How do I learn spoken English 4

Information about spoken texts

General information

In general, the same applies to spoken texts as to written texts:

  • use simple language
  • Keep preceding and inserted subordinate clauses short
  • Use verbs (not: The meaning of this is that ... rather This means that ...)
  • Use standard English (avoid colloquial language and technical jargon)

Since you cannot absorb as much information while listening as when reading in silence, there are still a few special features to be taken into account with spoken texts:

  • Keep your sentences simple and short.
  • Avoid participle clauses if possible. (They are often used in written texts to achieve a high information density. In spoken texts, however, they make listening more difficult.)

Attention of the listener

You probably know yourself that it is not always easy to follow a lecture. As a speaker, it is of course not so great if you have the feeling that nobody is listening. But with a few simple tricks you can get your audience's attention:

  • Speak slowly and clearly. Use simple vocabulary and short sentences.
  • Take short breaks between sentences. This gives your audience time to process what has been said.
  • Do not read your lecture aloud, but try to speak freely.
  • In the case of a lecture / presentation, briefly explain the structure of the topic at the beginning. (e.g. I want to explain first … / Then I want … / After that​… / Finally ...) Always indicate in between when you switch to a new sub-topic (I will now talk about...). This will make it easier for your listeners to follow you.
  • Use pictures and graphics for illustration.
  • Every now and then, include a rhetorical question or hypophora. Your listeners feel addressed by it, are afraid that they should answer the question themselves and therefore automatically listen more attentively.
  • Include short lists that you start with first / second / third. This also increases the audience's attention.

Tip: Depending on the topic and audience, you can also give out questions that your audience should answer during the lecture. Or you announce a quiz with which you can test your audience's knowledge of the topic afterwards. This spurs the instinct to play and encourages attentive listening.

Depending on how ingenious you want your presentation to be, you can also dig deeper into your bag of tricks and incorporate a few stylistic devices that are typical for speeches, e.g .:

You can also include a little joke or a suitable quote in a suitable place. But make sure that everything fits into the text and that you don't overdo it. Because too many stylistic devices, jokes or quotations often have the opposite effect and no longer look elegant.

Very important: You shouldn't try to shine with your English skills by using complicated sentences and vocabulary as possible. Think of your audience: they should understand the text and are grateful for simple formulations.