How To Speak So That People Will Listen

Speaking. It’s a topic that terrifies IELTS learners. There’s so much to consider, and you have so little time to prepare. But speaking is something we do every day in our own language. We learn it from childhood. Some people are naturally good at it… and others not so much. In this TED Talk by Julian Treasure, we learn how to speak in a way that makes people want to listen to us. It contains some good advice for IELTS learners.

The Video


Listen to the video and make notes. Write down the:

  • 7 things you should avoid
  • 4 important things to remember (HAIL)
  • 6 aspects of speaking
  • 6 exercises to practice before speaking

(As always, the answers are included below.)


Listen from the start of the video and fill in the gaps below. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

The human voice: It’s the _____1_____ we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world, probably. It’s the only one that can _____2_____ or say “I love you.” And yet many people have the experience that when they speak, people don’t listen to them. And why is that? How can we _____3_____ to make change in the world? What I’d like to suggest, there are a number of _____4____ that we need to move away from. I’ve assembled for your pleasure here seven deadly sins of speaking. I’m not pretending this is an _____5_____, but these seven, I think, are pretty large habits that we can all fall into.


Now not everything that the speaker said is entirely useful for IELTS speaking. You don’t need to show the examiner much love, to be honest, and if you are waiting to go into the room and you start putting your arms up and making a siren noise, people may thing you are insane.

However, there is much in this video to consider. Communicating is about more than just vocabulary and grammar. Natural pacing and intonation greatly help get our message across, and doing some vocal exercises is very useful in learning a foreign language. Exercising your lips and tongue may help you with your pronunciation.

Here is another video about pronunciation:



7 things you should avoid

  1. gossip
  2. judging
  3. negativity
  4. complaining
  5. excuses
  6. lying
  7. dogmatism

4 important things (HAIL)

  1. Honesty
  2. Authenticity
  3. Integrity
  4. Love

6 aspects of speaking

  1. register
  2. timbre
  3. prosody
  4. pace
  5. pitch
  6. volume

6 exercises

  1. arms up
  2. lips (ba ba)
  3. lips (brrr)
  4. tongue (la la)
  5. tongue (rolled rrrrr)
  6. siren (we wo)
  1. instrument
  2. start a war
  3. speak powerfully
  4. habits
  5. exhaustive list

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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