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Book review: Improve your global Business English

Review: Improve Your Global English Our Book Club review this week is Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating Across Borders, written by Fiona Talbot and Sudakshina Bhattacharjee.

Fiona Talbot runs TQI Word Power Skills, a Business Writing Skills consultancy. She is @wordpowerskills on Twitter

Sudakshina Bhattacharjee is a freelance journalist, a published poet, and a lecturer in journalism and psychology. She is @SudakshinaKina on Twitter

The main aim of Improve your global Business English is to provide a resource full of up-to-date and practical advice for professionals who need to develop quality business English communication skills. It’s for anyone in business – native and non-native speakers of English alike – who needs comprehensive common-sense guidance on how to communicate effectively in global business contexts.

Business writing is just one aspect of business communication. But in fact it’s probably the key driver in the world of business and commerce today. Face-to-face communication is on the decrease globally, thanks to the relentless rise of the internet. Business telephone calls are scarcer by the day.

With an emphasis on written business communication, the book covers many different aspects of communication, including writing effective emails, agendas, business reports and brochures; writing for websites (writing global versus glocal English on websites), and using word power skills with social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And of course it has advice on aspects of language use such as punctuation and grammar, streamlining syntax, presentation style, which fonts to use, salutations and titles, colours (do you know which colours are significant for your target audience?) avoiding jargon, power words – and a whole lot more!

Fifteen easy to read and interesting chapters each cover in depth a particular topic, accompanied by practical examples, scenarios and case studies. The authors encourage readers to ‘learn by doing’, and there are worksheets to complete at the end of each chapter. Links to free additional checklists, templates and worksheets to download are included at the end of the book.

Chapters

  • Writing English for global business
  • Why do we write in business?
  • Deciding your business writing objectives in the digital age
  • Common challenges in business English in a global workplace
  • How does writing in a global economy affect us all?
  • Writing emails
  • Making an impact
  • Using global word power skills
  • Report writing
  • Writing agendas, notes and minutes of meetings
  • Personal and company promotion in the digital age
  • Using word power skills with social networking media
  • Quality matters
  • Writing tips for everyday business
  • The kaleidoscope effect – further perspectives for global business English

Managers can be so wrong in assuming global teams speak the same language. And where there are misunderstandings, there are mistakes.

I particularly liked the discussions about cultural differences and areas of common currency in this book. Whilst the authors acknowledge that in many circumstances it’s important to free our business communications from references that are peculiar to our own culture (it’s no use writing business communications intended for a global audience and filling them with idiomatic expressions and references that your target audience won’t understand); and they stress the importance of clear, professional, and results-driven business communication – they don’t necessarily advocate one variety of business English over another, and that’s a key issue for me. They emphasize using your own preferred variety of English and the right communication style for the task in hand and, where appropriate, you are encouraged to add your local ‘splash of colour’ or ‘seasoning to taste’ to ensure the business English you use is right for your target audience.

They also discuss different subcultures within the broad umbrella of business culture – the different ways of doing business and different ways of expressing oneself; plus accepted dress codes, manners, and hierarchies etc. They encourage business professionals to really think about which of the business cultures and subcultures best describe how their organization operates, and which best describe the cultures and subcultures of those with whom they communicate – and how they need to adjust their communication accordingly.

Improve your global Business English is a comprehensive, up-to-date and highly-practical book that I found very interesting and very useful.

In this interview arranged and produced by some of her students at the Institute of Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Development, Kolkata, India; co-author Sudakshina Bhattacharjee talks about the book, business English in general, and her career.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations for books for review, please let us know 🙂

Angela Boothroyd

I'm a teacher and linguist who specializes in helping non-native English speakers speak English more fluently. I review books and interview authors for the Birds on the Blog Book Club - if you have any suggestions for reviews or interviews please let us know 🙂