Public speaking skills in English, for non-native speakers

  • Public speaking skills in English, for non-native speakers

    Public speaking skills in English, for non-native speakers

    So you have to speak in public, in English.  You’re terrified because you’re not a native English speaker.  In this blog, I give you 6 ways to instantly improve your English public speaking skills.

    #1  Choose your words wisely.

    Whenever you’re speaking in another language, some words are tougher to say and to understand than others.  So, choose words that are easy-to-say and even easier for others to understand with your accent.  Avoid jargon, slang, and abbreviations; these are difficult for the audience, even with native public speakers.

    Creating a script also helps.  You don’t need to follow the script exactly, but developing the script enables you to consider the best words, so you won’t be searching for words in front of your audience.

    #2  Put important phrases on slides.

    Make sure to put important key messages on a slide or flip chart, in large font.  Just in case your audience doesn’t understand every word, they’ll still be assured to take home your key messages.  Wherever possible add a picture so the audience can visualize your words.

    #3  Slow down.

    Speak slowing and pronounce your words.  Often, when we’re less confident, we try to hurry through a speech or swallow the end of a sentence or word.  This makes a difficult accent impossible to understand.  So slow down and pronounce words to the best of your ability.

    #4  Repeat.

    Repetition helps.  Repeat important phrases or key messages.  You can also say them in different ways, use a story or an example to make sure that your point is conveyed clearly.  Repetition is a key communication tool for in public speaking, so don’t be afraid to use it!

    #5  Practice.

    Find a native-speaking public speaking trainer to help you to practice your presentation.  Good trainers will listen for specific sounds that need work and will help you to soften your accent so you can be more easily understood.  You can also record your practice sessions and listen to how they sound.  I often hear non-native speakers say that they are surprised at how strong their accent is.  Training and practice are key to sounding clearer.

    #6  Read your audience.

    On the day, stand tall and speak confidently.  But, look for signs that your audience doesn’t understand.  If they push their brows together in a look of confusion, don’t worry, simply ask them, “was that clear or shall I repeat?”  Audiences appreciate this kind of attention, so don’t be put off track, just repeat your last couple sentences at a slower pace, then repeat again using slightly different words.

    Following these simple tips will make all the difference.


    Kimberly VanLandingham is an international communication trainer, adviser, speaker, and CEO.  Presentation Training in Switzerland by European Market Link Sàrl offers open courses, private coaching and corporate presentation and public speaking training courses in English in Switzerland.  We specialize in technical, sales and business training for analytical minds and international companies.  Most of our clients are non-native English speakers so please contact us for more information on our courses or coaching.

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