Maybe you’ll survive.
Sounds like someone had a pretty scary experience, doesn’t it?
Did they just visit a Haunted House to enjoy a fright before Halloween? (Although why anyone enjoys being frightened, I don’t really understand!)
No, this person was worried about something much spookier than a Haunted House. He was worried about giving a presentation at work. It’s not because he doesn’t know the material, because he is good at what he does.
It’s because, as a non-native speaker, he has to speak English in front of hundreds of people, and he is concerned about his American pronunciation. He hasn’t had much opportunity to improve his spoken English, so he’s not sure the presentation will go well.
Have you felt that fear, too? Your boss tells you that you must give a presentation and you feel that tingle on the back of your neck, your stomach flips around, and you break out in a cold sweat.
What if they don’t understand me?
What if I pronounce important words wrong?
What if my presentation isn’t clear enough?
What if I lose my job?
You know that you are smart enough and that you do your job well; that’s not the problem. But speaking English in front of a roomful of people and hoping they understand you? Now that’s something to be afraid of!
Or is it?
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel confident the next time your boss asks you to give a presentation? It would be such a stress-reliever to know that you will be understood when you speak!
Did you know that there are accent reduction coaches who can work with you over Skype to help prepare you for your next presentation?
We work on voice projection and pronunciation, focusing on your specific topic to be sure that you sound as clear and confident as possible. Giving a presentation doesn’t have to be scary anymore!
But what if your next presentation is very soon and you don’t have time to seek outside help?
Try these tips to improve your American pronunciation:
- Write out your presentation so that you can practice. Speaking unprepared is a great skill, but right now you want to focus on improving your pronunciation.
- Practice, practice, practice. Become very familiar with your topic so you can focus on the pronunciation of the words rather than the content.
- Open your mouth wide and over-enunciate your words. It may sound odd to you, but it will greatly improve how easily you are understood by others.
- Slow down. We all have a tendency to talk fast when we are nervous, but slowing down is one of the best ways to make sure that you pronounce your words clearly.
- Practice in front of a mirror. This will help you see if you are able to make good eye contact with your audience. Get comfortable watching yourself, and add facial expressions and gestures for emphasis when appropriate.
- Practice with a native speaker, if possible. Find someone who can listen to your presentation and point out obvious mispronunciations you can work on.
- Take a deep breath and think positively! The deep breath will help you relax and the positive thoughts will help you perform at your best. Research has shown that we usually perform about as well as we think we will, so the more positively you think, the better you will do.
Once the presentation is over, evaluate yourself fairly. Congratulate yourself on the things that went well, and make a note of what you can do to improve your spoken English for the next time. Be honest about how clear your American pronunciation is, and work on the troublesome sounds.
Soon, you will see the stage not as a scary Haunted House, but as an exciting platform for you to share your brilliance!