Apparently, for some people, giving a speech is!
The fear of giving a public speech has its own term: Glossophobia.
You can understand this fear when you think about someone who is still learning English and has to give a speech or presentation in English.
This is hard enough in your own language, let alone in another one!
But maybe now and then you can’t avoid giving a speech in English, so that you can also learn to overcome the anxiety.
Fortunately, it gets easier than you think.
In this article, we’ll share five techniques to help you do that deliver inspiring, confident speeches in English.
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What are the components of a successful speech?
Any speech you have to give – whether it’s a business presentation or a personal introduction to new classmates – requires more than just the spoken words. Good speeches usually include Three core types of communication: physically, visually and the story.
- Physical: These include your English body language and sometimes the environment in which you give your presentation. It tells the audience how confident you are with the topic and how open you are to questions.
For example, smiling at the audience and having an upright posture will help you to appear friendly and confident, making it more likely that the audience will Will listen to you and trust your speech. Many people tend to overlook this aspect while preparing for their public speaking, but body language can leave a lasting impression on the audience.
- Visual: These include pictures, charts and graphs, PowerPoint slides – any visual element that will reinforce your speech and help your audience follow along with you. You can either use a slide show projected on a screen or bring physical objects on stage with you.
- History: The story is the core of your speech. It includes both the words you say and their emotional content – so your physical and visual communication will also be affected.
For example, when you tell an inspirational story, your facial expression should be motivational and not too serious. Similarly, when you present the first quarter results, you should show graphs and charts, not photos.
1. Learn the main English expressions used in speeches
It can be scary when you have to give a presentation in front of a group of people in a foreign language. Besides the usual worries like "What if I come across as too boring??" or "What if I have a dropout?", there is an additional concern: the language barrier.
By remembering key concepts, you have a number of tools to keep your speech moving forward. Whenever you get nervous, just use One of these expressions to add some structure to your speech. If you rehearse them very well, you will effortlessly manage to recall them at the critical moment and you will be amazed how this smooth process will help your self-confidence.
You can even record yourself saying these phrases. If possible, get others’ opinions on these recordings.
Here are some expressions for Different stages of the presentation.
In the warm-up, thank the audience:
It’s always a little difficult to start a talk because the audience doesn’t always get into it right away. Some might be distracted because they might be late, others might be elsewhere in thought, not knowing what to expect. Don’t launch into your content right away, but wait until you have your audience’s full attention.
You can use one of the following phrases in the warm-up to thank your audience:
- Thank you all for being here today.
- I’m happy to see you all today.
- It’s my honor that you are joining me for this presentation.
Introduce your topic or the reason for your speech:
After thanking the audience, signal that you are about to begin your presentation with one of the following phrases.
- Let me begin with…
- I’d like to start by telling you about..
- Today I am going to present..
Interact with the audience:
Although it is your performance, you should not talk exclusively all the time. Invite the audience to ask questions, give feedback and make comments. This is a great option Interact with your audience. Here are some phrases to give room for interaction with the audience at certain moments or during your presentation:
- Before I move on, does anyone have any questions?
- I’d like to pause now and give you an opportunity to respond.
- Please feel free to raise your hand if you have a question at any point during my talk.
Make sure you talk to them about their views, even if they are different from your own. Here are some phrases you can use in such a situation:
- I hear what you are saying, but let me draw your attention to…
- Would you like to explain more about…?
- Are there any other comments about this point before I give my response??
Conclude the presentation:
Don’t forget to thank the audience again before you finish your presentation. Use one of the following phrases:
- Thank you all for your time and attention.
- With that, I want to wrap up (end) my presentation. Thank you for listening.
- I’d like to end my presentation here. Thanks for coming and if you have any more questions, I’d be happy to answer them afterward.
2. Master the art of storytelling
Why do we wait so eagerly for the next season of "Game of Thrones" or why does "The Hunger Games" make us cry??
It is the story. If you want to inspire your audience, you should also learn the art of storytelling. Even something as dry as quarterly numbers should be tied into a story that makes it clear how and why those numbers exist.
For example, analyze some great speeches and their stories. Maybe you can start with the following:
- Mahatma Gandhi, "Quit India"
- Winston Churchill, "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat"
- Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have a Dream"
Of course, storytelling is not something you can learn quickly and master after a few hours, but we can help you understand a good story and apply the principles to your next talk.
Introduce the characters and the problem:
You need to introduce the characters of your story and their problem quickly and as clearly as possible. For example, if you are presenting a project to build a new school in remote areas in a developing country, you should tell your audience about some children who live in such areas and the problems they face due to lack of formal education. Before you get into how beneficial your project would be, let the audience connect with these kids and understand their situation.
Here is an example of what you can say:
"Let’s first meet Ching. She is 10 years old. Every day, instead of going to school like other children her age, Ching goes to the field."
" This is Ching. She is 10 years old. Instead of going to school like other kids, she has to go to the field every day."
Explain the plan to solve the problem:
Telling people about a problem is just the beginning. You also need to present a plan to your audience and show them how the problem could be solved.
By presenting each step of the solution to the problem to the audience, you build excitement and create enthusiasm. You can use this structure, To describe your plan:
"First, we will [do X]. Then, when [X] is ready, we can FOLLOW UP with [Y]. Providing that everything goes as planned, after three months, we can start [Z]."
"First we will do [X]. Then, when [X] is completed, we can start with [Y] continue. Assuming everything goes as planned, we can start, [Z] to make."
Offer a happy ending:
Why do we like to tell fairy tales?
Because happy endings give us hope. You want to create the same feeling with your audience. So, you should explain how your plan or the information in your presentation will help create a happy ending for your story.
You can say something like:
"Based on the statistics, I believe that this plan could work to help the children in need and solve their education problem in the long run."
"Based on the statistics, I believe that this plan could help to help the children in need and solve their education problem in the long run."
3. Learn English body language with FluentU
As discussed above, you need to appear confident when giving a speech. Belief in your own abilities and opinions can come out even more clearly in your posture than in your words.
But every culture has different rules of psychic communication. Unless you grew up in an English-speaking environment, you probably won’t know what kinds of body language your audience will respond to.
FluentU is a great tool to learn this with authentic English videos. FluentU offers real english videos – including lectures and speeches, as well as movie trailers, YouTube clips, music videos, and more – the Have been transformed into personalized English lessons.
This means you can watch native English speakers stand, move, gesture when they give a speech without worrying about missing what is being said. The videos have interactive captions and you can click on any word for an instant definition and visual learning aid. There are also full scripts, flashcards, and fun quizzes to help you actively build your language skills as you watch.
You can start with videos like this speech by former U.S. President Barack Obama or this award acceptance speech by Oprah Winfrey. If you watch these or other videos, Pay special attention to the following:
- Hand gestures
- Eye contact
The videos are sorted by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find the right ones for you. You can view the entire library for free with a FluentU trial version. You can use FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet, or better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store.
If you’ve watched a speech that spoke to you, record yourself imitating the speaker’s delivery and body language. Watch your video and compare it to the original. Which version do you think the audience would prefer to have?
4. Incorporate pauses and emphasis
Sometimes it makes more of an impression to take a break instead of talking. Pauses give the audience time to process your ideas. Sometimes they also help to build up the tension or release it.
Public speakers, especially comedians, often use this technique.
Try to take breaks, especially in the following cases:
- Looking for key words and important ideas
- During transitions from one part of your speech to another
- After you have annotated a chart or graph
Word stress is another way to add rhythm to your speech and help your audience understand you. On the other hand, if you do it wrong, you can distract your audience.
To practice this, choose an inspirational English speech and determine the pauses and stressed words or word syllables. Record yourself and compare your speech with the original one. I like to do this exercise with standup performances, as I think comedians are the masters of pauses and intonations. If you want to try it out, here’s a YouTube playlist of popular standup specials for you to choose from.
5. Practice, practice, practice
And last but not least: Practice makes perfect.
The best way to improve your public speaking in English is to do just that. You’ll find out what you struggle with the most, whether it’s dominant body language, carving out a compelling story, or something else. You will also learn about the situations in which you may lose the attention of your audience.
Before you speak in public, practice at home first. Practice in front of a mirror or camera as often as possible when you have to give a presentation. Watch yourself in action or watch your speech afterward.
When recording your speech, it might be helpful to get feedback from other people, especially native English speakers. They can point out possible mistakes concerning your pronunciation and the places that should be emphasized. They can also give you pointers on your body language if it might come across negatively to an English-speaking audience.
If you want to practice public speaking before you have to give an important speech at work or school, you can attend groups like Toastmasters International or public speaking meetings in your area. You’ll meet other people who are also passionate about this topic and are willing to help you improve your skills.
Mastering public speaking is a great skill to have. By learning the techniques in this article, you’ll gain the tools and confidence you need for the next time you have to give a speech in English in front of others.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.