Public Speaking in German as a Non-Native Speaker

"There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience."

– Alexander Gregg 

One of the most effective ways to master something is to find someone doing it well and sit under them. Become a teachable student, observe, and learn by doing. Then, most importantly, consistently implement what works with the kaizen steps, a Japanese business philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement. This means making small, incremental changes over time rather than trying to make a big change all at once. 

Personal development requires us to believe in ourselves enough to get the support we need and to take consistent, inspired action to reach our goals. And investing in our visions and dreams is part of the growth equation. 

As Warren Buffet said, 

"The most important investment you can make is in yourself."

I recently did this because I wanted to upgrade my German presentation skills as a public speaker. Six months ago, I made a pivotal decision to stop doubting my German knowledge, and it was a game-changer. The process wasn't a walk in the park, but the growth I experienced and the huge win I celebrated was worth it, a testament to the power of choosing progress over perfection!

By the way, if we're meeting for the first time, hello and welcome. I was born and raised in East Africa and have been based in Germany for many years. Passionate about all things personal development, in addition to writing, I train and speak—which requires comfort zone expansion as an introvert. Add the nervousness of presenting in a foreign language, and you will understand why I recently sought a mentor in Germany's Train the Trainers industry.

After a few months of carefully researching, attending several free webinars, and reading up on German trainers, I found my Mister Miyagi! Hermann Scherer is THE trainer of trainers in Germany. He's also a bestselling author and international speaker.

So, in November last year, I attended his Gold Program. It's one of the best ways I've shown up for myself lately, given all the personal and professional stuff I've recently navigated. The four-day training was a quantum expansion of my comfort zone, and the audience voting me a winner in the Silent Speaker Battle was such a sweet win. 

It was such a pleasant surprise months later, and I still get a huge grin on my face when I think about it. I was not expecting to win, and you'll see why when you read to the end.

Wiesbaden, 14. November 2023

Over 200 speakers from 27 nations gathered in Wiesbaden for a unique event to sharpen their public speaking skills, compete against each other, and share their stories. Among them was an African immigrant living in Germany.

At the International Silent Speaker Battle, a competition among professional speakers, Nancy Nungari impressively demonstrated her talent for inspiring people. And she did it in a foreign language - German.

Within 120 seconds, she became the audience's favorite, proudly representing her home country, Kenya, and her city of residence in North Rhine Westphalia.

Silent What?

The Silent Speaker Battle is an innovative event initiated by Germany's leading speaker, trainer, and author, Hermann Scherer. Like silent parties where multiple DJs synchronously play different music, and guests choose their preferred DJ using headphones, five speakers simultaneously took the stage in Wiesbaden.

While all five delivered their concise 3-minute speeches simultaneously, the audience could only listen to one at a time. This was possible via headphones, with the option of switching between the channels of their favorite speakers by pressing a button. The colors red, blue, yellow, purple, and green illuminated harmoniously with the speakers and headphones, creating a kaleidoscope of colors in the hall.

The Challenge and Assignment

Speakers had only three minutes to captivate and inspire their audience.

Effectively delivering a speech alongside four peers simultaneously talking without getting distracted and losing your train of thought is a mastery in professional speaking. Participants also had to maintain composure and focus on delivering a complete talk because the microphone was turned off after 120 seconds.

Nancy successfully conveyed why we need a vision and what we can do to overcome the barriers that hinder us from following our dreams. She illustrated her message by explaining why an African impala in a zoo cannot fully unleash its potential compared to the same unrestrained animal in the savannah. A listener said that the example of why we don't move forward like an impala in the zoo helped him internalize the message.

In closing, Nancy shared how having a compelling vision helped her get through an extremely challenging and dark phase in her life. Her speech was based on principles from her book on vision boarding.

A Book With Applicable Inspiration

Nancy's book 'Vision Boarding - How to Activate Your Dreams' gives readers simple and practical insights on approaching their big and small dreams without sacrificing themselves on the "altar of performance." It is about holistic life design, living out one's purpose and potential, and enjoying a fulfilling life.

"The book inspires and invites readers to pursue their forgotten, buried, or new dreams despite life's challenges,"
the author reports. 

English copies have been available on Amazon since 2017, and the German Quick-Start version was published in March 2024.

Nancy Nungari - Speaker Slam Winner

"My goal is to inspire people to take steps of faith because, from personal experiences and working with coaching clients,  I know we often don't follow through with our goals and dreams because we lack a clear vision in our mind's eye.

Visible and invisible barriers hinder us from moving forward. The crucial action steps towards implementation are often not taken because we don't know where we will land - just like the African impala in the zoo.

Communicating all of this convincingly in a foreign language in three minutes was challenging. So when Blue, my microphone color, was announced as the winner, I was pleasantly surprised and thankful to the audience for voting for me. That's because, unlike my peers on stage, I'm not a native speaker. German is not an easy language; the grammatical gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and the correct cases, nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative, will always remain a mystery to me. 

But that shouldn't be an obstacle to inspiring people. As long as the core message is understood - dare to dream, but wake up, take small steps toward your vision, and remember to enjoy the journey," Nancy concluded with conviction.

The Speaker Slam has already made a name in the European speaker scene. It has been held multiple times in Mastershausen, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, and Hamburg.

This press release was first published on openPR.

Concluding Thoughts

We often stand in our own way because of the fear of the unknown. We wait for the perfect conditions—the perfect day with the perfect weather—when our ship will come in. But life is a faith adventure of launching out and adjusting our sails as we navigate the calm and stormy phases. Vincent Van Gogh put it well when he said, "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm is terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason to remain ashore." 

As a Believer, every time the inevitable storms of life rage, I take comfort in knowing who is in my boat—Jesus. Divine help and wisdom are available for anyone willing to ask and receive. But that's a topic for another day. The good news is we don't have to do life alone; there are people who are willing and able to support us and vice versa. No man is an island, as per the Ubuntu philosophy, a set of closely related African-origin value systems emphasizing the interconnectedness of individuals. "Ubuntu" is translated as "I am because we are" or "I am because you are."

This blog post is not just about my speaking win but about inspiring you to follow your dreams despite self-doubt. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and things will never be "perfect"—neither will I ever speak "perfect" accent-free German. But I'm not letting that stop me—as a mentor gently pointed out, looking and sounding different are part of my USP; diversity makes our world a better, beautiful place. They were right! I'm grateful they shared that positive perspective, which is a reminder that the people we allow to speak into our lives matter. So does having a vision that's bigger than fear and self-doubt. When we take the focus off ourselves and let the Big Picture prevail, the deficits and associated judgments from people lose their power. Perception is everything.

So, is there something you want to master with perceived "deficits" you can use to your advantage? Where can you seek out your Mister Miyagi? It can be a supportive friend, a Mastermind, or a podcast. Determine what seems right for you, then consider starting with tolerable steps of faith toward your vision and goals. Wishing you the best if/when you choose to launch out. May the joy of purpose and fulfillment meet you on the other side of fear and doubt. 

Thanks for being here today.

Would you like to discover how Nancy can support you, your team, or your organization? Click here to learn more.

Recommended Resources

Click the images to visit Nancy's author page on Amazon.


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They do not substitute the reader's need for medical or financial advice from a professional.