By Peter Dhu
In my work as a public speaking trainer and coach, I work a lot with multicultural people. For many of these people, English often is their second language and one of the questions or concerns that get raised all the time is “Peter, I hate public speaking. I can’t do public speaking because I have an accent, people can’t understand me, because I’m struggling to do the translation in my head as I stand up and speak.”
As I work with these wonderful people, what I noticed is they are all very passionate, engaging and clever people. They all have powerful stories, knowledge and information that people need to hear. And their fear of speaking English or that their English is not good enough is holding them back
The thing is that most Australians don’t speak multiple languages and most Australians, including me only speak English. So when I hear someone from China, Korea, Ethiopia or from Vietnam stand up and speak, I, like most Australians, have absolute admiration of their bilingual and multilingual skills.
Most Australians don’t mind if you muck up your English. Mix past tense and presenet tence, get your conjugation wrong or you need to use two or three words to describe and find the exact word you’re trying to say.
What I’m saying is that even though English is your second language, even though you may have an accent, and even though it may be scary, please never let that be the reason that you do not speak up, that you do not share your knowledge and your passion. Australia is a nation of multicultural people and to keep vibrant and relevant, we need the voices of all Australians even if English is your second language.
So while it’s scary and while it may take you a bit longer to gather the right words, please stand up, share your message, show your passion and don’t avoid public speaking.