English Communication Confidence Blog

Speak English With Presence And Clarity With The Help Of Your 5 Senses

Jan 29, 2024

Have you ever wondered what your sense of taste of smell has to do with speaking English like a pro? I have. I've had a deep connection with my 5 senses since I was about 16 years old. I learned that when we look and hear with intention, we also become present and clear in our communication. In writing today's post, I went even further to think about how the other senses bring value to our speaking skills. Read on to see how. 


Speak English With Presence And Clarity With The Help Of Your 5 Senses

“Did you hear that?”

“What?!” my husband replies. 

“That knocking noise!”


I’m very sensitive to sounds.

“Can you smell that?” 

“What?!” my husband asks.

“It smells like something is burning!”

I’m very sensitive to odors, too. 

In fact, I’m sensitive to all five senses because I developed them through active training. It all started when I was accepted into a performing arts high school.


He was the acting director at The Educational Center For The Arts in New Haven, Connecticut where I studied for the last two years of high school.

I felt so special spending my days near Yale University amongst the intellectuals. But, I was an artist. I was an actor. And Bob was going to introduce me to an acting coach in Los Angeles who would change my life forever. 

But let’s back up and talk about the 5 senses first and I’ll sprinkle in some good stories about how Bob changed my life, ok?

Let’s go. 

First, What Are The 5 Senses Again? Remind Me.

There are 5 senses that humans use to navigate the world: Hearing, Smell, Taste, Touch, and Sight. Some of us have an acute relationship to our senses, some of us have some special needs which limit one or more of our senses, while others of us still may not have developed our appreciation for all of our senses. 

As an actor, our bodies are our instruments. And just like you may warm up your fingers to play the piano, an actor has to wake up all their senses to get into the role of a character. 

In high school, Bob kept things simple and took us through guided visualizations where we’d imagine our bodies covered in paint, we’d move through space slowly like wild cats, or we’d stretch our cheeks and faces in odd positions to wake up the muscles and ready ourselves to speak clearly. 

One afternoon after classes were over, Bob approached me to talk to me about my dedication to the craft of acting. He recognized how passionate I was about it and gave me a book.

No Acting Please, by Eric Morris.


I was curious and went home, down into the basement where I had a private space all to myself, and I gobbled up the book…more than once.

I read it over and over and over.

And I learned that Eric had a system, a methodology for me to follow.  And I LOVE a good strategy. I learn it and follow it to a tee.

It was this book-giving that Bob made that transformed my life, and I’ll tell you why. 

When it comes to living a full and happy life, it’s helpful if you are present. In other words, instead of regretting how things went in the past or worrying about how they’ll go in the future, we make the current moment as best as it can be. 

I have been able to do this fairly well (I’m still a productive chick who likes to tick things off the list). Having a strong relationship to my 5 senses has enabled me to come back to the present moment no matter where I am.   

I had the great pleasure of meeting Eric Morris when I was in my first year of college. I was so inspired by his idea of being and not doing that after one year of studying with him in New York, I moved to LA to work with him 4 nights a week.

His acting system started with what he called a Sensory Awareness Warm-up.

At the start of each acting class, students would lie down on the cold, black, stage floor to do our warm-up.

  1. We’d start with hearing: What are the sounds that are close to you? Which ones are coming from someone near you? Are there sounds outside the room? What are people in the room saying? How loud are the sounds? Where inside the ear are the sounds penetrating? These are the types of questions we’d ask ourselves all while imaging that we were one large ear capturing all the sounds around us.
  2. Next, we move to our sense of smell. Imagine you are one big nose and you can smell everything in the room. Smells coming from you, your neighboring actors, and the smells emanating from the room itself. We’d explore questions like: Are the smells spicy, sweet, flowery, dirty? Do the smells tickle the nose or make us deepen our breath? The point was to be curious and put description to our experience.
  3. After that came taste. What are the flavors in your mouth? Are there particles of food stuck in your teeth and if so, what do they taste like? Is your mouth dry? Did you just brush your teeth and are your teeth smooth and minty? Focusing just on the sensations in our mouths, our sole purpose was to awaken this sense.
  4. Fourth up was touch—one of my favorite senses! Not only were we taught how to use our fingers to feel temperatures and textures, but we were taught how to feel the pressure in the room, the way our clothes, socks, and shoes contacted our skin, and how energy itself could be felt from the people and objects around us.
  5. Finally, we were coached to open our eyes and find one spot to look into. And when I say into, I mean into. Can you see the molecules that make up that spot? Is the color of the spot solid or does it fade? Are there holes or is the spot flat? Can you see the spots inside the spot? After one spot was identified and analyzed, we’d expand the spot to include more of our surroundings until we were back in the room seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching the whole room.

Acting was what mattered most to me in this world and my senses became the channel in which I could actively experience the world. 

So, it might not surprise you that I strongly believe your English language skills can be heightened by gaining awareness of your senses.

How Do The 5 Senses Lead You To Engaging Speech

Exceptional public speaking requires a full body/mind commitment. In an awake state, you have various modes of expression available to you so that you don’t have to simply rely on your intellect in English.

It’s amazing how active sensory awareness can connect the body and mind so that communication becomes dynamic, authentic and meaningful. The senses remind you to breathe, look into your listeners’ eyes, stop to take a sip of water, and more.

These small acts can allow your audience in and then your language skills and accent become secondary to the communication.    

You might think that sight and hearing are the main senses associated with public speaking, but I hope by the time you finish this blog post you’ll realize there’s so much more to it.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

We know from my earlier statement that touch extends way beyond the physical act of feeling objects. We see that it encompasses the sensations within a space. So when we understand how the environment affects our energy level—let’s say it’s so hot in the room that you’re feeling drowsy—or, we recognize the support of a chair can help us sit with better posture, we can enhance our connection with the spoken word.

And what about the sense of taste? Another sense you might think has nothing to do with speaking. But, think about this: If you haven’t brushed your teeth or your mouth tastes funny like you may have bad breath, that changes the way you communicate to someone, doesn’t it? You become more self-conscious. 

And self-consciousness is no good. Instead, we want to be self-awareness. Then, we can do something about that bad taste in our mouths before we jump into conversation.  

Taking a holistic approach to speaking can transform your communication style. 

Let’s use the next section to go through each of the 5 senses and activities you can do to be present and clear in your communication. 

Activities To Master Present & Clear Communication In English Through The 5 Senses  

Sight: Immerse yourself in the visual

Some simple ways for you to connect your spoken English to visual stimuli is through movies, books, or real-life interactions. If you consciously allow yourself to see the shapes of the letters you are reading, you’ll become immersed in the language in a completely different way. Or, watch a scene in a movie by looking at how much the muscles in the speaker’s mouths move. This kind of intentional looking may give you great enjoyment with the language. 

Another activity I like to suggest to my clients is to watch movies with subtitles. I know it may sound contrary to what you’d want as an advanced speaker of English, but, when you watch a movie or program with the subtitles ON, you observe the spelling of words and compare them to the actual pronunciation.

Check it out and let me know what you think. It’s a game-changer!

Hearing: Listen For The Pure Sake of Hearing

There are plenty of activities you can engage in that will build your listening comprehension, such as podcasts, music, or conversations. You can turn these into active listening exercises whereby you tune your ears specifically to American English intonation and rhythmic patterns. Or, you can choose one of the 6 Diamond Method™️ Frameworks and zero in on how the speakers link or highlight focus words. It’s up to you.

But, what if you sat back with no objective at all? I mean, what if you turned on one of your favorite podcasts, sat back or laid down with your eyes closed and just let the sounds of the language penetrate your ears. Let the volume, speed, and melodies wash over your ears with the only intention of sensing how it sounds. Do you even like the sound of American English? If you do, great. If you don’t, can you listen for parts of the language that you do like?

The act of accentuating the positive may motivate you to speak up more often. You never know.

Touch: Feel the Language

When you go to articulate in English, do you think about how to pronounce the sounds and words OR do you FEEL the sounds and words?

I want to suggest that you close your eyes and focus on the sensations in your mouth. Just like I used to do in my Sensory Awareness Warm-up with Eric, start by feeling what’s going on in your mouth first. This will involve your sense of taste as well.

Once you have the status of your mouth, start to speak and take note of the way your upper teeth touch your lower lip when you say the /f/ sound; the way your tongue reaches towards the gum ridge to produce the /r/ sound; or the way your lips come together to make the /m/ sound.

Instead of making it an intellectual activity, include the experience of temperatures, textures, and pressure as you feel the sounds. This is an exciting way for you to enhance your kinesthetic memory as you improve your English pronunciation, don’t you think?

Taste & Smell: Indulge in Cultural Flavors

Put speaking aside for a moment and think about the ways that you could delve into the American culture by exploring cuisines, fragrances, and traditions. This sensory immersion fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural nuances.

I’ll never forget when I arrived in Bangalore, India for a one-month program I would lead. The smells in the air (I think they were a combination of spices and dust) were overwhelming for me. It took me a couple of days before I could breathe easily. But, the intensity of the smells opened my mind and excited me with what was to come.

I also recall being in a small town in Russia once where a sweet older lady offered me jam to sweeten my coffee. It seemed strange, but naturally I gave it a go. It tasted good, but again, it was the fact that I was opening my mind that made all the difference.

An open mind is half the battle in our speech improvement, so perhaps you can indulge in the flavors and smells of the culture as a way to motivate you in your speech.


When you integrate sensory awareness activities into your daily routine, you'll cultivate a holistic approach to mastering present and clear communication in English.

You’ll relish the moments you can sit back and observe without a major objective other than seeing.

You’ll have a heightened ability to hear sounds, words, and ideas in an exciting way.

You’ll look for opportunities to feel spoken English differently so that you can self-correct as you go.

And when it comes to taste and smell, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the culture which is an integral component of your second-language life.

Remember, you are amongst 1.5 billion people navigating the intricacies of speaking English as a second language. You need a holistic approach rooted in sensory awareness so that your speaking abilities go way beyond linguistic proficiency and into true communication skills.

By cultivating a relationship with your five senses the way I did with Eric Morris, you'll unlock a world of opportunities, I promise.

You’ll foster meaningful connections and enriching experiences. So, get on the sensory awareness journey, embrace the nuances, and speak English with unbelievable presence and clarity. 

Please leave a comment or question below and let me know how you'd like to go deeper into the subject in February 😉

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