Choose words and tone according to your patient in OET Speaking

When I say that you need to talk to different people differently, are you taken aback? 

Have you been using the same kinds of words and the similar tone when you speak to a child, a teenager, a middle-aged person or an elderly person? Then, you have been doing it all wrong.

It’s important to change the tone and the choice of words or even articulation in your talks according to the patient you are having the conversation with.  

You can’t talk to an elderly person the same way you talk to a child. 

You can’t talk to a child the same way you talk to a person who is sad or emotionally devastated.


So it’s extremely important to be able to change the way you speak according to the situation. 

Confused how you can decide this? Keep these factors in mind to know how to adapt your speech to context.

The way you choose to talk to a patient should vary depending on; 

  • Age 
  • Familiarity
  • Emotions 
  • Medical condition

For example, let us consider the medical condition of a patient. If your patient is at the end-stage of renal cancer, you need to be careful in the way you approach this patient. This is because the patient will be, in most cases, highly depressed. The patient could be waiting for a donor and may not have had any positive response even after having opted for the donor listing. When talking to such a patient, you have to be highly compassionate, understanding and should be able to re-assure your patient. In contrast, if your patient has recovered from a knee fracture and is to be discharged in 2 days' time, then your patient will be extremely cheerful. Talking to such a patient will not require you to be highly cautious. 

The same is true in case of age of the patient, how familiar you are with the patient and the emotional stage that person is going through.

Now, can you try and match these possible conversations with the patient status.

    What you can tell to a patient                         Status of the patient

1. How’re things going, Elma?                                  A.a new patient

2. Hello again Mr Robert. You’re looking much better today.         
                                                                                 B.a non-emergency patient

3. Good morning Mrs Josi. My name’s Dr Eva Mathews. I’ll be looking after you today.
                                                                                  C.a teenage patient 

4. Hi Anita, I can see you’re in a lot of pain. Can you tell me about it?
                                                                                   D.a regular patient 

5. What can I do for you today?                         emergency patient 

Phew....Done finding the answers? Now cross check with the answer key given below. Good luck!