Good Speeches in English: What a Puzzled International Student Should Learn from the Best Speakers

Good Speeches in EnglishNowadays students are required to have a lot of skills to achieve the desired results in the academic life. One of these skills is the ability to write an effective and clear speech. Being an ESL student, you should remember that you‘ll come on it sooner or later. So, prepare yourself for this stage in advance if you don’t want to feel nervous while speaking a new language in front of an audience.

We’ve decided to present the key features of good speeches in English. The techniques that we offer in the article are based on the best speakers’ experience, for example, Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy or Barack Obama. Bear them in mind and create your own public speech.

1.  Structure Your Speech

You’re highly recommended to think of the main points you’re going to speak about and keep them in front of your eyes. It is much more effective than to learn the entire speech by heart. Besides, your natural way of speaking is a great way to attract audience’s interest. Put a question to yourself whether you’d be interested if a speaker tried to recollect all that stuff that he or she memorized for a long time? Nobody wants to waste time waiting for what is going to be said next. Enjoy Mark Zuckerberg’s speech, he did a great job at Facebook F8 Developers Conference.

2.  Find Places for Speaking Pauses

In some cases it is possible that logical pauses in the speech can appear. They are considered an important tool to point out some concepts, to draw listeners’ attention or to allow people to absorb new information during a speech. It’s vital to master the art of the pause. Speech coaches distinguish different types of pauses, for example, in the article “Public Speaking – The Importance of The Pause” by Patricia Fripp there are nine types of pauses.

In Obama’s speeches you can observe these techniques.

3.  Keep It Short and Simple

John F. Kennedy used this rule during his famous speech “The Decision to go the Moon” (1961). Your task is to make your phrases easy-to-understand. It concerns your grammar and vocabulary. Making your sentences simple, you can repeat some key issues twice to make your audience keep them in mind. Just like John F. Kennedy did during his speech.

4.  Be Ready to Use Graphical Tools

If you’re delivering a speech in front of people who aren’t qualified, for example, in the economic area, you should clarify some special terms. Help them to understand you with the help of different graphical tools. You won’t succeed without visual aids that involve pictures, graphs, charts and the other visual items to support your public presentations.

TED Talks are accompanied with such visual information that allows to easily follow a speech. Here’s a sample.

5.  Start Brilliantly

Without any doubt, success of your speech depends on your start. Firstly, be confident and calm at the beginning. Imagine you speak to your friend and both of you are interested in the subject and all your fears can be overcome immediately.

Your introductory part plays a great role in starting brilliantly. You can start with a general question. Utilize pronouns ‘we’, ‘us’ to restore the unity during your whole speech. However, don’t overdo with the introduction, pass on to the core of a subject if it is intended to be complex.

Churchill followed this way of public speaking and his “Now We are Masters of Our Fate” speech is a great example.

6.  Involve Humour

Jokes come in handy if you tend to stir up an audience. As an international student, you should pay close attention to humour of that nation that surrounds you during your studies as each nation has its particular sense of humour. Irony is a less hurtful way to communicate with an audience. If your jokes are emphasized by your sincerity, it will be a plus. Get inspired by Steve Jobs’ speech.

7.  Practice Makes Perfect

Most speeches look spontaneous, however, in fact, they were thoroughly planned, polished up during the practice i.e. in the calm atmosphere. Toastmasters International, an organization that is occupied by teaching skills necessary for public speaking, strongly recommends rehearsing a speech prior to presenting it. Use this approach of Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking Darren Tay.

Ways you could practice your speech:

  • Firstly, consider the speed you pronounce your speech with. Start speaking slowly reaching a normal speed to be understandable.
  • Secondly, there are some English words that are difficult to pronounce. This fact might influence your presentation. Practice their pronunciation several times.
  • Additionally, try out some English tongue twisters to get rid of glitches in your speech and to improve your diction in general.

In order to make your practice effective, apply modern technology. For example, record yourself on your phone or even a video camera so that you can hear yourself and also see yourself with the aim of analyzing your verbal and non-verbal patterns of communication. Go ahead and good luck with practice!

About Jessica Dong

Jessica Dong is a 21-year-old student from Beijing. She studies business development in the USA and dreams of running her own company. Jessica is a socially active student with interest in traveling, social media and entertainment.