How To Give A Speech When You Are Not The One Doing The Talking

When giving a speech that uses an interpreter, you'll need to make some changes
When giving a speech that uses an interpreter, you’ll need to make some changes
Image Credit: Downing Street

They say that the world is getting smaller. I tend to believe that they are correct. However, there are still a lot of differences between here and there. When it comes to giving speeches, what this means is that there is a very good chance that at some point in the future you are going to find yourself being asked to give a speech to an audience who does not speak your language. What’s a speaker to do?

The Power Of A Translator

I’d like to be able to tell you that one of those “learn a new language” programs that we see advertised all the time on the Internet would be your ticket to being able to deliver your speech in whatever tongue your audience speaks. However, that would not be the case. You’re going to have to call in some assistance and that will take the form of an interpreter.

The way that this is going to work is that you will be on stage delivering your speech and the interpreter will then take what you said and speak it to the audience in a language that they understand. This will boost the importance of public speaking that you are doing. As you can well imagine, this will have a dramatic impact on exactly how you end up giving your speech.

What you are going to want to try to do is to get in touch with the person who will be your interpreter before it is time for you to deliver your speech. There are a number of different things that you’ll want to talk with them about. If your speech uses any technical phrases or terms, these will be critical to share with them because they may not translate easily.

3 Tips For Making A Translated Speech Better

So it turns out that working with your interpreter is the key to successfully giving a speech to an audience that does not speak your language. Well ok then. Just exactly what should you talk with the interpreter about when you have the chance? I would suggest three different things:

  • Create A Script: If you are like me, you may “wing” most of your presentations. It turns out that this is not a good idea when your speech is going to have to be interpreted. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to create a “script” for your presentation. You are going to want to use to provide your interpreter with a sense of the flow of your speech. Your script will allow them to become comfortable with what you are going to be saying before it has to be interpreted.
  • Allow Proper Time: Guess what – an interpreted speech takes longer to give. No matter if your interpreter is performing a simultaneous translation or if they are translating what you just said, a translation is going to slow down your speech. When you are planning your speech you need to realize this and allow extra time. You will probably also have to shorten your speech in order to fit it into your allocated time.
  • Pick Your Word Carefully: One of the most important things that you are going to have to realize about giving a speech that is going to be translated is that the actual words that you use will be more important than ever. What this means is that you’ll want to stay away from using any words that may have a double meaning in your language – they will pose a challenge to the translator to get right. You need to be sure that you are going to be able to clearly say all of the words in your speech – if you mumble or slur words, then your interpreter won’t be able to do his or her job.

What All Of This Means For You

Let’s face it – gearing up to give a speech takes a lot of effort. In today’s interconnected world we will eventually be called on to deliver a speech to an audience that doesn’t speak our language and what was a lot of effort just got a whole lot harder.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn your audience’s language in order to be able to communicate with them. Instead, you can use an interpreter — this one of the benefits of public speaking. Meeting with your interpreter before you give your speech is critical. You are going to have to create a script for your speech so that your interpreter can get comfortable with it long before you give it. When you are delivering your speech and being interpreted be sure to make sure that you’ve allocated enough time and that you and your interpreter are comfortable with all of the words that you are using.

The great thing about interpreters is that they can open up the entire world to hear what we have to say. However, we need to understand that giving a speech with the help of an interpreter means that we will have additional work to do. Take the time to carefully plan your interpreted speech and you’ll be able to successfully reach a much larger audience with your message.

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

Question For You: How much time do you think you need to allocate to talk with your interpreter before your speech?

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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 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

Every time we stand in front of an audience, we are filled with the hope that we are going to be able to connect with our audience and get our message across to them – this is what the , importance of public speaking is all about. However, this does not always happen. When it doesn’t happen, we need to take a step back and take the time to understand what happened. It turns out that more often than not, there are three reasons why we may fail to connect with an audience.