Tips for Public Speaking in a Second Language

Giving a presentation or speaking in public in your native language can be nerve wracking. Presenting in a second language can seem like an insurmountable task. But the reality is, with a little time and preparation you can give a successful presentation in English and impress your audience.

  • Give yourself extra time: If you are presenting in a second language, procrastination is not going to be helpful. If possible, give yourself an extra week or two to prepare for the presentation. (The extra time will also allow you to follow the rest of our suggestions.)
  • Write the speech out: While you don’t want to read your speech, writing it out in advance, in the language you will be presenting in will help you clarify your thoughts and boost your confidence in your presentation. Avoid writing the speech in your native language and then translating it. Direct translation often leads to incorrect sentence structure and awkward phrasing.
  • Read it out loud: Reading your speech out loud will help you become more comfortable with pronunciation and sentence structure. It will also help you feel more confident presenting from your notes if you have read the speech out loud a number of times before the presentation.
  • Create simplified notes: After you have written your speech and read it out loud, create a set of simple notes or an outline to help you stay on track and remember key points. Avoid using full sentences in your notes as they can be difficult to read and process during a presentation.
  • Practice: If it is at all possible, we encourage you to practice your speech in front of a native speaker or two. They can help you identify and correct pronunciation issues and let you know if you are talking too fast or too slow. The practice will also give you an additional boost of confidence, knowing you had a native speaker’s feedback and were able to make some changes.
  • Be confident: Remember, everyone gets nervous during presentations but your audience is rooting for you to succeed. Don’t apologize or draw attention to errors you make, chances are the audience didn’t notice.

With these tips we hope you will feel more confident speaking in public. Ultimately, the only way to improve your public speaking skills is to get out there and keep trying. So, if the opportunity arises, go for it.