Tools for Clear Speech when You Get Stuck in English

Read More

I teach you five communication strategies to help you get unstuck in English. If you lose your train of thought and forget what you will say, use these tools for clear speech to get you back on track. These techniques are strategic communicative competence strategies!

Have you ever experienced a situation where you’re in the middle of speaking and suddenly you lose your train of thought and have no idea what you’re going to say?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This happens to many people, even Native English speakers!

Today I’m sharing five strategies to help you navigate these situations with poise and confidence. And for those interested, these strategies improve your strategic competence within the communicative competence framework because they enable you to overcome communication breakdowns when they occur.

Let’s get right into it.


So first of all, tap into that confidence that you have. We don’t have to be 100% confident all the time, but we do want to feel somewhat confident most of the time. You can access that confidence by reminding yourself that you’re awesome and that you’re adding value to the conversation.

After you remind yourself of your awesomeness, take a deep breath and relax. When we’re stressing too much we can easily get caught up in our nerves and forget what we want to say.

Alright, and now for the five techniques. Use one of more of these techniques if you feel like you’re stuck and you want to get unstuck.

(1) A Moment to Pause

Pausing is a great way to collect your thoughts. It’s also a wonderful way to let the listener digest the information you’ve been sharing. Don’t feel pressured to fill each bit of silence or lulls in the conversation. Leverage the use of pause.

(2) Blame it on Brain Freeze

Are giving yourself a few seconds to pause and if still nothing comes to mind you can say:

I just had a bit of a brain freeze. Do you mind reminding me where we were?

If they asked a question and you think you answered some of it but you’re not sure you’ve covered everything they’re hoping for, you can say:

Does that answer your question? I just experienced a brain freeze!

Another synonym for brain freeze is losing your train of thought. So you could just as easily say:

I lost my train of thought. Where were we just now?

(3) Rephrase the Thought

This is a strategy I hear a lot of Native Speakers use and it’s a good one to keep in mind. You can say the following:

Let me start over 
What I meant to say is that
I can put this a better way: 
Let me rephrase that
I’ll start again with this
To put it in a better way…
A better way to phrase it is…

(4) Buy Yourself Thinking Time

This is key when you have what you want to say on the tip of your tongue but you just need a bit more time to formulate your thoughts. You could ask a question to them and let them answer, just make sure you’re still listening to what they have to say, don’t zone out in other words. Or you could drink some water or coffee if you have some on hand. In other situations, you might even be able to excuse yourself for a quick bio break.

(5) Get Some Clarity

It’s ok to ask for some clarification. In fact, it’s better to do that then respond to your interpretation of their question or just miss the point entirely because you didn’t understand what was being asked of you.  One strategy within this technique is to paraphrase. So in other words, explain to them what you understood by using different words and terminology while keeping the message the same. If the paraphrasing is incorrect, this is most likely due to a lack of clarity. And that’s quite alright because it presents an opportunity for clarifying!


Alright, wonderful work. We discussed five techniques to improve your strategic communicative competence during moments when you feel stuck in English. Just as a recap, the strategies are: (1) taking a moment to pause (2) blaming it on a brain freeze (3) rephrasing the thought (4) buying yourself thinking time, and (5) getting more clarity.

Be sure to keep these strategies in mind and ready to use when you are in a conversation where you lost your train of thought. Remember, no need to panic and feel anxious, these things happen. We’re human and we’re not perfect, so we don’t have to pretend to be perfect! Doing our absolute best is enough!


All right Advanced English learners, thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you did, give it a big thumbs up. If you're watching here on YouTube and if you're listening to our podcast, then I encourage you to share it with as many people as you can so that we can keep providing you high quality lessons such as this one.

Be sure to tune into our Native English Speaker conversations as well. That gives you a great opportunity for improving your listening comprehension, which is very important for your fluency. And also leave us a nice review. You can leave up to five stars. It really makes a difference. We appreciate every single one of your reviews and feel free to also check out our blog, its Advanced English dot co forward slash blog.
And while you're there, you can sign up for our free newsletter. You'll also get a nice freebie along with it as you sign up. So you don't want to miss that. And then any other free freebies and PDFs and tests and quizzes and lessons and web courses will come your way as long as you are signed up for our newsletter, which again you can find at Advanced English dot co forward slash blog.
And if you are here and you want to improve your communication skills, your social skills, your public speaking skills, your interview skills in English, then I have just the thing for you. We have an amazing YouTube channel, website, and podcast called Explaining with Mary Daphne. I will link it below so you can check that out and you can also just find it on the web.

Just go to explearning dot co forward slash blog or just explearning. So it's EXP, LEARN, ING dot co.We have a lot of great information there and hundreds of lessons for you to enjoy. So I hope you check it out! I'll be seeing you in another advanced English lesson where we'll continue advancing your English together. Until then, keep up the awesome work and I will see you very, very soon.