One of the best assets you can have in both your professional and social life is confidence. This is especially true when you are using English as a non-native speaker. Mastering any language is not only about your knowledge of words and proper sentence structure, it’s also about your pronunciation and your confidence. Learning the language can be tough as we have explored previously with some of the most common mistakes in the English language. But if a lack of confidence is your problem, don’t fret, this is something that can be solved with practice and patience. Below you’ll find a few tips and suggestions you can start using to help improve your confidence when speaking English.
1. Practice reading out loud
One of the most important aspects of being a confident speaker is to be well-spoken. This means speaking clearly and ensuring you articulate your words. A great way to achieve fluidity in your speech is to practice reading out loud. Start with something simple or a text you know well. Practice reading in front of a mirror and listen to the way you say the words. Once you are more confident you can practice reading aloud in front of a friend or family member; you can even graduate to a more difficult text the more comfortable you become. The more you practice the more confident you will feel.
2. Listen to and mimic English news anchors
If you’re unsure as to how to act confident in your speech, one of the best ways to learn is to watch other people. Watch their mannerisms and listen to the way they pronounce their words. Your best source of articulate speakers can be found on television, specifically news anchors – in fact this should be your first pick when choosing a native English speaker to emulate. To get yourself started, pick a news station to watch every day (or every other day), watch how the anchors sit, gesticulate, and listen to how they speak. You can even record a short news segment and report on the story at the same time as the anchor. Keep practicing the same segment until you can repeat it without the news anchor.
3. Record yourself
This one might be a little difficult because most people don’t like the sound of their own voice – I’m sure James Earl Jones is impartial to his, but he’s probably the only one. However, the more you practice and listen to yourself, the more comfortable you will become with the sound of it. The key is to listen carefully to the playback and see where you can improve. Listen to the way you pronounce words and how your voice sounds. You can then compare it to how the news anchor sounds.
4. Use a conversation partner
Much like tennis players benefit from a sparring partner, an English student can also benefit from a conversation partner. This is exactly what it sounds like. After you’re confident from practicing by yourself, it’s time to recruit a friend to be your conversation partner. Speaking in front of another person is a great way to conquer your fear of speaking in public. Also speaking English with another person will actively improve your command of the language, so this has an added benefit.
5. Speak slowly
A tell-tale sign that someone is nervous is if they speak too fast. Some people are naturally fast talkers and so may not be nervous at all, but they will be perceived as being nervous by people listening, which means it is to your advantage to slow yourself down. Not only will you seem to be nervous, but if you speak too fast you’re likely to trip up on your words, which will probably result in another blow to your confidence. Instead of trying to reach the end of your point as fast as possible, focus on slowing yourself down, give your words more weight which will produce a better rhythm to your speech. There’s another side of the coin that’s important to consider, if you speak too fast your audience won’t have time to digest everything you are saying and the meaning will most likely be lost on them.
6. Lower your vocal range
We mentioned earlier about a certain famous actor with a voice like rich mahogany. But it’s not just James Earl Jones who speaks with a deep voice (okay, admittedly this is his natural voice but it doesn’t matter because the man was the voice of Mufasa from The Lion King), many other public speakers will usually give a speech in a lower vocal range. Generally speaking a voice in a lower range has more authority. But make sure you don’t force it, as this can sound unnatural.
7. Check your posture
Want to give off a confident vibe? Stand up straight. Not only is standing up straight great for your health – nice work healthy posture, but it is also a great way to present yourself as a confident individual. Body language is just as important during a conversation as are your choice of words. If you stand up straight with your shoulders back and your head held high your confidence will precede you. There’s another excellent addition to having the correct posture. Your body is now perfectly aligned and as a result freed up, allowing you to speak clearly and confidently. Being hunched over not only impedes your vibe, it also impedes your diaphragm. An important thing to remember is: correcting your posture will take a lot of work, the key to achieving a healthy posture is to discipline yourself and practice.
The main message you should take away from this blog post is this: the best way to improve your confidence when speaking in English is to practice. Practice as often as you can. If you mix some of the tips mentioned above into your practice routine, you’re bound to notice a stark improvement in how confident you feel and how confident you seem when speaking in English. Keep checking Work.com.mm for more useful career tips and general advice and all the latest job listings from the top employers in Myanmar.