7 Steps to Your First Japanese Speech

My first bold public speech in full Japanese

Thurs Jun 6, 2024 – Gave my first complete and public speech in Japanese at the final regular Toastmasters meeting.

When I take big swings like this these are the times I realize how long it takes to do something bold and great. It’s never quick or overnight.

For the last year and a half I’ve been actively improving my Japanese.

Countless podcasts and the Harry Potter audiobook (Japanese version) have entered my ears. I translated my entire first novel into the language, then published it in two volumes. Learning 2000+ kanji characters and vocabulary via grinding with WaniKani provided daily contact with the language.

I’ve narrated and written my own stories in Japanese, and had dozens of small interactions in the language with native speakers via a local exchange program. And this is only what I did in 2023 and 2024.

All the apps, flashcards, awkward online tutor interactions, classes, time living and traveling in Japan going back to my time as a cadet in college have gotten me this far.

Last night was no brilliant miracle.

It was a feat from 20 years of compounded effort. One that – while impressive – felt unconsciously earned. It didn’t even feel difficult.

I wrote the speech at 1630 and delivered it 3 hours later the same evening.

I activated my custom "Write to Language" system to hammer it in mind.

Here's how I did it (and you can too).

Step 1: Wrote the speech in English, then immediately translated it using DeepL Translator.

Step 2: Put the output into Claude AI to write out unfamiliar Kanji in Hiragana.

Step 3: Entered the Japanese transcript into Elevenlabs text-to-speech generator to hear the words at speech pace.

Step 4: Copy/pasted it into Microsoft Word to take advantage of its (weaker but still capable) text-to-speech function. This allowed me to listen to the speech on repeat on the drive over to the venue.

Step 5: Shadowed the speech as I listened to refine the delivery while I drove.

Step 6: Practiced it in front of an audience of two at the podium once before the meeting started.

Step 7: Deliver speech.

This was the process. It might seem long, but after you get used to flowing between these easily accessible systems, it's not hard.

It was amazing how something I once viewed as impossible became possible after years of dedicated effort.

You can do this too.

Language is an innate human capability.  If you’re reading this, you have all the tools you need to learn Japanese or any language to this level. The challenge is breaking past deeply ingrained psychological barriers to realize that potential. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

After my speech last night, I’m living proof of that.

Becoming a Strong Speaker

Competent speaking skills were the other half of the equation.

I wrote a detailed article about my rise, fall, and rise again as a clear and confident speaker. You can read the entire piece here.

To summarize, it's been a journey of decades. From the spark of talent I possessed as a kid the military molded my communication technique. Toastmasters refined them. Then my recent entrepreneurial ventures as a writer, podcaster, and video maker crystallized them.

It's been continuous small steps, that gave me the guts to deliver a speech in a second language.

Want to become a better speaker?

Practice in small ways with every opportunity and watch yourself slowly improve.

Looking to get started with Japanese?

The Tower of Babbling Japanese is my personally created 30-Day program to get you understanding and speaking Japanese from Day 1.

I breakdown the process based on decades of experience learning and living the language. You'll only find the most effective means and methods to strengthen your Japanese.

No overwhelm, no stress. In as little as 15 minutes a day you can be on your way to Japanese mastery.

Check it out here.

Speech Transcript and Translation

Here's the transcript of the speech. The translation follows.





まず最初[さいしょ]に、Oki Oratorsのメンバーの皆[みな]さんに心[こころ]からお礼[れい]を申[もう]し上[あ]げます。











English Translation

A year ago, I made a goal to deliver a speech completely in Japanese. Although this is not a formal speech I will do my best to deliver these farewell remarks in Japanese.

Sorry if I screw up.

First I want to express my deepest gratitude to you, all of the members of Oki Orators.

Together we've made this club more vibrant and productive. Its mission to help members develop confidence with public speaking has truly become stronger.

Even though we didn't do it with all of my ideas: stump speeches never happened, and we get drunk together and do speeches either, but the goal was still accomplished.

I would like to thank my fellow club officers for making this a smooth and exciting year. Without your hard work and diligent effort our club would not run well.

I especially want to thank Maekawa Tomoko-san and Kawahara, Eriko-san for supporting me and our club this year.

I'll never forget our time together in Nagasaki. Thank you for showing my wife and I around your beautifully historic city. Thank you for reminding me to check Line more than once a month.

I would also like to thank Ishikawa Jun-san for always helping set up the meetings and making sure our faces don't freeze on screen

Okinawa has become a second home for me. Although I'll be departing next month, I will always keep it close to my heart, wherever I go, until the day I can return.

Thank you very much for listening to my remarks.

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