#203: 4 Brainstorming Tips in English [Plus 9 Phrases for Introverts]

Apr 21, 2021 | Business Professional English, Communication Skills

Stop missing opportunities to share your ideas when brainstorming in English due to feeling stuck, shy, or too nervous to speak.

Whether you forget the words you want to say because of anxiety speaking English or…

Whether, like many introverts, you need time to think, today’s lesson will help you brainstorm in English effectively so your ideas are heard.

Communicating in a business meeting and sharing your ideas is an essential communication skill as a team member.

Today’s lesson will help you be more effective and feel more comfortable communicating in meetings in English.

You’ll get 4 simple tips for brainstorming as an introvert in English, plus 9 magic phrases that will help you get time to think and organize your ideas so you’re ready to share.

4 Tips for Brainstorming in English

with 9 Magic Phrases for Introverts


I’m curious if these three statements sound familiar to you?

  • “When my boss asks me a question in a meeting, my mind goes blank.”
  • “I hate brainstorming meetings in English. Everyone’s sitting there looking at me, waiting for me to speak, but I panic and I don’t have anything to say. I feel so embarrassed.”

Or maybe number three sounds familiar to you. This is something that one of my students recently said to me:

  • “Annemarie, I’m frustrated because my coworkers share ideas that I have in business meetings. But when it’s my turn to speak, I forget everything I want to say. So I never get the opportunity to share my ideas.”

If any of that sounds familiar to you. I hear you.

Of course, it’s possible that you’re stuck and frustrated because when you know you have to communicate in English, your anxiety increases, which makes it more difficult to think clearly.

Or perhaps you’re an introvert and like many introverts, you prefer or even need time to think before you speak. You’re an internal processor.

Or perhaps it’s both.

I’m Annemarie with Speak Confident English. This is exactly where you want to be every week to get the confidence you want for your life and work in English.

Whether you’re struggling to communicate effectively when brainstorming in English due to increased anxiety, or because you’re an introvert who needs more time to think in today’s lesson, I have four tips and nine magic phrases to help you get the time you need to think so that you are ready to communicate your ideas confidently in English.


Let’s get started right away with tip number one for brainstorming in English: prepare in advance.

Now I know that one seems obvious, but truthfully, we don’t always do it. We might be pressed for time or feel overwhelmed.

But there is a quick, simple way that you can get familiar with the topics that are going to be discussed and have the time you need to fully formulate your ideas so that you can deliver them with confidence.

In my Fluency School course, I love working with my students on developing mind maps or learning to outline their ideas with just a few keywords.

It certainly is not worth your time to write down every sentence you need because in a business meeting, of course, you can’t read everything that you want to say.

You need to be able to communicate in the moment. So reviewing the agenda in advance and then taking a few minutes to create a quick mind map or jot down a few keywords can help you be prepared to share what you want in the business meeting.

Now I know you might be thinking, but what if there isn’t an agenda provided in advance?

Ask. And this is your first magic phrase for today’s lesson on brainstorming in English.

A simple effective way to ask for the agenda is to say:

“Would you mind sharing the agenda in advance? I’d like to have time to prepare before the meeting.”

I can promise you that most of the time a business owner, supervisor, or manager will really like to hear those magic words I’d like to prepare before the meeting, or I’d like to prepare in advance.

Tip number two for effectively, brainstorming in English is to ask for time to think.

Again, whether you have increased anxiety because you’re trying to find the right words in English, or you’re an introvert like me and you just really want the time to organize your thoughts, ask for the time to think.

In fact, in English, we have a wonderful idiom for this. Have you heard the idiom to buy yourself some time?

What that means is to do or say something that allows you to stall or delay in this case, delay speaking.

So whether you’re asked a question directly in a meeting and you have that initial moment of panic, or there’s a conversation happening around you, and you know that at some point it’s going to be your turn to speak, but you’re still not ready, here are three magic phrases you can use to buy yourself some time.

Number one, “I’m still thinking this through or I’m still thinking, do you mind coming back to me in a moment?”

Number two, “I’m still mulling this over. Would you mind coming back to me?

To mull something over means to think carefully about it for a period of time.

Number three, “I’ve got some ideas on this brewing, or I’ve got some thoughts brewing. Could you come back to me in a moment?”

Now, I know that you can’t always buy yourself some time. There are situations where someone asks a question and you have to be ready to respond. So we’ll talk about that in a moment with tip three, but before we get there, there’s one more thing that you could do to buy yourself a little bit of time, to think, organize your ideas, and be a voice for the other introverts in the room who are also desperately hoping for time to think.

You could ask your group or team members: “Could we pause for just one minute and take time to jot down a few notes? This is definitely helpful for those of us in the room who need to process internally.”

I can promise you if you ask a question like that, there will be others in the room who will thank you for it.

And now let’s go on to tip number three when you have to respond in the moment, but you’re feeling that sense of panic because you haven’t fully formed your ideas: Be okay with unfinished ideas.

If you’re like most introverts, I know that you prefer to have your idea fully formed before you share it. You don’t like thinking on your feet or thinking out loud. In other words, you struggle to express your thoughts. The moment they occur.

Again, you prefer to think in advance the same may be true. If you’re struggling to find the right words that you want in English, if you’re feeling uncomfortable with an unfinished idea, but you know, you have to say something, here are three magic phrases that can help:

Number one, “I’m just thinking out loud with this. But…”

For example, I’m just thinking out loud with this, but what if we tried…?

And then you continue with the idea that you do have, it may not be fully formed, but it’s a start.

A second option. “I haven’t figured it all out yet, but…”

I haven’t figured it all out yet, but one thing I’m thinking is…, And then again, you continue with your idea.

And number three, “Well, I’m still putting the pieces together, but…”

Each of these sentence starters gives you the permission to have an unfinished idea. It’s also a signal to everyone listening to you that you’re just thinking out loud. You’re still figuring out all the little pieces.

And that’s the whole point of brainstorming. There may be someone else in the room who has the missing piece to your idea.

And finally tip number four for effectively, brainstorming in English, especially if you’re an introvert is to take advantage of your strong listening skills.

Introverts tend to be fantastic active listeners in a brainstorming meeting. You can benefit from this by listening carefully to what everyone else has to say.

And then when it’s your turn, you can respond to something that someone else has said that may be backing up or supporting someone else’s idea. Perhaps it’s offering a different perspective or maybe in this case, you’re the one with the missing piece to the puzzle.

Either way, taking the time to listen to everyone else in the room can give you the time that you need to think about what’s being said and be ready to add your thoughts or ideas.

And here are two magic phrases to help you do that.

Number one, “I liked Mariana’s point about… because…”

Of course, here you would rephrase the key point or idea that someone else shared and then be prepared to state why you think that’s a good idea.

A second option: “While listening to Mariana, I had another thought or I had another perspective come to mind…”

And then of course you would with sharing your idea.

Before we finish for today, let’s do a quick recap and I’ve got a challenge question for you. So the four tips to help you effectively communicate your ideas when brainstorming in English are to:

  • Number one, prepare in advance
  • Number two, ask to have time to think
  • Number three, be okay with an unfinished idea
  • Number four, take advantage of your strong listening skills

If one of these phrases was particularly helpful to you, I would love to know which one it is. You can share with me below your favorite new phrase or expression from today’s lesson and try to use it in an example sentence.

Maybe you have a business meeting coming up soon. You could use this as an opportunity to practice using that new sentence starter or phrase and get comfortable with it.

If you found this lesson helpful to you, I would love to know. And as always you can tell me in two simple ways, number one, give this lesson a thumbs up here on YouTube and subscribe to the Speak Confident English channel so you never miss one of my Confident English lessons. And number two, if you have a friend or coworker, who’s also struggling with brainstorming in English, be sure to share this lesson directly with them. You can do that by sharing it on Facebook or by email.

Thank you so much for joining me, have a wonderful week and I look forward to seeing you next time for your Confident English lesson.

Now that you’ve reviewed the lesson, I’d love to know if you had an aha moment. A moment of insight or discovery.

If so, tell me about it!

Plus, you can share your favorite new sentence starter or phrase from today’s lesson. Try using it in an example sentence.

You can share and review comments from others in the Confident English Community in the comments section below.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

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