Recently, I heard a few speakers who spoke too fast. How fast? So fast, that I stopped listening. When I mentioned this to two of them, they both responded with, “I know, I’ve been told that before.”
They knew they spoke too fast - yet they continued to annoy listeners with their rapid-fire pace. Perhaps they felt unable to control it or that it wasn’t worth the effort.
Speaking too quickly can sabotage your presentation.
Why should you speak slower?
- You will sound more confident
- You can more clearly enunciate your words
- When you speak slower we can better hear your words
- Your voice will be deeper in tone and thus more pleasant to listen to
- You can breathe more regularly and thus feel less exhausted
- You have more time to think about your words and speak more intelligently
- The audience will have time to absorb and think about your message
How can you slow down? Here are three methods.
Insert more pauses
The pauses between your sprints will give us that thinking time and a short respite. You might still talk rapidly but the pauses will offer the necessary contrast between your short sprints.
You can use this technique immediately with little effort.
Strip out the un-necessary words. When people speak fast they tend to use more filler words and cliché phrases. Your important message could easily be lost in the noise. Some people speak rapidly because they are attempting to say too much.
This technique requires you to think and prepare before you speak. You’ll sound more intelligent and confident when you deliver a powerful message with less words.
Rehearse speaking slower
Read a section of text out loud while timing yourself. Note the time. Then repeat the exercise talking as fast as you can. Note the time again. Do it one more time but before you start take a couple of slow deep breaths. Envision a person across from you listening intently to your words. Then read out loud again in a more relaxed manner. Compare the times.
Repeat this exercise over a week. Notice how easier it becomes to speak slower. You can slow down if you rehearse.
This third approach takes more effort but rewards you with the long term benefit. Recognize that you can control your speaking pace and become comfortable with setting the optimum speed.
Start with any one of the above methods to slow down when you speak. Eventually try all three.
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