the English-speaking business world.  

Let's go!

Breath: The Foundation Of Life & Effective Communication

Take a deep breath.

You’ve heard that before, right?

Attentive breathing is more than just a calming technique and a necessity for being alive; it's the foundation of being a skilled communicator. Proper breathing helps regulate your voice so you can maintain control over your speech. It also allows you to speak with an open throat which gives public speakers a rich, warm, and resonant sound to their voice.

Have you ever been unable to connect with someone because of their voice but you just couldn’t put your finger on what it was about them that you weren’t connecting with? When you place tension on your throat, you block the breath from moving freely and this can change the quality of your voice.

Tension on the vocal cords is just one way to cause unwanted disconnection between you and your listeners. You don’t have to be giving a formal public speech to want to have an inviting voice. 

Proper breath control can significantly improve your clarity and intelligibility (by this I mean understandability) as a non-native English speaker.

To incorporate breath into your communication practice, start by taking slow, deep breaths in through your mouth before speaking. Focus on bringing the air down into your diaphragm rather than breathing shallowly into your chest. This technique not only calms your nerves but also provides support for steady speech. I bet it’ll help with the flow of your thought chunks, too. 

If you’d like to watch one of my YouTube videos about breathing, click here.

Relaxation: A Tool For Embracing Ease In Communication

I mentioned above that tense vocal cords affect speech negatively. Well, it’s not just the throat area that we have to be thinking about if we’d like to deliver a message that lands well.

Relaxation is the next principle in The Diamond MethodTM and is key to fluent and natural communication. Tension in your mind manifests itself in your voice and body and muscle stress hinders your ability to express yourself freely and successfully.

I carry a lot of tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. You may, too. I find that small, gentle rotations of my head can be a simple trick to remind me to stay loose.

But, if you really want to cultivate relaxation in communication, you’ll need to go further than that.

If you are a fan of mindfulness techniques, you can meditate on relaxing your body visually. Or, if you prefer to keep your eyes open, you can do a simple tense and relax exercise where you start at your toes and move up body part by body part in a progressive muscle relaxation exercise until you reach your face (Yes, tense and relax your face too for best results.)

And always remember before engaging in conversations or presentations, take a moment to jump up and down or shake your body a bit to release any tension in your body and mind. It's quick and simple and a relaxed state promotes clearer thinking and smoother speech. 

Posture: Projecting Confidence and Authority

My mother was an elegant lady and one of the main reasons I use that word to describe her is because of her posture. She wasn’t super tall, probably about 5”6’, but she looked like she was 5”10’ because of her amazing posture. People are always surprised when I tell them that I’m just under 5”7’ since I learned to carry my spine like she did.

Here’s the thing, good posture not only allows you to take full advantage of your space, but it says things like: I’m here. I’m ready. How can I help? Think about that for a second.

Sitting and standing straight speak volumes before you even say a word. It conveys confidence and enhances your presence in any business setting.

Try this:

  1. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back and chin level.
  2. Close your eyes and see if you can visualize the shape of your spine. There should be a natural curve down near your seat-bones.
  3. Then, imagine there is a string at your sternum (that bone between your breasts) pulling you up and out towards the wall in front of you.
  4. Next, imagine another string at the center of the top of your head pulling you up towards the ceiling.
  5. Take a few nice inhales and exhales, staying in this position.
  6. Relax and notice the subtle, yet important shift in your body.

You can do this before a presentation or as you sit down for a meeting. Once you’re there, avoid slouching or crossing your arms, as these gestures can signal disinterest or insecurity. 

By adopting a confident posture, you command attention and project credibility in your communication.

The Voice: An Underused Component Of Powerful Speech 

Your voice is an instrument of expression. Some speech coaches believe that once your message is prepared and rehearsed, the voice is more important in the moment of communication. I believe that. 

Here’s the thing about our voices, they engage or they bore.

So, if you’re not modulating pitch, varying volume, coloring words, using the pause, and managing speed, you’re missing out on connecting with others more deeply. It’s amazing how significantly your vocal skill can impact how your message is received. For non-native English speakers, we also have to include these elements when it comes to the voice:

  1. Rhythm—learn the stressed syllables of important words in your workplace
  2. Diction—focus on the vowels to help with stressed syllables
  3. Connection between words (That's the Flow FrameworkTM if you’re familiar with The Diamond MethodTM)

To wrap up the voice, I invite you to experiment with your voice like a child, and eventually, when accounting for all the vocal techniques, you’ll gain the reward of enhanced engagement by your audience.

Body Language: Communicating Beyond Words

I once asked my dad to check out my YouTube channel so he knew a little more about what I do. One of his first comments was, “Well, you do move your hands around a lot!” And I do.

Look, I’m a former actress, so I am not shy when it comes to using every communication instrument I’ve got available, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that appropriate movements add to your message.

Interestingly enough, I once read about a study that showed that using hand gestures can help us retrieve vocabulary from our brains. That’s probably a trick you’ll want to use as a non-native English speaker.

Body language plays a significant role in conveying meaningful content and intent. That means your facial expressions, body movements, hand gestures, and even what you wear contribute to how your words are perceived.

One of the biggest ones to keep in mind when it comes to building trust in The U.S. culture is eye contact. Maintain it between 3-5 seconds at a time to convey sincerity. If you’re speaking with more than one person, move between and among them for 3-5 second looks.

But, unlike what I was taught back when I was in school, never look above people’s heads when giving a speech. Look into their eyes before moving on to the next person. Real looking creates real rapport.

Always use gestures purposefully to emphasize points and add visual interest to your speech. If you don’t know where to begin, think about adding a small hand gesture when using prepositions and adjectives of size like the word big or tiny.

And, stay mindful of your facial expressions since they can reveal emotions both positively and negatively.

Just remember that when you align your body language with your words, you create a cohesive and impactful communication style.

Content: Crafting Clear and Relevant Messages

Content is king. This is especially true when we’re talking about business communication. Whether you’re writing emails, crafting presentations, or creating relevant points for your meetings, your ability to deliver your thoughts in a coherent and organized fashion speaks volumes about you.

Great communicators know how to take the complex and make it simple. And with English as your second language, I don’t want you to think that you have to get all fancy with your vocabulary and structures. The simpler your choice of words and structures, the more people you'll reach.

I’m not suggesting you can’t show off your knowledge, but I just want to remind you that jargon and complex phrases are not always easy for others to understand even when they are listening to their native tongue. 

Structure your message logically, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. And if you are speaking in more casual conversations, still think about the intro/body/conclusion format to keep yourself from saying more than is necessary.

Remember to incorporate relevant examples and illustrations to support your points and enhance understanding, too.

Oh, and I’ve got a little secret for you…Don’t overvalue content. This is generally where most people think they need to spend most of their time. And you do during the preparation stage. You need to think about the organization of your thoughts; the types of words that would suit your audience; and the language structures that speak in clear and simple terms. 

But, once you’re prepared and practiced, you need to show up and remember the relevance of the voice and the body. They’re the modes in which you’ll be delivering your content and how you create a complete message.

Preparation & Practice: The Part Most Overlook 

How many times have you looked at your calendar and noticed that you have a presentation…tomorrow…and you still haven’t prepared or practiced for it?! 

We’re all guilty of it.

That’s why The Diamond MethodTM notes preparation and practice as one of its 9 communication principles. You can’t overlook these important steps if you want to get successful results when communicating.

Here’s how you can think of these two steps:

  1. Preparation includes doing your research; gathering information from others; and sitting at your desk to draft your presentation.
  2. Practice requires having a complete presentation (or notes for an informal conversation) that you rehearse out loud.

When I’m preparing a formal speech, I start a couple of weeks ahead of time when I have less pressure on myself. I draft something in a stream-of-consciousness format at first and then I come back to it over the following week and find supporting evidence, data, and stories that I can use to fill in the points.

Usually about one week before I have to present, I’ll begin rehearsing out loud and tweaking my notes. I talk to the wall, the chair, the dog, (and the cat, of course. I can't keep Bella out of it!) I speak out loud so that I can check my content and organization.

Once I’m pleased with it and have it in a deck, I begin to rehearse with emotion by using my voice and body as the communication tools.

Read the next section to hear how I do this when it comes to informal and impromptu speech.

Impromptu Speech: A Skill, Not A Talent

What do you think of when you think of improvisation? Do you think of a comedy show or an actor’s training?

I do.

To me, impromptu speech is pure improvisation and I love to suggest that my clients take an improv class as a way to manage nerves; think on their feet; and bounce back from missteps that can happen when we speak without preparation.

Something I’d like you to consider is that even if you find it tough to speak in unplanned settings, it is a skill and you can learn to do it. An improv class is just one way to build that skill.

But, I’d also like to let you know that you can prepare for anticipated questions as my colleague Lisa Parker likes to put it.

How do you do that?

Lisa says that on Friday afternoons before you pack it in for the weekend, you should look at your calendar for the following week to see what projects and topics may come up in meetings and dialogues at work.

Then, spend about 15 minutes bullet-pointing how you might address some of the questions that could arise from your manager or peers. These 15 minutes have a surprisingly positive effect on how you show up in impromptu conversations the following week.

You’ll be prepared without being rehearsed and that’s a good thing in informal speech.

Whatever you do, remember to spend time building your impromptu speaking skills so that you don’t get caught off guard on a topic that should be easy for you to address.

Self-Awareness: Different From Self-Consciousness

There’s a difference between being self-conscious and self-aware. To me, self-consciousness gets in the way while self-awareness gives us a birds-eye view of where we are and where we are going in our speech. 

One way I like to suggest you build self-awareness is through self-recording.

I know, I know, that's not your thing. But, it HAS TO BE!

You can use video and audio recordings in different ways.

When you record your image, you can analyze your posture and body language and when you record your voice, you can check in on your vocal presence.

If you've not heard yourself speak English yet, or you are hesitant to develop this important practice, start slowly. Record yourself for 2-3 minutes or watch back a recording of yourself for about that amount of time so you don't get overwhelmed.

But please, do it. You'll gain important self-awareness skills that allow you to be the audience and speaker at the same time. This will help you pivot your speaking as you go. 

Another thing you can do to heighten your self-awareness is to pay attention to your five senses. Don’t just take them for granted, get to know how they operate in your communication so you can use them to your advantage (I wrote about this topic in February and you can click here to read the post.)


Doing business in a foreign tongue is not easy and you should feel like a superstar because of all you’ve accomplished in your career.

By understanding the The Diamond Method's 9 principles in today’s blog post, you’re going to take your communication to more refined levels.

So, you can stop thinking about English and start looking more deeply into communication skills. That’s where you are in your life and that’s what will get you where you want to go in your career.

In fact, Forbes recently conducted research that ranked presentation skills as the 4th out of 10 in-demand soft skills needed in 2024. Having these skills will require attention to detail and continuous practice.

The payoff will be great though. You’ll find yourself building bridges between cultures; fostering meaningful connections through your communication; and inspiring others along the way.

Leave a comment below and let me know which of the 9 principles speak to you the most 😉 

So, remember that the way you communicate will be equal to the impact that you make at work and in the world.

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