Business Speaking

Explaining Procedures – Sequence Words and Phrases

12 Jan 2020

To help you with explaining procedures, you can use certain words to show a sequence of events.

To explain the order in which certain things are done

First ...
First of all ...
Initially...
Next ...
The next thing you have to do is...
Then ...
After that...
After you (have done that / do that) ...
Finally ...
...And then finally...
Lastly...
Afterwards...

To add a further point

Make sure you (don't forget to)...
Oh, and by the way, don't forget to...
Oh, and be careful not to ...
Make sure you.../ Make sure you don't...

To check that the other person is following you, or has understood

OK, so is that clear?
Does that make sense?
So there we are / that's it. Do you have any questions?

 

Speaking English on the Telephone

29 Dec 2019

If you have to talk on the phone in English, don't be afraid! The fear of talking on the phone in a second language will disappear if you practice often. The most difficult part about using the phone in a language that is not your own is the fact that you cannot see the other person's eyes, mouth, and body language. Although you might not be aware of it, in face-to-face conversation you lip-read and watch for smiles, frowns, and moving hands, all of which can help in understanding meaning.

In addition, it is true that telephone interaction is perhaps not taught enough in ESL classrooms, nor is textbook treatment of telephone conversation adequate. These deficiencies pose a serious problem for ESL learners, given how much everyone relies on the telephone in everyday life. Telephone talk appears to be one area in which ESL learners are particularly sensitive, since they frequently state that it is difficult to talk on the telephone and they either avoid or limit such interactions.

Here are a few tips for speaking English on the telephone:

Speak Slowly and Clearly

Listening to someone speaking in a second language over the telephone can be very challenging because you cannot see the person you are trying to hear. However, it may be even more difficult for the person you are talking with to understand you. You may not realize that your pronunciation isn't clear because your teacher and fellow students know and understand you. Pay special attention to your weak areas (such as "r's" and "l's" or "b's" and "v's") when you are on the phone. If you are nervous about using the phone in English, you may notice yourself speaking very quickly. Practice or write down what you are going to say and take a few deep breaths before you make a phone call.

Make Sure you Understand the Other Speaker

Don't pretend to understand everything you hear over the telephone. Even native speakers ask each other to repeat and confirm information from time to time. This is especially important if you are taking a message for someone else. Learn the appropriate expressions that English speakers use when they don't hear something properly. Don't be afraid to remind the person to slow down more than once. Keep your telephone in an area that is away from other noise distractions such as a radio or television.

Ask another student to practice talking on the phone with you. You might choose one night a week and take turns phoning each other at a certain time. Try to talk for at least fifteen minutes. You can talk socially, or role play different scenarios in a business environment. If you don't have access to a telephone, you can practice by setting two chairs up back to back. The most important thing about practicing telephone English is that you aren't able to see each other's mouths. It is amazing how much people lip-read without realizing.

Use Businesses and Recordings

There are many ways to get free telephone English practice. After business hours, you can call and listen to recorded messages. Write down what you hear the first time, and then call back and check to see if your notes are accurate. Use the phone in your everyday life. Call for a pizza delivery instead of going out to eat. Call a salon to book a hair appointment. You can even phone the movie theatre to ask for the listings instead of using the newspaper. Some large cities have free recordings you can call for information such as your daily horoscope or the weather (make sure that you aren't going to get charged for these numbers first). Some products have free phone numbers on the packaging that you can call for information. Think of a question you might want to ask and call the free number! For example, call the number on the back of the cereal box and ask for coupons. You will have to give your name and address. Make sure you have a pen handy so that you can repeat the information and check your comprehension.

Learn Telephone Etiquette (manners)

The way that you speak to your best friend on the phone is very different to the way you should speak to someone in a business setting. Many ESL speakers make the mistake of being too direct on the telephone. It is possible that the person on the other line will think that you are being rude on purpose if you don't use formal language in certain situations. Sometimes just one word such as "could" or "may" is necessary in order to sound polite. You should use the same modal verbs you would use in a formal "face-to-face" situation. Take the time to learn how to answer the phone and say goodbye in a polite manner, as well as all the various ways one can start and end a conversation casually.

Practice Dates and Numbers

You should practice saying dates and numbers aloud. You and a friend can write out a list of dates and numbers and take turns reading them over the phone to each other. Record what you hear. Exchange notes the next day and check your answers.

 

Improving your Intonation in English

15 Dec 2019

In past tips we have looked at the pronunciation of individual sounds and at word and sentence stress. The most noticeable feature of a foreign language, however, is often intonation and rhythm. Some languages are described as sounding "like music", other languages as being "flat" and without "melody". If the pronunciation of individual sounds can be compared with the individual notes in a piece of music, the intonation can be compared with the melody or tune.

All languages have their own intonation patterns. Why is intonation important? Intonation conveys both meaning and attitude, so when a non-native speaker gets the intonation wrong, s/he can be misunderstood or sometimes misinterpreted as sounding rude or demanding when this is not intended.

If a non-native speaker is almost fluent in the English language, intonation is often the only way in which one can tell that s/he is foreign. Moreover, if a foreign speaker is advanced in terms of grammar, vocabulary, etc., native speakers will make fewer allowances for intonation problems than they would with speakers who are obviously at a more elementary level.

For example, if an advanced level speaker unintentionally sounds rude or demanding, the listeners will assume that s/he means it.

What can we do to improve intonation?

Listen to as much spoken English as possible (on CD if you are unable to listen to native speakers) and be aware of where the voice rises and falls. When you listen, try to consider the attitude and feelings being conveyed. One word, for example, can be said in several different ways, depending on the meaning you wish to convey.

Are there any rules?

Yes, there are some. For example, most open questions (those beginning with "when", "where", "who", "which", what", "why" and "how" end with a falling tone and most closed questions (those requiring a "yes" or "no" answer) end with a rising tone.

 

Telephone Courtesy

01 Dec 2019

When you answer the telephone in a business, you are interacting with a customer. Every telephone call you make at work gives you an opportunity to strengthen a customer relationship.

You also use the telephone in a business for other reasons too. After all, you may use the telephone to talk to customers at work, but you also talk to colleagues and co-workers on the phone, and they're not customers.

There are really two kinds of customers - external and internal. External ones are the people who call your company to buy products and services. The external customer's call demands your best telephone manners.

When you work with other people or you coordinate with other departments or divisions, you are interacting with internal customers. If a colleague calls needing data from you to prepare a report, that person is really your internal customer. Internal telephone calls deserve the same level of courtesy you'd normally use with real customers.

Telephone courtesy should become a habit. Whether you're interacting with external or internal customers, courtesy is always your best telephone strategy.

FOCUS ON TELEPHONE COURTESY

Draw on your telephone experiences - both as a customer and as a businessperson - to answer the questions below. Then consider each of the related telephone tips.

1. When you place a call, how many rings do you allow before you assume the party is not going to answer?

TIP
You should allow from 4 to 6 rings before you assume the person you are calling is not going to answer.

2. When the telephone rings, how quickly do you answer?

TIP
When you receive a call, answer on the first or second ring. In business, the ring of the telephone is not simply an interruption. Answering the telephone is an integral part of your job.

3. Have you ever been lost when someone tried to transfer your call?

TIP
Call transfers are very common. Be sure you know the proper process on your system. Customers who are lost in transfer may become lost business as well.

4. When making a business call, do you like being put on hold? When you're on hold, have you ever felt abandoned or left hanging?

TIP
Most people don't like being on hold. Be sure you ask the party if he/she wants to hold. Then check back every 30 seconds to confirm that hold or offer to take a message. Never leave a caller on hold.

5. Have you ever been on the telephone when the other party dropped the receiver or accidentally banged it on the desktop?

TIP
It is an unpleasant surprise. Be especially careful in handling the receiver. Your telephone partner will appreciate it.

6. How do you feel when talking on the telephone to someone who is eating or drinking during the conversation?

TIP
Don't eat, drink or chew gum during a conversation. Such sounds are not always pleasant.

7. What impression do you get when the other person fumbles around looking for a pad or pencil?

TIP
You probably imagined the person was not organized or was not very businesslike. Since you always want to make a positive telephone impression, be ready for action.

8. When someone says he/she will call back at a specific time - but doesn't, how do you feel?

TIP
Telephone tag means two parties try to get in touch by leaving phone messages and attempting callbacks. It's become an annoying fact of business life. If you promise to call back at a certain time, make that call. Likewise, if you've promised to be available at a certain time to receive a call, be there.

9. Suppose you receive a call and are disconnected. Who takes the initiative to resume the call?

TIP
The person who made the original call makes the second call to resume an interrupted conversation. The person who received the original call should hang up immediately when the call is disrupted to enable the other party to call back.
 

Leaving Telephone Messages

17 Nov 2019

Projecting a professional image over the phone is important for building a good working relationship with colleagues, clients or customers.

Here, we present you with a number of useful language structures for leaving a message over the telephone.

The language required for leaving messages can be categorized into the following sections:

Asking for someone

Can/Could/May I speak to...?
I'd like to speak to....
Could you put me through to...¦?
Could I have extension 211, please?
May I speak to someone in the Accounts Department, please?

 

Asking when someone is back

When do you expect him back?  
Do you know when he'll be back in the office?   
What time will she be back?

Asking to leave a message

May/Can/Could I leave a message?
Could you take a message, please?

Explaining the reason for calling

I'm calling about...
The reason I'm calling is to + infinitive
It's about + noun phrase/gerund

Leaving a message containing information only

Could you tell her that...?

 

Leaving a message requesting action

Could you ask him to...?

Other useful expressions

I would appreciate it if you could inform him as soon as possible. It is rather urgent.
I'll be out the rest of the day. Could you ask him to call me tomorrow?
Actually, is there anyone else I can speak to regarding this matter?

 

 

Business Presentations: Signposting Language

03 Nov 2019

A good way to make your presentations effective, interesting and easy to follow is to use signposting language. 'Signposting language' is the words and phrases that people use to tell the listener what has just happened, and what is going to happen next.

In other words, signposting language guides the listener through the presentation. A good presenter will usually use a lot of signposting language, so it is a good idea to learn a few of the common phrases, even if you spend more time listening to presentations than giving them! Signposting language is usually fairly informal, so it is quite easy to understand.

Here's some useful language:

Introducing the Subject

I'd like to start by...

Let's begin by...

First of all, I'll...

Starting with...

I'll begin by...

Finishing One Subject

Well, I've told you about...

That's all I have to say about...

We've looked at...

So much for...

Starting Another Subject

Now we'll move on to...

Let me turn now to...

Next...

Turning to...

I'd like now to discuss...

Let's look now at...

Analysing a Point and Giving Recommendations

Where does that lead us?

Let's consider this in more detail...

What does this mean for ABC?

Translated into real terms...

Giving an Example

For example,...

A good example of this is...

As an illustration,...

To give you an example,...

To illustrate this point...

Dealing with Questions

We'll be examining this point in more detail later...

I'd like to deal with this question later, if I may...

I'll come back to this question later in my talk...

Perhaps you'd like to raise this point at the end...

I won't comment on this now...

Summarising and Concluding

In conclusion,...

Right, let's sum up, shall we?

I'd like now to recap...

Let's summarise briefly what we've looked at...

Finally, let me remind you of some of the issues we've covered...

If I can just sum up the main points...

Ordering / Sequencing

Firstly...secondly...thirdly...lastly...

First of all...then...next...after that...finally...

To start with...later...to finish up...

 

Making Introductions in a Business Setting

27 Oct 2019

There are two kinds of introductions: self-introductions and three-party introductions.

When do you introduce yourself? When you recognize someone and he or she doesn't recognize you, whenever you're seated next to someone you don't know, when the introducer doesn't remember your name and when you're the friend of a friend. Extend your hand, offer your first and last names and share something about yourself or the event you're attending.

Tip: In a self-introduction, never give yourself a title such as Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.

In a three-person introduction, your role is to introduce two people to each other. In a business or business/social situation, one must consider the rank of the people involved in order to show respect. Simply say first the name of the person who should be shown the greatest respect. And remember, gender (whether someone is male or female) doesn't count in the business world; protocol is based upon rank. Senior employees outrank junior employees, and customers or clients outrank every employee (even the CEO).

Begin with the superior's name, add the introduction phrase, say the other person's name and add some information about the second person. Then reverse the introduction by saying the second's name, followed by the introduction phrase and the superior's name and information. When a three-party introduction is done correctly, the two people being introduced should be able to start some small talk based upon what you shared about each of them. Introductions should match, so if you know the first and last names of both people, say both. If you know only the first name of one person, say only the first names of both.

Examples:

"Mr. Brown, I'd like to introduce Ms. Ann Smith, who started yesterday in the Accounts Department. Ann, this is Douglas Brown, our CEO."

(Ann would be wise to call the CEO "Mr. Brown" right away and not assume she may call him by his first name. Always use the last names of superiors and clients until you are invited to do otherwise.)

"Pete, I'd like to introduce to you Doug Brown, our CEO. Doug, I'd like you to meet Pete Johnson, who's considering our firm for his ad campaign."

Tip: Don't say "I'd like to introduce you to..", but rather "I'd like to introduce to you"

Tip: Always stand for an introduction.

To succeed in business, you need good social skills. Knowing how to shake hands and handle introductions can give you an advantage over your competition!

 

Telephoning: General Advice

06 Oct 2019

You have few problems reading the language or understanding others. But telephoning in English? That's when you start to panic. This is understandable. You can't see the other person, and voices are often more difficult to understand on the phone. All is not lost, however. There are some simple steps you can take to improve your telephoning skills.

  • Don't Panic
This is easier said than done, but really is the key to success. You must lose your fear of the phone. Make at least one call a day in English to a friend just to practice.
  • Learn Key Words and Standard Phrases
Key words and standard phrases come up again and again on the phone. Learn them and use them! Don't try to be too clever on the phone; stick to the standard phrases.
  • Start and Finish Well
A confident opening is important. Say clearly, and not too quickly, who you are and why you are calling: "This is Helen Chan from IBF Ltd. I'm calling about your order for ..." Try to avoid saying "My name is ..."; this sounds less professional. At the end of the call, thank the other person: "Thanks for your help." If they thank you, answer with "You're welcome".
  • Learn to Control the Call
Native speakers of English often speak too quickly and not clearly enough. Make sure you know how to stop them or slow them down. Phrases such as: "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that" and "I'm sorry, could you speak a little more slowly" will help you to control the situation. Don't be embarrassed to stop the caller.
  • Listen Carefully
Listen to the vocabulary and phrases that the caller uses. Often you will be able to say the same things later in the same conversation. Your partner might not notice what you are doing, but you will feel good that you have activated your passive vocabulary.
  • Soften your Language
Chinese speakers often sound impolite in English because they are too direct. 'Would' and 'could' are the two key words. "I'd like to speak to Jane Brown, please" is much better than "I want to speak to...".
  • Create a Positive Atmosphere
Smile when you are on the phone. It really does make a difference to the way you sound. And the impression you create can make a big difference to your chances of business success. If you are unsure how you sound on the phone, record yourself during a conversation. You may be surprised by the result.
  • Learn to Spell
Do you know the telephone alphabet in English? If not, learn it. It is important not only to know how to say the individual letters, but also to be able to check them: "Was that I for India or E for Echo?" (Don't say "E like Echo".)
 

What you can do to improve your spoken English!

29 Sep 2019
  • Listen to the radio. You could get up five minutes earlier and listen to the news in English.
  • Watch television programmes in English to improve your listening skills. Try watching the news in English instead of your own language. If you watch a movie and it has subtitles, try taping a paper over them. Listening to others talk is a good preparation for talking yourself.
  • Invite your English colleague to lunch! Find a friend who also wants to improve his or her English and have lunch or dinner together - speaking English of course.

  • Check out books, CDs, and other materials in English from your local library. Look especially for books which have lots of dialogue in them. Read plays. When you go to see English films, try not to read the subtitles.
  • Learn the words to some popular songs.
  • Find books-on-CD in your local library. Listen while you are relaxing at home or while commuting if you have a walkman.

  • Exchange taped messages with a colleague. Record a few minutes and then ask your colleague to respond later on the same tape.

  • Choose a famous person whose accent you admire, and if you can get recordings of him or her, imitate the way he or she speaks.

  • Practice situations when you are alone, perhaps in front of a mirror. Imagine introducing yourself, disagreeing with someone's ideas, being interviewed or asking for information. If you can get someone to help, assign parts and do role - playing.

  • Find a friend or two and agree to speak English at certain regular times.

  • Practice reading aloud - get someone to check your pronunciation and intonation, or record yourself and analyse your own speech. Set goals of specific things you can work on improving - for example, differences between words that contain "l" and "n" or "w" and "v". (e.g. There is no light at night at Wheatley University".) Keep notes of words you often mispronounce and practice them.

  • If you have a chance to travel, take advantage of the opportunities to use English - airlines and immigration personnel, hotel and restaurant staff, fellow travellers and passengers.

  • Sign up to Skype internet telephony. It's free. You can search for people in "Skype Me" mode who want to chat!
 

Getting Native Speakers to Speak More Slowly on the Phone!

22 Sep 2019
One of the biggest problems is speed. Native speakers, especially business people, tend to speak very quickly on the telephone. As a non-native speaker, you need to develop techniques which will allow you to take control of the call. Here are some practical tips:
 
  • Immediately ask the person to speak slowly

Could you speak more slowly, please?
Would you mind speaking more slowly, please?
Would you slow down a little, please?

  • When taking note of a name or important information, repeat each piece of information as the person speaks.

So, you say you can give us a discount of 10%?
OK, you are willing to extend the warranty to 30 days, right?
Your telephone number is 2718 3892 and your email address is.....
Let me just confirm that. Your name is Andy Hogg and your company is called ‘Gtech Ltd’.
Let me just repeat what you have said.
I’d just like to confirm what you’ve just told me.

This is an especially effective tool. By repeating each important piece of information, or each number or letter, you automatically slow the speaker down.
  • Do not say you have understood if you have not. Ask the person to repeat until you have understood.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying.
I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.
I sorry, but I don’t follow you.
Would you mind going over that again for me?
Could you say that again, please?
Could you repeat that, please?
Could you explain what you mean?

Remember that the other person needs to make himself/herself understood and it is in his/her interest to make sure that you have understood. If you ask a person to explain more than twice they will usually slow down.
  • If the person does not slow down begin speaking your own language!
A sentence or two of another language spoken quickly will remind the person that they are fortunate because THEY do not need to speak a different language to communicate. Used carefully, this exercise in humbling the other speaker can be very effective. Just be sure to use it with colleagues and not with a boss!

 

 

Tips for Successful Communication

25 Aug 2019

If you work in a company which has offices in different countries, or if your company does business with foreign companies, you probably use English to communicate.

To avoid misunderstandings or poor working relationships it is very important to have good communication.

The following tips will help you communicate more effectively in English.

Use Simple Words and Sentence Structures

Avoid idioms and phrasal verbs and keep grammatical structures simple. This has two advantages: the person you are dealing with will be more likely to understand you, and secondly, you will be less likely to make mistakes.

Clarify and Rephrase What You Say and Hear

Rephrasing (if the other person doesn't understand) saves time in the future. Try these useful phrases:

If I understand you correctly.
If I can rephrase what you've just said.
So you mean.
Let me rephrase what I've just said.
Let me say that in another way.
In other words.

Ask If You Don't Understand

Don't just guess the meaning of what someone says. If you are at all unclear, you should ask them to repeat or explain. Here are some useful phrases:

Sorry, but I don't understand.
Can you go over that again?
I'm not sure I understood your last point.
Would you mind repeating that?
Could you say that again, please?
Could you explain what you mean?

Prepare for Meetings, Presentations and Negotiations

Before you meet someone, make sure you have prepared any vocabulary or questions you might need. The more familiar you are with any particular vocabulary, the more relaxed you will feel when you meet. It's also often helpful to "role play" a meeting or negotiation, so that you can predict what sort of questions or issues will arise and how you can best deal with them.

Take Written Notes

Ask for a written agenda before a meeting so you can prepare. Take notes when others speak (during meetings, telephone conversations, etc).

Follow up meetings or spoken agreements with a written note. Try using these phrases:

It was good to meet you yesterday. I'm just writing to confirm the main points of our meeting:
Following our phone call this morning, I just wanted to confirm our agreement:

 

Business Greetings

11 Aug 2019

Proper etiquette is important in business greetings. Make sure to use polite language such as "please" and "thank you.". Appropriate titles and gestures should also be used. Shaking hands is common in most English-speaking countries. It is also important to smile.

Here are a number of useful phrases for greetings. Click on the audio links to hear the sentences.

Greeting Phrases:

  • Introduce yourself with your name and title:

May I introduce myself? I’m Roger Cook. I'm in charge of client accounts. Here's my card.

Hello Mr Williams. I'm Jane Seagrove, client relationship manager. Let me give you my card.

  • Shake hands, greet and express happiness to meet the other person.

How do you do?

I'm pleased to meet you.

Pleased to meet you too.

Other Useful Phrases:

  • If you are late for a meeting or appointment:

Sorry to keep you waiting.

I'm sorry for being late.

Did you get my message to say I'd be a few minutes late?

  • Introducing Colleagues:

This is Jeremy Benting, my associate.

I'd like to introduce Janice Long, my personal assistant.

I'd like you to meet Paul Wheeler, our training coordinator.

May I introduce Jason Isaacs, head of Sales?

 

Opening a Business Meeting

23 Jun 2019

Small Talk

Whether you are holding the meeting or attending the meeting, it is polite to make small talk while you wait for the meeting to start. You should discuss things unrelated to the meeting, such as weather, family, or weekend plans. Here's a short sample dialogue:

Jane:

Hi Jack. How are you?

Jack:

Great, thanks, and you?

Jane:

Well, I'm good now that the warm weather has finally arrived.

Jack:

I know what you mean. I thought winter was never going to end.

Jane:

Have you dusted off your golf clubs yet?

Jack:

Funny you should ask. I'm heading out with my brother-in-law for the first round of the year on Saturday.

Welcome

Once everyone has arrived, the chairperson, or whoever is in charge of the meeting, should formally welcome everyone to the meeting and thank the attendees for coming.

  • Well, since everyone is here, we should get started.
  • Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming today.
  • I think we'll begin now. First I'd like to welcome you all.
  • Thank you all for coming at such short notice.
  • I really appreciate you all for attending today.
  • We have a lot to cover today, so we really should begin.

Here's a sample welcome from the chairperson of a meeting:

I think we'll begin now. First I'd like to welcome you all and thank everyone for coming, especially at such short notice. I know you are all very busy and it's difficult to take time away from your daily tasks for meetings.
 

Useful Phrases for Business Meetings

16 Jun 2019

Here, we're going to introduce you to a few useful phrases for 1) watching the time, and 2) regaining focus in a business meeting.

Watching the Time

One of the most difficult things about holding an effective meeting is staying within the time limits. A good agenda will outline how long each item should take. A good chairperson will do his or her best to stay within the limits. Here are some expressions that can be used to keep the meeting flowing at the appropriate pace.

I think we've spent enough time on this topic.
We're running short on time, so let's move on.
We're running behind schedule, so we'll have to skip the next item.
We only have fifteen minutes remaining and there's a lot left to cover.
If we don't move on, we'll run right into lunch.
We've spent too long on this issue, so we'll leave it for now.
We'll have to come back to this at a later time.
We could spend all day discussing this, but we have to get to the next item.

Regaining Focus

It is easy to get off topic when you get a number of people in the same room. It is the chairperson's responsibility to keep the discussion focused. Here are some expressions to keep the meeting centred on the items as they appear on the agenda.

Let's stick to the task at hand, shall we?
I think we're steering off topic a bit with this.
I'm afraid we've strayed from the matter at hand.
You can discuss this among yourselves at another time.
We've lost sight of the point here.
This matter is not on today's agenda.
Let's save this for another meeting.
Getting back to item number 5.
Now where were we? Oh yes, let's vote.

 

How to Start a Conversation

02 Jun 2019

Start out by asking the person questions that are easy to answer.

A good balance is around two or three closed questions, that have short answers, and then one open question, where they have to think and talk more. Early on, it is often better even with open questions to keep them simple and easy.

Tips

  • Ask them something about themselves.
  • If you do not know their name, then start there.
  • Compliment them about their appearance. Ask them where they got that nice suit, watch, hat or whatever.
  • Comment on their good mood, ask them why they are looking a bit down. Say they look distracted and ask why.
  • Ask if they have family, the names of their children, how old they are, how they are doing in school and so on.
  • Ask about their occupation, their careers and plans for the future.
  • Ask about hobbies, interests and what they do with their spare time.
  • Pay attention when they give you an answer. Show interest not only in the answer but in them as a person as well
  • And when they tell you something, show interest in it. Follow up with more questions.

Conversation Starters

  • General starters

Hi, I'm Paul.

Sorry, I didn't catch your name.

I like your dress. Where did you get it?

Nice hat!

You look worried.

What's the matter? You look down.

Is there anything wrong? You seem distracted.

  • The weather (especially in climates where it changes often).

Nice day, isn't it?

Beautiful day, isn't it?

Can you believe all of this rain we've been having?

It looks like it's going to snow.

We couldn't ask for a nicer day, could we?

How about this weather?

  • Recent news (though be careful to avoid politics and religion with people you don't know very well).

Did you catch the news today?

Did you hear about that fire on Fourth St?

What do you think about this rail strike?

I read in the paper today that the Sears Mall is closing.

I heard on the radio today that they are finally going to start building the new bridge.

How about United? Do you think they're going to win tonight?

  • Family (siblings, where they live, etc.)

Do you have any children?

Do you come from a big family?

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Do your family live close by?

Do your children go to the local school?

  • History (what school they went to, where they have lived, etc.)

Are you from around here?

You're not from around here, are you?

Have you lived here long?

Are you from London?

Where are you from?

How long do you plan to live here?

Where did you live before coming to Singapore?

Did you go to school around here?

Which school did you go to?

How do you find living in Singapore?
  • Work (what they do, people at work, etc.)

Looking forward to the weekend?

Have you worked here long?

I can't believe how busy we are today, can you?

You look like you could use a cup of coffee.

What do you think of the new computers?

  • Holidays

Are you going away anywhere this summer?

Do you have any plans to go away somewhere?

Are you doing anything special at the weekend?

Taking a vacation this year?
  • Hobbies and sports

Are you interested in football?

Which sport to you like best?

My passion is golf. What about you?

Are you a member of any clubs?

How do you spend your free time?

Are you going to the game tonight?

Great win for United on Saturday.

What's your favorite sport?

 

 
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