30 common business phrases to improve your communication skills as an entrepreneur

30 common business phrases to improve your communication skills as an entrepreneur

Learning & Development

Julio Romero

Julio Romero

26 Jul 2019, 14:38 — 6 min read

Are you still having difficulty communicating with your employees and/or clients? Communication is indeed one of the key ingredients for business growth. Without proper communication, your employees or clients can misunderstand you, which can affect your business.

To help improve your communication skills, I’m going to share how modal verbs can be the secret ingredient in developing a fluent business English – this might surprise you. In fact, most native English speakers don’t even realize how important modal verbs are in business communication.

But think about it. Modal verbs are often crucial to talking politely, making requests, giving suggestions, setting plans. Basically, everything that’s important for workplace communication.


What are the modal verbs in English?
Modal verbs are a type of “helping” or “auxiliary” verb. That means they work alongside the main (action) verb in a sentence to add deeper meaning.Modal verbs often indicate possibility, probability, permission, necessity, etc. Take this sentence, for example:It could rain tomorrow. This sentence uses the modal verb “could” and expresses the possibility of rain tomorrow.


Other modal verbs are can, could, will, would, may, might, should, and must.

Learn business English modal verbs with phrases you’ll use all the time at work
Now we’ll cover some useful modal verb phrases you can use in different business situations.It’s a perfect way to naturally learn business English (and tons of other vocabulary and grammar structures) the way native speakers communicate.

Arranging a meeting
Of course, there are many business situations where you might need to arrange a meeting. Modal verbs will be invaluable in setting up these meetings politely and efficiently.


  • Could we meet at _____?
  • I can meet at _____. / I can’t meet at _____.
  • Should I reserve the conference room?
  • Might we discuss it over lunch?
  • The meeting should take about 30 minutes.

Conducting an online meeting
In today’s business world, online meetings, video calls or conference calls are very common. If you work for a foreign company, it’s likely that you’ll have to participate in an online meeting at some point.

Modal verbs will help you keep the meeting on track in a clear and formal way.


  • Could you please mute your microphone when you’re not speaking?
  • Can everyone hear/see me?
  • Before we begin, we should each introduce ourselves.

Giving a presentation
Giving presentations in any language can be nerve-wracking, but it can be especially overwhelming if you have to give a presentation in English, which may not be your first language. Fortunately, there are several modal verb phrases you can learn in business English to help you deliver a great presentation.


  • Might/may I have your attention, please?
  • Could you please save your questions until the end?
  • Today, I would like to discuss…
  • In conclusion, we must find a way to decrease costs/to increase profits/to find our niche/etc.


Speaking to an employee as a boss
Being a business owner, one of the most common relationships you’ll have to navigate is your relationship with your employees. Here are some modal phrases that can help you speak with your employees in a respectful, yet commanding manner:


  • When can you give me the numbers from this quarter?
  • When will you finish the project?
  • Could you email me a detailed update?
  • We should plan to move forward with the merger.

Speaking with a Client or Customer
Speaking with a client or customer is an important part of all jobs. It’s important to speak clearly, confidently and politely with them. If you often work directly with clients and customers, you may want to add some of these general business modal verb phrases to your vocabulary.


  • We would like to set up a face-to-face meeting.
  • May I offer you …?
  • It would be my pleasure to…
  • I might be able to…
  • Would you like to renew your account/subscription?
  • Could you give us a list of your requirements?

Taking a phone call
No matter what department you work in, making and receiving phone calls is probably a daily occurrence. It’s important to be able to successfully engage in a phone conversation at work. Here are some standard modal verb phrases you can use the next time your desk phone rings:


  • Could I ask who’s calling, please?
  • How may I help you?
  • Can I take a message?
  • Should I call back later?
  • Could you repeat that

Hiring an employee
Sometimes, it can be challenging to interview potential employees, especially if you’re speaking in a second language such as English. Here are some useful phrases you’ll need during the hiring process:


  • Can/could you tell me more about your work experience?
  • You must arrive on time for the interview.
  • You should submit three references with your application.

These are just some of the hundreds of different business modal phrases you might encounter and might want to use at your workplace. Start to pay more attention to the different business modal verb phrases you hear around your office or in meetings or at conferences with foreign partners and colleagues. Once you understand the general meaning of each business English modal verb, you can take some time to experiment with different phrases, and then you can eventually elevate your communication skills. 

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker. 


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Julio C Romero

I am a Business English teacher, TESOL-certified tutor. , marketing communication specialist, with MBA and Ph.D. degrees to boot. Invite me to connect