I’ve always loved running. It gives me a feeling of freedom and space, as well as time to clear my head and just drift away a little.
Running demands some hard slog if you want results, but persistence tends to pay off. As your fitness trainer will no doubt tell you, you’ll lose those unwanted kilos, look great and feel like you have a whole new lease on life. What’s not to love?
It’s occurred to me lately that there are numerous parallels between running and my other passion – Business English.
For a start, there’s the issue of endurance. When I was running 3km (and thinking I was going to die by the last 500m), there was no way I could have imagined I’d ever get to 5km. Lo and behold, some serious teeth-gritting later, that 5km mark came into view, and I’m now mulling 10km.
Same goes for your English. Many people I’ve come across avoid using it, as they worry their level isn’t good enough for their business purposes. However, with some persistence, your English will improve. Make a habit of using it at every opportunity- whether it be in short emails, small talk at a conference, or phone calls (which you can even script in advance). Read or listen to some English every day (newspaper/online news/radio/podcasts/TED talks) – and you’ll see a difference over a matter of weeks.
This low-to-high-intensity training is dreaded by some runners as a particularly punishing form of training. But on the flip side – it can yield fantastic results and really propel your body up onto the next fitness level.
Likewise – it can be a real stretch to start using new expressions and forms of grammar (such as the present perfect, which is new to so many of my clients) in your English communication. It may sound awkward at first and will definitely require more of an effort.
However, your emails, phone calls and presentations will now convey precisely the message you want them to. Instead of “plateauing” at a mediocre level, your English will sound way more sophisticated and professional.
Running with a buddy
A good running buddy will give you valuable tips, such as great running routes and advice on how to refine your running style.
Similarly, asking someone with excellent English to cast an eye over your English content will iron out errors and improve the overall tone.
Sign Up for an Event
I trainfar more seriously when in the lead-up to a fun-run (although I still don’t get why they call them that..). Why? Because I’m motivated to ensure I don’t keel over in the middle of a thousand happy runners! That would be so embarrassing!
Similarly, when you’ve signed up to make a presentation or to conduct a meeting in English, you’ll be far more motivated to practise (rehearsing in front of a mirror is really effective) and to use your English more often, so that you’re more confident on the big day. Make a practice of signing up to conduct the next department phone/video meeting in English, and to conduct the odd presentation – this is an unbeatable motivator to practise, practise, practise!
Use The Best Gear
Most runners find they perform better when they’re wearing a great pair of sneakers and some excellent running gear.
Similarly, when your English expression is top-quality, you come across as confident and super-professional – this directly benefits your business performance.
Starting out as a barely-one-km-runner, I couldn’t imagine that one day I’d be training towards a 10km event. It’s amazing what can be achieved by persistence and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Try these tips with your Business English and you’ll soon see some impressive results.