3 Language Tips for Public speaking

There is an English adage which states that what you put in is what you get out. It is the same with public speaking. As a speaker, you can have all of the skills, charisma and technique in the world but if what your content is poor, you cannot give a good speech or presentation.

One of the most frequent reasons given for learning languages is the need to give presentations in that language. But as a language school the one thing we do not directly do is provide public speaking coaching.

However, by helping clients understand how they need to use language and write, we can help by improving what you put IN to your next public talk, be that a speech or a presentation.

Appropriate Language

Different languages and cultures have different ways to be polite as well as different standards. Learners of new languages do not always possess the subtlety required to be as polite or formal as a native speaker would be unconsciously. There are often differences between what would be acceptable language in a casual conversation between friends and what would be acceptable in a more formal business environment. It is also not always as easy as you might think to convey the tone that you might intend without a grasp of the cultural norms and values attached to the language you are learning. Therefore an important part of language-based coaching for speaking in public is helping the client understand the cultural loading of their words and how to be polite and/or formal in the required way.


The act of speaking in public requires a good vocabulary. A good speaker does not repeat the same word every second sentence as they do not want to bore or irritate their audience. For new language learners, this presents a challenge as they do not possess the vocabulary to think of many synonyms or different ways to say many things. When speaking for business purposes there are often very specific words and terms that need to be used that new learners do not yet have in their vocabulary. Therefore it falls to the language trainer to help clients who need to speak in public to build up a vocabulary that is both specific and accurate enough to be believable and broad enough to be flexible.

Sentence length & construction

It is always important to understand that what works as a written sentence on a page doesn’t necessarily work as a spoken sentence. It is important to learn how to write in a way that is precise and to the point and yet accommodates cultural politeness standards. A tendency among language learners is to add more words to sentences in an attempt to clarify meaning. This often results in long, complex sentences that are difficult to interpret. In a live, spoken situation, these constructions leave your audience thinking more about HOW you said what you just said rather than about WHAT you said. The objective of the language trainer in this scenario is to coach and guide clients into building good, grammatically sound sentences that are short enough to work as spoken language while maintaining the important information.

TalenInstituut Free Tip

Don’t be fooled into thinking that using complex language in your presentation or speech is going to impress anyone. Rather make sure that your key message is easy to identify and understand. Remember that HOW you say things is very important and make sure that you are using the correct forms of politeness and formality in what you say.

Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those.

To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote: www.taleninstituut.nl

© Taleninstituut Nederland

By: David Chislett
Trainer Business English