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Learning With COP27: Public Speaking In English

Learning With COP27: Public speaking in English

Egypt hosted this year’s edition of the Conference of Parties, or COP as it is better known, a two-week event where leaders from across the globe meet to talk about how we can better approach the issues connected to the climate crisis. 

It’s clear to see that COP27, like the 26 before it, doesn’t always go far enough in terms of addressing the climate crisis. However, we can learn a lot from the speakers at the various events across the event. 

In this article, we processed the speeches of three delegates from the recent COP27 using Speech Analyzer, a one-of-a-kind AI-powered communication coach that provides actionable and real-time feedback. We’ve looked at how the speakers engaged their audiences and got their messages across and have gathered some tips to help improve your public speaking in English.

Analyzing the speeches of world leaders at COP27: Public speaking in English

1. Mia Mottley – Prime Minister of Barbados

Public speaking in English with Mia Mottley.

The first speech we examined was that of Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados. As a world leader it might be somewhat surprising that the overall score isn’t higher.  

The main reason for this comes in the intonation and fluency ratings. The tone of delivery was, at times, around 50 hertz, which is considered monotone and not particularly appealing to a listener. The average was about 92 hertz which is about right. Taking opportunities to vary your tone can greatly increase listenability.

There were also a number of unnaturally long pauses. One issue with this is listeners can easily lose interest if it isn’t delivered at a decent pace, regardless of the content. 

Aside from fluency, all other aspects of the speech scored highly with a wide range of near-perfect grammar and some engaging vocabulary. Words like mercy, devastation, and torrential were particularly attention-grabbing.

Beyond the statistics, Ms. Mottley took references from recent events and personal experiences to create empathy with her audience. This emotive connection is a wonderful tool to use when trying to engage listeners.

Watch the speech now:

2. Ranil Wickremesinghe – President of Sri Lanka

Public speaking in English with Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Ranil Wickremesinghe became the president of Sri Lanka after his predecessor fled the country in July this year. His eloquent speech at COP27 was seen as a success by all of those in attendance. 

As we can see from ELSA’s Speech Analyzer results, his main issue was pronunciation with work needed particularly on the  /j/ (y), /ʒ/, /dʒ/ sounds. That said, it wasn’t a huge barrier to understanding. 

English is one of three official languages in Sri Lanka, and it came through in the speech that Mr. Wickremesinghe has a very broad vocabulary. His use of uncommon yet easily identifiable words like upward, boundary, and endorsement helped engage his audience. 

His intonation was good throughout, although he could have used word stress to drive home a point on more than one occasion.  

The range of grammar used in his speech was wide enough to keep the listener involved. Using a variety of shorter and longer sentences also helped greatly. 

One small issue, that could happen to anyone, was an unexpected cough. While he carried on admirably, he could have taken a few seconds to step back from the microphone and have a sip of water. Remember, a moment or two away from the microphone while coughing can really help you compose yourself. 

Watch the speech now: 

3. António Guterres – United Nations Secretary General

Public speaking in English with António Guterres.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres is a well-liked former Portuguese prime minister and long term diplomat. His command of English, as well as French, is impressive.  

This speech was incredibly well delivered. We can see from the results that he used an extensive range of vocabulary. Words like resilience, reap, threshold, dependence, and irreversible all added flair to the speech. Listening more closely, he also used a number of descriptive idioms like sweeping something under the rug.  

His weakest area was his pronunciation. That said, he has good control of “r sounds” such as /r/, /ɝ/, /ɚ/, which can be difficult for speakers of Latin languages. He did often struggle with the /t/ sound, particularly at the ends of words. Something to work on perhaps, Mr. Secretary. 

His control of grammar was also admirable, with effective use of relative clauses and adjectives + prepositions. He could’ve expanded by using some conditional sentences. 

Beyond the statistics, we can see that the speech was engaging and informative. It also included some very clear calls to action. He said what many people have wanted to hear by demanding change from the world’s largest polluting countries and talking about phasing out fossil fuels and levying taxes on them while they exist. He has a very clear understanding of a global audience and uses words and phrases like Solidarity and Come together to implicate everyone in a drive for global change. 

It’s equally impressive that he was able to switch between English and French with little hesitation. When working on your own public speaking in English, this is a fine example to follow. 

If you’re looking for a speech to emulate, look no further. Mr. Guterres did a wonderful job. That said, check out the video below to see what to do when things don’t go according to plan.

Watch the speech now: 

When things go wrong

It can happen to the best of us. Sometimes things go wrong. As the UN Secretary General demonstrated, it’s OK to make mistakes. We just need to take our time, take a breath, and be honest with our audience. Laughing about it will also help get sympathy from the audience and show you are comfortable even when things don’t go your way. 

Conclusion 

We can learn a lot from these leaders in how we address our audiences when public speaking in English. Not simply in the words they use but also how they use them. When we have to speak in public what we say is, without a doubt, important. Knowing what to say and how to say it is, however, absolutely vital. Know your audience and try to connect with them on a personal level. Understand what they want to hear and deliver your speech with confidence and flair. 

Remember, you need to practice so you can be confident in giving the best delivery possible. So, try Speech Analyzer before you go on stage, see what you need to improve, and you’ll be a confident public speaker in no time!

Discover 5 more ways you can use Speech Analyzer to sound more confident in English.

Harry Waters

Harry Waters has been teaching for over 15 years. His passion for teaching and obsession with the planet led him to create Renewable English, an online English course providing free classes and materials aimed at raising climate change awareness across the globe. He describes himself as an imperfect environmentalist with a love of flags and funky second-hand shirts.

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