English Pronunciation and Public Speaking

English pronunciation is more important than grammar, especially when giving a speech or presentations in English.  As a non-native speaker, no one expects your grammar to be perfect.  People will “cut you slack” (be tolerant) if you make grammar mistakes.

The audience is interested in your ideas and your emotional energy.  They don’t care about your grammar as long as they can understand your meaning.  Far too many non-native English speakers worry excessively about their grammar when giving a speech.   Some speakers actually write their entire speech, word for word, and then have it checked for grammar.   Once the grammar is checked, they then memorize the entire speech.

This is a terrible method.  Memorized speeches lack energy.  Imagine a politician giving a speech– reading from a teleprompter.  Most sound dull despite being highly trained.  They lack energy and spontaneity.

Worse, when you try to memorize a speech word for word, you are likely to fail.  When you give the speech, you will probably be nervous.  You’ll feel stressed.  You’ll worry that you’ll forget part of the speech.  And you probably will!  And if you do forget something, you’ll become even more stressed…. causing you to make even more mistakes.

The best speakers speak naturally.  They plan their presentations but do not memorize them word for word.  They speak in a conversational manner.

So don’t worry about your grammar when giving a speech.

What you must focus on is your English pronunciation.  The audience will forgive your grammar mistakes– but they cannot tolerate terrible pronunciation.  Why not?  Because they simply will not understand you if your pronunciation is bad.  If they don’t understand you, they will quickly become bored and annoyed.

While you don’t need a perfect American accent, you do need to have clear and understandable English pronunciation.

As you plan your speech, identify any words that are particularly difficult to pronounce.  Find audios for the correct pronunciation of each word.  Then listen to the audios daily and try to imitate the correct pronunciation.

Another good technique is to listen to speeches by native speakers.  Ideally, choose speeches related to your speech topic.   Listen to the speeches every day.

Effortless English Pronunciation Tracking Technique

Then practice the “tracking” technique:

  1.  Play one sentence of the speech audio.  Pause.  Imitate the speaker exactly.  Then repeat for each sentence.
  2.  The next day, “track” the speaker.  Listen to the speaker AND imitate the speaker (speaking aloud with a loud voice) AT THE SAME TIME.   This will feel difficult.  Do the best you can.  Do this several times a day with the same audio.  It will get easier each time you do it.
  3. After you have mastered steps #1 and #2 above, practice your speech out loud.  Record yourself.  Then listen to the recording and notice any problems with pronunciation.  Work more on those problem words and phrases.

When the time comes to give your speech, forget about grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.  Just focus on your ideas and emotional energy and do the best you can!

Keep practicing.  Join a group such as international Toastmasters— where you can practice giving presentations and speeches in English.

With practice and clear pronunciation, you will become a successful public speaker.