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Business Talk English


  1. Hinweis zum Urheberrecht
  2. Impressum
  3. Vorwort
  4. Let's Talk Business
    1. Tips for effective communication in English
    2. Introducing yourself
      1. Different ways of introducing yourself
    3. Telephoning
      1. Calling someone
      2. Finding out who you are speaking to
      3. Receiving a call
      4. Answering the telephone and identifying yourself
      5. Telephone conferences
    4. Meetings
      1. Client/ customer meetings: breaking the ice
      2. At the start of a meeting
      3. During a meeting
      4. How to express your opinion during a meeting
    5. Negotiations
    6. Presentations
      1. Preparation / Organisation
      2. The presentation
    7. Trade fairs & conferences
    8. Job interviews
      1. Standard interview questions
  5. The Customer is King
    1. Making a good first impression
      1. The customer benefits
    2. Showing customer orientation
    3. Follow-up calls
    4. The angry customer – ”sorry” is not enough
    5. How to say ”no” politely
      1. How to avoid just saying ”no”
    6. How to complain successfully
    7. Giving ultimatums and setting deadlines
      1. How urgent is it?
  6. Social Situations
    1. Invitations
    2. Small talk
      1. Some of the most common topics for small talk
      2. Starting small talk
    3. Hobbies and interests
    4. Eating and drinking
  7. Written Communication
    1. Emails
      1. Formal or informal?
      2. Abbreviations
    2. Text messages
    3. Letters
      1. The contents of a business letter
      2. Standard phrases to use in the text
    4. Agendas & minutes for meetings
      1. Agendas
      2. Minutes
  8. Appendix
    1. Internet resources
    2. Common abbreviations
    3. Numbers
      1. Currencies
    4. English phonetic spelling
    5. English around the world
  9. Der Autor
  10. Weitere Literatur
  11. Stichwortverzeichnis
  12. Arbeitshilfen online


Hinweis zum Urheberrecht


Haufe-Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, Freiburg


Die Globalisierung und die Entwicklungen in der Kommunikationstechnolgie eröffnen Unternehmen aller Branchen und Größen bisher ungeahnte Möglichkeiten, international tätig zu werden. Wie jeder weiß, hat sich Englisch längst als Lingua franca des weltweiten Business etabliert. Sei es in Besprechungen, Diskussionen, Präsentationen, Verhandlungen, beim Small Talk oder einfach nur, um mit den Kunden im Kontakt zu bleiben – heutzutage ist es unverzichtbar, die korrekten englischen Ausdrücke und Wörter schnell zur Hand zu haben.[2]

Dieser TaschenGuide enthält viele praktische Beispiele, Sätze und Erklärungen, die Ihnen in jeder Business-Situation weiterhelfen. Um einen zusätzlichen Trainingseffekt zu erzielen, ist das gesamte Buch auf Englisch geschrieben. Nützliche Worterklärungen auf Deutsch erleichtern das Verständnis. Weil die Sprache von kulturellen Faktoren beeinflusst wird, bekommen Sie auch nützliche interkulturelle Tipps und Erklärungen, welche Etikette-Regeln Sie sprachlich einhalten sollten. Dieses Buch ermöglicht es Ihnen, Ihr Business-Englisch schnell zu erweitern, verbessern oder aufzufrischen und ist daher ein wertvolles Nachschlagewerk für alle Gelegenheiten.

Ich wünsche Ihnen viel Erfolg bei Ihren internationalen Geschäften.

Stuart Dean

Let's Talk Business

Nearly all aspects of international business involve talking; to customers, suppliers, partners, colleagues or even the media.

This chapter will help you be prepared for the most common business situations e.g.:

  • introducing yourself,

  • telephoning,

  • meetings, negotiations, presentations and conferences,

  • job interviews.

Tips for effective communication in English


You may already know many of the things that should be done in order to effectively prepare yourself for a business situation in a foreign language. Yet most people do not do them. Take a close look at the following list the next time before you go to a business meeting. Then make a conscious effort to try them out. You will be surprised how much they can help you to communicate effectively.

Some DOs
  • Prepare vocabulary and phrases for important meetings and events. Check any difficult words in advance. Make notes to take with you.

  • Ask people to speak slowly. English speakers may forget that you are a ”non-native” speaker and sometimes need to be reminded of this several times!

  • Having good eye contact with the person you are speaking to often helps communication. Non-verbal communication (body language) plays an important part in the communication process. It helps us to understand what is being said and also gives us important feedback as to whether we have been understood. At a meeting, try and choose a seat where you can easily see all other participants and have good eye contact.

  • If you are listening to a presentation or attending a training course, try and sit at the front of the room near the speaker. Don't hide at the back, where it will be more difficult to hear and understand what is being said.

Some DON'Ts
  • Don't expect to follow every single word; otherwise you will soon get frustrated! Remember that when having a group conversation in your mother tongue you may also not always catch every single word that is said.[4]

  • Don't try to translate every word. There is no time for this. By the time you have translated everything, the group will be discussing a new topic!

  • Don't be afraid to say you don't understand something.

  • Groups of English speakers may use slang expressions that you do not know. Again, don't be afraid to ask for an explanation!

  • English speakers love abbreviations and acronyms. You may hear whole sentences made up of them! Don't be afraid to ask for an explanation. You will find a list of some common abbreviations and acronyms in the Appendix.

  • You will often be speaking English with other nonnative speakers from around the world. This can present additional challenges. Pronunciation will vary and it may take you time to adjust. Don't be afraid to tell the other person that you are having difficulty understanding them.

Introducing yourself

There are many business situations where you have to introduce yourself and talk about your company and job, for example at meetings, training courses, workshops, and conferences. Introductions can be very difficult, particularly in another language. The language used is fairly formal and the following section will help you be prepared for this. Many of these phrases are also useful in other situations, for example, when socialising.

Different ways of introducing yourself


Good morning everyone. My name is Susanne Faulhaber from CSF Systems in Berlin. We develop and market software for the travel industry. I joined the company in 2009. I'm responsible for the company's international sales, which means that I spend most of my time travelling throughout Europe. I manage a team of 6 people.[5]

I'm Bernd Schönfelder, Product Manager at Amitek GmbH, where I have been working since 2011. Amitek produces parts for the automotive industry. We are based in Munich and we are one of the largest engineering companies in Bavaria. Before joining Amitek, I worked for a smaller engineering company in Ingolstadt. I'm married with two children aged 4 and 8.

I'm Jens Bauer and I work for Arabella Services in Hamburg. The company plans and manages corporate events for large multinational companies. I work in operations and I am responsible for ensuring that events run smoothly and within budget. I have worked at Arabella Services since leaving college in 2012. Hamburg is a great place to live because in my free time I can get into my boat and go sailing. And it gives me the opportunity to go swimming and listen to some great jazz in my free time.

Your name and company
  • My name is … / I'm …

  • I work for … (not ”am working for”)

  • I'm sales manager for … (you are the only sales manager)

  • I'm an account manager at … (you are one of several account managers)

  • The company produces software / machines / …

  • We develop (or: we market) …

  • I'm a freelance consultant / journalist.

Your work and responsibilities
  • I'm responsible for European operations / I look after …

  • I work in banking. (alternatives: marketing, sales, accounting, product development, research, HR etc.)[6]

  • I manage a team of 8 people.

  • I support our sales team.

  • My job involves …

  • I report to the Business Development Director.

Job titles

It is often difficult to translate German job titles and you may have to use a different job title when talking in English. The most important thing is to choose a title that reflects your position and level of responsibility. You will find that the word ”manager” is used more often in English than in German. In international business, a manager title is normal if you are the only person responsible for a particular key function or activity in your company; for example ”Marketing Communications Manager” instead of ”Marketing Communications Specialist”.

How long you have been with your current company
  • I have been working for Whitehouse Electronics since 2011 / for 4 years.

  • I have worked at Whitehouse Electronics since 2011. (not ”am working at”)

  • I joined Whitehouse Electronics in 2011.

About you personally
  • In my free time I enjoy reading, cooking and playing the piano.

  • Outside of work I enjoy in-line skating and Nordic walking.

  • I'm very keen on football and support our local team.

  • I'm married with two children and live in Kiel.


The use of first names when talking to colleagues, business partners and even customers is standard practice (normal) throughout the English-speaking world. It does not imply any special relationship. Using only your family name / surname may create barriers in business relationships. When introducing yourself or meeting someone for the first time, it is recommended to use both your first and family name. Many English speakers will then automatically address you by your first name; others may continue to use your family name until invited to call you by your first name. To invite someone to call you by your first name, simply say, for example, ”Please call me Gabi”; or to ask someone if it is OK to use their first name, ”May I call you David?”.[7]

Useful vocabulary:

Please note that the German translations given in this TaschenGuide relate only to the specific situations described in the sections where they appear.

socialising:unter Leuten sein / Kontakte knüpfen / Kontakte pflegen
market something:etwas vermarkten oder verkaufen
automotive industry:Automobilbranche
corporate events:Firmenveranstaltungen


Despite the growth in email, many customers still prefer to talk to someone personally, rather than communicate in writing; it's often quicker to resolve a problem this way and helps to build good customer relationships. English speakers put particular importance on ”politeness” when telephoning. This section provides you with the necessary phrases and vocabulary to make telephoning fun and effective.

Calling someone

When making a telephone call it's advisable to be well prepared! If your call involves discussing figures or dates, spend a few moments thinking about how to say them in English before you dial. Telephoning is sometimes difficult because we are not able to use non-verbal communication or body language to help us.[8]

Example: The person you are calling is not there

A: Good morning, Euro Exhibitions, Peter Jones speaking, how can I help you?

B: Good morning, could I speak to Alison Holvey please?

A: Certainly. I'll put you through. Can I ask who's calling?

B: Yes, my name is Peter Schneider from Hamtek in Cologne.

A: Thank you, Mr Schneider; I'm putting you through now …

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