In today’s professional English lesson, we go into detail on why you should never use the common sentence, “Does that make sense?”, after you’ve just explained something. I’ll also teach you some alternative phrases you can start using to improve your professional communication.

The phrase “does that make sense” is most commonly heard at the end of a presentation, when answering a question, or when providing instructions to a colleague. The closely related phrase, “Am I making sense?”, is also often used when you find yourself becoming confused during an explanation. Both phrases should be avoided in your professional English.

More from Jade Joddle

▶︎ Speak clear and confident English. Take my Clear Accent course. ✔︎
▶︎ Join my email newsletter (get a free lesson and be notified about special offers).


Why You Should Stop Saying “Does That Make Sense”?

The phrase “does that make sense?” should never be used because it creates a bad impression of you by undermining what you’re saying. If you ever ask, “Am I making sense?”, you most likely know that you are not making sense. We only ever ask this question when we have noticed that we’ve gone the wrong way when we’re explaining something. We’ve used too many words and we’ve confused ourselves. If we’ve confused ourselves, we know that the person or people we’re speaking with probably don’t understand us either.

Saying ‘Does that make sense?’ Undermines Your Professional Image.

Does That Make Sense Alternatives

Here are some ways you can avoid saying ‘Does that makes sense?’:

1- Style it out – Be confident in your presentation and just say nothing after you have (inadequately) explained something. You’ve realized that you’re not making sense, but that’s the best you can do right now. Finish what you’re saying and end on a confident pause, waiting for the next person to speak. If you do this confidently enough, your audience will think it’s their fault that they didn’t understand what you said!

2- Constructive sentence – Use a constructive sentence to reach a better understanding. It is useful to do this in a situation where you need to make sure that a colleague has understood your instructions. Another situation where this comes in handy is when you are training somebody to do a job.

Improve Your Professional English: Constructive Sentence Examples

  • “Let’s summarise the main points together”: I really like using this sentence because you’re inviting participation from your audience. Together, you will make bullet points of the most important information or steps. This will also help you and your audience to think through everything more clearly.
  • Use the summarising phrase: “Simply put, [then insert a short summarising sentence or key points]”. This is best used when a lot of detail is unnecessary and instead you want to get to the main point. A short summarising sentence is useful because the first time we explain something, it’s difficult to effectively highlight the main point(s). However, after we’ve explained it the first time, we can reduce the number of words, making it simpler and easier to understand. Using this method is going to make the most important points clearer to your audience.
  • “There is a lot of information in what was said there…”: You acknowledge that you explained something that was difficult to understand. The next step is to say, “What should we look at again?”.  The reason this is a great phrase to use is because you are offering the opportunity to review a particular idea or point one more time. This question requires more than a yes or no response, meaning your audience will have to think more carefully before answering. The answer your audience provides will tell you exactly which part of your explanation requires additional clarification.

I encourage you to use any of these three alternate phrases next time you’ve provided an explanation that wasn’t your clearest. Using these phrases will also improve your business communication. 

Thank you for reading and/or watching today’s lesson, please come and join me again for another lesson soon.


Extend Your Learning with Another Business English Lesson

▶︎ Take my Business English Vocabulary Course for confident, professional English

▶︎ Learn vocabulary about the return to work after Covid: Back to Normal?

▶︎ Business English: How to pronounce and use the word ‘albeit’.

▶︎ Work Emails: Alternative Phrases to ‘looking forward to hearing from you’

Improve Your Pronunciation

Sign up to get 3 Clear Accent Training Exercises (video).

*For email subscribers only.

Author

Jade Joddle grows your confidence and skill to shine when speaking English.

Comments are closed.