#138 - 3 Simple Steps to Become a Better English Speaker

June 15, 2022

In my opinion, there's a difference between being able to speak English and being able to communicate in English. Speaking is about saying words, communicating is about how you say those words. In this episode, I'm going to share a simple exercise that will help you improve your ability to communicate (in any language).

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Tony Kaizen: [00:00:01] I'm a firm believer that every single person on this planet should have their own podcast. If not a podcast, then a YouTube channel or a blog or a journal. Everyone should have some way of recording their life experiences and their thoughts. And think about it. Have you ever sat down with your family and looked at your baby pictures? Do you ever watch old videos of your younger siblings or your children? Imagine if those photos had never been taken. Imagine if no one had ever recorded those videos. Imagine having no way of looking back into the past and remembering those pleasant details about your life or that of your loved ones. Now imagine arriving at the tender age of 85 and having almost no record of your life.

[00:00:45] Now, most people are taking more pictures and recording more videos than ever before. So I'm sure most people with smartphones will have plenty of pictures and videos. But podcasting or keeping a journal is different in the sense that you're not recording the way things looked. You're recording the way you used to think. You're recording countless thoughts and experiences that are likely to be forgotten. So it really is the best way to track your internal progress over time. Keeping a record of your life's experiences is the best way to learn from them. Right? Recording a podcast and then listening to it is the best way to hear what you really think and how you really sound.

[00:01:24] So I recommend that all language learners start a podcast or some type of audiovisual diary that records their progress, even if no one ever listens to it. But if you don't want to start a podcast, that's fine. I'll talk in more detail about that in another episode. But right now I'm still going to share a brilliant exercise with you that will have the same effect on your English and communication skills. Okay? So the clip I'm about to share with you is of a man named Vinh Giang. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. You can find him on Tik Tok at Ask Vinh. That's A S K V I N H. Ask Vinh on TikTok. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. But I've spelt his screen name for you, so hopefully, you can find him.

[00:02:11] And in this clip, Vinh explains a simple three-step formula for improving your communication skills. And the best part is that you don't need anyone's help to do this exercise. Okay? So Vinh speaks... No, I fucked that up. Vinh has an Australian accent and the video is pretty fast, so don't feel bad or confused if you don't understand everything the first time. And remember, you can always read the transcript. All right? So let's get started.

Vinh Giang: [00:02:41] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak improvised. The first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. Audit the auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second, grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image. Third component, get the video transcribed, red highlighter, bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you.

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:17] All right. Now, like I said, you know, not only was the audio not so good, but he has an accent very different from mine. And the video was for social media, so... It was from a longer video and they cut it up into little pieces to make it much faster. So, he wasn't really talking that fast, but the video makes it seem that way. So don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything the first time. All right? We're going to go back through and I'm going to divide the video into three pieces, you know, the three steps. So we'll go back and look at the first one. Or listen to the first one, right? Here we go.

Vinh Giang: [00:03:50] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak. Improvise. So the first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. What? The auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:07] Okay, so that's step number one, which he calls the vocal image review. So just in case you didn't understand, this is when you're basically just listening to your voice. So what you do is record yourself speaking for 5 minutes. You can pick any subject. It really does not matter. Excuse me. Pick any subject. It doesn't matter what subject. Right? Just speak uninterrupted for 5 minutes straight. On camera, record yourself on camera. Use a cell phone, video camera, or whatever. And when you're listening to it, turn the volume all the way up, maximum volume, as loud as possible. But do not look at the phone screen. Put the phone down on the table so that you cannot see the screen and just listen to yourself.

[00:04:51] And take note or pay attention to... Excuse me. Take note of what you don't like about the way you sound. Take note of what you do like about the way you sound. But all you're doing is paying attention to the sound. That's it. Are you monotone where every single word you said sounds like this? I used to talk like that and it wasn't until I started my podcast that I realized how fucking boring my voice actually was. It was so monotone and everything I said was like this because I was afraid to express emotion when I spoke. I was afraid of what people would think if I truly expressed myself. You understand? I didn't even notice that until I started my fucking podcast, until I did my vocal image review, you understand?

[00:05:39] So that's the benefit of step number one. Just listening to the way you sound. It's going to be painful. You might feel embarrassed or disgusted the first 20 times you do it, and that's fine. It's totally normal, trust me. But I guarantee it's going to help you improve the way you sound when you speak. You can't improve what you can't hear. Right? If you can't hear the way you sound, how are you going to improve the way you sound? Simple logic that we never take the time to consider. Right? So that's step number one. Record yourself and only listen to your tone of voice, you know, how fast you talk, how many pauses you take. Stuff like that.

[00:06:15] What does it sound like? Does the tone of voice and the way you express yourself match with what you were saying? If you were talking about something that made you angry. Do you sound angry? If you're talking about something that made you laugh. Are you laughing? Does it sound funny? Take note of that stuff. Take note of it. Because the better you can get at communicating what you're saying, the better your message will be received. And remember, communication is not just what you say, it's how you say it. And that's what you're trying to focus on with step number one. How you say things and how you sound. Okay? So let's move on to step number two.

Vinh Giang: [00:06:54] Grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image that can.

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:05] Okay. So he said, "Do a visual audit of your visual image". Let me just find the definition for 'audit' really quick. Just in case you were wondering what that means. Audit. To conduct an official financial examination of an individual's accounts. Technically, yeah. Audit. We usually use that word in financial situations like the IRS might audit your finances. They might look at all your expenses, how much money you made, how much taxes you owe the government, stuff like that. They'll do an audit, right? They'll examine your finances. But in this case, when he says "audit your visual image", he's really just saying like, examine. That's really the word in this case.

[00:07:47] So step one we just listen to the video. But step two we turn the volume all the way down. We mute the video so we cannot hear it. And we just watch. Just look at the screen and study your body language, your facial expressions. Are you fidgeting when you speak? Are you looking at the camera or are you constantly looking at a bunch of different places? Do you have a good posture? Do your facial expressions match what you're trying to say? Do you have the same facial expression the entire time? You know? Like, all these little details about the way you look when you speak. 

[00:08:19] Because, again, communication is not just about what you say. I've heard... I don't know if this is true, but I've heard many times that the majority of communication is not even verbal, is nonverbal. It's your posture, it's your facial expressions, it's your gestures, your mannerisms, the tone of voice, things that are not verbal. That's the majority of communication. Those things heavily influenced the way your words are received. So it's extremely important to understand these things, regardless of what language you're speaking. You understand? So step number one, examine how you sound. Step number two, examine what you look like when you're speaking. Okay? Let's move on to step number three.

Vinh Giang: [00:09:02] Get the video transcribed. Read Highlights. Bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you. It's very.

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:13] Okay. So step number three, he said, transcribe the video, which is a good idea, but I don't know if everyone's going to go that far. But the idea is to just analyze the words that are being said. Step one is analyze the sound. Step two is analyze the look. Step three is analyze the actual words that were being said. And he said, in this step or on this step, excuse me. On this step, what you need to do is identify all the filler words that you use when you're speaking. Like, um, uh, like... Stuff like that. All these unnecessary words that you use to fill the silence in between your sentences or your thoughts. And what he's saying is you're robbing yourself of clarity every time you say "um" or "uh". 

[00:10:00] That's something that you should pay attention to, bro. It's not like the most important thing, especially in, you know, casual conversation or casual communication. Most people don't pay attention to it. But once you start, it's something that you can never stop paying attention to. Like, you'll notice the difference between professional speakers and just normal people. Normal people say, um, ah, like, um, um, all the time, all the fucking time. And once you start paying attention to it, it actually gets annoying, at least in my experience.

[00:10:28] But professional speakers, most of the time, they don't say, "um". Don't say "ah, hmm, uh, uh" just to fill silence. They're very... What's the word? Conservative with... Not conservative. They're very economical with their words. They choose their words carefully. They don't waste energy saying unnecessary things. And they're okay with silence. They say what they have to say and then they be quiet and they think. And so they figure out what they want to say next. You know? So the point of step number three is to identify how much unnecessary shit you say in between your thoughts and to eliminate that from your, your, your diction, let's say, from your speech. It makes a huge difference, bro. I'm telling you.

[00:11:16] It makes a huge difference because every time you go, um, uh, ah, it communicates ignorance in a way. You don't know. I'm not saying you're stupid, but ignorance is like you don't know. You don't know what you're trying to say. You don't know what you're going to say next. And you're communicating that every time you say, ah, um, uh… Just communicates ignorance. And a simple thing you can do literally, literally, one simple thing you can do to sound smarter, to sound more confident, to sound like you really know what you're talking about is to stop saying things like um and uh, just pause and be quiet until you figure out what you want to say next. There's nothing wrong with that.

[00:11:55] And I think a lot of people don't do that because they're afraid that if they pause, the other person is going to think that they're done talking and the other person will start talking. You see what I'm saying? And unfortunately, that's something you have no control over. Unfortunately. But there are ways to make it clear that you're not done talking. There are ways to do that that we can talk about in other episodes. But I'm just saying. It will make a huge difference if you can eliminate those filler words from your speech, say what you mean, and then shut the fuck up. I'm telling you, it will make a big difference.

[00:12:28] So let's summarize. The exercise simply is to record yourself speaking for 5 minutes about any subject. Once you finish recording, step number one is to do a review of your vocal image. In other words, review or examine the way you sound when you speak. And what do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right? Step number two, examine the visual image when you speak. So turn the sound all the way down. Don't listen and just watch yourself. What do you do when you're speaking? What's your body language like? What gestures do you make? Your facial expressions, all that. What do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right?

[00:13:10] Number three, read the words that you said during the video and highlight all the unnecessary things that you say, all the filler words that you say all the time, and eliminate that from your speech. And like Vinh said at the end of the video, you basically have a mirror in front of you because you're looking at yourself and you're examining yourself the same way you do in the mirror. And now you can identify what needs to be improved or changed so that you have better communication skills, so that you communicate more effectively in any language. This isn't about English. English is a language. Communication is a skill. We're talking about the skill of communicating with the tool that is language. You feel me? 

[00:13:52] So I've said this before, man, and I'll say it again. Communication is at the heart of everything we do and everything we want in life. Without good communication skills, your life will always be harder than it needs to be. When it comes to your English, if you never practice, you will never improve. You know that. If you never critique your communication style or fix your communication problems, then you'll end up forming bad communication habits. And we all know the longer you maintain a habit, the harder it is to break.

[00:14:20] So why not get started right now? Why not record yourself speaking for just 5 minutes and figure out what needs to be improved? Why not get in the habit of practicing good communication as soon as possible? I guarantee that if you do this exercise every single day for the next month, you will see an improvement in your ability to express yourself in any language. So, my friend, I want to thank you so much for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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Tony Kaizen: [00:00:01] I'm a firm believer that every single person on this planet should have their own podcast. If not a podcast, then a YouTube channel or a blog or a journal. Everyone should have some way of recording their life experiences and their thoughts. And think about it. Have you ever sat down with your family and looked at your baby pictures? Do you ever watch old videos of your younger siblings or your children? Imagine if those photos had never been taken. Imagine if no one had ever recorded those videos. Imagine having no way of looking back into the past and remembering those pleasant details about your life or that of your loved ones. Now imagine arriving at the tender age of 85 and having almost no record of your life.

[00:00:45] Now, most people are taking more pictures and recording more videos than ever before. So I'm sure most people with smartphones will have plenty of pictures and videos. But podcasting or keeping a journal is different in the sense that you're not recording the way things looked. You're recording the way you used to think. You're recording countless thoughts and experiences that are likely to be forgotten. So it really is the best way to track your internal progress over time. Keeping a record of your life's experiences is the best way to learn from them. Right? Recording a podcast and then listening to it is the best way to hear what you really think and how you really sound.

[00:01:24] So I recommend that all language learners start a podcast or some type of audiovisual diary that records their progress, even if no one ever listens to it. But if you don't want to start a podcast, that's fine. I'll talk in more detail about that in another episode. But right now I'm still going to share a brilliant exercise with you that will have the same effect on your English and communication skills. Okay? So the clip I'm about to share with you is of a man named Vinh Giang. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. You can find him on Tik Tok at Ask Vinh. That's A S K V I N H. Ask Vinh on TikTok. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. But I've spelt his screen name for you, so hopefully, you can find him.

[00:02:11] And in this clip, Vinh explains a simple three-step formula for improving your communication skills. And the best part is that you don't need anyone's help to do this exercise. Okay? So Vinh speaks... No, I fucked that up. Vinh has an Australian accent and the video is pretty fast, so don't feel bad or confused if you don't understand everything the first time. And remember, you can always read the transcript. All right? So let's get started.

Vinh Giang: [00:02:41] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak improvised. The first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. Audit the auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second, grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image. Third component, get the video transcribed, red highlighter, bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you.

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:17] All right. Now, like I said, you know, not only was the audio not so good, but he has an accent very different from mine. And the video was for social media, so... It was from a longer video and they cut it up into little pieces to make it much faster. So, he wasn't really talking that fast, but the video makes it seem that way. So don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything the first time. All right? We're going to go back through and I'm going to divide the video into three pieces, you know, the three steps. So we'll go back and look at the first one. Or listen to the first one, right? Here we go.

Vinh Giang: [00:03:50] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak. Improvise. So the first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. What? The auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:07] Okay, so that's step number one, which he calls the vocal image review. So just in case you didn't understand, this is when you're basically just listening to your voice. So what you do is record yourself speaking for 5 minutes. You can pick any subject. It really does not matter. Excuse me. Pick any subject. It doesn't matter what subject. Right? Just speak uninterrupted for 5 minutes straight. On camera, record yourself on camera. Use a cell phone, video camera, or whatever. And when you're listening to it, turn the volume all the way up, maximum volume, as loud as possible. But do not look at the phone screen. Put the phone down on the table so that you cannot see the screen and just listen to yourself.

[00:04:51] And take note or pay attention to... Excuse me. Take note of what you don't like about the way you sound. Take note of what you do like about the way you sound. But all you're doing is paying attention to the sound. That's it. Are you monotone where every single word you said sounds like this? I used to talk like that and it wasn't until I started my podcast that I realized how fucking boring my voice actually was. It was so monotone and everything I said was like this because I was afraid to express emotion when I spoke. I was afraid of what people would think if I truly expressed myself. You understand? I didn't even notice that until I started my fucking podcast, until I did my vocal image review, you understand?

[00:05:39] So that's the benefit of step number one. Just listening to the way you sound. It's going to be painful. You might feel embarrassed or disgusted the first 20 times you do it, and that's fine. It's totally normal, trust me. But I guarantee it's going to help you improve the way you sound when you speak. You can't improve what you can't hear. Right? If you can't hear the way you sound, how are you going to improve the way you sound? Simple logic that we never take the time to consider. Right? So that's step number one. Record yourself and only listen to your tone of voice, you know, how fast you talk, how many pauses you take. Stuff like that.

[00:06:15] What does it sound like? Does the tone of voice and the way you express yourself match with what you were saying? If you were talking about something that made you angry. Do you sound angry? If you're talking about something that made you laugh. Are you laughing? Does it sound funny? Take note of that stuff. Take note of it. Because the better you can get at communicating what you're saying, the better your message will be received. And remember, communication is not just what you say, it's how you say it. And that's what you're trying to focus on with step number one. How you say things and how you sound. Okay? So let's move on to step number two.

Vinh Giang: [00:06:54] Grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image that can.

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:05] Okay. So he said, "Do a visual audit of your visual image". Let me just find the definition for 'audit' really quick. Just in case you were wondering what that means. Audit. To conduct an official financial examination of an individual's accounts. Technically, yeah. Audit. We usually use that word in financial situations like the IRS might audit your finances. They might look at all your expenses, how much money you made, how much taxes you owe the government, stuff like that. They'll do an audit, right? They'll examine your finances. But in this case, when he says "audit your visual image", he's really just saying like, examine. That's really the word in this case.

[00:07:47] So step one we just listen to the video. But step two we turn the volume all the way down. We mute the video so we cannot hear it. And we just watch. Just look at the screen and study your body language, your facial expressions. Are you fidgeting when you speak? Are you looking at the camera or are you constantly looking at a bunch of different places? Do you have a good posture? Do your facial expressions match what you're trying to say? Do you have the same facial expression the entire time? You know? Like, all these little details about the way you look when you speak. 

[00:08:19] Because, again, communication is not just about what you say. I've heard... I don't know if this is true, but I've heard many times that the majority of communication is not even verbal, is nonverbal. It's your posture, it's your facial expressions, it's your gestures, your mannerisms, the tone of voice, things that are not verbal. That's the majority of communication. Those things heavily influenced the way your words are received. So it's extremely important to understand these things, regardless of what language you're speaking. You understand? So step number one, examine how you sound. Step number two, examine what you look like when you're speaking. Okay? Let's move on to step number three.

Vinh Giang: [00:09:02] Get the video transcribed. Read Highlights. Bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you. It's very.

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:13] Okay. So step number three, he said, transcribe the video, which is a good idea, but I don't know if everyone's going to go that far. But the idea is to just analyze the words that are being said. Step one is analyze the sound. Step two is analyze the look. Step three is analyze the actual words that were being said. And he said, in this step or on this step, excuse me. On this step, what you need to do is identify all the filler words that you use when you're speaking. Like, um, uh, like... Stuff like that. All these unnecessary words that you use to fill the silence in between your sentences or your thoughts. And what he's saying is you're robbing yourself of clarity every time you say "um" or "uh". 

[00:10:00] That's something that you should pay attention to, bro. It's not like the most important thing, especially in, you know, casual conversation or casual communication. Most people don't pay attention to it. But once you start, it's something that you can never stop paying attention to. Like, you'll notice the difference between professional speakers and just normal people. Normal people say, um, ah, like, um, um, all the time, all the fucking time. And once you start paying attention to it, it actually gets annoying, at least in my experience.

[00:10:28] But professional speakers, most of the time, they don't say, "um". Don't say "ah, hmm, uh, uh" just to fill silence. They're very... What's the word? Conservative with... Not conservative. They're very economical with their words. They choose their words carefully. They don't waste energy saying unnecessary things. And they're okay with silence. They say what they have to say and then they be quiet and they think. And so they figure out what they want to say next. You know? So the point of step number three is to identify how much unnecessary shit you say in between your thoughts and to eliminate that from your, your, your diction, let's say, from your speech. It makes a huge difference, bro. I'm telling you.

[00:11:16] It makes a huge difference because every time you go, um, uh, ah, it communicates ignorance in a way. You don't know. I'm not saying you're stupid, but ignorance is like you don't know. You don't know what you're trying to say. You don't know what you're going to say next. And you're communicating that every time you say, ah, um, uh… Just communicates ignorance. And a simple thing you can do literally, literally, one simple thing you can do to sound smarter, to sound more confident, to sound like you really know what you're talking about is to stop saying things like um and uh, just pause and be quiet until you figure out what you want to say next. There's nothing wrong with that.

[00:11:55] And I think a lot of people don't do that because they're afraid that if they pause, the other person is going to think that they're done talking and the other person will start talking. You see what I'm saying? And unfortunately, that's something you have no control over. Unfortunately. But there are ways to make it clear that you're not done talking. There are ways to do that that we can talk about in other episodes. But I'm just saying. It will make a huge difference if you can eliminate those filler words from your speech, say what you mean, and then shut the fuck up. I'm telling you, it will make a big difference.

[00:12:28] So let's summarize. The exercise simply is to record yourself speaking for 5 minutes about any subject. Once you finish recording, step number one is to do a review of your vocal image. In other words, review or examine the way you sound when you speak. And what do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right? Step number two, examine the visual image when you speak. So turn the sound all the way down. Don't listen and just watch yourself. What do you do when you're speaking? What's your body language like? What gestures do you make? Your facial expressions, all that. What do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right?

[00:13:10] Number three, read the words that you said during the video and highlight all the unnecessary things that you say, all the filler words that you say all the time, and eliminate that from your speech. And like Vinh said at the end of the video, you basically have a mirror in front of you because you're looking at yourself and you're examining yourself the same way you do in the mirror. And now you can identify what needs to be improved or changed so that you have better communication skills, so that you communicate more effectively in any language. This isn't about English. English is a language. Communication is a skill. We're talking about the skill of communicating with the tool that is language. You feel me? 

[00:13:52] So I've said this before, man, and I'll say it again. Communication is at the heart of everything we do and everything we want in life. Without good communication skills, your life will always be harder than it needs to be. When it comes to your English, if you never practice, you will never improve. You know that. If you never critique your communication style or fix your communication problems, then you'll end up forming bad communication habits. And we all know the longer you maintain a habit, the harder it is to break.

[00:14:20] So why not get started right now? Why not record yourself speaking for just 5 minutes and figure out what needs to be improved? Why not get in the habit of practicing good communication as soon as possible? I guarantee that if you do this exercise every single day for the next month, you will see an improvement in your ability to express yourself in any language. So, my friend, I want to thank you so much for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Which part of your speech needs to most improvement?
  • What's the difference between the way you communicate in English and your native language?
  • Write about a time that someone's body language communicated more than their words.
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
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Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

Tony Kaizen: [00:00:01] I'm a firm believer that every single person on this planet should have their own podcast. If not a podcast, then a YouTube channel or a blog or a journal. Everyone should have some way of recording their life experiences and their thoughts. And think about it. Have you ever sat down with your family and looked at your baby pictures? Do you ever watch old videos of your younger siblings or your children? Imagine if those photos had never been taken. Imagine if no one had ever recorded those videos. Imagine having no way of looking back into the past and remembering those pleasant details about your life or that of your loved ones. Now imagine arriving at the tender age of 85 and having almost no record of your life.

[00:00:45] Now, most people are taking more pictures and recording more videos than ever before. So I'm sure most people with smartphones will have plenty of pictures and videos. But podcasting or keeping a journal is different in the sense that you're not recording the way things looked. You're recording the way you used to think. You're recording countless thoughts and experiences that are likely to be forgotten. So it really is the best way to track your internal progress over time. Keeping a record of your life's experiences is the best way to learn from them. Right? Recording a podcast and then listening to it is the best way to hear what you really think and how you really sound.

[00:01:24] So I recommend that all language learners start a podcast or some type of audiovisual diary that records their progress, even if no one ever listens to it. But if you don't want to start a podcast, that's fine. I'll talk in more detail about that in another episode. But right now I'm still going to share a brilliant exercise with you that will have the same effect on your English and communication skills. Okay? So the clip I'm about to share with you is of a man named Vinh Giang. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. You can find him on Tik Tok at Ask Vinh. That's A S K V I N H. Ask Vinh on TikTok. Hopefully, I pronounced that correctly. But I've spelt his screen name for you, so hopefully, you can find him.

[00:02:11] And in this clip, Vinh explains a simple three-step formula for improving your communication skills. And the best part is that you don't need anyone's help to do this exercise. Okay? So Vinh speaks... No, I fucked that up. Vinh has an Australian accent and the video is pretty fast, so don't feel bad or confused if you don't understand everything the first time. And remember, you can always read the transcript. All right? So let's get started.

Vinh Giang: [00:02:41] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak improvised. The first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. Audit the auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second, grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image. Third component, get the video transcribed, red highlighter, bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you.

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:17] All right. Now, like I said, you know, not only was the audio not so good, but he has an accent very different from mine. And the video was for social media, so... It was from a longer video and they cut it up into little pieces to make it much faster. So, he wasn't really talking that fast, but the video makes it seem that way. So don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything the first time. All right? We're going to go back through and I'm going to divide the video into three pieces, you know, the three steps. So we'll go back and look at the first one. Or listen to the first one, right? Here we go.

Vinh Giang: [00:03:50] Simply record a five-minute video of yourself and you need to speak. Improvise. So the first time you review it, turn the sound all the way up, press play, turn your phone down, just listen. What? The auditory component of your voice known as your vocal image. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Second.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:07] Okay, so that's step number one, which he calls the vocal image review. So just in case you didn't understand, this is when you're basically just listening to your voice. So what you do is record yourself speaking for 5 minutes. You can pick any subject. It really does not matter. Excuse me. Pick any subject. It doesn't matter what subject. Right? Just speak uninterrupted for 5 minutes straight. On camera, record yourself on camera. Use a cell phone, video camera, or whatever. And when you're listening to it, turn the volume all the way up, maximum volume, as loud as possible. But do not look at the phone screen. Put the phone down on the table so that you cannot see the screen and just listen to yourself.

[00:04:51] And take note or pay attention to... Excuse me. Take note of what you don't like about the way you sound. Take note of what you do like about the way you sound. But all you're doing is paying attention to the sound. That's it. Are you monotone where every single word you said sounds like this? I used to talk like that and it wasn't until I started my podcast that I realized how fucking boring my voice actually was. It was so monotone and everything I said was like this because I was afraid to express emotion when I spoke. I was afraid of what people would think if I truly expressed myself. You understand? I didn't even notice that until I started my fucking podcast, until I did my vocal image review, you understand?

[00:05:39] So that's the benefit of step number one. Just listening to the way you sound. It's going to be painful. You might feel embarrassed or disgusted the first 20 times you do it, and that's fine. It's totally normal, trust me. But I guarantee it's going to help you improve the way you sound when you speak. You can't improve what you can't hear. Right? If you can't hear the way you sound, how are you going to improve the way you sound? Simple logic that we never take the time to consider. Right? So that's step number one. Record yourself and only listen to your tone of voice, you know, how fast you talk, how many pauses you take. Stuff like that.

[00:06:15] What does it sound like? Does the tone of voice and the way you express yourself match with what you were saying? If you were talking about something that made you angry. Do you sound angry? If you're talking about something that made you laugh. Are you laughing? Does it sound funny? Take note of that stuff. Take note of it. Because the better you can get at communicating what you're saying, the better your message will be received. And remember, communication is not just what you say, it's how you say it. And that's what you're trying to focus on with step number one. How you say things and how you sound. Okay? So let's move on to step number two.

Vinh Giang: [00:06:54] Grab the phone, turn the sound off, press play, make sure it's on mute, just look at yourself. How is your body language? What's your facial expressions like? Do a visual audit of your visual image that can.

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:05] Okay. So he said, "Do a visual audit of your visual image". Let me just find the definition for 'audit' really quick. Just in case you were wondering what that means. Audit. To conduct an official financial examination of an individual's accounts. Technically, yeah. Audit. We usually use that word in financial situations like the IRS might audit your finances. They might look at all your expenses, how much money you made, how much taxes you owe the government, stuff like that. They'll do an audit, right? They'll examine your finances. But in this case, when he says "audit your visual image", he's really just saying like, examine. That's really the word in this case.

[00:07:47] So step one we just listen to the video. But step two we turn the volume all the way down. We mute the video so we cannot hear it. And we just watch. Just look at the screen and study your body language, your facial expressions. Are you fidgeting when you speak? Are you looking at the camera or are you constantly looking at a bunch of different places? Do you have a good posture? Do your facial expressions match what you're trying to say? Do you have the same facial expression the entire time? You know? Like, all these little details about the way you look when you speak. 

[00:08:19] Because, again, communication is not just about what you say. I've heard... I don't know if this is true, but I've heard many times that the majority of communication is not even verbal, is nonverbal. It's your posture, it's your facial expressions, it's your gestures, your mannerisms, the tone of voice, things that are not verbal. That's the majority of communication. Those things heavily influenced the way your words are received. So it's extremely important to understand these things, regardless of what language you're speaking. You understand? So step number one, examine how you sound. Step number two, examine what you look like when you're speaking. Okay? Let's move on to step number three.

Vinh Giang: [00:09:02] Get the video transcribed. Read Highlights. Bring all your nonwords and filler words to the forefront of your mind. That's robbing you of clarity every time you talk. You basically have a mirror in front of you. It's very.

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:13] Okay. So step number three, he said, transcribe the video, which is a good idea, but I don't know if everyone's going to go that far. But the idea is to just analyze the words that are being said. Step one is analyze the sound. Step two is analyze the look. Step three is analyze the actual words that were being said. And he said, in this step or on this step, excuse me. On this step, what you need to do is identify all the filler words that you use when you're speaking. Like, um, uh, like... Stuff like that. All these unnecessary words that you use to fill the silence in between your sentences or your thoughts. And what he's saying is you're robbing yourself of clarity every time you say "um" or "uh". 

[00:10:00] That's something that you should pay attention to, bro. It's not like the most important thing, especially in, you know, casual conversation or casual communication. Most people don't pay attention to it. But once you start, it's something that you can never stop paying attention to. Like, you'll notice the difference between professional speakers and just normal people. Normal people say, um, ah, like, um, um, all the time, all the fucking time. And once you start paying attention to it, it actually gets annoying, at least in my experience.

[00:10:28] But professional speakers, most of the time, they don't say, "um". Don't say "ah, hmm, uh, uh" just to fill silence. They're very... What's the word? Conservative with... Not conservative. They're very economical with their words. They choose their words carefully. They don't waste energy saying unnecessary things. And they're okay with silence. They say what they have to say and then they be quiet and they think. And so they figure out what they want to say next. You know? So the point of step number three is to identify how much unnecessary shit you say in between your thoughts and to eliminate that from your, your, your diction, let's say, from your speech. It makes a huge difference, bro. I'm telling you.

[00:11:16] It makes a huge difference because every time you go, um, uh, ah, it communicates ignorance in a way. You don't know. I'm not saying you're stupid, but ignorance is like you don't know. You don't know what you're trying to say. You don't know what you're going to say next. And you're communicating that every time you say, ah, um, uh… Just communicates ignorance. And a simple thing you can do literally, literally, one simple thing you can do to sound smarter, to sound more confident, to sound like you really know what you're talking about is to stop saying things like um and uh, just pause and be quiet until you figure out what you want to say next. There's nothing wrong with that.

[00:11:55] And I think a lot of people don't do that because they're afraid that if they pause, the other person is going to think that they're done talking and the other person will start talking. You see what I'm saying? And unfortunately, that's something you have no control over. Unfortunately. But there are ways to make it clear that you're not done talking. There are ways to do that that we can talk about in other episodes. But I'm just saying. It will make a huge difference if you can eliminate those filler words from your speech, say what you mean, and then shut the fuck up. I'm telling you, it will make a big difference.

[00:12:28] So let's summarize. The exercise simply is to record yourself speaking for 5 minutes about any subject. Once you finish recording, step number one is to do a review of your vocal image. In other words, review or examine the way you sound when you speak. And what do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right? Step number two, examine the visual image when you speak. So turn the sound all the way down. Don't listen and just watch yourself. What do you do when you're speaking? What's your body language like? What gestures do you make? Your facial expressions, all that. What do you like or dislike? What can be improved? Right?

[00:13:10] Number three, read the words that you said during the video and highlight all the unnecessary things that you say, all the filler words that you say all the time, and eliminate that from your speech. And like Vinh said at the end of the video, you basically have a mirror in front of you because you're looking at yourself and you're examining yourself the same way you do in the mirror. And now you can identify what needs to be improved or changed so that you have better communication skills, so that you communicate more effectively in any language. This isn't about English. English is a language. Communication is a skill. We're talking about the skill of communicating with the tool that is language. You feel me? 

[00:13:52] So I've said this before, man, and I'll say it again. Communication is at the heart of everything we do and everything we want in life. Without good communication skills, your life will always be harder than it needs to be. When it comes to your English, if you never practice, you will never improve. You know that. If you never critique your communication style or fix your communication problems, then you'll end up forming bad communication habits. And we all know the longer you maintain a habit, the harder it is to break.

[00:14:20] So why not get started right now? Why not record yourself speaking for just 5 minutes and figure out what needs to be improved? Why not get in the habit of practicing good communication as soon as possible? I guarantee that if you do this exercise every single day for the next month, you will see an improvement in your ability to express yourself in any language. So, my friend, I want to thank you so much for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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