What You Need To Know About Giving A Speech In English

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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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?