Public Speaking Tips for ESL Speakers

Presentation tips for ESL learners
presentation tips for ESL learners. Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst.

Public speaking intimidates many people. Imagine doing this using a foreign language. If you are fluent in the foreign language, no problem. But what if you are not totally fluent, or feel you aren’t? Here are some public speaking tips for ESL speakers that may help alleviate some of your anxiety when preparing for a presentation.

Assess your attitude about public speaking

First, check with yourself how you feel about the audience. Do you feel they are there to evaluate you, to decide whether you are a good presenter or not? Or do you see them as friendly co-workers or strangers who want some information from you? The answers will help you identify your starting point.

If you feel your audience are there to evaluate you, it’s understandable that you would feel nervous. However, if they are there to benefit themselves from the information you share, then very likely their interest is in the information, and not you. This is a good thing. Because now you can take the focus off yourself, and put it on your audience. In meeting their needs. You want your audience to leave your presentation with their questions answered. Or learn something new that can add to their career or daily life.

Focus on the needs of your audience

Now that you have taken the attention off yourself and on the interest of your audience, continue on this track. What does your audience want from you? Why is your information important to them? How can you present your data in such a way that is relevant to them? For example, let’s say this is a work presentation, and you know that the director of the department will be there. How technical is your presentation? And how technically savvy is the director? Is the director is attending your presentation in order to make an informed decision about the department?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you serve your audience well. If yours is a technical presentation, and the audience who will most benefit from it are non-technical, adjust your technical language so they will understand you.

And if you know the specifics of why certain members of the audience are there, meet their specific needs. You’ll be adding value to their jobs. And you will have increased your credibility.

These are just a couple of tips to help ESL speakers with public speaking. The article Presentation Tips for English Learners go into depth on this topic. You can read the entire article here.

If you find this blog helpful, here is one on How to advance your career ESL speakers.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    You can schedule a session with her at

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