How Do I Start a Program?


How a Program Starts

People often ask how a program with Accent On Speech works; specifically, how to start the ball rolling. So... I'll tell you.

Well, programs usually start by YOU reaching out to ME. !

We schedule a call, either online or over the phone. This is the initial consultation and might last 15 minutes. It's free, of course!

If you decide to take a program, I ask you to fill out a questionnaire, as well as send a few recordings or videos of you presenting or just speaking on some topic--people often talk about why they want to take a program, their goals for their program, and how they want to see it impacting their professional and personal lives. Or, they might upload a video of an interview, presentation, or just them speaking about their job, what they do, and the role communication plays in it.

After all of that is completed (our conversation, the questionnaire, and the recordings...), I plan your program based on your unique goals and issues, and... we get started! We typically meet once a week--online, usually. There is often communication mid-week to check in on progress, provide feedback, etc. I am with you in this endeavor every step of the way. 

To take a bit of the mystery out of the process, I am providing the questionnaire I use with new clients. (I've taken out the spaces for your answers and elaboration.)

Here it is:

*Self-Evaluation for Speech, Voice and Communication for native and non-native English speakers

Please send a video or link to a video or audio recording (video is preferable) of yourself speaking—being interviewed, pitching an offer, discussing an important work concept, telling a story, or just talking about yourself. If there are more than one, send several. Even better if the contexts are different.

Answer questions as they are relevant to your needs.

What types of contexts do you communicate in most frequently for work? 1:1 conversations—with co-workers, clients; participating in group meetings; leading group meetings; presenting information to small groups, large groups; moderating discussions; planned talks, impromptu speaking…

Of these contexts, in which are you the most comfortable? Which the least?

If your issues and goals also relate to personal communication (daily interactions with strangers, acquaintances, friends, family), talk about what you struggle with or what you would like to become more comfortable and confident with.

How do you WANT to be communicating?

How do you think you come across when you're communicating?

How are you actually coming across (what do you observe in video and what have others shared with you)?

Consider issues that you have been aware of in your communication style or that people have commented on in the past. What are they?

What, if anything, have you done to address the issues?

Are you aware of tensions you hold in your body/patterns of tension when speaking or communicating in general? Jaw tension, facial tension… shoulders, neck, back, feet, hands, stomach tightening, breath holding?

What do you like about your voice?

What do you like about your speech?

What do you like about your communication style?

What is the story of your voice? What factors do you think have influenced… your voice, your speaking style… how often and how boldly you speak up? Mention anything you think is relevant to your current style of communicating (Old stories you've told yourself/narratives you continue to tell yourself, cultural influences, societal influences, personal experiences, etc.).

Please share any other thoughts or insights you have regarding your overall voice, speech, and communication style that you didn't already state or would like to elaborate on.

What do you want to change/improve? What are your goals for your program?

What do you want to say you accomplished after your program has been completed? Try to be specific. How are you sounding? How are you feeling?


Be honest: What do you think could prevent you from reaching your goals?

For example: Resistance to change; difficulty facing and dealing with your own foibles; discipline; consistent motivation; ability to strategically practice and carry over new ways of feeling and sounding into real life; laziness; procrastination; self-defeating thoughts…

*Now, list 5 reasons why you think you CAN achieve your goals.


Specific issues. If it is hard to pinpoint your communication issues and goals, use this checklist to mark the descriptions you feel sometimes or often relate to you. Feel free to elaborate.

Communication and language

___ I struggle to get the point across succinctly; I ramble.

___ I undersell my talents and skills.

___ I don't sound confident while speaking.

___ I sound overconfident when I speak.

___ I struggle with making eye contact.

____ My body language is lacking.

___ I think I come across as distant.

—- My style can seem abrupt at times.

—- I can be too blunt.

—- I have difficulty maintaining perspective; big picture, with regard to my role in the team, overall objectives for the team and my individual objectives.

—- I lack consistency in understanding what different people want and need from me; tailoring messaging appropriately.

—- I have difficulty confronting people when there are problems.

___ My email or other written communication skills need improvement.

___ My vocabulary could be more professional.

___ My tone of voice seems too informal for a professional environment.

___ I talk too much.

___ I talk too little.

___ I struggle in one-to-one conversations in daily life.

—- I struggle with allowing myself to share my views and make my voice heard. Elaborate:

___ I struggle with small talk.

___ I have difficulty controlling nervous energy when I speak.

___ I use too many fillers (um, like, you know, etc.)

___ I have trouble speaking in front of a group.

___ I have difficulty making my voice heard/presence felt in a group of people (meetings, etc.)

___ I don't project a strong vocal presence over the phone/in conferencing.


___ I have difficulty making my voice heard in a noisy environment (mixers, parties, etc.)

___ My voice is too soft.

___ My voice is too high.

___ My voice is too low.

___ My voice is too nasal.

___ My voice is monotone.

___ My tone of voice seems too informal for a professional environment.

___ My voice starts out strong but fades at the end of sentences.

___ My voice is raspy/creaky. I use too much glottal fry.

___ I speak too fast.

___ I speak too slowly.

___ I lack dynamism in my voice. (Lack of variation in pitch, rate, volume, cadence for expressing nuance and feeling)

___ My voice is too effusive (pitch changes too much).

___ My voice seems young/immature or adolescent.

___ My sentences end with a questioning tone, even when making a statement.


___ I don't articulate words clearly.

___ My accent sometimes impacts my ability to express myself adequately.

___ My accent causes me to lose confidence, and detracts from my overall impact.

___ My accent makes it hard for people to understand me.

___ My speaking is staccato (syllables are punchy, choppy).

___ I stutter a little, sometimes, a lot.

___ I have a speech impediment that impacts clarity.

___ I have a speech impediment that erodes my confidence.

Some other questions to consider:

  • Who do you have to be to have what you want?
  • How do you like feedback? Straight forward or more gentle?
  • What's worked for you around goals looking back at your life?
  • Given that you know yourself best, what do you think would stop you from achieving your goals?
  • What might you do to sabotage the work we do together?
  • What do you do when you're overwhelmed?
  • When you usually get stuck, what happens? What doesn't work?
  • How do you deal with disappointment or failure?

If you are interested in improving your ACCENT, please fill out the following information.


Name: ______________________________________________________________________

Email address: ______________________ Phone number: ____________________________

What days and times would you be able to attend the class one day a week? _________________________________________________________________________

Occupation: __________________________________________________________________

Education Level or Background: __________________________________________________

Birthdate: ___________________________________________________________________

Native Language: _____________________________ Country: _________________________

How long have you lived here? _________________________________

How long have you been speaking English? ________________________________________

In what country did you learn English? _____________________________________________

Please describe how you learned English. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Did your teachers speak with an accent? ___________________________________________

How would you rate your pronunciation of English? Circle one.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

poor average good

How would you describe your ability to use English to express yourself in your daily life?


Do other people have difficulty understanding you? Circle one.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

usually sometimes never

When do you feel most confident speaking English, i.e, at home, at work, social occasions, etc.?


When do you feel least confident speaking English? __________________________________

What areas of spoken English (grammar, vocabulary, etc.) do you feel confident? ___________


How would you rate your ability to write in English? Circle one.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

poor average good

When do you speak English? ____________________________________________________

When do you speak your native language? _________________________________________

How do you feel you would benefit from improving your spoken English? __________________

What other language(s) do you speak? _____________________________________________

Do you have a hearing problem or difficulty in hearing others talk? Yes ___ No___

If yes, ______________________________

Is there anything else you want to say relating to your goals for your program? _____________


For Accent Modification:

Which comments/sentiments most closely match your own?

__ I want to speak clear and effective English, so that I am not misunderstood, and am understood by as many people as possible.

__ I want to feel confident in most speaking situations.

__ I want to like the sound of my speech, and never feel inhibited to speak.

__ I am fine with having some accent; it is part of who I am. I just want to improve, so that I feel more comfortable and confident with the way I speak.

__ I want to sound as much like a native English speaker as possible. (American English)

__ I need to develop a certain accent for a role.

__ I want to know that I am speaking the best English I am capable of. I'm a bit of a perfectionist.

__ I want the mystery taken out of English. I want to feel more in control of the way I sound!

__ I don't want people to keep asking me, "Where are you from?"

__ I don't want my accent to be a distraction.

__ I want to work on the sound of my voice... professional speaking manner... ability to speak in front of a group... telephone speaking skills...

Elaborate. ___________________________________________________________________