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English Speech Communication: Tips for Being Clear When Teaching a Task

English Speech Communication: Tips for Being Clear When Teaching a Task



Do you recall the last time you assigned a person to complete a task for you at work or in daily life (family or friend)?

Here are some tips for being clear in that circumstance:

  1. Set the climate.

Be sure you are in a place which is conducive for listening.  Especially look for the level of background noise

Choose a time when your colleague or helper is free to pay attention.

  1. Give the big picture.

Describe the overall objectives.  People need to see where their part fits into the whole.  That way they can know and feel they are part of the bigger, more important goal.

  1. Describe the steps of the task.

This is the most important part of the task teaching.  If the task is already printed in an instruction manual, you still need to go over these steps to assure yourself that the colleague or helper is familiar with the steps.

If the steps are not written out, have the person write the list as you are discussing the steps.   This step increases the likelihood that the colleague or helper will remember all the steps.

  1. Describe the resources.

Point out other references on the task, perhaps a manual or a You Tube video, if there are any.

Resources including people who have worked on this task before.

  1. Invite questions.

Often we feel we don’t have time to answer questions.  This extra attention is worth the time and effort.  Better to give extra explanation than be unhappy with the results later.  Do open-ended questions, such as “What questions do you have?”   Avoid saying “You don’t have any questions, do you?”  The open-ended question invites and prompts responses.

  1. Get the person to summarize his or her strategy for accomplishing the task.

This step assures you and the other person that the steps for the task are well understood.

You could use this sentence: “Call me compulsive – I need you to summarize how you will get this done.”   You are taking responsibility and thus reduce the defensiveness in the other person.

  1. Agree on a date to follow-up.

The follow-up date depends on how complex and the value of the task.  For complex and/or very important tasks, an earlier date for initial follow-up works well.

When you speak, ask if you are being clear by saying, “Are you following me?”

That can remind the other person to listen more carefully.  If the point you are making is critical, you might ask the other person to repeat the information back, just to be sure you are communicating effectively.

And, don’t forget to express your appreciation and gratitude that your colleague or helper is assisting you. Smile!

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.



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