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"I've just lost my train of thought..." A Couple of Useful Speaking Tips.

Here’s my number one speaking tip:​

1. Do not be afraid to make mistakes.

I’m being completely serious when I say this. If you’re stressed out (Adj = full of the feeling of stress; very anxious) when you’re trying to talk, it’s going to make communication so much more difficult. You need to try to relax and remember that no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

If you don’t understand what someone said to you, ask them politely to repeat what they said. Just say, “Sorry. I didn’t get that. Could you repeat it?”

If someone asks you to repeat what you said, don’t be embarrassed. It’s very possible that you didn’t make any mistakes; that person just may not have heard you. I actually do not have perfect hearing, so I often need to ask people for repetition. It doesn’t mean I’m stupid or have poor listening skills!

That being said, if you have to give a speech or a presentation or do an IELTS speaking test, you should absolutely be prepared. You can’t and shouldn’t try to memorize what you want to say because it won’t sound natural. You should know the main ideas of what you want to say, but do not try to memorize your speech word for word.

2. Be prepared for presentations, speeches, and speaking tests.

That can include being ready to discuss some basic information about yourself, such as…

  • Knowing how to say the name of your country and city in English.

  • Knowing how to say the names of your favorite things in English, like your favorite movie, song, book, TV show, school subject, sport, and so on.

  • If you don’t have a favorite movie or book, choose some anyways, be ready to describe them, and be sure that you know their titles in English!

  • Being able to describe some basic facts about yourself, your friends, and your family, in English. What are their jobs? Do you know how to say these ideas in English?

If you need to give a presentation to a class or at work, before you go in to speak, make sure you know how to pronounce the vocabulary that’s specific to your presentation topic. Make sure that you sound like you know the topic well when you talk in front of a group!

Also, look up the definitions of the key vocabulary words and expressions for that topic; understand those words in very simple terms, so that you can explain them in simple terms to your audience if you get asked, "What does "x" mean?"

3. If you find yourself in a situation where you honestly forget what you wanted to say, use this expression:

“I’m sorry, but I just lost my train of thought.”

This means: I just forgot what I was going to say.

I hope you'll be more confident the next time you need to speak English. Thanks for reading -- Susan.

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