If giving a speech in your second language, you need to be careful

If giving a speech in your second language, you need to be careful
Image Credit: Lynne Hand

I speak in English. Unfortunately, the only language that I can effectively speak in is English. I have a number of friends whose first language is not English, but who do a very good job of both speaking in English and giving speeches in English in order to show the importance of public speaking. It turns out that if English is not your native tongue, you may run into some issues if you try to give a speech in English. Let’s take a look at what you need to watch out for.

Simple Is Good

When we speak a different language and agree to give a speech in English, there is the possibility that we may want to show off. After all, we do have the ability to speak in English and so we’d like to show everyone what a good job we can do. My recommendation is don’t do this. When speakers are trying to impress an audience with how well they can speak in English, they have a tendency to overcompensate.

One of the reasons that we do this is that we fear that if we just use simple English words in our speech, plain English, then people will think that we are ignorant. The reality is that we need to understand that using a small vocabulary is not a disadvantage in this type of speech. Keep in mind that less is more and if you keep your speech simple, it will turn out better.

Watch Your Translations

As speakers, we have a large number of tools available to us when we are building a speech. These tools include such things as humor, analogies, and metaphors. When you speak another language and are giving a speech in English, you are going to want to use these tools very sparingly.

The reason that you have to tread very carefully here is because the way these tools work in one language may not be the same way that they work in another language. A great example of this are humor, jokes, and even figures of speech – it’s possible that they don’t translate well or that they mean something very different in other languages and cultures.

Short Is Good

When it comes to having a non-English speaker give a speech in English, you’ll want to remember that short is good. This applies to everything: use short words and keep your sentences short. One of the things that you need to keep in mind is that when you are speaking in another language (English), we all tend to speak slower. This means that you are going to have to make each one of your words count.

One other thing that you’ll want to keep in mind when you are giving a speech in English is that English may not be the native language for a portion of your audience. If this is that case, then they probably do best when you use simple sentences. Such a sentence general consists of a subject, a verb, and then an object.

What All Of This Means For You

If you are able to speak more than one language, then congratulations. This is a major accomplishment and you can show off the benefits of public speaking. If you choose to deliver a speech in English, you are going to have to take a number of factors into consideration if you want to do a good job with your speech. Since this may not be your native language, you want to make sure that you don’t have to fight English to make yourself understood.

When you prepare to give a speech in English, you are going to want to use simple words and keep your sentences simple also. This will allow us to be clear and won’t leave our audience thinking that we have a small vocabulary. We need to be careful about using fancy wording choice such as humor and metaphors. It turns out that these often don’t translate well and can leave our audience feeling confused. The shorter that we can keep our speech the better. This applies to the words that we use as well as our sentences.

Having the ability to deliver a speech in English is a powerful skill. So many people both speak and understand English that your ability to do this means that you’ll be able to address a larger number of people. However, as with all such things in life, we need to be careful as we switch from the language that we are used to into English. Take your time and carefully create a speech that you will be able to deliver successfully in English.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: When a non-English speaker is giving a speech in English, how long should the speech be?

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P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we give a speech we understand the importance of public speaking and so we spend time writing a speech that we think that our audience will enjoy hearing. We (hopefully) spend time practicing what we will be saying and then when the big day arrives, we get up in front of our audience and we deliver the best speech that we are able to give. However, we all realize that we probably could have done a better job. We’ll never learn what we could have done better unless we get some feedback. However, do we know how to receive that feedback?

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How Speakers Can Increase Their Vocabulary

by drjim on September 19, 2017

Playing Scrabble can boost a speaker's vocabulary

Playing Scrabble can boost a speaker’s vocabulary
Image Credit: mydalliance

Public speaking is actually pretty simple. What we do is we stand up in front of a group of people and then we use words to communicate thoughts and ideas with them – that’s what the importance of public speaking is all about. Note that I just told you how we do this – we use words. It stands to reason that if you know more words, you can do a better job of expressing your ideas to your audience. I’d like to think that we all have an ok vocabulary size, but wouldn’t you agree with me that if it was larger, then you’d be a better speaker?

Ways To Go About Increasing Your Vocabulary Size

So just exactly how many words do we know? It turns out that, of course, our total vocabulary size varies greatly from person to person, but typically people use about 5,000 words in their speech and about twice that many in their writing. There are exceptions to every rule. A college-educated speaker of English could have a vocabulary as large as 80,000 words. Although I don’t think that there are a lot of these running around.

If we want to go about increasing the size of our vocabulary, then there are a number of different things that we can do. The first of these is to read more. During the course of reading a book you will undoubtedly come across one or more words who’s meaning you are not sure of – look it up! In today’s era of electronic books such as the Kindle, looking up a word that we are unsure of has become as easy as tapping on the display and causing the word’s definition to appear. Once you’ve done this be sure to write it down on a separate piece of paper so that you can review your list of new words and commit them to memory.

When we encounter a new word it can be quite difficult associate a meaning of the word with the actual word itself. The good news here is that there are a number of mental tricks that have been developed that allow us to do this more easily. One of the simplest tricks is to use what is called a “mem”. A mem is a visual mnemonic device. We can use them to make a vivid connection between the form of a word, and its meaning. Mems are so effective not only because they engage and amuse, but also because they create richer, less confusable, more robust and visual memories.

The Secret Of Scrabble

This learning of new words is all fine and such, but it sure seems like it is a lot of work. Isn’t there a better way to go about accomplishing the same thing? The answer to this question is somewhat surprisingly “yes”. The popular board game Scrabble is all about creating words in order to win points. The more that you play this game, the bigger your vocabulary can grow.

Once you start to play Scrabble, you’ll start looking at words differently. Instead of just a collection of letters organized in a given order, you’ll start to mentally play with them in order to see what other words you could create if you had those letters. Common things to do is to imagine what anagrams (a word, phrase, or name formed by rearranging the letters of another word) you can create or what words you could create by adding letters to either the beginning of the word or to the end of the word.

Having a large vocabulary helps you to express yourself more clearly. It can also help you to overcome common speaking challenges. One of the things that good speakers try to do is to eliminate jargon from their speeches. If you have a small vocabulary, you’ll be hard pressed to find a word to clearly substitute for a jargon word or phrase. However, if you’ve taken the time to increase the size of your vocabulary you should have multiple options that you can choose from in order to make your speech more clear.

What All Of This Means For You

Any time that we give a speech, we want to connect with our audience and clearly communicate to them the thoughts and ideas that we’ve put into our speech so that we can share with them the benefits of public speaking. However, in order to paint vivid mental images in our audience’s minds we need to be able to express ourselves using a rich collection of words. The more words that we know, the easier this is to do.

In order to boost the number of words that we have in our vocabulary, there are a number of different things that we can do. The first is to read more books. While reading, if we encounter a word that is not in our vocabulary we can look it up and write it down so that we can add it to our vocabulary. Additionally, we can use the concept of “mems” to associate new words with actions so that we can remember what they mean. Playing the board game Scrabble can also help us to boost our vocabulary.

Knowing that we need to increase the number of words that we both know and use is the first step in starting to build a bigger vocabulary. As the number of words that we know starts to increase, we are going to be able to do a better job of connecting with our audience. If we can make all of this happen just by spending some time playing more Scrabble, then we should all get the game out and start to play!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: When you are writing a speech, do you think that you should consult your list of words that you have just learned?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I speak in English. Unfortunately, the only language that I can effectively speak in is English. I have a number of friends whose first language is not English, but who do a very good job of both speaking in English and giving speeches in English in order to show the importance of public speaking. It turns out that if English is not your native tongue, you may run into some issues if you try to give a speech in English. Let’s take a look at what you need to watch out for.

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