Performing is no longer the domain just for a handful of people. We now live in an age where we have to ‘perform’ in the boardroom, at a meeting and often in more than one language. Speaking in any foreign language can be tricky and depending on our level of language proficiency, we will have differing levels of anxiety. Not only about language but possibly also about speaking in public. As an Australian living in Austria for 8 years now, I have had my share of moments. Participating in Rhetoric meetings in German has been nerve wracking. People expect me to be of a certain standard, which I might be in English, but certainly not in German. Sometimes, just saying a few words at a supermarket can be a challenge for me.
Below are three ideas I would like to share from the many spin training sessions I have conducted at DIE SCHULE DES SPRECHENS over the last 4 and half years as the English Coach. These ideas will help elevate your performance, especially when speaking in a foreign language such as English. For those who have attended my spins who are reading this, it is a friendly reminder!
What is your favourite English word or phrase?
Most people don’t think about the words they use daily. Words have power and the words we use can help or hinder our communication. I often ask in my spin training sessions, ‘what is your favourite English word?’ Most people have never considered it. Think about it now? If not a word, what about a phrase?
For me, my favourite word is ‘Wonderful’. It also conveniently translates to my favourite German word ‘Wunderbar’. How I say it, when I say it and to whom I say it are all under my control. When I am in German speaking circles, I use this word confidently and it helps to remind me that I can speak German and use words of my choice. Instead of feeling lack, I can feel abundant that I have powerful words to communicate with. Confidence in my vocabulary grows the more words I find and these allow me to enjoy speaking in German. So why not be on the hunt for English words that really resonate with you and empower you to expand your communication skills?
Consider your words, as they can uplift, put down or do nothing in our communication with others too. Whether a conversation or a presentation, we have the power to communicate and use words responsibly. When they are words you like and want to use, people respond positively. Be a wordsmith for words and use them wisely.
Where do you get your energy from?
Most people expect once they have prepared a slide deck or thought about a topic, that the rest will magically happen. This is not the case especially when we have to present in a foreign language. For my spin participants, English usually brings some anxiety and this can show in their energy levels and body language. Consider for a moment athletes, musicians, or other top performers. Being a former Opera Singer myself, I can share that more goes into a performance than winging it. ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance’ is a quote by former Secretary of State James Baker and it is relevant and apt to consider when it comes to presenting in English. In these days of TED Talks, social media and remote work, we need to lift our game and consider our energy and how we share it with our audience. For some people, energy comes from a run or physical exercise before we record that new podcast or video. Energy can come from an inspiring conversation with someone before we go out for a town hall speech in our organisation. Moments of solitude and meditation, quietly listening to music can also give us the energy to perform for our team, as a leader, to inspire new levels of trust and connectedness.
However you find energy, consider where you can tap into it and regularly fill your bucket. Once your bucket is full you have more than enough to share with others. It takes energy to present. This should be part of your preparation for any presentation in English.
You are what you feel.
What we feel on the inside and how we express this is at the core of emotional intelligence (EQ) and as speakers and communicators we need to consider our feelings. Jerry Weismann, a Speak Coach and Author from the USA, describes the ‘empathy loop’ which states that what we feel as the speaker, the audience will feel involuntarily. As you present, you can take your audiences reaction then as a sign about how you are performing. What intention do you want to set up for your audience? Be deliberate. Cultivate those feelings within yourself. If you want to inspire, seek inspiration yourself. Listen to your favourite speaker or musician. Remind yourself of your favourite quote (mine is ‘In order for things to change, first you must change’ by Jim Rohn) and allow it to bring forward the feelings you can use to share with others. Emotions are contagious and so use your EQ to spread your message. EQ is about being smart with your emotions, so develop your emotional literacy and think about when certain feelings are appropriate. People remember most how you made them feel.
Considered together you can be more confident when you present in English understanding that you have certain powers. The power of your words delivered with the right energy levels can help spread the emotions you want your audience to feel. You cultivate these aspects in yourself to be able to offer others a chance to truly absorb your message. You can take your speaking and communication to the next level when you consider this. This is what makes Opera Singers become artists. More than the words and notes in a score, a performance comes to life and allows you to experience something special. This is what you can do as a Speaker, Presenter, Trainer and Communicator. This helps your communication become more special in this way and to make you more memorable.
For more insights into English, contact the Administration Team at Die Schule des Sprechens and book a Spin Training or one-on-one Coaching with David.
Beitrag von David Corcoran (English Coach)