Speak up. Speak out.

Say what. Say why. Say other things to try

Do your answers to questions leave your listener in a maze?

In both IELTS and TOEFL exams you have approximately 45 seconds to answer questions about who you are, your preferences, and your opinions.

Many students generate unconnected thoughts, and out of desperation, continue to speak as they try to connect together the sentences they already uttered.  This usually leaves the listener confused.

Here is a technique you can practice for answering all questions, and especially the questions you will answer during the IELTS and TOEFL exams.

Technique 1: Say what. Say why. Say other things to try

This technique Say what. Say why. Say other things to try, was suggested to Ritchhart (2002) by a colleague.speaking

How to use the Say what. Say why. Say other things to try  technique.

Use this technique as a plan to structure your answers to questions.


Describe a holiday you spent abroad.


What: In 2014 my family and I went to South Africa. In South Africa we went on a Safari.

Why: We visited South Africa because of the rapidly changing cultural landscape, and because of  its nature preserves were well managed.

Other Things to Try:  While in South Africa, we visited museums dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s memory. We saw the performance, ‘the Lion King’, and spent a night in an open air hut.


Ritchhart, R. 2002. Intellectual character: What it is, why it matters, and how to get it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Would you like to know how to make small talk? Read more…

Would you leave a comment below? What’s working for you in improving your English presentation and public speaking skills? What do you feel you need help with? How do others people view your English presentation and public speaking skills?  What questions to do you have?

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