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Lower and Slower


Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Lower and Slower

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When speaking, it is often a good idea to make a deliberate effort to slow down your rate of talking.

Listen to a recording of yourself speaking on a public stage. Or record yourself during practice. Put yourself in the seat of an audience member. Notice how fast you seem. Try to understand how difficult it is to take in everything you are saying. Then work to slow down your speech to a steady pace.

Also, and particularly if you are male and if you have a higher-pitched voice, try to lower your pitch to a deeper, sonorous roll.




When we are speaking in public, the tension that we may feel, whether it is fear or desire to get it right, can lead to us speaking faster than usual. The stress of public speaking also tends to tighten vocal chords, raising the pitch of speaking.

People listening will accept more of what we say if they see us as being confident. Perceived tension, perhaps unfairly, is often seen as lack of knowledge about one's subject.

Research has shown that a lower male voice is more persuasive, perhaps as it is a subtle testosterone indicator, which can also indicate power.

Lowering a woman's voice has far less of an effect unless she wants to appear more male, which can be a useful ploy in a male-dominated context. Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister of the UK deliberately worked to lower her speaking tone, especially when she wanted to be assertive.

When we are tense, we may speak faster, unconsciously hurrying to get it all over with. When we are confident about the subject, we may also speak faster.

If there is new content for the listeners, then they not only have to hear, they also have to process the information to make sense of it, which is another reason for the speaker to talk more slowly.

See also

Control your speaking speed


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