Monthly Archives: diciembre 2017

Dic 18

006 Five skills to help you feel more confident before your next meeting or presentation

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English , Presentation Skills

Have you ever felt nervous before a meeting or presentation that you need to do in English? Well if that is the case, then you will definitely find today’s episode very interesting. In today’s episode Andrew looks at 5 techniques that you can easily adopt to improve your confidence in meetings and presentations.

In this episode we look at how to prepare effectively, using a technique called question brainstorm, why you should record yourself, how to become aware of your body as well as some breathing techniques and finally, how to ask some basic clarifying questions.

Just by implementing these techniques, you will be able to feel more confident and better prepared for your next business meeting or presentation in English.

​Listen on iTunes

Dic 11

How to overcome nervousness in meetings & presentations

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English

How to overcome nervousness in meetings & presentations

Welcome back to CI cursos. Today we are going to share with you some techniques to help you overcome your fear and nervousness when you have to meet or present in English. Many people hate presenting or attending meetings in their native language, let alone in a foreign language. So, what can we do to improve our confidence and make that next meeting or presentation a big success.

Today you are going look at 5 key skill areas. These easy to follow tips will have you mastering your meetings and presentations in English, in no time.

Let’s start by looking at, preparation.


All good meetings and presentations require preparation. If you are not the type of person who usually organises your meetings or presentations well, then you should follow these steps. Attending meetings and presenting is much harder in English than in your native language so preparation is essential.

Firstly, we should understand the topic well and prepare our notes. We need to internalise the information we want to give and not memorise word for word. If you have ever seen someone present who has memorised their presentation, then you know what I mean. It sounds robotic and not natural.

If we are attending a meeting, then we need to make sure we have the objectives or desired outcomes of the meeting clear in our mind. Once we have the meeting topic and outcomes clear, we can then do some research on idioms, expressions or vocabulary we would like to use in the meeting. Remember, preparing a list of expressions to use before a meeting is a fast way to improve your English skills. It will also make us feel more confident when we use our pre-prepared phrases.

In both cases, meeting and presenting, do some research on our audience. Who are they, what are they expecting, what do they already know and what do we want them to take away from their time with us. These questions will help you to better appreciate what information you need to prepare.

Thus, with these steps we should be able to form the base of a good, effective and successful meeting or presentation.

The next thing we need to look at is question brainstorming.

Question brainstorm

What is question brainstorming you might ask? Well, many people dedicate a lot of time to preparing their presentation or meeting. They understand the topic inside out. They have everything memorised. However, they fail to anticipate what type of questions they will get asked.

To overcome this problem, we need to do a question brainstorming session before the meeting or presentation.

So how can we do this? Well, as with most things, it is easier than you think. Firstly, you need to divide your meeting or presentation into its parts. Review each part and try and identify the areas where you are adding information or negotiating different aspects of a contract, for example. What we need to do is try and identify the areas where questions or confusion may be generated. Once we have done this, we can start to brainstorm the questions that we think we will be asked.

The beauty of question brainstorming is that we are able to anticipate problems, confusion or misunderstanding and provide some pre-prepared answers. If you question brainstorm, you then have a chance to prepare answers to these questions, meaning that when you meet or present you will already have the confidence to deal with these problems as you have already anticipated them coming.

So, what do we do if we don’t understand the question someone asks us? Well, in this case, we need to ask a clarifying question.

Clarifying questions

If you are new to clarifying questions, then you should take a look at our free e-book, where we discuss these in more detail. However, clarifying questions are a powerful tool to help you feel more confident, while getting the answers you need.

When someone asks us something that we don’t understand, instead of saying, sorry, could you repeat that. Or, sorry, I don’t understand. We can ask them a clarifying question, which makes the other person responsible for clarifying their previous statement. Some examples of clarifying questions are:

  • Sorry, did you say 15 or 50?
  • Sorry, when you said 3 days, did you mean from the time it leaves your factory or from the time the order is received?
  • Could you clarify your last point?
  • I’m not sure I follow you, could we go over your last point again?

As you can see, these statements sound much more confident than just saying, sorry, I don’t understand.

Once we have considered the questions, and prepared for our meeting or presentation, then we can move on to the next stage. Recording ourselves.

Recording yourself

Many people hate being in front of the camera. It’s true. Even if you are at home alone, put yourself in front of a camera and record yourself explaining something. You will instantly start to mumble and turn red and feel embarrassed. This is normal, it takes time to get used to the process.

So, what is the best thing about being at home alone? Even though you feel like a complete idiot, no one is there to see you or judge you. As such, you can take retake after retake without dying of embarrassment. So, let’s look at the strategy.

Firstly, if you are working on a presentation, then record yourself delivering it. Then go back and review it. For example, I notice then when I deliver something, I continually repeat, OK. If that annoys you, then at least after seeing yourself you are aware of the things you don’t like. Then you can actively try and correct them.

Secondly, we suddenly become aware of our body language and we can really see with our own eyes if we are transmitting confidence and authority, or shyness and self-doubt. With this image in mind we can then go about trying to improve our external appearance and through practice we can gain more internal confidence as well as project more external confidence.

So to sum up, it is easy to record yourself, it is not something that we do often, but a powerful tool to help us gain more insight into what we project to others.

So, that leads me to my last point.

Body awareness and breathing skills

As a result of seeing ourselves on camera, we are suddenly aware of what we externalise to our audience. Here we become aware of our body language. So, let’s look at my advice for how to improve your confidence and overcome nervousness with regards to your body language, as well as some tips on breathing.

In the first place, we need to look at the way we move our hands to articulate our story. We must be conscious of our eye movement. Remember, if you can’t look your audience in the eye, then you will transmit a lack of trust and confidence. If you look down, then it is impossible to connect with you audience.

Secondly, by recording ourselves we may realise that we engage in nervous hand rubbing or have some strange body movement that we were not aware of. This is the positive aspect of recording ourselves presenting or delivering a story. Try and avoid all nervous hand gestures, such as rubbing your hands together, picking at your nails, touching your face or covering your mouth. Running your hands through your hair, putting your hands in your pockets or touching yourself unconsciously. Your hands must be an extension of your story and you must use them to help articulate what you are trying to say.

Finally, we can also use simple breathing techniques before a meeting or presentation to calm us down. Remember, yoga and meditation exercises are focused around breathing to help you relax and focus on one thing. What I am not saying is that you being to do yoga stretching exercises at your desk, but you can just simply close your eyes and take a moment to regulate your breathing. Another powerful tool, is what I call a mini-visualisation session. Just take five minutes to close your eyes, regulate your breathing and start to visualise yourself in the meeting or delivering the presentation. By doing so, you can actually use this positive thought to anticipate the meeting or presentation and prepare yourself mentally for what you are going to say and how you are going to look. This will give you confidence as you go into the meeting or presentation as you have already visualised yourself doing it.

Final thoughts.

So, there you have it, 5 top tips to help you overcome nervousness in your next meeting or presentation. Remember, preparation is the foundation to a great meeting or presentation. Secondly, part of that preparation is thinking about what questions are coming. Thirdly, we need to confidently clarify with our own questions when we are not sure. Fourthly, recording yourself is an easy way to feel more confident as well as gain insight into your external appearance. Finally, our body language and breathing control can make us feel even more confident.

I am sure you will agree that these 5 tips are easy to follow and will make a huge difference to your level of nervousness and under-confidence in your next meeting. Without a doubt, if you implement these strategies you will feel much more confident and ready to excel in your next business meeting or presentation in English.

As always, if you have any questions or if you would like some advice, please feel free to leave us a comment or contact us on our Facebook page. If you liked this article, then don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.

Until next time, take care and keep improving your business English.

Dic 03

005 Cómo trabajar en el extranjero y lidiar con las diferentes culturas con Joan Serra

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English , Interview

​​¿Alguna vez ha pensado en cómo sería ser un director financiero ejecutivo de una empresa internacional que trabaja en el extranjero? ¿Cuáles serían los desafíos? ¿Cómo sería la experiencia de vivir y trabajar en el extranjero?

Si alguna vez ha querido trabajar en el extranjero, o si alguna vez se ha preguntado cómo lidiar con las diferentes culturas, no se pierda el episodio de hoy.

En el episodio de hoy, Joan Serra, compartirá su experiencia de trabajo sobre China y los Estados Unidos, como director financiero de una multinacional española. Él nos proporcionará una idea de cómo lidiar con las diferentes culturas. Cómo adaptarse a la vida en un nuevo país y ciudad. Cómo lidiar con el idioma y las barreras culturales.

Si quiere inspirarse para vivir y trabajar en el extranjero, entonces no querrá perderte este episodio. Está lleno de consejos y aprenderá de primera mano de Joan y Andrew mientras comparten sus experiencias de vida y trabajo en el extranjero.

​Escucha en iTunes

Dic 03

Formal & Informal E-mail expressions

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English

Formal & Informal E-mail expressions

The importance of writing well

So, today we are going to be looking at one of the most frequently asked about topics I get from my subscribers. How can I improve the clarity of my emails and make them more formal? What is the difference between formal and informal language when writing.

To my dismay, e-mail along with apps like “Whatsapp”, Skype chat, well any messaging client really, have led to an overall decline in the use of forma writing. Nowadays, people are writing emails so frequently that the art of proficient writing is being lost as we seek to reply faster and be more productive.

The importance of writing well cannot be overstated. Secondly, the challenges of writing in a second language also mean that we should pay extra attention to how we write. I have seen one to many times, where people have offended or upset a client or colleague with overly direct, informal or poorly structured emails. Students must remember that in English there is a certain degree of politeness that accompanies oral and written communication and being too direct can sound rude.

So, let’s take a look at what type of language we can use to sound more formal in our email communication. To do this I am going to break the email down into its various parts, and offer you some diverse types of email scenarios.


It’s important to think about the correct way to address the person you are emailing.

Formal E-mail when we know the name.

 Dear Mr Smith,

Dear Mrs Smith, (married)

Dear Miss Smith, (single)

Dear Ms Smith, (don’t know)

Yours sincerely,

Formal E-mail when we don’t know the name.

Dear Sir/Madam,

To whom it may concern,

Yours faithfully,

Semi-formal E-mail.

Dear Mr/Mrs Smith,

Love/Regards/Best wishes/Yours,

Informal E-mail.

Dear Paul,

Hi Paul,

Hello Paul,

Love/Regards/Best wishes/Yours,

Body & Closing Remarks

In the next section, we are going to break down different scenarios. The key to writing effectively is thinking about your audience and the different situations. For example, try and identify what type of e-mail you are writing before you start writing it. This will help you to get the style and tone right.

Below, I am going to look at the body and closing remarks. You will see that there are a lot of different scenarios.


Formal Informal
Opening remarks
  • I am writing to ask if you could help me with…
  • I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice about…
  • I am writing to ask for you advice…
  • I would be grateful if you could offer your advice…
  • Could you possibly offer your advice…
  • I wonder if you could help me with a problem…
  • I’m writing to ask for you advice…
  • Can you give me your advice…
  • I’ve got a problem and I need your advice…
Closing remarks
  • I would appreciate it if you could give me your advice as soon as possible.
  • I look forward to receiving your advice.
  • It would be of great help if you could advise me.
  • What do you think I should do?
  • Please let me know what you think I should do.
  • Please tell me what to do.



Formal Informal


Opening remarks

  • Thank you for your E-mail requesting…
  • I am writing in reply to your E-mail asking for advice about…
  • I hope the following advice will be of some help to you.
  • I just got your E-mail and I think I can help you.
  • I was sorry to hear about your problem.
  • Here’s what I think you should do.


  • I strongly recommend + Ving…
  • I would suggest + Ving…
  • I would advise you to…
  • You should / ought to…
  • If I were you I would…
  • Why don’t you…
  • You should / ought to…
  • It would be a good idea to…
  • How about + Ving
  • I think you should…
 Closing remarks
  • I hope this will be of help.
  • I would very much like to know if this was helpful.
  • Hope this has helped.
  • Let me know what happens.


Mild Strong

Opening remarks

  • I am writing to complain about…
  • I am writing to draw your attention to…
  • I am writing to you in connection with…
  • I want to express my strong dissatisfaction with…
  • I feel I must protest…
  • I feel I must complain about…

Closing remarks

  • I hope / assume you will replace…
  • I trust the situation will improve…
  • I hope the matter will be resolved.
  • I hope we can sort this matter out amicably.
  • I insist you replace the item at once.
  • I demand a full refund…
  • I hope that I will not be forced to take further action.


Formal Informal


Opening remarks

  • I am writing to apologise for…
  • I must apologise for…
  • Please accept my sincerest apologies for…
  • How can I apologise enough for…
  • I hope you will understand when I say that…
  • What can I say, except I’m sorry that…
  • I’m sorry for…
  • I owe you an apology…



Closing remarks

  • Once again, sincerest apologies for…
  • I hope you will accept my apologies.
  • I hope my apologies will be accepted.
  • I hope you believe me when I say how sorry I am…
  • I can’t tell you how sorry I am…
  • There is no excuse for…


Formal Informal


Opening remarks

  • We would be honoured if you…
  • We cordially invite you to…
  • Your presence would be appreciated at…
  • You are invited to attend…
  • I’m writing to invite you to…
  • I’d love it if you could come to…
  • We’re organising a…and would love it if you could come.

Closing remarks

  • We would be grateful if you could…
  • Please indicate whether / if you will be able to attend…
  • I hope you’ll be able to make it.
  • Hope you can come.
  • Looking forward to seeing you then.
  • Please let me know as soon as possible.


  Formal Informal
Opening remarks
  • I am writing in connection with…
  • I want you to tell me…
  • Can you let me know…


First request

  • Could you possibly send…
  • I would be grateful if you could…
  • Would it be possible for you to tell me…
  • I would appreciate some information about…
  • Can you send me…
  • Can you tell me…
  • I want to know…
 Further requests
  • Could you also please send me…
  • Another matter I need information on is…
  • Can you also find out…
  • I also want to know…
 Closing remarks
  • I look forward to receiving…
  • I would appreciate it if you could inform me as soon as possible.
  • Please let me know…
  • Send me the details…
  • Tell me soon…


  Formal Informal

Opening remarks

  • I am writing in reply to your E-mail asking for information about…
  • I am writing to inform you about…
  • You wanted me to tell you a few things about…
  • You wanted me to tell you a few things about..
 Closing remarks
  • Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.
  • I hope I have answered all your questions.
  • I hope this will help you.
  • Let me know if you need any more help.

Final Thoughts

Remember, choosing the correct style and tone is essential to writing an effective e-mail. If you are not sure if you should be formal or informal, then it is better to start by being more formal. Base on the reply you can either continue with formal language or you can transition to less formal expressions.

Try not to be too direct and always thank people for their e-mail. Rushing an e-mail is a bad idea, especially for non-native speakers of English.

Be sure to look at some of our other writing tips and listen to the podcast that accompanies this blog post.

If you want to improve your business English, then check out our professional business English courses.

If you found this post helpful then please share it using the share buttons below. Until next time, take care.

Dic 03

Do’s & Don’ts of business email writing

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English

The Do’s & Don’ts of business email writing

Do you ever wonder if your emails are polite enough? Have you ever sent an email only to get silence at the other end, or even worse, a cold response? Do you sometimes wonder what are the do’s and don’ts for sending professional emails to your colleagues or clients?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then be sure to listen to the following episode by AOBE. We have compiled a list of things you should and should not do when writing emails.

Make sure you also take a look at the accompanying blog post on which expressions you can use to make your emails sound more formal or informal, depending on the situation.

So, I will not hold you back any longer. I hope you enjoy this insightful episode and I look forward to your feedback.


Andrew Ambrosius

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Dic 03

Idioms for negotiating

By Castells Immerscom Online Courses | Business English , Idioms

​Idioms for negotiating

Hi there, welcome back to The Art of Business English. Today we are going to look at idioms for negotiating. Negotiating is not something new, in fact most of us have to negotiate every single day of our working life. Furthermore, many negotiations take place in the home, between wife and husband, kids and parents.

As you can imagine, English has a wide range of idiomatic expressions for negotiating. Sometimes these expressions can be a little confusing for a non-native speaker.

Today at AOBE we are going to start by looking at some of the most common expression for negotiating in business.

At the end of the today’s lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • learn common idioms for negotiating
  • understand their meaning
  • understand in what context they are used and at what part of the negotiating phase

So, let’s get started with a look at some common idioms.

Opening the negotiation

When opening a negotiation, you should follow the following steps.

  • Welcome all participants.
  • Introduce each person from your team to the other team or if alone introduce yourself to the other person (Remember to use full name and job title).
  • Start with some small to, this helps everyone to get comfortable.           
  • Set the agenda. Discuss in a brief summary what you are negotiating about.

 State interests. Here you tell the other party briefly what you would like to achieve as a result of the talks.

Small talk



How’s tricks?

How are things going?

How’s things at work?

To feel under the weather

Feel ill

I feel a bit under the weather this week.

To be on top of the world

Very excited and feeling good

I’m on top of the world! I just got promoted.

To ask someone over

Invite to your house

You should come over some time with your family.

To drop in

Visit unexpectedly

Why don’t you drop in sometime?

To meet up

Arrange to meet

Let’s meet up when we close this deal.

To see the sights


Have you seen the sights since you arrived?

Set the agenda



To get the ball rolling

Get started

Let’s get the ball rolling.

To kick off


Who wants to kick things off?

To go over the agenda

Review the agenda

I think we should start by going over the agenda

To wrap things up


I hope to have the meeting wrapped up by 3pm.

Stating interests



To be looking to…

Have as an objective

Our company is looking to diversify.

To take into consideration


An important thing to take into consideration is…

To be keen to…

Be eager or willing

Our company is keen to work with new talent.

Making ​proposals 

At the proposal stage of a negotiation, delegates make proposals, react to them, and if they don´t agree with the suggestion made, they may offer a counter-proposal as an alternative. When reacting to proposals, using diplomatic language such as “I´m afraid that is not really what we had in mind” instead of “No, that´s not good enough” can help you sound less direct or negative. This can promote a good working relationship between you and your business partner, and is more likely to lead to a successful outcome in the negotiation.

Making proposals



To have a tight budget

Limited amount to spend

I know you’re on a tight budget, so I will offer you my lowest price.

To squeeze someone on cost

Pressure someone on price

The buyer really squeezed me on price per unit.

To provide someone with a quote

Give someone a cost estimate

Before we can proceed, we will need an official quote.

Bone of contention

An unresolved problem

There is still the bone of contention regarding delivery times.

To push it

Be overly insistent or forward

I don’t think we should push it, he is offering a good deal.

To draw the line

Set a limit

I draw the line at that price offering.

To have something in mind

Be thinking about

Do you have in mind what conditions we can offer?

To be afraid

Be sorry

I am afraid I can’t accept those conditions.

To lead to a successful outcome

Reach a positive conclusion

The negotiation led to a successful outcome for all parties.

To have some reservations about something

Have concerns about

I have some reservations about your last point.

To give ground


Let’s give some ground and see if they will meet us halfway.

Reaching agreement

In order to reach an agreement, we need to use persuading and bargaining skills. We must listen carefully, and we should always check and clarify what the other person has offered, while at the same time giving reassurances.

When bargaining we often use conditionals. The first conditional suggests there is a more real possibility (If you give us a discount we will order more units…). This is much more probably than using the inversion (Were you to give us a discount then, we would order more units) or the second conditional.

Grammar notes

To form the first conditional, use if + (do) + will/can/may (do):

If you reduce the price, I will accept your offer.

To form the second conditional, use if + (did) + would/could/might (do):

If you reduced the price, I´d accept your offer.

At this stage of the negotiation it is advisable to give the condition before the offer because your counterpart will have to wait to hear what you have to say rather than interrupting.

Finally, learn to read between the lines. “I might meet Friday´s deadline”, does not necessarily mean “I will meet Friday´s deadline”.

Remember, will is a promise, whereas might is a probability.

Reaching agreement



To close a deal

Formally conclude bargaining

We finally closed the deal after 2 hours of negotiations.

To come to an agreement

Reach agreement

We came to an agreement on the last point.

A gentleman’s agreement

A legally non-binding arrangement that is guaranteed only by a verbal or mutually understood agreement

We made a gentleman’s agreement until the official papers are signed.

To reach an accord

To agree

Despite our differences we reached an accord.

An agreement in principle

An agreement in which the general terms and/or conditions of a deal are accepted without the complete details having been specified or necessarily agreed upon.

Even though we didn’t finish the negotiation, we reached an agreement in principle, which we will finalise next week.

Couldn’t agree more

Total agreement

I couldn’t agree more with what you said.

​So, there you have it, a quick overview of some idioms to use at the different stages of a negotiation. Of course, there are many more that we can learn. If you have some more idioms to add to the list, then please post them in the comments section below.

If you have any questions regarding these idioms, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you. Until next time, keep learning and improving your business English.