Below are some fluency activities that work well for business English classes. These activities could be adapted for general English classes as well.
Give students several minutes to prepare an anecdote. Then put students in pairs and give each student four minutes to tell their anecdote. After that, have students switch partners and give each student three minutes to tell their anecdote. Finally, have students switch partners for a third time and give each student two minutes to tell their anecdote.
Some sample topics that work well for business English:
Tell your partner about how you got your first job. Give details and go through all the steps in the process.
Tell your partner about a mistake you made when you were inexperienced in your field. What happened? What were the consequences? How have your learned from this experience?
This activity comes from this post at bridgetefl.com. First, give students a couple of minutes to prepare an anecdote. Then, have students use a voice recorder to record their anecdotes (Audacity works well which you can download here). After students record their anecdotes, have them listen to their recordings. Ask them to take notes on what they could improve (eliminating pauses, using more precise vocabulary, correcting grammatical slip-ups, etc.). After students have taken notes on what could be improved, have them re-record their anecdotes. If necessary, students can record their anecdote various times until they have something they are satisfied with.
Put students in pairs and give them a topic to debate. Give each student two minutes to defend their position. To make it more difficult, you can make students defend a position that they disagree with. For ideas, check out these debate topics for business English.
In addition to using the debate topics in the link above, you can also have students agree or disagree with some quotes about business.
“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO
“The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” —Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA founder
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” —Drew Houston, Dropbox founder and CEO
“Anything that is measured and watched, improves.” —Bob Parsons, GoDaddy founder
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” —Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder
“The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.” —Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” —Benjamin Franklin
“A person who is quietly confident makes the best leader.” —Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures co-founder
“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.” ― Dave Barry, Comedian and Writer
“Advertising is legalized lying.” ― H.G. Wells, author
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” ― Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart
“Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.” – Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart
Put students in groups and have them rank the top five in a given category. Tell students that everyone in their group must agree. Time the activity to ensure that students are speaking quickly.
Sample topics for business English:
What are the five best qualities for a manager to have?
What are the five most respected global companies?
Put student in pairs and have them interview each other about a certain topic. Tell them they need to get as much information from their partner in five minutes. After the five minutes are up, put students in different pairs. Have students tell their new partner about the information they got from their first partner.
Interview your partner about his or her educational background. Where did he or she go to school? What did he/she study? What courses were really valuable to your partner? Why? How did these courses prepare him/her for life after college? What courses were not particularly valuable? Why?
Interview your partner about how he or she has changed in the past five years (both personally and professionally). How has your partner changed? What did he or she used to be like? How is he/she different now?
In the game Taboo by Hasbro, participants have to make their team guess a word without saying certain “taboo” words. For example, someone might have to make their team say “brand” without saying “logo,” “product,” or “advertise.” This game helps students with their fluency by making them “talk around” the words they can’t say. You can use the actual Taboo cards from Hasbro or check out these business English Taboo cards.
Summarizing and Retelling News Stories
Give students 10-15 minutes to read a news article or watch a short news report. Then put students in pairs and give them two minutes to tell their partner about the news story (including all relevant details). Finally, have students retell the news story based on what their partner said.
Choose one student and tell her that she is an expert on a certain topic (economics, real estate investment, public speaking, time management, etc.). The other students ask the “expert” questions. The expert needs to answer quickly and try to convince the class that he/she is really an expert on the subject. Give each student a chance to be an expert at something. To make the activity more fun, choose topics that students know absolutely nothing about. This activity gives students fluency practice by forcing them to think on their feet.
For more activities, please see these warm ups and activities for adults.