3 Ways to Speak English More Confidently
English learners often feel anxious and nervous when they have to speak English in front of others. This is normally because of three different fears:
- They don’t have confidence in their ability to communicate their message in English
- They are afraid of making mistakes
- They worry about not being understood by others
Although there are English learners who need to improve their level in order to build confidence, I have met many learners who have an upper intermediate to advanced level but lack confidence especially when they need to participate in a meeting, make a presentation or give an interview in English.
In this case, it’s a mindset problem.
Going from an unconfident speaker to a confident one often involves changing your mindset, and not necessarily improving your competence level at speaking English.
It is a competence matter when you lack the necessary English level to participate in meetings, have a fluid conversation, understand what other people are saying etc. In this case, you need to focus on improving your English level.
On the other hand, if you know that in certain situations you are comfortable speaking English and expressing your thoughts, such as with your teacher, but on other occasions like participating in a meeting, you start to get nervous and forget words, then it’s a mindset issue.
So how do you improve your mindset so that you feel more confident?
Here are 3 solutions to help you build confidence in speaking English:
1: Adopt a Practice and Repetition Routine
When something becomes natural to us, like learning to ride a bike or driving a car, we begin to feel confident in doing it.
And the only way we can arrive at this ‘natural’ way of doing things, is through practice and repetition.
Well, it’s the same principle with speaking English confidently.
So when there is an English meeting coming up, write down what you might talk about as well as the answers to questions you may be asked. Then practice saying this aloud. When you feel comfortable, practice again.
The idea is to overlearn your speech. Similar to a mantra.
As well as meetings, you can do this to prepare for conversations, certain situations, like opening a bank account, job interviews, and presentations.
Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly what you will be talking about in a future conversation or meeting. However, I’m sure if you sit down and think about what possible topics could come up—and if you practice these—you’ll no doubt feel more confident about communicating your message well and you will be less afraid of making mistakes.
2: Consciously Speak More Slowly
English learners can lose confidence if they are misunderstood, or not understood at all by the listener.
Normally they think that something is wrong with their English. In most cases though, you are either misunderstood because the listener is not accustomed to your accent, you are not prepared properly, or you are speaking too fast.
If somebody is not used to your accent, then at the beginning they could have difficulty understanding you. As well as this, when nervous you typically speak faster than normal which affects pronunciation and grammar. This for sure makes it more difficult for listeners to understand, which then affects confidence.
I therefore suggest that you take extra care in pronouncing your words and consciously speak slower.
When you see that people understand you better and don’t need to ask you to repeat something, this increases confidence.
3: Don’t Run Away from Uncomfortable Situations
Most English learners who lack confidence prefer to avoid situations where they have to speak English in front of other people.
This makes sense because it is natural for any human being to want to avoid uncomfortable situations when possible.
But guess what…you are only going to build your confidence speaking English by entering the uncomfortable zone, by putting yourself in situations which you don’t feel safe in.
The secret is to be prepared for it, and then you will overcome the challenge, which, as a consequence, transforms your confidence.
So my recommendation is to face your fears, but only when you are certain that you have prepared properly.
Learning to speak English confidently doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and you need discipline and persistence.
If you want to learn more strategies for building confidence in speaking English, download my Kindle book, How to Become a Confident English Speaker at Work. Just click on this click: https://mybook.to/ConfidentEnglishSpeakerAtWork
Born in England, and CELTA qualified, Steven has owned a language school in Rio de Janeiro and is currently an online business English coach. For more, visit: http://impactfulenglish.com
I have found that the use of simple, improvisational acting exercises can inspire significant improvement in self-confidence and fluency for ESL students.
Galo Mejia says:
Hello Steven Hobson;
Great article, I must add to all of it though that it becomes very frustrating when some native speakers have a preconceived notion and instead of listening to a person speaking fluently but with a strong foreign accent, they don’t understand the speaker mainly because they are not listening but looking, so they, of course, won’t be able to understand. These situations usually drive me crazy’
Thanks a lot for your advice.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t download the book. It looks as if you’re going to subscribe to a subscription to kindle.
Can you help, please?
Nabab Miah says:
dear adviser, many many thanks for best advise 3 way.sir,most of time everyday I try to speak English because I want to improve my English.I watch English movie and read story and try to understand. sometimes I stand in front of miror and I speak with myself.Now I am writing to you, right or wrong to improve English.
Tidiane Camara says:
Speaking in public is more difficult than the other skills. Thank you!
Unfortunately…it’s impossible to download it from Russia((
Nevertheless, thank you for your hard work!
I appreciate you for good direction and encourage.
Thanks for the important advices, I really appreciate each one and I really like this web site because I have learned so much.
It’s not fair, you are told to try your FREE chance between the 28th January and 1st February but you are so unattentive plus impatient and want to get the book starting EARLIER.
Please you just wait and come tomorrow..
Speaking in front of others even when we are speaking our mother language is one thing that we have to have enough confidence and learn how to attract the other’s attention then we will be able to speak confidence in English in front of people.By the way, very effective issue for English learners.
Many thanks for your advice and diverse strategies you suggest to improve English learning.
I’ve been teaching English for 32 years in Morocco. Modesty apart, I’m actually considered one of the best teachers in my country for the very good results my students make in both the French and the national contests.( preparatory classes for engineering and business schools.)
I have the opportunity to go to USA, Canada and England almost every year. When I speak everybody understands and appreciates my English but I confess that sometimes I don’t get the locals’messages. It’s a bit frustrating. This however doesn’t affect in any way my self confidence.
It would be nice of you to make that free book within our reach as you suggested.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Elias G says:
@Omar, please note the words: FREE between the 28th January and 1st February 2019.
The link is directing to the Amazon website, but asking to pay. Please could you send a PDF version if you have one or send me a correct link.
Many Thanks in advance.