Writing a speech in a crisis – Bush and Obama
UK Business Speaker of the Year 2012
Delivering a speech in a second language is a challenge that many of us never dream of taking-up, but if you do challenge yourself in this way, how can you deliver a performance that is convincing and engaging for a native audience?
I recently discovered a few tips whilst on a trip to Bruges, on a brewery tour of all places!
The tour guide was Belgian and spoke Dutch as a first language. The tour itself was delivered in English (her second language) and was one of the most enjoyable and engaging I have ever been on. Why?
Yes, the tour guide was an expert, her content was interesting, delivered in a structured and easy-to-absorb way. The fundamentals of good public speaking were covered. It was the ‘extras’ within the speech that really made this multilingual tour guide stand out.
Throughout the tour ‘Englishisms’ were used. Our tour guide referred to ‘hop-on hop-off buses’, ‘munchies’ and ‘knocked-up’ people and consistently used language and terms that usually only a native English speaker could know. This made us as an audience feel more at home and it was clear that everyone in the room appreciated the lengths that our tour guide had gone to, to get to grips with the English language.
On top of this, our tour guide managed to incorporate humour into the tour. Every room that we left, and as a result, every stage of the tour that concluded, was ended with a joke or some humour. This helped to keep everyone smiling and meant that we left every room with a positive memory of what we had just experienced. By the time we had climbed another flight of stairs (the brewery was a large building), we were entering the next stage of the tour in a good mood ready to absorb more information!
So, what did I learn?
When speaking in a second language, the fundamentals of public speaking still count, but it’s the extra embellishments – the colloquialisms and the humour, that make all the difference!