Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today author Matt Abrahams joins Lindsay on the podcast.

He is a wealth of speaking knowledge!

He has trained TED speakers, authored books and been a successful educator.

He is passionate about communication.

Today he’ll share his tips for how to be successful when speaking spontaneously.

Fear of speaking

Matt shares about someone he helped speak at her granddaughter’s wedding.

As a high school student, she had a horrific experience.

After making a comment her teacher was extremely cruel in her criticism.

This was traumatic and scarred her.

Trauma from one’s past can give us a fear of public speaking.

You need strategies to get past it!

Get inspired!

Any fear you have of public speaking can be overcome.

As a human being, it can be stressful to be put on the spot.

On top of that, this can be compounded when we’re learning a second language.

Non-native speakers put tremendous pressure on themselves to say things ‘right.’

There is no ‘right way’

Matt shares his belief that there are better ways and worse ways to say things.

However, there is no ‘right way.’

Your job is to serve your audience

You must have the mindset that you are serving those listening to you.

This takes off that pressure.

You then realize that the goal is not to speak perfectly.

The goal is to get your message across.

Connection not perfection

Lindsay shares with Matt that we believe at All Ears English in Connection NOT Perfection™.

Matt agrees wholeheartedly.

He shares his experience that alleviating pressure improves performance.

This helps us eliminate what isn’t needed.

This, in turn, helps us be clear with our message.

The importance of structure

Matt’s favorite structure is ‘What, So what and Now what?’

When offering feedback, you can ask these 3 questions.

You can incorporate this into any conversation.

It’s a great way to connect.

It gives you a structure so you know what comes next.

Then all you need to do is add your ideas.

Spontaneous speaking

When we’re put ‘on the spot’ it can be difficult to know what to say.

We can feel paralyzed.

We don’t always know how to continue the conversation.

Rather than tracking the conversation, you might be thinking of what you need to say next.

Being in the moment and listening is so important.

You might find yourself thinking about how the conversation might go.

You then find that you’ve missed what has been said.

Strategies from improv

Matt shares the that the primary rule of improv is to do what’s needed.

You want to avoid doing more or less.

This applies to every conversation.

If we’re trying to do more or less, we won’t be able to listen and respond.

In this way, you can practice spontaneity.

3 things for improved communication

Learning to be a better communicator takes practice.

  • Repetition
  • Reflection
  • Feedback

We often make the mistake of doing the same thing over and over again.

Instead, stop to think about what worked and what didn’t.

This reflection will help you make sure your repetition isn’t wasted.


Being spontaneous involves preparation and being present.

It is possible to become better at speaking spontaneously.

However, it won’t happen automatically.

Matt’s tips will help you ensure that you’re reflecting on your process.

These tips will also help you understand what your goal should be.

Once you know your goal, you can know you’re not wasting time on your language learning journey!

Matt’s bio

Matt is a lecturer in Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business where he teaches classes in strategic communication and effective virtual presenting. 

Matt has helped many presenters worldwide deliver their message on the TED stage, in the World Economic Forum, and at Nobel Prize Presentations. He is also the host of the podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart.

How do you think Matt’s tips could help you improve your speaking in English?

Let us know in the comments!

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