What’s the Secret To Becoming a Better Speaker?
Every executive that wants my help, tells me that they have one overall goal….to be a better business English speaker.
But, do you know what their experience has been in the past when they have tried to improve their English?
They have been taking courses and classes for years. From different schools and different teachers. Traditionally, they experience the following.
They are told to: Read something. Memorize it and then take a test on it.
And after so many courses and classes, they are still not any closer to their goal of wanting to be a better speaker.
Let's look at why:
This is a crazy way to try to help someone speak better. But, this is what happens every day.
There have been multiple studies done that show a language (any language) is used on a daily basis more than 80% of the time for speaking and listening and less than 20% of the time for reading and writing. (Mendelson, D. J. (1994). Learning to Listen. USA: Dominie Press.)
Think about it. How do infants learn a language? They are not doing any reading and writing. Yet, very early in their life they can listen. They understand many words in the language as infants.
And within a few years they are speaking. Except for some bedtime stories, they are not doing any reading... and certainly they are not doing any writing!
Let's look at how a language is really used:
So, why is there such a huge disconnect between the way a language is taught and they way a language is used??
Typically, the reason is that there are not many great English speakers that are available to teach English in most countries.
It is very difficult to find the right teacher and the right course at the right time.
Changing Old Habits
There is a big problem.
The problem is that most executives have only been taught one way of how to learn and improve their English. This sounds basic, but it actually is a real problem.
People have the habit of reading and memorizing and taking tests and quizzes and things like that.
And now they realize that they can’t speak the way they want to. Almost everyone is much more comfortable writing an email to a colleague or a client than they are to pick up the phone...or... or....or.... to jump on a Zoom call.
If someone doesn't have confidence speaking English, there is NO chance anyone is going to choose a Zoom call over an email.
What Can You Do Now?
You've got to start speaking...
The good news is that your opportunities are endless
Let's look at four different things you can do beginning today:
The one thing that must happen is that....
...you must get the words to come out of your mouth.
You have to actually say the words out loud.
You have to SPEAK!
Warning: If there is anyone else in your home (especially teenagers) they might think you are crazy for sitting there and talking out loud to yourself. But hey, it’s ok. I’m sure they have seen you do worse things.
Let's take a deeper look into these four suggestions:
Step 1. Read Out Loud
Today, you've probably got many choices of things to read in English. They are right in front of you.
The computer or smartphone you are reading this article on is FULL of things to read in English.
Maybe it's a book you want to read.
The bottom line is that you’ve got many choices of books, articles, web pages and more to choose from. The idea is to find something you enjoy and that you would enjoy reading.
Instead of reading your normal way and reading to yourself, do something much different.
Yes, it can feel very uncomfortable at the beginning. It’s ok, it will feel more comfortable each time you do it.
Take your book and just start reading out loud.
You will find many interesting things begin to happen.
When you read something, you usually read fast and you skip many words. You will find many words that you know the meaning of, but you’ve probably never used those words anytime you’ve had a conversation with someone.
Now you are practicing speaking - so take the time to practice saying these words that you never use. Get used to saying them. Get used to using them in a sentence.
This is how you start becoming a better speaker - by speaking.
Step 2. Find Interesting Podcasts or Videos You Can Listen To and Present
Finding content that you are interested in is essential. If you are interested and like the information, doing the work is much easier.
Everyone has different topics that they are interested in. You can find things you are personally interested in, or you can find business-related information that you are interested in.
Remember, the idea is to get you speaking more. So, you are looking for videos and podcasts that you are interested in.
The most important step is that these videos and podcasts have professional transcripts.
Subtitles are not helpful here, in fact you don't want them. But, a professional transcript that is edited with accurate punctuation and vocabulary is exactly what you are looking for.
Here's a short video demonstrating how you can find a professional transcript with videos and podcasts:
After you find the transcripts, it makes great content for you to speak out loud.
When you are reading a book or an article, you don't get to listen to someone present. When you have a podcast or video, you get the benefit of listening to someone present. This is so helpful.
Now, after you listen to the person(s) present, you can then become the presenter.
The key here is to really present. Speak in an interesting way.
Not like a robot!!!
Practice emphasizing key points and being an interesting speaker. This is a great way to really practice in an interesting way.
Nobody likes to listen to a boring speaker, so practice speaking English as you would speak in your native language. It works!!!
The English Leadership Academy has created the Executive English Video Blog with Full Transcripts for this purpose. The Video Blog has many short videos that many Founders, CEOs and Executives will find interesting and relate to.
Please go to our Executive English Video Blog and use the videos and full transcripts to practice speaking in an interesting way.
Step 3. Record Yourself Speaking
This is one of the most important tips you'll ever receive. Do you want to practice speaking and improve?
Record yourself talking about normal things in your life. What did you do yesterday? What did you do earlier today? What did you do at work?
You only need to record yourself for 30 - 60 seconds.
After you record it...you must listen to yourself!
Everyone in the world hates listening to themselves speak, and when you are speaking a foreign language, you hate it even more! But, do it.
When you listen to yourself, you get to choose one thing - and only one thing each time - that you would like to improve on.
Do this for one month and watch how quickly your speaking will change!
Step 4. Use the Technology in Your Pocket
It is so easy to take advantage of the same phone that you use all day - to help you speak.
As discussed above, you can find many different apps to help record yourself. They are everywhere.
There are so many different apps that will also get you speaking. Every month, it seems like a new app comes out that is trying to help you speak.
Leveraging technology is one of the big benefits of
Here is one of my favorite apps:
This amazing app allows you to speak and receive very specific feedback on your speaking.
There is no question that artificial intelligence will play a huge role in helping people from all over the world learn languages.
Let's take a brief look at this app and why I recommend it so highly.
ELSA Speak is based on artificial intelligence and it began as a pronunciation app.
This is a fantastic app that has grown from using individual words to now using using full sentences as part of a dialogue.
The app learns your voice, and understands what the tendencies of your native language is.
You speak into the app and you receive very specific and accurate feedback on a scale of 0% - 100% as to how your pronunciation compares to a native English speaker from the United States.
My clients have had great success with this app, as it becomes their 24/7 custom pronunciation coach.
Each day, it will give you a 5-minute lesson. I've had clients use this app for more than one year and their speaking ability has seen amazing improvement.
You can try ELSA Speak for free and if you like it and see the value in it, I'd highly recommend upgrading to ELSA PRO. It provides great features and is a small investment for huge value.
Here's a discount code you can use to same some money when you upgrade to ELSA Pro. Use this code: ELA
Get Started Speaking Today
The best time to start is today.
You want to become a better speaker?
Start speaking now!
Find books, articles, podcasts, videos that are interesting to you.
Make certain you are using professional material and if you are using transcripts, make sure they are edited.
Speak out loud. Present out loud.
Leverage technology to provide feedback.
These simple and easy steps are all available right now and will help you become a better speaker today.If you find this post helpful, please download my free book, How to Be the Same Highly Successful Business Leader in English That You Are in Your Native Language and learn how you can communicate confidently in English.
What are you waiting for?