Peter Urs Bender   Previous Page  |  Next Page

If You Have a Foreign Accent

There is no doubt that you will have to try harder to make
yourself understood if your first language is not the same as
your audience. Accents can make it difficult for others to
understand you and that, of course, leads to confusion.
     In general, if you have rapport with your listeners and
they see you trying hard to do your best, they will be patient
and make the extra effort to understand you. Here are some
steps which can help your audience grasp your message:
  • Start off slowly, then gradually speed up. Lots of well
    known speakers do this. They begin slowly so that the
    audience can adjust to their accent, then speed up to their
    normal rate of speech so everyone can follow right along.

  • Sprinkle your presentation with one or two phrases from
    your native language, then translate them. This will per-
    sonalize your speech, build rapport, and remind everyone
    that you are indeed fluent in your mother tongue!

  • If you are not comfortable in the language being used, rely
    on visuals to reinforce your message. Put extra care into
    the preparation of these materials. Be sure that they all
    are grammatically correct and written using a vocabulary
    appropriate for the group. Watch figures of speech and
    regional expressions. What seems like a proper transla-
    tion may have funny or offensive connotations that may
    catch you off guard and embarrass you. This will put you
    under even more stress, so plan to minimize such occur-
    rences. Ask a friend to proof read your materials and
    check for errors. If you are not comfortable speaking the
    language you are to present in, you may want to build



Secrets of Power Presentations   Previous Page  |  Next Page