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Do You Talk Too Fast? How to Slow Down

How to slow your speaking rate to sound more composed & in control

Do you talk too fast? If so, you're not alone. Most people do, especially when they're nervous. So how is your speedy speech being perceived by others in the workplace? What's it saying about you? One thing's for sure, it won't help with clarity, diction or coherency which may seriously inhibit effective communication.

Below are four common reasons why a person may speak too fast:

1. Some people talk fast because they’re thinking “a mile a minute” and are trying to keep up with their own thoughts. This is particularly true with many extroverts, who tend to “think as they speak” rather than “think before they speak.” This is one of the main problems a lot of my clients come to me about. Their mind is racing at 100mph, but it's affecting what comes out of their mouth and they're not being clear and concise enough or just not bieng understood.

2. Some individuals speak quickly out of nervousness and anxiety—as mentioned above, people often increase their speed of speaking in order to get their communication “over with,” but at the expense of clarity and diction, resulting in mumbling or jumbled speech. This particular phenomenon may apply to introverts as well as extroverts.

3. Certain people naturally speak fast because they were socially conditioned to do so from a young age. For example, you're family memebr may have spoken quickly, and therefore you've thought that was the way to communicate or maybe you had highly vocal siblings and may feel constant pressure to “speak quickly and speak right away” in order to get a word in and receive attention.

4. For those who speak English as a second or third language, if the rate of their native tongue is inherently faster than English, they may inadvertently speak English at the rate of their birth language, resulting in fast English articulation.

Regardless of the reason(s), many people who speak quickly may also be communicating ineffectively. Speaking fast without taking time to slow down or pause when appropriate may have the following, undesirable effects:

  • Higher vocal pitch with less strength and power

  • Lower clarity and articulation

  • More “umm…s” and “ahh...s” (fillers)

  • Reduced understanding by the listener

  • Reduced communication impact on the listener - less gravitas or executive presence

  • Important points in the message may be lost or not landed in listeners head

  • The speaker may seem less confident & competent and less grounded, lacking gravitas.

  • The speaker may be perceived as having lower credibility.

How can you slow your speaking rate and sound more composed? Below are three helpful tips that you can begin to impliment by yourself.

1. Monitor your own speaking rate. It's not easy, but try to be present and conscious when speaking and if you notice you're going “a mile a minute,” simply pause or slow down. Say to yourself or to the listener: “I’m speaking too fast. Let me slow down.” One thing to be cautious of is ensuring you don't turn into a montone robot when slowing down. This can often happen, so balancing speed and intonation to ensure you still sound engaging, is a bit of a fine art.

2. Ask for reminders and get someone to hold you accountable. If you know speaking fast is a habit of yours, it’s perfectly okay to let people around you know so, and give them permission to tell you when you’re speaking too quickly. Say something to the effect of: “I am a fast talker. Feel free to let me know, and I’ll slow down.”

3. Build pauses into formal communication. If you’re delivering a stand-up presentation or speaking at a group meeting, create cues on presentation slides or in meeting notes to remind yourself to pause. One easy way to do so is simply to stop between key points and ask the listeners if they have any questions, or just simply pause. A pause on our head can feel like it's a lifetime, ut actually it won't feel so long for others. Make sure and use this pause to allow you to get clear on the next thing you're going to say.

For further help on how to improve voice, speech, and communication, feel free to get in touch for a no obligation call with me.

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