Even though I’ve been part of my trilingual Toastmasters club for a number of years, I have just given my first speech in German. I had been wanting to do it for a while and I am so happy that I have done it.

This speech involved a lot more from me than my normal speeches at the club, so I’d like to share some of the insights that came out.

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I first wrote my speech out in English and then proceeded to translate it into German. This was rather tiring as I rearranged the sentences to make sure the grammar was correct. I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to run it through Google Translate. Part of me felt like I was “cheating” but then I asked myself why not make it easier for myself? I went through the speech to make sure I understood it and swapped out words that I wouldn’t have used. Although Google Translate isn’t perfect, it does a very good job. However, there will always be nuances that it can’t grasp yet which leads me onto my next point…

Ask for help

A good friend Sonja who is a member of my Toastmasters club offered that whenever I needed help with a German speech that she could help. I sent my text to her and she went through it. She said that Google Translate had done a pretty good job of it. It had gotten the “you” perspective a little wrong so she corrected these and made some further changes. 

She went one step further and recorded it on WhatsApp audio so that I could listen to it in German for the correct pronunciation of some words. I was really grateful she went to such lengths to help me.

I then sent it to another good friend Mike for another perspective. He made some minor changes to the text, like moving some sentences around so that it made more sense and took out things he didn’t think added anything.

Practice, practice, practice

Then it came down to practice, practice and practice. I’ve always found that the more practice I give it, the more relaxed and at ease, I feel, especially with public speaking. There were some words like “initigender” that I struggled to pronounce, so I went back and listened to my friend’s audio a few times, which helped a lot.

I took my speech everywhere I went and at every opportunity, I’d read some more and practice out loud. I was getting an iron infusion and the nurse asked if I was giving a speech soon as I sat there reading it out – I thought I was being quiet but obviously not quite quiet enough ☺

Then came the day where I presented to the club. Our club meetings are still online so I raised my desk so that I could stand and went for it. I felt my nerves! It’s a fine line between fear and excitement. I also reminded myself that I would be done in about 6 minutes so went for it.

And 5 minutes and 45 seconds later, it was done. 

One of the best things about Toastmasters is that we receive feedback so I found out what the audience liked and where I can improve. The feedback was really good, people liked that it was clear and included a personal story. One of the main areas for improvement was pronunciation as I sometimes pronounced words the English way. That’s definitely something for the future.

My takeaway from all of this was – “Wow, I can do it!”. I’m grateful for all the help I got from my friends. I’ll be honest, I thought once I do a speech in German, I’ll be done but this gave me the inspiration to challenge myself and do more speeches in German at the club. Who would have thought? ☺

The other takeaway would be to go through my speech and replace some of the words like researched – recherchierte with easier words that my tongue can get around. And of course, take on the feedback to practice my pronunciation.

I came away from this speech with a weight off my shoulders and a feeling of possibility. I often feel like this when I step out of my comfort zone, having done something I was previously afraid of, that I’m ready for more.

What have you been wanting to do for a while? It’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone to do it. Now’s the time.

PS: If you are feeling blocked and would like help, book a free discovery call with me.