One of the very first things I remember about speaking English in public is not being able to converse with my peers at school and my first job. In retrospect, I realise that this was majorly because of two reasons- my lack of confidence and inability to construct sentences spontaneously.
Despite having my first language as English at school and college, communicating in the language didn’t come easily to me. When speaking one-on-one, people often tend to have a certain lack of confidence. It probably might be because we tend to think that the other person might notice our flaws more if it’s a closed, one-on-one conversation. During such a conversation, this insecurity heightens, which leads us to make mistakes in our language since we focus on “correcting” other apparent (more apparent to us than the other person) insecurities. This is a very common problem that most people face while engaging in one-on-one conversations.
As I slowly overcame the problem by actually putting myself in the uncomfortable position of speaking and curating sentences on the spot, I noticed a significant improvement in myself. I made sure I took the lead in presentations, team discussions and engaged with a lot of English content online. This helped me journey into becoming a language trainer myself, and I constantly point out to my students that knowing the right techniques and implementing them is the key to becoming a good English speaker.
Hence, here are a few tips that might help you become more confident while speaking
Know more about the topic you want to speak about: Information is key. We cannot talk about a topic which we know nothing about. This makes us become more conscious about the things we speak, and then ultimately end up feeling guilty about it. If, for instance, one does not have the time to research on the topic before-hand, one easy thing to say is “I don’t really know a lot about XYZ topic, can you tell me more about it? It sounds really interesting.” This helps the other person to know that even though you do not have the information, you are inquisitive, and want to learn. These questions further spur conversations and help you make connections with people.
English Grammar: English being one of the primary languages in the world, most people from third-world countries still have this insecurity about their language. This stems from the fact that many people from different cultures still do not receive adequate exposure to English, and even if they do, there is no incentive to learn the language. However, to talk to someone outside your immediate area is what we have to do at some point of time. Hence, to achieve this, we need to understand the basics of English grammar to speak confidently.
Strong Vocabulary: I remember a few choice moments of my life where I have been at a loss of words. I would never remember the right words to use in the right sentences. This made me very insecure of my speech, and I would often shy away from conversations. The biggest lesson here is to understand and know about more words that you can use in daily life. Read more books, underline unique words, listen to songs for the lyrics, watch movies and look for new words all the time. This helps us know words contextually, rather than just learn word meanings.
Improving style of speech: One of the most important things that people notice is the way you speak. The kind of inflection in your speech, the level of words you use, the amount of other languages you introduce in your speech, and your body language too. All of these are inclusive of how you can increase your level of speech. Understanding where you go wrong while speaking, and improving on them is the best thing you can do to have confidence while speaking.
These pointers are inclusive of almost all the things you need to do to improve your English speaking skills, be it one-on-one or in general.
What made you overcome your shyness in speaking the language? Let me know your thoughts?