5 Tips For Improving Your English When Speaking

When we speak in English, we want to be understood by all
When we speak in English, we want to be understood by all
Image Credit: John Keogh

I speak English. Unfortunately, all I can speak is English. However, the good news is that I do a pretty good job of speaking English. Whenever I have an opportunity to hear a non-native English speaker deliver a speech, I often find myself starting to think that despite the importance of public speaking how they could have done a better job of using the English Language to get their point across. It turns out that speech and communication specialist Phyllis Thesier has thought the same things. She’s come up with a 5-step method that people can use to improve their English when they are giving a speech.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As speakers we all understand the value of practicing our speeches before we give them. This helps us to sort out our words and get our thoughts straight. However, when English is not your native tongue, it turns out that taking the time to practice your speech becomes even more important.

The reason has to do with what is called “muscle motor memory”. Simply put, if you practice saying your speech in English, then when it comes time for you to deliver it to your audience for real, your body will be comfortable forming and saying the English words that make up your speech.

Boost Your Listening Comprehension

When we’ve been asked to give a speech, all too often we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in a world where we focus on how we will be saying our speech. For those of us who are non-native English speakers this can be a big mistake. For you see, you’ll never be able to correctly say a word that you can’t hear.

One thing that can cause non-native English speakers a great deal of trouble is when they are asked to pronounce a sound in English that does not exist in their native language. They may not even be able to hear this sound when other people are speaking in English. For this reason you’ll need an English speaking friend or colleague who can point out to you what sounds are not part of your English vocabulary.

Slow It Down

I can only speak for myself, but when I hear a non-native English speaker every word that they say gets translated in my head. Yes, they are speaking English, but it often sounds so different from my version of English that I have to process each word in order to make sure that I heard it correctly.

What this means for you as a non-native English speaker is that you need to slow your rate of speaking down. You need to work more pauses into your speech. What you need to be doing is giving me time to process what you are saying – speak too fast and you’ll quickly lose me!

It’s All About The Numbers

One thing that many of us don’t realize is that more often than not we end up using a lot of numbers in every speech that we give. Because numbers are such a critical part of any language, how you say numbers will have a big impact on how easy your audience believes your speech is to understand.

It will be well worth your time to spend time to make sure that you say numbers in English perfectly. There are not a lot of them, but if you take the time make sure that you can pronounce numbers as well as a native speaker, then all of a sudden your speech just got a lot more understandable.

Everyone Needs A Mentor

The final part to Phyllis’ system is for you to go out and get yourself an English language mentor. The goal here is to find someone who is going to be willing to both listen to you speak and then to practice with you as you become better.

In your native language you will have different patterns and ways of speaking. What you are going to want your mentor to do is to act as a kind of a bridge from where you are comfortable speaking (in your language) to where you want to be comfortable (English). I’m pretty sure that we all understand that this won’t be happening overnight. However, with constant work and the help of a good mentor, it will eventually happen.

What All Of This Means For You

The ability to speak multiple languages is a fantastic skill and if you have it, then I am very jealous of you. However, speaking in English is one of the hardest things to do. If English is not your native language, then you need to find ways to master it so that people will listen to you when you deliver speeches in English. Phyllis Thesier has created a five step program that can help non-native English speakers become better at delivering the benefits of public speaking.

The first step in the system is to practice your speech. This teaches your body how to correctly say all of the English words in your speech. Next, take the time to become a better listener. Your native language may not have all of the same sounds that are found in English and so you may need help in identifying and then learning these new sounds. Speak slower so that your audience can have more time to interpret what you are saying. Take the time to master how to pronounce numbers – this will go a long way in making your speech more understandable. Finally, get a mentor who is willing to work with you to help you improve how you speak English.

At the start, becoming a good enough English speaker to deliver speeches that people can understand may seem like an unobtainable goal. However, the good news is that this is something that you can do. Follow the 5 steps in the system and what you’ll discover is that in no time you’ll be doing a great job of delivering speeches that people want to hear in English.

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

Question For You: What do you think would be the #1 thing that you should look for in a mentor?

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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

How much time do you think that you’ll be given to deliver your next speech? I’m willing to bet that the original amount of time that you are told that you’ll have will more often than not turn out to be more than what you actually end up with despite the importance of public speaking. As speakers, this happens so often to us that we really need to come prepared to deal with this situation.