Intonation, connected speech & phrasing | Simon Sinek Speech Analysis

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When I first saw Simon Sinek’s answer to ‘the Millennial Question’,
I was intrigued.
Not only that the things he said were profound and insightful,
But also the WAY he spoke was engaging, easy to understand and powerful.

I thought that the best way for me to illustrate all the things I always talk about
like intonation, rhythm, connected speech, and phrasing
is to take great speakers that touch me deeply
and show how all of those things come together when they speak.

If you want to learn more about public speaking,
Intonation and pronunciation, I invite you to check out my comprehensive online program that opens this Monday.
The Accent Makeover course is a step-by-step program that’ll give you practical tools to
Scale up your English, improve your clarity and boost your confidence.
Registration Closes this Sunday So if you’re serious about taking your English to the next level, join us.

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Hey guys, it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way.

And welcome to another Intonation and Speech analysis.

The purpose of this video is to help you understand the melody patterns, the rhythm, the phrasing…

connected speech and intonation in general, of American English.

And to do that I have chosen an interview of Simon Sinek who discusses “The Millenial Question”.

This is a really interesting interview and it’s a 15 minute long video

so I’m not gonna analyze the entire interview or the entire answer.

But I highly recommend you to watch it because it’s very interesting and insightful

so I’ll post a link to it in the description below.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

I have yet to give a speech or have a meeting where somebody doesn’t ask me “The Millenial Question”.

So he starts slow.

‘I have yet to give a speech or have a meeting…’

Three parts.

Everything’s connected here.

And next chunk is

It sounds like it’s one word, everything’s connected.

‘speech’ is a little higher than the rest

And then it goes really really fast.

Although ‘meeting’ is a little longer than everything else, because stressed words are longer.

‘or have a meeting’

‘to give a speech or have a meeting’

So the words that stick out are the stressed words, in this case



Where somebody doesn’t ask me…

A lot of sounds in a very short period of time.

It’s even hard for me.

The secret here…

Actually, there are two secrets.

One: reductions.

So you need to reduce some of the sounds, you cannot pronounce all vowels.

And the second secret is to go very soft on your consonants.

To pronounce those consonants very softly.

So you’ll be able to transition from one sound to another rather quickly.

Almost like you’re mumbling it, like you don’t want someone to understand you.

And again, this is a chunk, everything’s connected within the chunk.

Ask me The Millennial Question

‘The Millennial Question’

‘ta da’

Right, so now it creates expectation.

Ooh, what is the Millennial Question? Most of the people don’t know, because he has the answer.

So he sets it up in a way that makes it more interesting for us to listen to.

Apparently Millennials…

And remember that in English every syllable has a different note.

Right, it’s very musical when you break it down.

Apparently Millennials as a generation, which is a group of people…

‘Apparently Millennials as a generation, which is a group of people’


So a lot of reductions here.


‘group of people’

We hear the words that stick out.


‘group of people’

…which is a group of people who were born approximately 1984 and after…

So look how he breaks it down.

Right, this helps us understand connected speech a bit more and phrasing, because not every word is separate.

So he connects words together but not everything is connected together.

First of all, that’s the way he thinks right, in chunks.

Although he must have answered this question a gazillion times already, which makes me think that these

phrasings are a tactic to show as if he’s just coming up with the answer right now.

Okay, that’s a way to make it sound more natural when you take pauses

because that’s how people actually think.

Which is a nice… reminder…

that pauses and…

moments to hesitate and to come up with the right… word…

are okay and supernatural.

It doesn’t make you bad in English. Okay, just remember that.

Anyway, let’s go back.

‘(uhmm… uhh) are tough to manage…’

Thinking of the word, okay again filler words are something that makes a speech a little more natural

and people always use it when they speak.

And he’s a renowned speaker so him using


just proves to us that it’s a natural way of speaking, especially in an interview.

And they’re accused of being entitled…

See how he punches those words.

Those words that stick out are longer, higher in pitch

but the consonants are longer, the consonants are stronger, whereas everything else is kind of reduced.

Someone who is entitled is someone that thinks that they deserve things.

They deserve many things, that they don’t have to work hard for them.

And narcissistic and self-interested…

Right. So again every word is sort of separate, but every word has a different note as well.

…unfocused, lazy….

Right. Again, it’s not





Every word has a different note it creates




Like I’m doing right now.

But entitled is the big one…

Right, so he’s kind of closing this part

‘I told you I can’t do that.’

‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘I think I’m gonna go.’

Right, this pattern is a pattern of closure.

Right, that I have just ended what I was saying or what we were discussing.

Let’s get forward a bit.

So you have an entire generation growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generations…

So you reduce this part.

You slow down here ‘generation’ is the stress word.

Everything’s connected here.

And if it’s hard say it slowly a few times.

He speaks really fast those parts.

Those parts are a little less important.

…lower self-esteem than previous generations, right…

So he’s closing this part and then he says

He’s not really asking for permission or acceptance, but this is a way of speech.

This is just to show that he is engaging with the other person, right.

…through no fault of their own, trough no fault of their own…


‘fault’ is the word that sticks out. It’s longer and higher in pitch.

‘no’ is also high in pitch.

And then he drops down.

He repeats it twice for emphasis.

Right. They were dealt a bad hand…

He slows down. He separates the words to emphasize it.

And again that ‘right’, it’s a filler word. It’s a filler word as if he’s asking for permission, but he’s not really, right.


Now let’s add in technology.

Right, ‘a’ as in cat.

And we connect the words together, so it’s not

‘add in’

but ‘add in…’


So he slows down, again, on the stressed words.


Notice that every syllable has a different note.

We know that engagement with social media.

A new idea starts higher in pitch at the beginning of the sentence, especially if the words are stressed.

Again, make your consonants very soft so you’ll be able to say these words a little faster than you’re used to

…and our cell phones…

And again slowing down for the sake of emphasis.

‘cell phone’ is a set phrase whose ‘cell’ is higher in pitch

…releases a chemical called dopamine….

Now again, let’s look at how he phrases this thing.

one chunk

another chunk

Right, so within each chunk, everything’s connected, within each chunk there is one word

that sticks out the most but not all the chunks are connected.

He takes small pauses in between which helps him deliver his message.

And also that’s the way he thinks, right, in chunks.

..that’s why when you get a text, it feels good…

The punchline.

‘it feels good’

And every word is stressed.

…it’s as if they’re standing at the foot of a mountain…


‘standing’ is stressed, higher in pitch

Again, two reductions here.

‘foot’ is not reduced






Right. It’s like a nasal ‘t’ or just a glottal stop


…and they have this abstract concept called impact that they want to have in the world…



Slower, higher in pitch.

‘in the world’ is lower in pitch, but slower because these are content words.

…which is the summit…

‘summit’, higher in pitch, stressed word.

…what they don’t see is the mountain…

Again, reduced, fast, effortless

‘don’t see’, slower.

Full of purpose.


So technically what you’re hearing is

‘don’t see’


And still you understand what my message is just by listening to those words.

Everything else makes sense, create all the tenses, the connections between

the words, but they’re not as important. So invest less energy in them.

Say them softer, soften the consonants, reduce the vowels there.

…I don’t care if you go up the mountain quickly or slowly, but there’s still a mountain…

Notice those breaks, you take a mini pause and then you enter, with the next sentence, with the idea.

Right, that’s the rhythm.

So to conclude, what we’ve learned here or what we saw again.

The difference between the important and the less important, the high and the low, the long and the short.

The effortful and the effortless.


The words that you want to go for it, to punch and the words that you kind of want to reduce

but you have to have them, so you’re gonna say them, but you’re not gonna push them

or you’re not gonna emphasize them.

Okay. Repetition helps with emphasizing your point, slowing down helps with emphasizing your point.

Taking breaks is essential because that’s how we think, that’s what makes it sound natural.

‘hums’ and ‘uhhm and ‘well’ are also important, not too many of them.

But they’re part of speech and that’s okay to have them.

So you know me, I always bring you back to English because that’s what I’m here for.

And a lot of people tell me, you know, I want to be a fluent speaker.

I want to have a perfect American accent.

I can’t believe I’m still making mistakes. I get stuck in English.

Great! You want to be up there on the summit.

But, what about the journey? What about climbing up the mountain? You have to do it.

You can’t just expect to be up there without going through the journey.

Without climbing up and suffering through it.

And feeling the difficulty and the struggle, but also the accomplishment and the empowerment.

And feeling that every time you’re a little higher on your way to the top.

It can be fun. It can be fulfilling.

It’s all about how you approach it and understanding that there is a journey to take and that it takes time.

It can be long or short, but it takes time, there’s still a mountain.

Okay, that’s it. Let me know in the comments below, what do you think about the Millennial Question.

And if anything that he said in the video resonated with you.

And of course, what other elements of speech do you struggle with? Let me know.

Thank you so much for watching!

Please share this video with your friends if you liked it.

And have a wonderful week and I’ll see you next week, in the next video.


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2 Comments on “Intonation, connected speech & phrasing | Simon Sinek Speech Analysis”

  1. This is my favorite learning English I love it
    Thanks you I have learned a lot from it
    I hope you keep making more specialy the antinacion it really wonderful . !!!

  2. The video was very informative, especially concerning how content words and functions words should be read. Indeed it is much easier to understand what the speaker wants to convey to the audience.

    Now, I have a question for you. I often hear that listening to recorded English conversations at faster or slower speed is very effective for English learners. Is this true? If so, are there any academic research data to substantiate the claim?

    Lastly, thanks a lot for sharing your experience in English learning. Your advice is more convincing and intriguing. I hope to be able to reach your level of proficiency in English some day.

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