I really identify with the struggle ESL executives face when putting together a speech. It’s difficult to give a solid presentation without struggling with the language, let alone trying to manage phrasing and articulation while presenting. That’s a lot to juggle. During my years as a speech coach in New York City and New Jersey I’ve seen a lot of ESL executives give a lot of different types of speeches. Here are three mistakes I see most often:
- Focusing too much on the articulation of individual sounds, and not enough on the musicality of the language – It’s important to circle trouble words within your speech outline, and work on their pronunciation, but it’s equally important to make sure you circle the focus words within a phrase, and lift your intonation on them. The rhythm and intonation patterns of the language are more important to master than individual sounds.
- Going too fast! – If you are an ESL executive, here is the best piece of advice I can give you about presenting… YOU CANNOT SPEAK TOO SLOW! I know, I know, you feel like you are boring the room. But would you rather take the risk of being a little too boring, or not being understood? Pausing is powerful. Take your time. Focus on your articulation.
- Using complex words when simple ones will do – I recently had an executive who was giving a major speech at a conference and he was throwing out a number of four and five syllable words like “instrumentation”. Naturally, he was stumbling quite a bit. There’s no need to use complex words, in fact the worlds greatest speakers (including Winston Churchill) generally advocated using simple words while presenting.If you want to make improvement on your articulation, join me for an upcoming online accent reduction course.