English Communication Confidence Blog

American Accent: Punctuating your Speech

Mar 18, 2022

If you speak too quickly in English, thinking that you are demonstrating your English fluency, think again. Effective pausing and focus word emphasis are the answers to your clear speech.



Jill Diamond: Welcome back to our channel. I'm so glad to have you. Today, it is an honor to have Ana Paula Cota, she is a life coach. Today, we're going to be talking with her a little bit about what she does. Then, I'm going to share some speech coaching tips for her. Let's go ahead and get started.

This is what I'm going to ask you to do, you already told us what you do. I'm going to ask you to do it again. I want you to do it with the energy and think about it as an elevator pitch. If you were trying to get yourself some new business, and you're talking to somebody or a networking event or whatever you might be, what would you say? If somebody says to you, "Oh hi, how are you? It's nice to meet. What do you do?".

Ana Paula Cota: Hi, my name is Ana, and I am a life coach. I work with women around confidence. I help them to really, really energize their confidence level, so they can really dream the lives that they actually really dreamed of. They want to access the life they dreamed of.

Jill: Okay. All right, good. Now I'm going to ask you, how did you feel in delivering that message?

Ana: I felt a little bit self-conscious because I think I got maybe the question by surprise. Not as comfortable as I usually would feel, normally.

Jill: Okay. All right. Thanks for being honest about this. There's a few things that people come to our channel to learn about. One of them is intonation, and another big one is speed of speech. I know because I've known you for so long that one of your tendencies tends to be that you can speak really quickly. I think just now, you weren't demonstrating that so much.

Just for our viewers, I want to ask you to put on that part of you that sometimes gets excited and enthusiastic, kind of picks up the speed because I want to teach you a little something about speed of speech. Go ahead and tell me again. What is that you do, Ana?

Ana: I really like that you said that because I'm known for that because I think fast. When I see, and I get excited, and passion and my speech goes all over the place. It's really consistent. I really, really need help with that. I'm excited about it. I am a life coach. My name is Ana, and I'm very passionate about what I do. I connect with women to help them to really, really strengthen their confidence level in order to live lives they dream of.

Jill: Beautiful. First of all, I love her message. It's great, it's really great. Listen, this is my tip. I want to practice that pitch again.

Ana: Can I just say one thing?

Jill: Sure.

Ana: Interestingly enough and that's why I need help, when I spoke a little bit faster, I didn't feel so self-conscious. My natural mode is fast. I really need help with speaking slow but still coming across genuine which I care about it.

Jill: Right, exactly. You want to feel comfortable, you want to feel confident because that's what you're trying to exude, and be, and help people with. You also want to make sure that your message doesn't get lost. What does it mean to you if I say think about the punctuation in your voice? What does that mean to you?

Ana: Well, I really feel like the rhythm will change because the emphasis in words will vary according to what I'm trying to deliver.

Jill: Okay, good. You only have about two or three sentences involved in your pitch. I want you to say it again, and I want you to find where is the comma, where is the period, where is the next sentence? How can the pausing for each of those points vary depending on where you are and what you're saying? Try it again.

Ana: My name is Ana Paula, and I am a life coach. I help women to connect with their confidence level in order to live lives that they've dreamed of.

Jill: Okay, good. Now tell me what happened this time? What did you notice?

Ana: Again, when I slowed down -- and it's not that different when I play music -- when I slow down, I get lost into the format more than the delivery. Again, I actually kind of allow myself too much space and then I lose focus on content.

Jill: Okay, good. What we like to always say is that that white space around what we say is so important in the delivery of really having your message be heard. You'll notice sometimes when I speak, I start to slow down. It's called pacing. That's something -- not only where's the comma, where's the period where's the next sentence, but where is that white space? The person can hear that word, that I just gave them. I want you to try it again.

Ana: [Inhales]

Jill: Right, good. She started with the breath. The breathing, it's that exhale. Not just the inhale, the inhale, the exhale, and then I'm ready.

Ana: I guess my concern is that I don't want to sell like a salesperson.

Jill: Right, let's see if we can find a happy medium.

Ana: Yes, exactly

Jill: Let's take you far the other way first.

Ana: Sure, sure. Hi, my name is Ana Paula Cota. I am a life coach. I work with women, beautiful women in order to get them to a higher confidence level, so they can dream the lives that they dream -- they can reach the lives that they've dreamed of. I was a little redundant, but I felt better though.

Jill: Okay, good. Tell us why you felt better.

Ana: Because I was actually breathing. When you said breathe, I went and I was like, Well, this is something I'm actually comfortable with. I just don't want to feel self-conscious about the message. I guess because we're taping, I hadn't been put in that spot. I'm questioning but not in a bad way. I'm just exercising.

Jill: Yes, yes. You felt better because you were breathing.

Ana: Yes.

Jill: The breathing led to white space. The white space helped you communicate that punctuation in your voice. You see where I'm going with that? Does it sound useful and helpful?

Ana: Yes, I actually was feeling more relaxed.

Jill: Okay, good. Did it feel like a sales pitch for you?

Ana: No, because I feel like I'm also jamming. Ultimately, I know I will be genuine. I just don't want to sound like, "Hi, my name is Ana." It was nice.

Jill: Talk to me. Our viewers will listen, but talk to me this time. Use that breath to help you with that white space, and that punctuation, and be genuine. Just take your time.

Ana: Sure, and just so you guys know, just her presence makes me want to speak a little bit slower. It's amazing how the influence of somebody and the strength and confidence like that somebody actually presents because when you first sat down are you already speaking slow, I wasn't trying when you first told me, because I was with you and you were speaking so calmly and slow. That is amazing by the way. I'm excited.

I am Ana, again just to exercise what we were saying. I'm a life coach. I'm very passionate about what I do. I work with women, and what I do is to help them reconnect and strengthen their confidence level. The work is really just to remind them that they're powerful people. When they reach down to that value and to that passion, they can execute much better, they can actually realize things that probably they felt a little while back that they couldn't.

Jill: Right, good. When they tap into that passion -- white space -- then they feel. It's just a little bit more of consciousness around that punctuation.

Ana: Okay.

Jill: For me, just assuming you talk to me like this. "Wow, I can get those keywords. They're so important." Not just in a sales pitch but as a coach. I know that's why I take my time when I communicate. I'm teaching people how to communicate clearly and you're doing the same thing, you're trying to help people build confidence.

Ana: Can I say something else?

Jill: Sure.

Ana: I think also as a foreigner -- and English is not my first language -- so, there is an element of you're thinking often hopefully not as much. I do feel like as a foreigner, we also want to deliver. We often eat the words out. This is really helpful. I really feel like I'm thinking, and I'm speaking the words with more precision. I can do that. I can be careful with that.

Jill: Well, maybe you can come back again. We can talk a little bit more about how I find that international speakers of English tend to speak fast, thinking that that shows their fluency.

Ana: Interesting.

Jill: Maybe you can come back and talk to me again.

Ana: Okay, exciting.

Jill: Okay.

Ana: Thank you so much.

Jill: I want to thank you all for being with me and Ana today, and watching, and learning a little bit more about punctuating your voice. I hope that you found it useful. Don't forget to like, and to share, and to subscribe to our channel, and come on back next month for another video. Thanks. Bye, bye.


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