Specialist Language Courses

The importance of non-verbal communication

Doctor Non-Verbal Communication
Share This Post

You want to pass the OET speaking exam. You might reasonably think that you’ll be tested on your fluency, accuracy, and vocabulary. It’s how well you do in these areas that will help you pass. It’s called a speaking exam for a reason, right?

Well, yes, but the words you use aren’t the complete picture. Another hugely important part of what we call ‘speaking’ uses no words. It’s called non-verbal communication (NVC for short), and it’s important to master it if you want to reach a good standard of spoken English.

At heart, NVC is everything you use to communicate your intention without words. It could be gestures, sounds, or even pauses. NVC is important because makes you sound more human – you’ll probably use it without thinking when speaking your first language. But when speaking a non-native tongue, it’s much more difficult to remember. You’re naturally focused on remembering vocabulary and grammar, and it’s why some people can sound a little robotic.

As a medical professional, it’s vital to sound human when you speak (watch this video for some tips on how to do that). You need to be able to communicate important information, so think of NVC as the oil in the engine of your speech. It will help others understand you better. Over the next few weeks, you’ll be learning different aspects of NVC, with tips on how to improve.

Excelling at NVC will enable you to imitate better the natural rhythms of a native English speaker. And this is crucial to passing the OET speaking exam.

In a nutshell, NVC…

  • …is every communication trick you use that doesn’t involve words.
  • …includes nodding, smiling, and using your hands.
  • …involves the use of pauses and eye contact.
  • …includes the sounds you use when you speak, like ‘mm-hmm.’
  • …is about how your pacing, tone, and intonation.

If you’re interested in trying some practice tests for the OET exam, SLC have got you covered.

Stephanie Lam
About the author

Stephanie Lam is a writer, journalist, and English teacher. She specialises in writing fabulous words for the wellbeing and health industries.

Want to pass the OET exam? We want to help!

OET Preparation with Specialist Language Courses

SLC was the OET-accredited Premium Preparation Provider in Europe and is the leading provider of OET preparation services to the UK National Health Service.

SLC offers a wide range of OET preparation services, including self-study, tutoring, practice tests, and writing correction.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get updates and get the latest materials on Medical English, OET and IELTS

More to explore