I Talk Too Slowly

Rating 
0

No votes yet

Share
I Talk Too Slowly

This excerpt is from the book Smart Speaking by Master Speech Coach Laurie Schloff.

If your conversational partner has mentally formulated her five-year business plan by the time you finish a sentence, or if your audience is tapping fingers and feet impatiently while you're finishing the first paragraph of your talk, it's safe to say you're too slow.

 A colleague told me he recently walked out of a lecture at a conference and demanded the return of his thirty-five-dollar registration fee. The reason? He clocked the speaker at ninety words per minute—about half the average speaking speed.

Some slow talkers do everything at tortoise pace, including speaking. Others take great pains with their speech because they believe everything that comes out of their mouth must be correct, perfectly worded, and significant. It's admirable to care about what you say, but if you speak too slowly, you may be perceived as boring, tired, or less intelligent than you are. To keep people awake and interested, learn to increase your speaking speed without losing articulation and thought clarity.

1. Learn what makes you slow. Record a one-minute monologue.  Listen for the following types of slow spots:

Problem One:  Too many words along the way to your point.

“As I was mentioning yesterday when we met with um, ah, Anderson Industries about the takeover negotiations and ah, proceeded to come up with an alternate plan, I told you I'd be getting back to you, and so let me introduce our findings by saying ...”

 Better:

“Let me bring you up to date on our talks with Anderson Industries ..."

Problem Two: A generally draggy pace, with both words and pauses drawn out. Audiences prefer an average rate of 180 words per minute. or even a little faster.

Problem Three: pauses that are too frequent or too lengthy. Pauses between sentences or at the end of phrases should not last much longer than two seconds, unless you're consciously pausing to let information sink in,or for dramatic effect.

2. Try these speed-up strategies.

For Problem One:  Give yourself forty-five, then thirty, then twenty seconds to supply an answer to a question you may be asked. This is a vital skill for any media appearance.

For Problem Two: To pick up the pace, choose a passage from an article  or book of about 180 words. Practice reading it aloud, seeing how close you can get to finishing it in one minute without sacrificing meaning or clarity.

For Problem Three: Accept that in most situations it is not necessary to deliver a perfectly shaped gem. Imagine your words pedaling the wheels of a bicycle: If you drop the pace too drastically, you'll fall over. Practice keeping up momentum with a story or explanation you know well.

Then practice keeping up momentum while answering questions that you're posing to yourself for the first time.

If you are absolutely convinced that choosing perfect words is critical, then during longer pauses, give nonverbal signals that you're thinking deeply:

Remove your glasses, furrow your brow, drop your gaze, or turn slightly away from the audience. Take a cue from one of my professors who had a compelling presence, despite slow speech and frequent pauses. Usually he paced as he taught, gesturing with the remote or a marker, and giving the impression that he was thinking with his entire body.

 

Rating 
0

No votes yet

Share

See also:

  • I Sound So Boring!
    Style on stage

    I Sound So Boring!

  • How to Improve Public Speaking Skills for Conferences
    Style on stage

    How to Improve Public Speaking Skills for Conferences

  • How to Adapt From Speaking in Person to Speaking on Camera
    Style on stage

    How to Adapt From Speaking in Person to Speaking on Camera