How to Improve Your English Speaking & Presentation Skills
You are wringing your hands, your mind is going blank and your heart starts racing… Are you taking a speaking exam or are you standing in public ready to deliver a speech? Hmm… How can you conquer your public speaking fears?
Success is basically a matter of confidence! But improving your English speaking and presentation skills also takes time, practice and dedication. So, here are some great tips that can help a lot!
🔺WATCH presentations and talks
Watch videos of presentations and talks given by native speakers and pay attention to their body language and use of visual aids. Communication is much more than the words we say!
But why is it important to pay attention to your body language? Well, imagine that you are taking a speaking exam. If you start putting your hands in your pockets, crossing your arms and not making eye contact with the examiners, you will look nervous and much less confident than you should be!
💡 Now imagine that you are watching someone giving a speech. Wouldn’t some visual aids such as slides, images and videos grab your attention? These may seem like small details, but -just like body language- they can have a big impact on how what we say comes across.
🔺LISTEN to native speakers
Listening to English is great for your pronunciation and intonation, which are two key aspects of speaking and presentation skills. Practising speech shadowing (repeating what you just listened to as quickly and as accurately as possible) can also help you to focus on the sounds of the language and improve your spoken fluency.
💡 In addition, you should bear in mind that becoming a good listener is an important part of a good conversation. When taking speaking exams, many students concentrate on what they want to say and they forget to pay attention to what the examiners say. So, learn how to carefully listen to others!
Do you speak faster when you feel nervous? Do you stammer? Do you often use filler words like ‘um’? Keeping a steady pace and avoiding the use of unnecessary filler words always help our audience to better understand what we say.
One of the easiest ways to assess your speaking skills is to record yourself. We know… Most people don’t like hearing their voice recorded! But recording yourself will help you to easily identify areas for improvement.
💡 Another smart option to assess your public speaking skills is to use an app or software that uses voice recognition technology and can provide you with helpful feedback and suggestions on how to improve your public speaking skills.
It doesn’t matter what you are talking about. There is always room for humour. Even a speech on the most serious subject you can think about can and should be leavened with an amusing anecdote, a fun quote and a little humour.
When your audience laugh, you make them more engaged and interested in what you say. So, always remember what Maya Angelou once said: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ And never let your audience feel bored!
💡 Always bear in mind that an anecdote or a fun idiom you like may be quite confusing or offensive to people of different cultures. Be aware of this factor and make sure that you won’t make a negative impression.
🔺SPEAK as much as possible
The more you speak English, the more comfortable and confident you will become. No matter how much you study grammar rules and new vocabulary, if you don’t speak in front of others, you won’t get good at it!
That’s why you should practise giving presentations. In front of a mirror, in front of your classmates, in front of a small group of friends or even family members… And ask for honest feedback!
💡 Sing along to English songs and try karaoke, talk to your smart device in English or find another fun way to improve your spoken English.
🔺LEARN from successful public speakers
Last but not least, remember that people who are great leaders can always communicate their messages clearly. That’s why they are successful public speakers. Think of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs or Nelson Mandela. You do know that some of their speeches are often used as inspiration for others, right?
So, learning from exceptional speakers offers a great way to improve your own public speaking and presentation skills. There are countless free online videos of exceptional speakers that you can use as a useful study guide.
💡 Emotions, like colds, can be contagious! Researchers call this phenomenon ‘emotional contagion’ and if there is one thing that you should remember after reading this text, then you just have to bear in mind that -like the most famous orators- you simply can’t seem anxious, nervous and stressed when taking a speaking exam or delivering a speech!
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