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Control Your Speed

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Control Your Speed

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When you are speaking, manage your speed in informing, speaking and moving.

First think about the rate at which the audience is receiving new information, in particular if it is difficult for them. If you are teaching philosophy to language students or anything where your audience is require to think hard about what you have said, you may need to go steady on the number of new ideas you present to them.

Whatever you are saying, do control the speed of your speaking, generally using a measured pace with due pauses to punctuate the flow. Manage your breathing to help with this flow rate.

Also control your body language, only making quick movements when you intend to gain attention or when you want to create a sense of urgency or energy.

A useful tip is to put a clock in front of you, perhaps next to your notes which may have time notes on them, so you know whether you are ahead or behind. If you do get behind, do not go faster just to catch up. Make a dynamic decision what to leave out or cover in limited detail.

Example

I am presenting a new marketing model to business leaders. I develop it carefully ensuring they understand each new layer of information. I am also careful to breathe and talk steadily, relaxing into the presentation so I also move smoothly.

Discussion

Most people process new information quite slowly and you will lose them if you present too much detail, after which they will lose interest and you will lose credibility (they will not blame themselves for not keeping up, even if you do).

People who are visual thinkers (which many of us are) tend to talk more quickly as they hurry to explain the flow of images that is flashing past their internal imaginative sight, which can be a real problem. Visual thinkers also tend not to really see the audience when they are attending to their inner sight. Changing this habit, slowing down and looking at the audience, requires practice but can be done.

Many speakers talk too fast simply because they find speaking an anxious activity and want to get to the end of the speech as quickly as possible. Tension tends to make us speed up anyway and it is common for fast speakers not to realize they are going so quickly.

See also

Hurry Up

 

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