SPEAK WITHOUT FEAR
It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. We gear ourselves up to make that big presentation, to make a speech, to speak to someone we don’t know or even something as simple as ordering a coffee; then we freeze. The inevitable fear seeps into our mind and we become stone. We’re sure that this has happened to you at some point, if not whilst speaking your own language, then definitely whilst trying to converse in another.
So, we’ve come up with some handy tips for what you can do to really keep your nerves under control and make the most of your abilities. You can apply these tips in everyday life and through your language exchange journey alike.
TIP 1: PRACTICE IN THE MIRROR
You are your toughest critic and your biggest admirer. These are things that should help you through the process. You’ll be able to look at what you’re confident about and which things you really need to change. Some people write down what they find and then really work on fixing a singular problem. Communication is not solely portrayed through words, it’s also important to seem confident and assured in yourself so that you get the result which you’re expecting.
If you’re not a big fan of standing in front of the mirror and staring at yourself for extended periods of time, then you should at least practice in the shower. We know that sounds a little strange and kind of counterproductive but think about it. When do you feel most like a rock star? Which other time gives you the opportunity to really get a feel for how natural your movements are when you’re not on display to the world? You’ll be able to feel which movements are right and which gestures you’d never use when in public.
TIP 2: RECORD YOURSELF
There’s a reason that some of the best speakers and most successful people in the world watch or listen to themselves in order to see how they could improve their speech, body language and intonation. There are some of you who would most likely panic or feel physically ill at the sound of your own voice. That’s totally normal and it goes away after a while. The more you listen to yourself, the more you’ll come to appreciate the sound of your own voice.
This exercise, although commonly used to correct pronunciation and intonation, should also be used a positive psychological tool which serves to give you the best opportunity to feel comfortable in your own sound. Give it a try when you get home, record yourself making a motivational speech aimed at making yourself feel better about you and then listen to it on repeat until you believe it!
TIP 3: SPEAK TO OTHER PEOPLE
Humans, by design, are social creatures. We have grown to desire some sort of connection, whether deep or not, with other humans and that’s important in our communication. Look around at the animal world and see which other animals exchange language in the same way that we do. The answer is an indisputable zero. Of course, dogs, cats, dolphins and almost all manner of animals have the ability to communicate with each other, but not with our lexical density and proficiency.
Get yourself out and about so that you can get into the habit of speaking to people and feeling comfortable with interaction. Just do one small thing every day, like going into a coffee shop and ordering something. You can build up gradually if you feel ready. Ask the waiter/waitress where they’re from if you notice a different accent for example.
You don’t even have to go outside. If you’re averse to travelling anywhere, even the cafe under your house, then your computer has a plethora of willing people on thousands of websites who are just as nervous about speaking to others as you are. Take advantage of it with websites like Studenz.com, Omegle.com, Facebook and Chatroullete. We’ve covered this already in our post about learning languages in the modern world
TIP 4: TALK TO YOUR FAMILY
This seems like the obvious thing that you already should be doing. If you feel like you need a captive audience to practice your presentation or speech or anything else, then utilise the people who are already in your house, such as your family.
If the human members won’t listen to you, practice in front of your dog, cat, rabbit, snake or whatever other animals you might have as a pet. It sounds silly but sometimes just having a living thing in front of you can really help with the fear and nervousness.
TIP 5: WRITE AND REPEAT
If you feel like you communicate much better through written words then, by all means, utilise that. Obviously, you can’t take a notepad out into the normal world and angrily shove it into the server’s face at a local restaurant when your dairy-free burger eventually arrives with cheese, unless you’ve taken a vow of silence, but you can write down words in anticipation of situations and then repeat them when these situations arise.
We advise practising before you leave the house too, just so you can really get used to everything before human interaction takes place.
Written by: Jordan Benyon, Staff Writer